Monday, 19 January 2009

Israel Gaza war over - perhaps a chance for peace

The Israeli war against Hezbolla was widely criticized around the world. Many claimed that Israel had been defeated. But although Israel failed to secure the release of kidnapped soldiers, the war did end the cross border attacks that had become common.
Hamas and other factions in Gaza began firing rockets at civilian targets in Israel in 2001. Over 8000 rockets were fired over the next few years. Israel eventually decided to act and launched a massive attack against Hamas. Hamas's modus operandi is to operate from within residential areas. Civilians are used to shield the fighters. Inevitably, the latest operation resulted in many deaths including civilians.
Yesterday Israel declared a cease-fire. After announcing that it would continue to fight, Hammas and other factions have declared a cease-fire. Perhaps the rocket fire will stop and perhaps there will now be a chance for the borders to be opened and relations to begin to slowly normalise.

Still smoking ...

First came the chewing gum, then Zyban. But all along there was the odd cigarette sneaked in before work, late in the evening or when I needed a break at work.
Then along came a major shock. Things were not as they seemed. My world was shaken and and I became stressed, very stressed.
The first place an addict runs is back to the drug of choice, the drug of addiction. Back to square one. Now I am waiting for the dust to settle.
Tobacco is highly addictive, but perhaps my lack of resolve plays a part. Tobacco is one of the biggest killers and causes of major illness around. It is sold almost everywhere. The only restriction (of recent origin) is where you smoke. So if tobacco is totally legal and marketed (almost) as a normal product, why are marijuana, cocaine and a whole host of other drugs are illegal?
The answer lies in the vested interests involved. Every government earns a major income from the tobacco pushers. Tobacco manufacturers are wealthy and respected members of the establishment.
But what would happen if tobacco became illegal? What would the smokers do? Would they be sneaking around dark alleyways trying to score from the dealers?

Tuesday, 06 January 2009

Another New Year marked by conflict and uncertainty

2008 dawned amidst the start of the sub-prime crisis. Already there was talk of recession. The prospects for Zimbabwe looked bleak. Conflicts were taking place around the world.

True to promise, the picture worsened as the year wore on. Job losses mounted and bail-outs went to the greedy "investors" that managed to lose many billions of dollars on worthless get-rich-quick schemes.

By December many countries were facing a full blown recession. Some countries face bankruptcy.

So what lies in store for 2009?

On the conflict front the Middle East situation does not auger well for peace. Hammas failed to stop the daily rockets launched across the border even throughout the truce. Israel's action in Gaza is unlikely to bring a peace settlement any closer.

The Iraqi conflict rages on. Days ago a suicide bomber killed over 40. Violence has flared up in Afghanistan.

On the economic front China's rate of growth has fallen drammaticaly as export markets contract. Other countries have fared worse.

An Israeli Palestinian settlement now seems more remote than ever.

Zimbabwe has gone from bad to worse following the stolen election. It is being plagued by a curse of cholera, by starvation, and the clinging to power of Mugabe and his party.

But then again you should always look on the bright side of life!

But where there are people there is always a ray of hope. The UD President Elect may be able to stem the tide. Only time will tell.

Sunday, 04 January 2009

Does Google employ real people to work with Adsense?

Google issued a cheque to me on 26 November. The cheque has not been received. It was probably intercepted and stolen somewhere in the postal system.

According to Google's rules, you can only request a re-issue a month later on the 25th. This I did. There is no indication on the google site as to the request. There is no contactable person, no human interface.

It would have been nice to be able to speak to someone. Perhaps an email communication. Google obviously don't believe that the publishers using their service are worth very much.

The only response I have had is an email directing me to use the Adsense help facilities. They have a forum as well. If you participate in the forum, there is a tiny chance that a Google person will respond. After following a couple of threads, Google personnel were notable by their absense. One contributor sugessted that Google has to wait six months in case someone tries to cash the replaced cheque. The Google site doesn't say that.

I am quite happy to use ecommerce, but as a business supplier to Google, a human interface as a last resort would be a great help! It is so much better to deal with a person than a computer. The Google help facilities won't replace my cheque.