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February 2011 in Tanzania through the eyes of an Englishman

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Libya No-Fly Zone?

28/2/2011 - Libya No Fly Zone.

This probably won't happen. My gut feeling is that Gadaffi will pack it in before it could be in place. However, the threat of it could be a useful incentive.

The USS Enterprise is currently positioned at the south end of the Suez Canal. It would probably focus minds in LIbya if it moved to the Med.

All in all, I think it would be best if the western nations let the people of Libya handle this for themselves. But if that meant that larger numbers of Libyan people were to be slaughtered by the current regime, then there could be circumstances in which a helping hand might be asked for. Such a helping hand requires forethought, so the presence of a large and relatively well-funded aircraft carrier in the Med could not do much harm. Of course, the EU and NATO would need to be involved in such a move. In the time that could take, Gadaffi could probably die of natural causes.

I really do hope that when all the heat has died down, the countries 'liberated' by the current round of unrest/revolution won't just be co-opted by other authoritarian regimes, including those that base their right-to-rule on religion.

A quick footnote. I congratulate the defenders of Zawiya for their current defence against Gadaffi's armoured forces. Hold the line - they will break before you.

Missed the Match.

28/2/2011 - Weekend Report.

The fig duly ripened, and got eaten in a number of small pieces by various figivores. The rest are some way behind, but it looks like next time there may be a number of them ripening at the same time.

The high-spot of Saturday was supposed to be the England/France six nations rugby match. Me, my recent friend Ronan, and another Frenchman, Jean, had arranged to go to the sports bar where we watched Ireland/France a couple of weeks ago. However when we got there, the place was packed with South Africans intent on watching some SA club game, so we were to be relegated to a small TV with no sound.

In the event, the satellite provider had no feed of the match anyway - bummer. So we went to Nicks pub and I had chicken and chips as a consolation. I discovered from the Internet when I got back that England had won 17/9. By all accounts it was not a good spectator match anyway, so perhaps we didn't miss much. England still have some way to go to achieve a grand slam, and there's many a slip 'tween cup and lip.

I'm no wiser about the situation in Libya than I was on Friday, except for the Security Council resolution. In some ways that could make things worse than they are, since Gadaffi now does not have much choice but to stand and fight. On the other hand, it could encourage more of his supporters to desert him. To reiterate on info channels, BBC is OK. If you want constant updates that are mostly drivel, then in Google, search for Libya, and when you get the result list click Realtime in the left hand side menu. You'll see lots of fluff, repetition, and a few interesting reports, but with no guarantee of accuracy.

25/2/2011 - Libya Confusion.

There is a real scarcity of verified news, so it is difficult to form any opinion. You can see very frequent, and in many cases repetitious reports at:

A Ripening Fig.

Protective Bag.

24/2/2011 - Fig Protection.

When figs ripen, they do so very quickly. The one in the picture had just started to turn brown the day before yesterday. However yesterday I was doing geology, and went into town, so I had failed to check its progress. First thing this morning, Adia noticed that the birds had already been at it, though not seriously.

Although it has doubled in size during that time, it can't be completely ripe yet. If it had been, the birds would, I'm sure, have eaten more of it. Anyway, now it has a protective paper bag, fastened on with a clothes peg, that I'm hoping will keep the birds off for a day, or possibly two.

The thing to note about the ripening speed is that the fig is actually a container for the fig tree's flowers. So the final development should be thought of in that context. Many flowers will open in a matter of hours. I'm thinking this particular fig should be fully ripe by tomorrow, or possibly the day after. We will check it in the morning.

The bag should not interfere with the ripening process. Fig trees like lots of sun, but its only the leaves that use it. Cold might slow down the ripening, but that's not likely to be a problem here.

Fastening on paper bags is going to be a bit of a pain when the figs at the top of the tree start to ripen. I shall have to make some kind of support so I can use half of my extension ladder like a step ladder.

Apportionment of the fig is problematic. There are far too many people who want to taste it. A couple of the guests, Harry, Adia and me, Kemi, and Sippy. Maybe I'll allocate numbered figs to individuals, and it will be up to them to defend their fig from marauding birds, and to decide exactly when to pick it.

