Bermuda Fables

"I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians." – Charles De Gaulle

Green Politics – the newest global political buzzphrase August 28, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — alsys @ 12:39 pm

Green politics, green party… these are definite signs of the times. For those that have never heard of this, the green denotes environmentalism and conservationalism. A good friend said to me recently that the economy is a huge proponent of who holds the power, ie, the gov’t. You save me money, you make me money and in most cases, I will vote for you. It’s sounds horribly materialistic but we live in a world that is run by money, whether we like it or not. Ideals are great on paper but they don’t feed our families. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as or more idealistic than the next person but I also have to be a realist. And the reality of the matter is that “money makes the world go ’round…”

But back to my point, there is a big push for “green parties” around the world due to, partially, the spiraling cost of oil and the juxtaposition of increased need for oil and quite simply, less of it. It is a finite and non-renewable energy source that the majority of the world depends on to a huge degree. Enter green energy. Wave, wind, sun. To a certain extent nuclear energy (more on this later). It suddenly has become fiscally responsible to seek out, produce and encourage more environmentally friendly energy sources. And thusly, more politically friendly. There are an interesting crop of new politicians in the US who are using green party as their platform, Kathleen Sebelius is one. She actually just spoke at the DNC (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/08/26/kathleen-sebelius-democra_n_121636.html – the text if you are interested). A whole new industry is evolving from green policies, a whole new way of life. It’s rather intriguing.

 

There are two types of green energy that I am particularly interested in, as it pertains to Bermuda. They are wave energy and nuclear energy. Okay, I know that nuclear word strikes fear into the hearts of anyone who is old enough to have studied Chernobyl in high school, but consider this, France gets 80% of its energy from nuclear plants (so approx. 50m people).  It doesn’t pollute the earth much, new technologies have been created to make it as safe as a microwave (even more so really) and it SAVES money 🙂

 

Wave Energy

Basically, you have these buoys floating on the water which are tethered to a wave engine below the water. The higher the waves, the more the buoy moves, the more energy is produced and thus can be harnessed. This energy must then be transported to land. There are a few bugs still in the systems, I’ll admit but where better to start work on something like this? Okay, well , Portugal actually beat us to it, being the first place to have a commercial wave farm but I call seconds! Anyway, it is a feasible option for a clean energy source, making use of the one commodity we have a crap load of – ocean.

 

Nuclear Energy

Ah!!!! Yep, this one gets me all wobbly. I’m a severe geek and just the word gets me all giggly. I mean, we’ve all seen the movies, read the books and comics, studied the great accidents of the 70s/80s (?). There just was a tv series called Jericho on last season which alluded to a great nuclear bomb/accident. I’ll admit it, when you think about it as the small and short-lived human beings that we are, the actual concept of messing with atoms – breaking them apart, fusing them together – to release exorbinate amounts of energy seems like a really really bad idea.

Graphite Pebble for Reactor

That’s no longer the case. Sure nuclear reactors are inherently dangerous, but no more so than any other type of power station (Belco blackouts) with the correct safety procedures. The picture embedded above is the main component of my particular favourite reactor, the Pebble Bed Reactor. Just as the name says, it’s a reactor that uses graphite (among other fuels) “pebbles”. Each of these pebbles are effectively mini-reactors whose life span is two to three years. They are cooled using inert gas. This reactor is one of the safest ones out there today, using passive safety systems based on temperature – the lower the temperature, the higher the energy output, being thusly inherently self controlling. Created in Germany, you can find PBRs at MIT and certain other commercial nuclear companies in the US, in South Africa and in China. There are even places testing PBRs vehicle engines! The waste is less hazardous and easier to dispose of than other reactors, I mean, it’s a pebble. It does need to be stored but there are people working on ways to recycle the pebbles. It’s an interesting concept indeed. If you’re interested in learning more detail, check out the wikipedia site, which can lead you to more if you want. Also, if you might want to check out the grist.com website, an information site on green policies.

 

 

Are both types of these energies the answer? I don’t know but i do think it’s about time that we start looking at them. We are too small an island with too little resources to not worry about our own dependence on oil and petroleum products, never mind the rest of the world. Especially for those is strong support of our Independence. Dependence on a product to such a degree that we neither make no have any way of trading for can be something that will bite us in the arse later on down the road. So let’s start looking at using what we do have.

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Day Care Centres August 27, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — alsys @ 2:08 pm

A lot has been said about this topic, starting from last years’ election promises to the lack of funding pertaining to implementation of it noted in the Budget Speech to the hoopla caused by the Government’s decision to focus on and enforce the Child Care Law’s restriction as to ratio numbers of children to caregivers. Finally we come to a couple of weeks ago, where it was announced by the Government that Means Tested Day Care will be available to bermudian families, with a capped salary of no more than $70k, by a system of vouchers. As some who already know me and some who simply read my newspaper article, day care/child care is an issue near and dear to my heart, for reasons that are patently obvious. And I applaud the government for coming up with a solution – although I sincerely hope it is a tiered solution of which this is the first stage. This has been a touchy subject for many and I admit I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this would be happening sooner rather than later. I mean, the sheer logistics of this is boggling if you sit down and really think about it (which I have – much to the horror of anyone who has had to listen to me pontificate on the subject ad nauseam…).  I’m gonna focus on day care voucher system for today and perhaps in the future, I can focus on the other parts of this issue that I mentioned above.

