Friday, September 26, 2008

German minister disses George Bush

[Nairobi, Kenya]
WELL, I came to this cyber cafe to download some web apps like WordPress along with some other goodies. It also gives me a chance to download my emails in Mac Mail. One particular email caught my attention. It's from a ZD Net discussion I'm part of so I followed a link to a related article: Germany uses n-word to describe American policies.

Bush fire...
I give full props to the intelligent German populace who really know how to sniff out a useless politician compared to other countries. No wonder Germany is on the cutting edge in terms of good government and environmental policies. Anyhow, one particular minister was quite blunt about his impression of US president George Bush:
The harsh words from Germany’s Environmental Minister came after a meeting in Europe on reducing CO2 emissions. The American President presented his views there. Here’s some of what the German minister said, “”Bush’s Neanderthal speech…showed not leadership but losership. We are glad that there are also other voices in the United States.”
Shrewd comments...
One viewer really got my attention here. He was sooo on the ball, and I'd like to share his views with you. Take a peek at this:
We expect the government to do far too much for us these days. We run around with our hands out looking for breaks and complain about an energy crisis and food shortages and demand the goverment to do somthing and bail us out.


If you're so hell bent on carbon footprints and global warming turn off your computer right now, sell your car, and city condo, buy a few acres somwhere build a shelter, grow and hunt your own food during summer and try to survive the winter. If you are against big oil stop driving your car get a bike, etc. Change yourself!!!
too many people are too concerned with what other people are doing these days. Do you not have anything better to do with your life than complain about me burning tires, lol, and too many "environmentalist" expect everyone to change, but fail to take the step for themselves. Stop complaining, Unless you're driving an electric car, have solar panels on your roof, etc. thats all you are doing and nobody like whiners.

I do not advocate "environmentalism" it's a crock of S*** considering the biggest names are generally the worst offenders. It's politics and they want you to send them your $$$ so they strike up a cause and push it so you'll buy in. Just another place for the Gov't to claim to have spent your tax dollars... {source}
Hey, no arguments here. What about you? Most of you already know my solution to saving the planet. I'm telling you, this solution is easy to implement, and will empower citizens in a self sufficient manner. What is this so-called solution?

Hemp Farming in Africa: A Billion Dollar Industry?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Spitting cobra on the loose

[Ongata Rongai, Kenya]
GREETINGS FROM a really cool area just outside of Nairobi. Without a doubt, the Ongata Rongai and neighboring Kitengela areas have an amazing buzz between them. Everywhere you look, flats and houses are going up. And why not? Land is el cheapo here, and you're not that far away from Nairobi, Ngong, or Karen. Oh, did you see that smooth tarmaced road heading from Bomas all the way into Ongata Rongai town? Wow, that's what I call smooth sailing.

The new Tuskys super market is super kool and it's stocked with everything under the sun. Plus, Barclays, KCB, and Equity banks have set up branches in this thriving town. Again, Ongata Rongai should definitely be on your list if you want to get away from the city sprawl of Nairobi that's on the cheap. I wouldn't think twice about moving here. I see BIG opportunities for entrepreneurs here to open up cyber cafes, bars/restaurants, retail outlets among other possibilities. And this area feels safe as hell thanks to the new police station nearby.

Oh, a cobra...
So my good pal Pippa lives up here with her son and 2 dogs (Shenzi & Mtokutu). When I saw her last week in Karen, she told me that she had to rush Mtokutu to the vet because she got sprayed by the venom of a spitting cobra that "hangs out" in a particular bushy area of the back yard. Yikes! I'm sure you'll understand why I was a little hessitant to drop by for a visit, right? :-) What's more annoying is that no one has seen the damn snake, but there's a general understanding that a cobra visits the back yard once in a while.

Anyhow, I saw Mtokutu and she had some green ointment in her left eye to prevent further damage. Unfortunately, these 2 dogs don't really understand the danger of its slippery neighbour. This sort of freaked Pippa out, and her good friend Dennis Matthews (a snake guru/catcher) from Kitengela told her to call him if anyone spots the "king" of the backyard.