At least one of the guests wants a cutting from the tree. That should not be a problem, as after the figs have been picked and eaten it needs to be quite savagely pruned so that it grows laterally rather than vertically next year. I would like to grow a couple more of them, but the problem is where. I can fit one in between the South House and the Main House, but other than there, most space is already spoken for.

600M Years Old?.

23/2/2011 - Geology 103.

I've been reading more about the geology of the area where I live. It's quite interesting when you consider the following:
  • There's a thing called the Tanzanian craton (a thick piece of continental crust) to our west, that is in the league of the oldest rock formations on Earth's surface (maybe 2400M year old). It's there that Tanzania's known gold reserves, and some of the diamonds are located.
  • This was overridden to some extent from the current east by a continental collision between tectonic plates during the formation of the super-continent Gondwana about 600M years ago.
  • Eons after Gondwana came apart, the African continent also decided to split, with the formation of a Great Rift Valley section right next door to us.
  • This splitting caused a lot of volcanic activity in our locality, including the volcanoes Kilimanjaro, Meru, Ngorongoro, among many others. This was recent stuff, just a few million years ago - probably within the timespan of Homo Sapiens.
Lots of geology in a relatively small area.

When I stopped reading for the day, I thought I would walk down and look at our closest rock exposure. This is the wall of the small ravine carved out by the small river that runs to the south just to the east of our house. It is maybe 30m down from where we live, and where we live does not appear to be an area of volcanic detritus. No basalt, no moram (except that we've paid for). So I'm guessing the river bed is down into the rock that was there before the volcanoes, which is likely the 600M year old stuff.

There I found three distinctly different strata. The bottom one looks like small pebbles or smoothed rock pieces up through large rounded boulders probably of basalt or some similar rock, embedded in earth. But when you prod the earth, or hit it with a heavy stone, it is in fact rock, and pretty hard rock at that. A conglomerate like that usually represents the state of a sea shore or a glacial morrain somewhere way back in history.

The middle stratum is thin, and the matrix is of a greyer colour, with much smaller irregular stones embedded. The top one is again a different colour, and has large lumps, but in this case the pieces are sharp and irregular - not your beach pebbles.

Above that, it's possible that there were slabs of bedded sandstone, but I can't be sure of that. It might just have been a very large lump embedded in the matrix that happened to be lying face down.

I can hear my readers out there who have to go to work five days or more a week saying "Get a life man!"

Situation Unknown.

21/2/2011 - Libya.

There's a torrent of twitters on Google about what's happening in Tripoli. Very few, if any, of these are coming from Libya, and probably 95% of them are repeats or paraphrases of other peoples tweetings from five minutes before.

It does seem though that there are people getting killed there as I speak. It also seems clear that a couple of Libyan air force officers defected and landed fighter jets in Malta. There's also a strong suspicion that mercenaries have been brought in to attack protestors.

However, when you read reports of Libyan 'navy bombing', it's easy to see what a load of speculation many of these reports are.

Nonetheless, it seems to have reached a point now where Gaddafi will have to kill half of the population to prevail, and I believe his forces will turn against him long before that happens.

The Big Sofa In Pieces.

20/2/2011 - Sloppy Workmanship.

Tell-tale heaps of wood dust from some wood boring insect had started to appear on the floor under the big sofa. So today we attempted to do what I should have done before covering it. The sofa in one piece won't go through the door, but fortunately it comes to pieces quite easily with the removal of a few screws.

We then moved the separate pieces out onto the patio where I sprayed them with a clear kerosene based wood preservative, doing my best to get as little as possible on the outer fabric. I was not all that successful in the latter, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that when it's dry there won't be much staining. That was done by about 12:30. Now I'm hoping that we'll get sunshine all afternoon and preferably a bit of breeze to dry the parts out and blow away as much as possible of the kerosene smell. If they are still smelly by evening, they'll have to stay in the veranda overnight, and out in the sun again tomorrow.

Wake Up Call.

19/2/2011 - USA Vetoes What it Wants?

Once again, the tail wags the dog.

The USA vetoes a UN security council resolution "condemning Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories as an obstacle to peace." Shame on you Obama, shame on you Hillary Clinton. You and your predecessors have skirted around this problem forever, telling Israel through diplomatic channels that the settlements are wrong. But when there's a clear opportunity, supported by a majority of the worlds nations who give a shit anyway, you do the usual thing and bow to Israel.