 

I tried to research as much as I could before writing this post, but the Child Day Care Allowance Act has not been added into the Bermuda Laws online database as yet. Funnily enough I couldn’t actually find a press statement, besides that of the RG, online either. I thought I remembered seeing information on the PLP website previously but I was a bit tired last night and couldn’t to find it, on there or the Government website. My apologies if it is indeed on either of those sites. (And if anyone does find it, can you please send me the link?) So, if there are any mistakes in my post, I blame the Hood’s quiz night… So, from what I have surmised, this Act – which is not in implementation stages yet – is offering Government vouchers of an as yet undisclosed amount to be proffered to bermudian families that are then to be paid to a day care centre. I have some questions and concerns for this.

1. “as yet undisclosed amount” – I think this is a very important bit of information. Will the amount be defined by gov’t, by the need based on salaries or by how much the centre charges? As you can imagine, the criteria for this could posssibly denote vastly different amounts, which could then lead to abuse of the system. I will be following the information released closely.

2. “Means Tested” – The number of $70k is I think a good-ish number. I would love to see where the number came from, especially considering the poverty study that came out and their numbers. However, is this a  household salary number or a primary caregiver number? Does it take into account the actual expenses said parent(s) incur monthly? Like, if you own your house outright versus those who rent/have a mortgage or if you live with your parents (single parents mostly). Does it take into account income received as child support? Will there be any allowances for those who make slightly above that threshold?

3.”bermudian families” – I know this was a bit of a talking point, especially from the UBP. Many have wondered why low income non-bermudian families were not included in this act. Personally I think that that they should be allowed but as I said before, I am hoping this is a tiered process and I firmly believe that they will be included at a later date.  But for now, the fact that this is happening at all is most important. And yeah, bermudians do come first – not only – but first. I do however wonder if in the cases that the child is dual-nationality and the non-bermudian parent is the primary caregiver and resident, how this will work out. Will it be based on the child’s nationality?

4. “voucher system” – I actually was under the impression after listening to this idea during the election, that the gov’t intended to open Day Care Centres themselves. As the biggest problem we, as parents, face is finding day care at the nursery level that is registered, affordable and that offers a curriculum that promotes learning, that seemed elementary. Thusly, I had assumed that, logistical nightmare that it is aside, the gov’t would offer public nursery schools and beef up their public pre-school offerings. This is not to be the case, but as I noted above and as was reported in the RG, the gov’t is looking at places to open child care centres. I haven’t been able to find out if this is a definite plan that is in the works but I sincerely hope so. IMO this would alleviate the “foreigner” discrimination issue, alleviate the various administration problems that I am sure will arise due to the voucher system AND create less chances for abuse of the system.

 

Child care is an issue that on the surface seems to be simple but I personally believe that the first couple years of a child life and the daily care they receive during that time can shape a country. Lessons learned at an almost cellular level will echo through that that child’s whole life, into adulthood, and thusly affect those who said child comes into contact with. It is not the gov’ts responsibility to raise our children but it is their responsibility to create the framework in which we can raise our children safely and in manner which bodes well for future generations. This new Act is our gov’ts first step and I look forward to seeing what more is to come.

 

Day One of Blogosphere… August 26, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — alsys @ 12:37 pm

So here I am jumping in with both feet. I must admit, I am a bit weirded out but eh, nothing ventured right 🙂

 

I have been following the American political… rigamarole… with what some has termed as unhealthy vigor. I personally think this is one of the most momentous races I have ever watched in my lifetime (long long…hah) but for reasons other than most people might think. I mean, apparently there is this black guy running against some old white guy…?

But seriously, this is the first time that I can remember that so many people of all walks of life have felt that this election actually belongs to the people. Perhaps it is the environment of internet/tv access for all. Whatever the reason, I applaud it. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t involve yourself in politics, then you really have no right to complain. In fact, this is all reminiscient of the last Bermudian election. When you feel like the election is indeed in your hands, that the government-elect (and opposition members) actually do work for you the people, that every single voice matters because you believe it to be so… well, then we can start work on what ills this world we live in. Charity, and indeed community, starts at home and this is one of the things that gets the ball rolling. I’m an information hog and I’m quite fond saying that information, and by extension, education is key. Learn more about the world around you and you start to notice the people that inhabit the world around you…. um, okay, I simply meant to tell y’all about my impressions of the Democratic Convention coverage last night and here I am preaching. 🙂 Well, since this is my first post, I’m just gonna keep going. I will say though, I watched the whole of Michelle Obama’s speech and I can’t lie… I had tears in my eyes. As a republican! Tears! Didn’t move me enough to switch sides, mind, but I can see why Ebony magazine voted her  one of last years 25 Top Inspiring Women.