Cobra ahoy...
Now check this out. My pal David dropped by to visit me and show me the plans for a golf course his peeps are planning on developing. We're chatting out in the back yard and low and behold, we see this brownish-greyish cobra sloowly slide right on by us about 8 feet away and into the bush everyone suspects is one of its many homes. It's like the cobra said "Hey guys, just ignore me...continue with your meeting...I'm just sliding by into this lovely bush you got in this yard. Carry on!"

I looked at David and said "Aah, so that's the cobra I've been hearing about." I then ran into the house to notify Pippa and also to make sure the 2 dogs were not outside. In no time, Dennis Matthews and his kids came by for a "snake outing." This was going to be my first time watching some dude capture a 4 1/2 feet cobra.

Hide & seek...
So Dennis puts on his glasses - for obvious reasons. His 11 year old son also got in on the action as father and son proceeded to search the bush for the cobra. After a while, everyone was getting a little antsy and wondering if the cobra probably slid away some where else. Then Dennis' son and Justin had a bright idea. They started to throw rocks into the bush like fire bombs. This definitely did the trick. Our slippery visitor was flushed out, and decided to head in the opposite direction away from all the falling debris. Smart fella. In the open grass, Dennis snared it before it got away. His son assisted and eventually it was placed in a bag.

Goodbye Mr. Cobra...
After a nice chat, Dennis and his entourage got into a land rover with the snake. He's going to release it far away from this area so that it won't ever come come back again. Well, hopefully. He said that cobras were territorial and there's no chance of another cobra coming by for a visit. I hope so.

All in all, it was quite a afternoon. David's spontaneous visit was quite a revealation. If he didn't show up, we would not have had that meeting in the back yard so no one would know that the cobra had returned for a temporary visit. All I can say is "good riddance." By the way, Pippa is thinking of getting a pet mongoose from the KSPCA to hang out in the back yard.

Related links:

New species - largest spitting cobra found in Kenya
Photos: world's largest spitting cobra discovered in Kenya

Thursday, September 4, 2008

50 cent cyber cafes in Nairobi

[Nairobi, Kenya]
GREETINGS FROM Faith Cyber Cafe here in the Diamond Shopping Plaza on Tom Mboya Street near the Bata store and Tuskys. I love coming here once in a while because the dudes who operate this place are always accommodating of me and my Mac laptop. Oh, did I mention how CHEAP it is to browse here? It's like 50 cents per minute folks. For you tourists from the West, that's half of a Kenya Shilling...not $0.50. That'd be too expensive!

Bye bye expensive cybers
Heck, in Karen (an expensive Nairobi suburb), everyone charges KSh 2 per minute to surf the Net. I remember this one cyber on Langata Rd. near Bomas. They were charging KSh 3 per minute. Can you believe that? What are they smoking? Please, somebody call the police for Information Super Highway ROBBERY. Gees. :-) Anyhow, I'm just waiting for those fibre optic cables to connect at Mombasa in late 2009 or so. ISPs keep saying that prices should drop by 75%. I'll believe it when I see. it.

Trim city...
By the way, this Diamond Shopping Plaza is one heck of a place. Why? Because it has tons of womens hair salons everywhere. It's like the Golden Computer Arcade in Kowloon (Hong Kong) where you'll find tons of computer hardware for sale at great prices. The only difference is that they're tons of hotties working in this 3 floor plaza doing a fabulous job making their female clientele look hot too. Any how, don't take my word. Just drop by for a "pleasant" visit. :-)

The price is right...
Again, Faith Cafe only charges 50 cents per minute. Heck, that's only KSh 30 per hour. How in Heaven's name are these peeps making coin? In fact, most of the cybers in this area of town charge this rate. Some even dare to charge KSh 1. How rude. :-)

All in all, I like coming here when I'm in town because the staff knows me, and they really take care of me. That's why they keep getting my business.