What is it that American politicians live in fear of that makes it possible for the pro-Israeli lobby to virtually control congress. The answer is simply money, or the lack of it. Because of loopholes in the US regulations concerning campaign contributions, and the enormous cost of getting elected to anything significant in the USA, it is possible for Israel to pump any amount of money required into or against the campaign of any politician they consider to be pro-Israel, or anti-Israel respectively.

Where does this money come from? Well probably from US taxpayers. The USA provides large sums in aid to Israel, and though this may not be used for political purposes directly, clearly it frees up Israeli funds that would otherwise have to be used for something else. If I'm totally off target, and the money is coming from rich Americans who have some reason to support Israel, then clearly further legislation is required to limit contributions that primarily benefit foreign interests.

Maybe the poor and the unemployed citizens of the USA whose benefits and prospects are being eroded by US aid payments contributing to political corruption (Israel is not by any means a unique example), and other citizens who feel strongly about human rights and the eventual possibility of peace in the middle east, should follow the example set by the citizens of Egypt. Get out on the streets and tell Obama and Clinton that they have got it wrong. That the USA is a proud and sovereign nation that does not require or want bribery of their politicians by other states.

My Most Common Task.

18/2/2011 - Yet Another Punctured Pipe.

I've had what I thought was a sinus infection for the last few days that has made me feel rather crappy and overtired. So yesterday when Adia told me we had yet another leaking water pipe, I was not amused. The contractor who did work on the car park had poked it, and had not fixed it properly.

Having gone to bed early, and got up late, it dawned on me that what I had was probably just your common cold, which by today may have been in its later stages. So we mended the pipe. Adia, who now has a pretty good idea of where the pipes run, supervised Sippy in breaking a cement layer over the pipe, and then exposing a suitable length of it. That definitely was not on my agenda for today. I just did the plumber bit - cut out the puncture and put a straight coupling in its place. Even that was enough to bring me out in quite a sweat.

Anyway, it's done, and I've now got myself dosed up with some generic cold symptom tablets. I shall repeat the treatment - early to bed and late to rise, and hope that by tomorrow I may feel significantly better.

The new generator seems to be doing well tonight. It is running three fridges and lights, and was at one point running the TV as well without any noticeable sign of stress.

Current World Conflict Areas.

16/2/2011 - Present and Future?

At the risk of driving away my readers, I once again wondered about something. Specifically, how many conflicts are there going on in the world at present that have direct participation by multiple countries.

The answer is interesting, and I wonder how many times it has been the case in the history of human society. It seems that at present, there are only two.

  • Whatever remains of the conflict in Iraq,
  • The situation in Afghanistan.
The first of these will soon fail to qualify, as foreign troops are withdrawn.

Other than these, the conflicts causing more than 1000 casualties a year number about six. I think that by world historical standards, this must be remarkably small. However, I think it also emphasizes an important fact, that being that the majority of conflicts in world history have been civil wars - very much man's inhumanity to man - to his brothers and sisters.

The fact that the number of conflicts is now relatively low does not, of course, duck our primary problems in surviving as a species on planet Earth. The prevalence of conflict has been replaced by an international system of organized greed, primarily exemplified by the big multi-national corporations and their shareholders. Given the existence of these 'for profit only' organizations, socio-economic factors relating to the 'haves' and the 'have nots' more or less dictate that the depletion of world resources, and the pollution of our environment will continue at an exponentially increasing rate.

So we don't need to shoot each other any more. The attrition will continue as more-or-less anonymous proxies destroy the viability of Earth as an environment suitable for humans. Unless we change our ways, I suspect that before the next millennium is over, someone will unknowingly witness T.S. Eliot's moment, the world's end for humanity - 'Not with a bang but a whimper.'

Snow on the Mountain.

15/2/2011 - Rain.

It's been scorching hot since December. But no sooner had I put the new generator round the back of the house and wired it up, than the heavens opened. The next part of the job, today, was to build a wood and corrugated iron cover for it to keep it reasonably dry. Now reasonably solid rain is forecast for the next four days, so even getting it dried out is going to be a challenge.

It's not supposed to rain until maybe mid March. Sippy had started to dig over the top plot so we could use it to grow the usual corn/beans combo when the rains came. The weather has ceased to be predictable.

