Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Annie Paul | A dread new year?

Published:Wednesday | January 4, 2017 | 1:00 AM

Well, happy or not, here we are in the new year. What 2017 will bring, only time will tell; we'll know in about a year. Let's just say that at the moment it looks forbidding. As Susan Knight, who once wrote a column titled 'John Crowe's Diary', said on Facebook "I anticipate any and everything! Nuclear threats, cold war, terrorism, dictatorships, cyberwar, Chinese bubble bursting, aliens landing, you name it. Elvis may even return."

I'd settle for Peter Tosh and Bob Marley returning. Can you imagine what they might say if they did? So much trouble in the world. Don't look back. Legalise it. I certainly hope this will be the year that the Jamaican Government's third eye finally opens and it decides to follow the US's example by putting ganja on the front burner. High time, don't you think?

With Jamaica's ready-made brand cachet, unleashing the ganja economy could give our poor Jamaican 'bang-belly' dollar the shot in the arm it needs. Done properly it would engage youth all over the country in a flourishing industry that could give the Lotto scam a run for its money. No more burnin' and lootin', no more waiting in vain.

 

Bob Marley money

 

And if we went further and actually put Bob Marley's face on the Jamaican dollar, there would be such a run on it from around the world, we would go down in history as the first country whose currency itself became a commodity. People would pay double and treble for a certified J$1,000 bill with Bob's visage on it. Marley's face could be our redemption song with money literally flying out of our hands. You're welcome, Brian Wynter, my ideas are freely available for a limited time.

Will 2017 be the year security guards are finally paid a living wage so that they don't have to do double shifts and sleep on the job? I can't tell you the number of times I've had to wake up sleeping guards at so-called security gates. I don't blame them either, because, in order to make a living, they have to work far more than the eight hours a day you and I enjoy. You'd fall asleep, too, if you had to work the hours they do. If security companies don't want guards to unionise, they better start paying better and provide more benefits than they do currently. It's scandalous that some companies demand that guards pay for their uniforms out of the pittance they're paid. Enough of that; 400 years done long time.

 

UWI TV

 

Finally, if you want to do something edifying this year tune in to UWI TV (uwitv.org), the University of the West Indies' dedicated TV station where public lectures and discussions are live-streamed and then archived for the public's benefit. You may have to search for them under 'Categories' on the menu because, unfortunately, the home page is cluttered with 'Christmas Greetings' from the principals of each campus, the president of the guild, etc. I really think, in this day and age, we should dispense with these unnecessary rituals.

I hate to break it to those concerned, but no one would willingly click on a link that conveys Christmas greetings (or any other greetings) from a VIP, no matter how very important they are. What the public is interested in are the extremely timely and interesting forums the vice chancellor has held on the outcome of the US elections and its implications for the Caribbean, the death of Fidel Castro, Brexit and other such topical issues. Links to lectures such as the Walter Rodney Lecture, the Elsa Goveia Lecture and others should be placed front and centre on the landing page of UWI TV because that is really what the public is interested in.

But this is a minor quibble. Kudos to Don Rojas, Debbie Hickling and others involved in creating this online regional resource. It's a great way to extend the resources of the university to the public at large, giving them access to some of the very interesting lectures and forums taking place in the academy. I suggest all our media follow suit and make their archives available to the public either freely or at a nominal charge. We now inhabit a sharing economy, and restricting access to those who can afford to pay is decidedly infra dig in this day and age. Free up information and the wisdom weed as well. Here's to a smarter, mellower, better informed society!

- Annie Paul is a writer and critic based at the University of the West Indies and author of the blog, Active Voice (anniepaul.net). Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com or tweet @anniepaul.