Happy web surfin folks!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Zain on the EDGE of Ngong

[Ngong, Kenya]
WELL, I'M here in Ngong blogging from my room using Mrs. C's Huawei E220 HSDPA USB modem. I told her to buy this instead of Safaricom's package because I truly believe Celtel (oops, I mean Zain) has the superior data network. Heck, I don't give a sh!t about voice! Just show me the data pipe baby. :-) By the way, I'm not the biggest fan of telecom companies. Just take a peek at these 2 posts I wrote in 2006 to know why:
Zain: the better option?
As a matter of fact, Zain is simply the better option when it comes to voice too. Safaricom subscribers are stooopid for paying KSh 10/minute when they can buy a Zain SIM and get unlimited daytime (6a - 6p) calls for KSh 99. That's obscenely cheap folks. But it gets better. After 6pm and weekends, you only pay KSh 3/minute. And don't forget that Zain has a tariff where you list the 3 Zain numbers that you call the most, and you only pay KSh 4/minute forever. Is this the same elitist Celtel (er Zain) that was charging ridiculous rates not too long ago? Oh my, how times have changed - for the better.

So, why are Safaricom prepaid subscribers not jumping ship in greater numbers? It absolutely boggles the mind that I have to keep my bloody Safaricom SIM in my celly after 6pm just so that my idiot friends can call me. In a sense, they're inconveniencing me by not using the "better option" after 6pm and on weekends. How selfish of them, eh? :-)

Zain not 3G yet...
Anyhow, Zain has not rolled out their 3G network offering yet to compete with Safaricom's [HotSpot] data offering. But then again, can Safaricom beat Zain's unlimited postpaid data package of KShs 2995 per month? Nope. Unlimited is not in their vocabulary - yet. Someone at Zain customer care did inform me that 3G is coming "soon." I've heard that one before, and I don't really care because it'll probably be a while before them (or Safaricom) bring HSDPA data services to Ngong. Again, I don't give a damn about voice. I can do all of that on the Information Super Highway - and a lot more. Yacking is for idiots who have money to waste.

One thing though...I read somewhere that Safaricom's HSDPA download rates were fast as hell in areas such as Westlands, Upper Hill and CDB. Some Kenyan blogger mentioned speeds hovering around 1 Megabit/sec when he's surfin' in Westlands. Well, I'll believe it when I see it. Heck, if that's true, I'll pack my things and relocate to Westlands. Nah, Ngong's quiet and I can actually think out here. :-)

Getting EDGEy...
Anyhow, over the past few days, I've been playing around with this Huawei modem on Mac OS X and I'm quite impressed with the ease that it installed. I'm still shocked because hardly anyone makes hardware that installs on a Mac since everyone's hooked on virus-prone Windows. Way to go Huawei! I'm now a bigger fan of your products.
So, how does Zain's network perform here in Ngong? Remember, this town is about a 40 minute drive by car from the Nairobi's downtown Central Business District. On certain occasions, I'm sure you can do it in about 25 to 30 minutes. Yeah, at 2am in the morning! :-)
Well, as you can see in the pic above, I was able to download at a top rate of 10.4 KB/s while topping out at a respectable 18 KB/s. Hey, remember I'm in Ngong - not Westlands or snobby Upper Hill.

My advice to Safaricom & Zain
I urge you 2 to focus on bringing affordable, reliable broadband data services to the rural communities because it'll spur on economic development faster than any other government initiative. I know it's hard to resist the lucrative markets like Upper Hill, Wetlands, CBD, Kilimani, Lavington, Runda, Karen, Muthaiga et al, but think about the impact you'll have on the country. You 2 have the power to quickly change a lot of things in this country - for the better.

Cheap access to the Internet means that more people can connect, share ideas and try out new things. And let's face it, you 2 have the infrastructure and know-how to do it.

Telkom Kenya, WTF?!?
By the way, I really don't know what the hell the brain trust at Telkom Wireless are smoking. How on earth can they charge KSh 3 per minute for their CDMA data services when Safaricom and Zain are charging by the megabyte? Telkom, you havent a clue what the hell you're doing, do you? What a disgrace you are to Kenya. How could you let so many people down? What were you thinking? Where's your EV-DO service to match the 3G/HSDPA offerings of your rivals? I have lost all faith in you, Telkom. Luckily, you have the government to back up your uncompetitive behind. Do us all a favour, and just go to hell.