Anyway, I'll see what I have in the way of wood today to make the cover. I can make it in the workshop then screw it to the wall when the rain lets me.

As it's turned out, I had the materials, and the rain slacked off during the day, so there is now some cover. Just to be unpredictable, we had power during the night and during the day, and we still have it.

The house is now heaving with guests and visitors. Some of the visitors are pre-paid in places they don't really want to be, and are threatening to come and eat here. I can see that a steady level of occupancy is going to be one of those difficult things to achieve - a bit like steady growth in an economy. But we'll live and learn.


14/2/2011 - Valentines.

Non given, non received. It can't be an African thing, since I think Adia was as surprised as me about it being Valentines day. That's a first I think, and very comfortable. She got some guests today, and I think that was Valentine enough, even if not from me.

I'm laying off Egypt now. I'll revisit in maybe three months. The right noises are being made, but action can only be judged over time.

The electricity supply situation here is deteriorating. We're lucky now if we get it half time, and often when you get it will be during the night when you could probably do without. Our old small generator Piglet (900W) is getting pretty beat up. The bigger one (Pig) self destructed a couple of years ago. I've been living in fear of Piglet croaking by the day. So this weekend we shelled out and bought another one - a bit bigger (2kW). Hopefully it will allow us to maintain at least one fridge/freezer in a decent state as well as lights, TV, and Internet.

Piglet was being run as required out in the veranda, which was quite noisy. So today I drilled a hole from the back of one of the kitchen sockets to a point on the outside wall that should be about the best noise-wise. I've put a cable through that, and a double-pole isolating switch, and a connection to the new generator. Public opinion is that rain will come soon, so my next job is to build some sort of cover for it. 'It' does not have a name yet - suggestions are welcome.

Watched the France/Ireland Six Nations rugby match last night with my new friend - a young Frenchman called Ronan. Hard game, and very even really, but the French managed to stay ahead by 3 points at the end. On the 26th I have to go with him to watch England/France - a different kettle of fish! England appear to be strong this year, and the game is on home turf at Twickenham. We'll probably have to sit at opposite ends of the bar!

Scenes of Jubilation.

11/2/2011 - Now Be Careful.

I congratulate the people of Egypt on what, so far, has been a moderately bloodless and at least partially successful revolution. I believe that the blood that was shed, and the lives lost were largely down the the forces of repression marshalled by the existing regime. Apart from reacting to threats organized by those forces, the conduct of the demonstrations appears to have been exemplary.

Of course, all the difficult stuff still has to be done. To carry any weight, modifications to the constitution will have to be subject to referendum, and that may be the first point at which the differences within Egyptian society are revealed in some sort of quantitative way.

Then of course, any kind of democratic modern constitution is going to have to allow for multi party representation in elections. After many, many years without proper elections the result is likely to be highly fragmented. So following the elections it will probably prove difficult for any party to form an effective government. Just look at Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Lebanon for examples.

During this quite possibly extended period of argument, haggling, and bartering, the economy will certainly suffer. Eventually people could get desperate about incomes and food, and under those circumstances there will be opportunities for larger political groups to attempt to take power by extra-constitutional means. So it is to be hoped that as in Turkey, the army will reserve its position as final arbiter until such time in the distant future when further measured constitutional change can prohibit that role - at least in theory.

The genie has been out of the bottle for some time. We don't know at this point how many wishes she was prepared to grant, except that it was at least one. That wish - short term though it may be - has been granted. It is to be hoped that it can be followed through without recourse to any further wishes that may, or may not, be available.

Adia With Her Bodyguard.

10/2/2011 - Dog Day Morning.

Adia had determined that the dogs were well behind on their vaccinations schedule. They are fairly safe in that respect, since they live their lives within our compound, and it would be heaven help any outside dog that entered.

Nonetheless, a visit to the V.E.T. was in order, so this morning we set off with the three of them in Potter. This is no mean undertaking. Getting the three of them in there is an achievement in itself. You start with Sigi (Siegfried) - he's always game for a car ride. Then, since he appears to be going somewhere, Hansel will get in. But since things between the two males are a bit strained, Sigi may well choose to leave at that point.

