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Not in front of the children

Stuart White

I grew up in what people call today a ‘blended’ family and a few years ago, before my father died, my elder brother (born from a different mother) sought answers from my dad about the death of his mother some fifty five years earlier.  Even the most basic of facts – what did she die from – had eluded him.

My father explained that by saying nothing they were trying to protect him, as if such a massive event could be swept under the carpet and forgotten. I am not sure about the rationale but in my father’s mind at the time not talking about it and carrying on ‘as normal’ seemed the best parenting response.

Yet when I found myself running around doing more than I should to help one of my children the other day, it occurred to me that in the bigger scheme of things, I wasn’t helping at all. As I mentally justified my action convincing myself that if I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done, I had to wonder if it was a similar male equivalent of smother-mother love driving my behaviour?

If I had to describe my parenting style I would say disciplined, focussed, loving, kind, visionary – but that’s in my dreams. I am easily manipulated, undisciplined, erratic a push-over and all of this is on one of my better days and I have never mastered the concept of tough love. 

How many times do I pick up the mess in their bedroom; clear away the dishes in the kitchen sink when they promised to put them in the dishwasher; feed the dog; hand out more cash when they blow their pocket money month after month? How many times have I allowed them to walk away from their responsibilities because daddy makes it better?

Maybe it is history repeating itself because tough love is not a lesson I got from my parents.  For the most part they also really did spoil me, not in the material way but by allowing me latitude like few restrictions and plenty of freedom. They bailed me out a few times and although I was very grateful, my personal responsibility lesson only came when they weren’t able to.

When I reflect on my own child-rearing style it is been one of loose discipline with actions and decisions designed to protect and shield my children from discomfort whist I forget that those experiences are unavoidable and nothing to be feared. This isn’t a good thing, but have I discovered this too late and created two spoilt brats who don’t know how to cope for themselves with minimal skills to deal with life’s ups and downs?

To wrap your children in cotton wool is to lie to them about the world. You create a false sense of security. We subtly communicate to them that the outside world is a big bad place but don’t worry – somebody other than yourself will protect you and sort it. Parenting in this style makes your children dysfunctional and poor problem solvers, lacking in assertiveness and probably self-discipline.   

There is one school of psychology thought that teaches about positive affirmations and building self-esteem. But what good does it do if we tell little Johnny that he is a wonderful singer and then when he auditions for the school play everyone is in hysterical fits of laughter because he is so bad? His parents haven’t told him because they didn’t want to hurt him. Now with this lie he is devastated and subconsciously it’s his parents who have betrayed him. 

According to Scott W Peck, author of The Road Less Travelled, “for parents to feed their children a pack of white lies is not only considered acceptable but even thought to be loving and beneficent”, but little Johnny in this instance hasn’t benefited in the slightest.  We believe we are protecting our children, even from the truth, so we tell them they are fabulous when they are not, talented when they have two left feet and can’t hold a note or amazing when they are average.

Have I betrayed my children because I haven’t taught them how to manage money?  When I have threatened to ground them for a month for bad behaviour and I cave in after two nights because I can’t bear the fact that they are ‘suffering’. What responsibility do I take for not teaching that actions come with consequences and how does it affect the dependability factor when daddy can’t stay true to his word?

Many years ago I divorced. Obviously events leading up to this were far from smooth on the home front. Now that my children are older they remind me of how they saw the signs of a broken marriage. They asked ‘are mommy and daddy going to get divorced?’ and like my fathers before me, I avoided the issue.

That’s the crazy thing about our lack of openness. We rationalise it on the basis of a loving desire to shield and protect our children from unnecessary worries but according to Peck most of the time this is unsuccessful. Children know a lot more than mommy and daddy realise. The result then is not protection but in actual fact we deprive them.

We deprive them of the truth, we also deprive them of the reassurance they might get if the topic was discussed. We deprive them of honesty and openness. We deprive them of the very thing they need to prepare them for real life, the real world and the mean streets – tough love!

STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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