Ngong, a hidden treasure?
Lastly, I just have to say that it's lovely up here, and the view of Ngong Hills from the back yard or from my good pal's (Robert Ouko - former 72' Olympic 800m Gold Medalist) flat is absolutely breath taking. And it's so quiet in these noisy traffic disrupting your thoughts and everyone in this particular area (Kerarapon) is so friendly. Heck, we have monthly residents meetings for this 4 sq-km area that's situated in Ngong, and the police attends them too. So everybody knows their neighbour and crime here is like a tiny blip compared to all the crap that's going on in Karen and Nairobi.

Also, Kerarapon boasts its own natural springs that's managed by the Kerarapon Water Commission where Mr. Ouko was the outgoing Secretary. He did a fabulous job by the way. Hence water rates are ridiculously cheap at KSh 2 per gallon. Yet Karen is like an 8 minute car (or matatu) ride if you need to go to Nakumatt or do banking at Karen Crossroads Mall.

Honestly, I see a bright future for Ngong - especially Kerarapon. Lots of peeps are moving from places like Runda, Lavington and Karen since the price is right. Heck the late, former Roads Minister (Kipkalya Kones) just recently purchased property on Kerarapon Drive where his wife now resides. I'm sure he would've seen that the main road was paved in a jiffy.

By the way, land only goes for about 800K to 1.2M per acre here. And the land that borders Karen goes for about 3M per acre. Now that's what I call a sweet deal. Contrast that to Karen where land on average goes for about Ksh 13 Million per acre. I've seen plots there going for KSh 16M. No thanks! Once more development takes place by the 17th drive of Kerarapon, then the council will probably allow that bypass road to connect from Karen making travel to other Nairobi suburbs quicker than ever.

My goals while living in this area are:
  1. Assist the community in getting the main road for Kerarapon Drive paved using applied techniques based on affordable, reliable termite technology for long-lasting roads. This alone will spur on more development. I'm to present this solution at the upcoming residents meeting in a few days.

  2. Implement a "community" wireless mesh broadband project in Kerarapon that will attract more development in terms of companies relocating here and better access for the public schools here.

  3. Develop a strategy with association members for a street light initiative (like Esther Passaris' Adopt a Light campaign) so that Kerarapon Drive has affordable lighting throughout the night. This will give the residents here that community piece of mind and spur on more development.

Related links:

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Are you IT Management material?

[Nairobi, Kenya]
So, are YOU management material? What makes you think so? Do you want to be a manager out of passion or for some other purely ego-driven motive? I don't think I'd have any problems in a mangerial role because I understand how to communicate with people in an honest straightforward manner when push comes to shove. Most importantly, I'm confident in myself and my abilities. In other words, I'd be able to focus on the VISION and OBJECTIVES thingy as opposed to worrying about who's trying to move ahead of me up the corporate ladder and other silly games like that. One other important thing. If I'm the manager responsible for hiring, I think my good sense of character judgement would help me to eliminate a lot of potentially bad apples during the interview sessions. It's amazing how many flunkies get through the cracks to the detriment of the team and, ultimately, the company.

I've been an avid reader of
Ziff Davis publications like PC Magazine, PC World, BYTE, and PC Computing ever since I was in high school (grade 13). You see, I completed a 1 year Cooperative Education placement in Accounting & Computers at Computing Devices Company (CDC) located in Canada's Silicon Valley North. That's the name we use for the National Capital region that's made up primarily of Ottawa, Nepean, Gloucester, Orleans, and Kanata. It's here that great companies like Cognos, Nortel, Newbridge Networks, Corel, Mitel, Norpak, Simtran, QNX, Lumonics, JDS Uniphase and a ton of others came to life.

Anyhow, CDC is now part of the massive General Dynamics military industrial complex. Aah, now I'm starting to understand the significance of all those "special projects" that were going on in the
Anti Submarine Warfare department headed by Ken Charter back then. lol. Heck, I think those "Cold War" subs go for like $2 BILLION these days. Hmmn, can they at least drill for oil or do something else that's useful? Good lords, no wonder the US has a $9.5+ TRILLION national debt...and climbing!!! :-)

The good ole' days...
Back then, I'd work in the mornings between 8:30a and 11:45, and attend classes in the afternoon. Too bad Ontario high schools now go up to grade 12. I believe that extra year of classes adds maturity in a student that's lacking these days. How the hell does a 17 or 18 year old know what the heck they want to do on campus? Grade 13 back then, essentially, was equivalent to first year at most colleges and universities around the world...and it was FREE. Oh well, I feel sorry for peeps like my little brother who could probably use the extra year.