Gretel is very pragmatic - where are we going, and why? The only way to get her in there is to pick her up and put her in, and she weighs in at 29kg, so that's a non-trivial exercise while trying to keep the door opening narrow enough to ensure that one of the other two does not jump out.

Eventually you get them all, and the two of us in at the same time. Then Gretel and Sigi are quite well behaved, but Hansel jumps about all over the inside of the car like a demon.

So we arrive at the V.E.T.S. surgery. It seems like a good idea to take one of them in at a time, so Adia takes Sigi first. The other two don't think this is a good idea, and I am left in the car with two mad dogs who are trying to squeeze through the partially closed windows. I give in, and take them outside to walk up and down the road. This works for a while, and some calm is restored, but then some stupid neighbours dog squeezes itself under a gate and advances on Hansel and Gretel. It is probably about 1/3 of the weight of either of them, and the two of them want to get it. I'm sure that left to their own devices they would probably have killed it. Holding two large dogs who are in that mood is not easy, so I drag them into the V.E.T.S. compound, where of course there is the possibility that some other dog may be waiting for treatment ...

Fortunately there wasn't. Eventually they all got their shots, and we got the family back in the car and home. I love them, but they are not pets, they are guard dogs, and as such I require them to be territorial, aggressive, and a team. Visits to the V.E.T. should therefore remain difficult.

If You Disagree.

9/2/2011 - Foreign Policy.

So far, most of the focus on the happenings in Egypt has been on what's going on there. But there are big questions elsewhere - primarily in the USA, and to a slightly lesser extent in the countries of Europe. Right or wrong, it is the USA that I'm going to focus on tonight.

For the last 37 years, the US has poured money into Egypt to support the peace deal that was done between Egypt and Israel following the Arab/Israeli war in 1973. Why, one might ask, but I can not answer. A big factor may be the substantial influence that pro-Israel lobbyists have been able to exert on the sequence of administrations in the USA to keep Egypt harmless. The nature of the US/Israel relationship is one that some brave president will have to explain to the people of the USA one day. For the present, it is what it is, and anyone who challenges it is likely to be accused of anti-semitism - yet another persistent hangover from the WW2 era.

Anyway, the reality of the situation is that a large audience of news readers in the USA has recently had the nature of the Mubaraq regime, that has cost them maybe $2 billion a year for 30 years, stuffed in front of their face.

The regime is comparable to that composed by Hitler in Nazi Germany, or to Stalin in the USSR, or the Supreme Leader in Iran. It uses all the same well-established techniques of repression - squashing the heart, soul, and humanity out of ordinary people with ordinary aspirations.

And this duplicity, and the $60 billion of aid has come from (the taxpayers of) a country that I love in my own peculiar way. It describes itself as the land of the free, and sees itself from time to time as the guardian and greatest promoter of democracy. Many, many young American men have died in WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, you name it, to support those principles.

There must be a lot of US politicians squirming at this point. What can we say to Egypt - in the new 'real time' it has to be something that ordinary US citizens can understand. How do we explain the way that we failed to notice this draconian repression for 30 years to our own citizens? Were US diplomats and the employees of the CIA idiots? At the same time, whatever is said to the current leaders in Egypt is going to descend with a hollow thud. 'We've done what you wanted for nearly 40 years, and now you want to make us look like criminals.'


8/2/2011 - Maybe There's Still Revolution.

It appeared that the revolutionary fervour in Egypt was passing away, but wait! It seems that there are plenty of people watching and waiting, since today there was the biggest turnout yet in Tahrir Square. Get the picture Mr Mubaraq?

I still think personally that some old fashioned revolutionary activity like a march on the presidential palace will be required. The primary effect of that would be to clarify the position of the army. When the army's position becomes clear, all else will follow, with or without bloodshed. Bloodless revolution is a nice idea, but rare in history.

The BBC seem to have abandoned their live coverage of events in Egypt. Presumably the ratings were falling, so it should be dumped? Shame on them, shame on us Brits. History happening now and in the past does matter. Democracy and freedom do not persist without vigilance and understanding. Understanding costs effort. Do it!

No Pictures Available.

7/2/2011 - Scale of Major Wars.

Following on from my WW2 reading, I wondered about two things:
  1. The density of combat troops within the areas that were contested - how many soldiers per square kilometre or per kilometre of front,
  2. The scale of WW2 compared to other major wars.
The first one I don't yet have any handle on, but Wiki has a page that deals with number two from the point of view of death toll. I'm sure it is all extremely approximate, but nonetheless, and not surprisingly, WW2 tops the list. What surprised me is that some wars that are way in the past, and mostly in Asia, comprise the next three in the list. It would not consequently surprise me that if the numbers for them were normalized in terms of world population at the time, that they would have been bigger than WW2 in their day. However I don't have the numbers to work that out - quite possibly nobody does.

WW1 probably comes in at number six, though the water is muddied here by the Spanish flu epidemic in 1919. The second Congo war comes in at number ten, with Korea and Vietnam quite a bit further down the list.

Looking at these numbers, and considering what we know now about the effects of pollution and exhaustion of natural resources, it's difficult to avoid the conclusion that the human species is a scourge that will quickly (in geological terms) destroy the 'Garden of Eden' that planet Earth was 3,000,000 years ago.

Barbarossa picture.

7/2/2011 - Revisionism.

I don't know what started me, but for some reason, over the weekend I started reading for the Nth time about the history of the origins and course of WW2 in Europe. The result was a bit of a surprise to me.

A lot of archive information has been dug up and investigated from various sources over the years, particularly in Russia, and there are many pieces of evidence that now make it quite plausible to me to think that Operation Barbarossa - the Nazi invasion of the then USSR - was not the colossal blunder by Hitler that I've always thought it was. Rather, it may in fact have been a pre-emptive strike - as the Nazis claimed at the time, a move that Hitler felt he had to make to save the Third Reich from imminent destruction.

The reasoning behind this rests on the happenings at a meeting of the USSR Politburo on August 19, 1939. There, Stalin outlined a plan for secret mobilisation of Soviet forces that was to have culminated two years later in an invasion of western Europe. The non-aggression pact between Germany and the USSR was signed four days later.

Hitler needed the pact to ensure that Poland could be 'safely' carved up between Germany and the USSR. He needed a slice of Poland - particularly its gold and foreign currency reserves, to prop up an economy that had acute balance of payment problems. These were threatening his ability to continue development of his armed forces while at the same time propping up public faith in the Nazi party's ability to sustain the 'Third Reich dream'.

Stalin needed the pact to give Germany a sense of security on its eastern border while he executed his mobilisation plan. His purges of government, the Communist party, and the Red Army may well have been an integral part of his preparations. It would have been necessary for Stalin to take the most extreme measures to ensure that the transition of the state to a war footing was not noticed by Germany.

Statistical evidence accumulated over the ensuing two year period, when the build up of arms and armaments clearly indicated that their purpose was offensive rather than defensive. For example by 1941, the USSR had 61 tank divisions in place, and 20 or 30 more in preparation. Stalin also had about three times the number of submarines than Germany. The latter, in the case of Germany were always regarded as an indication of aggressive intent. The tanks, it could be argued, were less of an obvious offensive threat, since at the beginning of the two year build up, Blitzkrieg had yet to be widely understood. But that's not really the case. Zukhov had demonstrated the power of rapidly deploying armoured forces with mobile infantry at Khalkhin Gol in Mongolia in 1939.

You can read all about the evidence here. Viktor Suvorov's conclusion was that the USSR was in fact intending to launch an assault on Germany only two weeks after Hitler launched Barbarossa. Suvorof argues that this is why the German strike was so effective. Soviet forces were in a high degree of preparation for attack, and in no way disposed for defence. That combined with the experience of Blitzkrieg warfare accumulated by the German forces in the battle for France was enough for Germany do deal the USSR a heavy blow, but not to kill it.

If you are interested in world history, the link is worth a read. (P.S. Remembered what got me started - a program on Discovery channel about the battle around Kursk in 1943.)

Saturday Morning.

5/2/2011 - Stalemate.

It's a bright Saturday morning here. Kemi is singing to herself as she does her morning jobs. Adia's out running up and down ESAMI hill, and I'm fiddling with my web page. Soon we'll have breakfast and decide what to do with our peaceful day.

In Egypt, Mubarak has succeeded in splitting moderate public opinion. The 'day of departure' produced no result. The demonstrations in Tahrir Square will continue, but it's likely that they will gradually shrink - there's a limit to the length of time people can sustain a dream. The international media frenzy will die down as the situation becomes routine.