Thanks for managing me...
Anyhow, I started to get a warm and fuzzy after reading this ZDNet blog post: Signs you might not be IT management material. Why? Because I thought of old managers I worked for and realize that I was lucky as hell to have been "managed" by the right "managers" so to speak. Who knows, the wrong managers may have convinced me to pursue a different career altogether - like heading back to Barbados and working for my dad's construction and transportation businesses. And I know he'd make a crappy manager because he didn't have any people skills whatsoever.

Luckily, my 2 bosses (Claire Laliberte and Pierre Bertrand) at CDC were very flexible, caring and pointed me in the right direction most of the time. Thanks to them sending me in the computer lab to do all those Lotus 1-2-3 tutorials, I began to realize my true potential in the IT field. In no time, I was a spreadsheet guru, able to crank out sophisticated worksheets utilizing all of Lotus 1-2-3's power. I vividly remember salivating at the prospect of getting my hands on the King Jaguar or Baler spreadsheet compilers for creating stand alone spreadsheet applications without the need for the customer owning 1-2-3, Quattro Pro or any of the other competitors.

Another great experience took place when I became a freelance temp worker out of high school. I remember my old boss, Wayne Parker, at Bell Canada's Corporate Engineering (Planning & Standards Research division) department. He was a laid back techie who gave me tons of resources to crank out those massive macro-based Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets for the Transmission Quality Survey for the 416, 905, 613, 705, 416, 819 and 514 Ontario/Quebec area codes. My output (lots of graphs) was used by senior management to get a big picture on Bell's telephone line infrastructure and where to begin the roll out of fibre optic cabling.

I fondly remember the time when I commandeered a room of about 10 computers and printers to simultaneously print graphs from all my data analysis. We're talking spreadsheets with about 10,000 rows here folks! Heck, everyone in that department was so kool - except for that one crappy senior manager who has long since retired, or (gasp!) worse. Here's a big shout out to Mr. Parker and his family - wherever they are. Oh, and to Lubna Qureshi (aka LJQ) who was a brainy electrical engineer passionate in antennae design, but "that" crappy manager didn't even realize it. And how can I forget Estelle, the secretary. What a sweetheart. I do hope she's enjoying her retirement.

Once again, I was fortunate to have encountered great managers at Northern Telecom (now Nortel) for that awesome summer student job where I created a large Mac FileMaker database of all hardware assets (computers, network IDs, serial #s, printers, etc.). This was at their massive Corkstown Road facility in Nepean. One interesting note: I met this kool dude name Manabu Kato who was an exchange student from Japan. His interest back then was Artificial Intelligence. After his summer gig, he left for California and then back to the Far East. I wonder what he's up to these days! Hmmn, let's try Well whatever he's up to, I'm sure he's a smashing success.

I also want to thank Clay Grandy (CEO/President of AGO Industries in London, Ontario) for being a no-nonsense straight up manager while I was a summer student at his company. He knew his company's products better than any body. Not once did he rest on his laurels. Heck, he'd even dip his feet in IT and once did his own tech support on all his PC equipment (even setting up and managing an office LAN) before he got too busy. You see folks, here's a manager that leads by doing. Point noted Clay! By the way, Clay had a super sexy metallic silver corvette back then. Lucky for me, he'd be headed in my direction on my way home. Fast times indeed! :-)

Lastly, I have to give major props to Lindsay Phillips (and Nancy Bartlett) at the Bank of Montreal's swanky Institute For Learning in the Applied Technology department. He's the one who drove 2 hours down the Highway 401 to UWO to recruit me for my 16 month Computer Science industrial internship. This forced me to relocate to the amazing city of Toronto.