The lists of names held by the secret police will continue to grow, and without profound regime change there will undoubtedly be retribution.

It seems to me that the alliance between the USA and Egypt will have to be broken. Now that western public opinion has seen and read some graphic illustrations of the nature of the Egyptian state apparatus, I guess that Congress will seek to distance the country from it. That move will of course destabilize the situation in the middle east.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Sorry to be cynical, but history does not encourage me otherwise.

The Army Will Decide.

3/2/2011 - Egypt - What Next?

There was some amazing crap coming out of 'official channels' about Egypt today.

I listened to as much of the "prime minister's" speech as I could tolerate - unadulterated waffle. Possibly the guy was chosen because of his complete inability to express himself, or then again, maybe it was just the translator. Either can be easily replaced. He promised a full enquiry. Which year should we expect the results of that to be published, and who will be ruling Egypt then? Really high quality crap.

Second comes - "Iran watches closely the developments that are stemming from a wave of Islamic renaissance in the Middle East region." Wow, that really inspired me! I think I will become a fundamentalist Muslim, and go on jihad immediately.

"Russian President Dmitry Medvedev adds his voice to those calling for a peaceful resolution to Egypt's crisis" - well, platitudes like that don't cost you anything, do they? The British and Euro governments had already mouthed the same vague sentiments.

The Chinese are pragmatic as always. They know that anything they say could get it wrong, and thus damage their trading and influence prospects with Egypt for the future. So it's best to say nothing.

Reports earlier today suggested the Egyptian army might be turning, but if you go by the body language of some Egyptian general who was broadcast visiting Tahrir Square, you wouldn't give much credibility to that idea.

It really is down to the army. If they are prepared to shoot down the anti-Mubarak supporters, then some close-knit army/ruling class body will be able to replace Mubaraq with somebody who will maintain the status quo for another 30 years, and pretend there has been change. Otherwise, Pandora’s box remains open, and there's nobody who has the slightest idea of what will happen. Those of us who support the clearly flawed virtues of democracy will have to put up with what we get.

Even if the authoritarian regime is extended, I do really hope that the American people will decline to pay for it. $1.5bn a year could be better spent at home!

I see now that the focus of news reports seems to be on the containment/suppression of foreign journalists. There's a good chance this means that something nasty is going to happen.


Democracy may be just a dream.

You elect representatives; they take power.
Then, they know best - and vote away your hopes and aspirations.

Yes: just a dream.


2/2/2011 - A Battle of Wills.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof tweeted: "In my part of Tahrir, pro-Mubarak mobs arrived in buses, armed with machetes, straight-razors and clubs, very menacing."

Is this the sort of crowd you expect from the side that says it wants stability and order?

It's important in any conflict crisis situation to remember that when you feel you are at the worst and most desperate point, and may not be able to hold much longer, then the other side probably feels just the same way. The important thing is to hold on, regroup as possible, and to continue to resist. Mubarak knows this; his opponents may be less clear on the point. They'd better learn quickly.

In this case, I suspect time is against the pro-Mubarak elements who are in the streets surrounding the square. In the morning they could find themselves trapped there by anti-Mubarak elements that have moved in behind them, and those elements will likely then be armed for the situation, unlike their comrades in the square.

Samir Radwan.

1/2/2011 - Bullshit.

How pathetic! Newly-appointed [Egyptian] Finance Minister Samir Radwan tells the BBC World Service that the situation is "very serious" but still "manageable" for the government. It has a "very clear plan" to deal with unemployment, poverty and corruption, he says.

If it's that easy to come up with a plan - like one day since the new cabinet was appointed by Mubaraq - then why was this not done last year, or the year before, or years ago? "Very clear plan" - bullshit!

Radwan may be a decent guy, but whoever wrote his script and pulled his strings is a liar, and needs to go along with Mubaraq.

It's no use saying wait, wait, that regime change will lead to an unfriendly Islamic government. The genie is out of the box, and the longer the period of procrastination is, the less the west will be trusted by any new government.

Some country needs to offer Mubaraq a safe haven - any volunteers? But that should not preclude close examination of his financial status to claw back any money that has been misappropriated. version 3.0
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Squash This List

Check out the BEV retrospective
currently covering 1942 - 1974.

1975 is WIP (work-in-progress).

What is BEV?

Brits Eye View is the personal blog of a 68 year old Englishman - Steve Teale, started in January 2003. It's currently about life in Arusha (Tanzania), and previously in Bangalore, Manhattan, and the Bronx. It deals with life in general, building a house, food and drink, computer programming, opinion on current affairs, 20th century history, and so on. It may give you some insight into what life is like in 'the third world', or encourage you to visit Tanzania.

I started playing with it in January 2003, when I was living in Manhattan. At the time I felt I was going nowhere, and exposing the details of my life could be no worse than not. Almost immediately I changed partners, and quickly recognized that while I might be prepared to live in a goldfish bowl, other's weren't.

The same year I lost my job - recession, exhausted my NY State unemployment benefits, and got a job in India. Consequently a large proportion of BEV was written in Bangalore. India was OK, but I could not see what I was going to do there when I retired.

This uncertainty was resolved when I met my current partner Adia in 2006. She was a Tanzanian, studying law in India, so I came Tanzania in 2007. Here we have built a house, and made new friends. The rest, you can read on BEV.

At about the same time I had the ridiculous idea of extending BEV backwards to cover the years 1942 to 2002. So far I have got to 1974. For the years 2003 - 2010, choose a year/month from the tool bar. For 1942 - 1974, choose a year.

Visiting Tanzania?

If you have done all the usual tourist destinations, then make a leap and discover Africa! Come and visit Arusha, Tanzania.

You might be able to stay at - a great centre for safaris to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Kilimanjaro, and of course our own pet volcano, Mount Meru.

Please feel free to contact us. We can tell you about hotels, facilities, prices of basics, etc.

We now have very pleasant bed and breakfast rooms available at $20 per night. The Old Cottage and the South House are also available for longer term visitors.

This Month's Posts

If there's something particular you'd like to go back to, just click it here

Top 20 BEV Pages.

Exchange Rates.

BEV Software Blog.

There are a couple of new items described on the current software blog post. The first is a site mapping script in PHP - this is what provides the new 'Site map' item on the BEV main menu.

There's also a rather convenient page that provides for translation of 'difficult' characters in computer code so that the result can be safely used in a web page.

Moods of Meru.

Mt Meru


Random BEV Poem.

60 Years Ago - Hits of the Month.

US Billboard #1

- Patti Page: The Tennessee Waltz (a fixture in the charts)

50 Years Ago - Hits of the Month.

US Billboard #1

- Shirelles: Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

- Lawrence Welk: Calcutta

- Chubby Checker: Pony Time

UK Chart number 1

- Petula Clark: Sailor

- Everly Brothers: Walk Right Back

40 Years Ago - Hits of the Month.

US Billboard #1

- Dawn: Knock Three Times

- The Osmonds: One Bad Apple

UK Chart number 1

- George Harrison: My Sweet Lord

- Mungo Jerry: Baby Jump
No link found

- T Rex: Hot Love

30 Years Ago - Hits of the Month.

US Billboard #1

- Blondie: The Tide Is High

- Dolly Parton: 9 to 5

- Eddie Rabbitt: I Love A Rainy Night

UK Chart number 1

- John Lennon: Woman

- Joe Dolce Music Theatre: Shuddup You Face

- Roxy Music: Jealous Guy
Surprisingly, link not found.

- Shakin' Stevens: This Ole House
Link not found.

20 Years Ago - Hits of the Month.

US Billboard #1

The First Time - Surface
Link not found.

- C&C Music Factory featuring Freedom Williams: Gonna Make You Sweat

- Whitney Houston: All the Man That I Need

UK Chart number 1

- Queen: Innuendo

- Chesney Hawkes: The One And Only

10 Years Ago - Hits of the Month.

US Billboard #1

- Destiny's Child: Independent Women Part 1

- Shaggy featuring Ricardo "RikRok" Ducent: It Wasn't Me

- OutKast: Ms Jackson

- Joe: Stutter

UK Chart number 1

- Limp Bizkit: Rollin'

- Atomic Kitten: Whole Again

Contact BEV.

If you want to get in touch outside the built-in comment system, email Steve Teale.