In fact, this act got me to explore Toronto's amazing night life which is second to none. Here, I found my passion for Electronic Dance Music (House, Tribal, Acid Techno, Dark Progressive House, Tech Trance, Funky House) at spots like System Sound Bar, The Guvernment, Kool Haus, Life, Film Lounge, The Comfort Zone and lots of big party events by sponsors like Bensons & Hedges, Smirnoff, Heineken among others. Talented DJs like DJ Myka, Kenny Glasgow, Mark Oliver, Goldfinger, DJ Addy, Dekoze, Jelo, Joee Cons et al continue to inspire me with their delicious sounds that are out of this world.
Let's just say that my life has never been the same after discovering the EDM scene. Stay tuned for DJ Sinister to the max folks. That's my next major hobby in a year or 2.

Anyhow, Lindsay was one tough manager in the sense that he didn't put up with crap. Yet he gave me a lot of freedom as well as provided me with lots of good advice when I first started out. He was forward thinking by allowing me to go on that Windows 2000/SQL Server 7 training workshop with Executrain. He also trusted me enough by giving me full responsibility to mentor 2 high school internship students. Personally, he didn't like the "corporate bureaucracy bullshit" that much so I'd say he was a very hands-off manager. One other thing...he taught me never to accept crappy products and services from IT vendors. Is this why I'm super critical of companies when they provide crappy service these days? Perhaps. Who knows? Well, I'm sure Lindsay's retired on some island by now. I recall he loved to travel.

Inspire me...
I guess what I'm trying to say by highlighting my most memorable managers is this: A great manager inspires you to want to perform for them and yourself too. They give your work a purpose. Now, I'm pretty good at inspiring myself, but I'm a little different from a lot of people based on my upbringing in 3 different countries mostly as an only child being raised between my mother, aunts, step mother, grand parents, and dad. However, I truly believe that the mark of a good manager in this present era is one based on his/her ability to inspire the drones (er workers/employees/associates). Times have changed. Employees are no longer loyal to any company. Mobility can be a costly bitch for a company that's turned over its staff to the wrong manager.

Food for thought...
In the above blog post discussion, a web surfer named Jeff Foxworthy highlights a funny but slightly true observation about IT managers. Perhaps some of you future managers here in Africa can learn from this.
You might not be IT management material.....
If you're not monetizing your synergies.
If you're not delegating the architecting.
If you think DNS stands for Doesn't Know S---.
If your employees whisper about routing around the damage, but stop talking as you approach.
If you forgot to send out the memo about the TPS coversheets.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Solutions to 10 Annoying Microsoft Word features

[Nairobi, Kenya]
AS THE undisputed Internet whore of the world, I'm used to browsing interesting websites loaded with tons of handy information. Today, I'm gonna introduce you to a site that's one of my many "secret weapons" of knowledge deep inside cyber space. Folks, please say hello to TechRepublic.

Word: the bitchy, fussy processor...
I don't know about you, but sometimes when I'm using Word, I feel as though I'm on a hot date with the ultimate tease who won't do my bidding. :-) If you feel the same way, perhaps this blog post will come in handy. It came in my trusty GMail inbox courtesy of a free ZDNet email subscription. No doubt this text got my attention:

I know for a fact that tons of people here in East Africa are using Word to create various types of , um, documents. Hopefully these tips, courtesy of Jody Gilbert, will go a long way in helping them tame that unpredictable wild beast hiding behind that pretty graphical user interface. :-)


PS--> If you have problems with the above link, try this:

Related links:

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dependency and Rising Prices

[Nairobi, Kenya]
EVERYWHERE YOU look, read or browse, somebody's talking about bad stuff that keeps rising: Rising fuel/food/fertilizer/cooking oil/electricity prices, looming food shortages, rolling black outs in countries experiencing rapid economic growth, and on and on. "What on earth is going on?" The more I'm reminded about the above headlines, the more I'm convinced that taking a self sufficient approach to home living, along with revisiting our ancient past, will provide a host of answers to these new challenges.

Let's just say that mankind was a lot more self sufficient in previous generations. We knew how to: Farm, create our own clothes, build our own homes, heal ourselves with herbs, and so forth. In a strange way, the more we've "progressed", the less we bloody know how to do ANYTHING of substance.

An era of dependency...
Now, we're "dependent" on big business with all of their "patented solutions" to provide for all our needs. Let's face it folks, we're at the mercy of "corporate capitalists" who don't ever want to see you or I becoming too independent in our daily affairs. A perfect example is mobile telecommunications. Why do we still have proprietary voice networks when all these companies have to do is build their capacity using tried and true open protocols like TCP/IP, which is the backbone communications protocol of the Internet? Why do they charge so much for voice and SMSs when we could do all that through the Internet...if they allowed us to? All governments have to do is lay the wireless infrastructure using taxpayers money, and the price of communications will plummet overnight. "Build it and they will come!"

The irony about "big business" and "free markets" is that no one at the top is playing fair. Everyone talks a good game about open markets, fair competition, and letting the market decide. But in reality, a lot of these massive entities simply cannot handle clean, fair, open competition. Just ask farmers in developing countries why it's almost impossible to export their cheaper produce to Europe or North America. Why are these Western farmers getting huge subsidies to do nothing? Fair competition? Pleezze, they can't handle it! That's why they (Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Agriculture, Military Industrial Complex, Banking & Insurance) need to "contribute" to political campaigns. It's simply to gain an edge. You think these companies give a shit about democracy? In fact, they prefer to operate in countries that are less democratic because they only have to pay off (oops, I mean earn favour) those at the top.

Questions, solutions to dependency...
Can you believe that oil just recently reached the $120 per barrel plateau for the first time in history? Where's that elusive electric car we've been talking about for a good 3 decades now? Didn't the great Yugoslavian scientist, Nikola Tesla (the father of hydro electric power, alternating current, modern electronics, patent holder to many inventions), invent an elaborate free energy system back in the 1930s or so? Why hasn't anyone used the results from his successful Wardenclyffe Project off Long Island Sound to pursue (ahem!) his dreams of free energy for mankind? Did you know that,
J. P. Morgan, one of the world's first billionaires at the turn of the century, threatened Tesla's potential investors with financial ruin after he realized Tesla wanted to produce free energy?

By the way, I read a fascinating Los Angeles Times article from around the 1930s on the Net. The reporter took a test drive in a car that Tesla modified with a "black box" converter.
This allowed said car to be powered by (gasp!) water for 500km with a top speed of 60 mph. Are you telling me no one else could come up with a similar idea? Oh, what ever happened to the amazing cancer cure that the brilliant scientist Royal Raymond Rife invented via his Rife machine in the 1930s only to be demonized by the American Medical Association and the FDA? You do know that cancer treatment is a multi billion dollar a year industry, right? Can you imagine the panic of the medical "establishment" when they saw Rife's revolutionary microscope that could destroy cancer cells via sound waves? And where's the will power in government to encourage its citizens to be energy self sufficient via hemp, jatropha and other biomass solutions that don't compete with food?

Better yet, why are we still cutting down trees for pulp and paper? Don't they know that 1 acre of hemp, which grows in 90-120 days, can produce the same amount of pulp and paper that can be obtained from 4 acres of trees which take decades to grow? If you don't believe me, I urge you to peek Jack Herer's free online hemp book. He's the world's foremost authority on hemp. Here's some food for thought:

In the Twenties, the early oil barons such as Rockefeller of Standard Oil, Rothschild of Shell, etc., became paranoically aware of the possibilitys of Henry Ford’s vision of cheap methanol fuel, * and they kept oil prices incredibly low – between one dollar and four dollars per barrel (there are 42 gallons in an oil barrel) until 1970 – almost 50 years! Then, once they were finally sure of the lack of competition, the price of oil jumped to almost $60+ per barrel over the next 30 years.

* Henry Ford grew marijuana on his estate after 1937, possibly to prove the cheapness of methanol production at Iron Mountain. He made plastic cars with wheat straw, hemp and sisal. (Popular Mechanics, Dec. 1941, “Pinch Hitters for Defense.”) In 1892, Rudolph Diesel invented the diesel engine, which he intended to fuel “by a variety of fuels, especially vegetable and seed oils.” {source: The Emperor Wears No Clothes by Jack Herer, chapter 9}

The little guy (consumers, SMEs, etc.) in the developing world - especially Africa - need to realize that they are still dependent on big business for a great deal of
their livelihoods. Ideally, this shouldn't be a bad thing. But it is. Why? Because someone's not playing fair (see above).
Furthermore, the questions I posed above require some serious thought. But as Jack Nicholson said to Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!"