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Numb And Number

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White


I  watched a video clip on Facebook recently about what isn’t working with the way that we raise our kids these days and how mollycoddling them and telling them they are special/fantastic and can be or do anything is unrealistic and does more long-term harm than the short-term euphoria of the dose of false self-esteem is worth. I was particularly interested having recently became a father again, a role which I haven’t played for many years.

As I look at their tiny faces – yes there are two of them – I realise that I will be a different father the third time around. Back then I looked at my perfect children and subconsciously thought it was my role to keep them that way or somehow make them more perfect by helping them excel; be first in the class;  make the national swim team and hopefully one day the Olympics; be the best at everything.  With these types of expectations, which many parents unilaterally develop we set them up for failure and feelings of shame when they don’t quite meet the high expectations set for them.

Looking through an older, hopefully wiser lens of experience, trial and error I realise that my job is not to subconsciously or otherwise put unrealistic expectations on them but to rather say “you know what, you are imperfect and hardwired for struggle but you are worthy of love and belonging.” Today I surmise If I can produce two children who feel like this I will have fulfilled my parental duty.

Brene Brown the author of the Power of Vulnerability has done significant work on the subject of shame which is something most of us have but just in different degrees. Shame is that feeling of not being good enough or not having achieved enough– not smart enough, good-looking enough, promoted enough and that all of this is underpinned by an excruciating vulnerability, yet ironically  it is this vulnerability that allows us to connect with other people, by enabling us to be able to be seen as imperfect beings and this is how we connect as humans.

Brown initially thought her research would take her a year but eventually took 6 wherein she published a book and promulgated a theory all based on the thousands of pieces of data which she had collected. What she discovered was that from all of the people she had researched the one variable that separated them was a feeling of worthiness.

 

The people who felt connected and had a sense of belonging were also people that believed that they were deserving of what they wanted to achieve. She then decided to concentrate on this group to see what she could find to establish what these “wholehearted” people, as she called them, had in common.

She concluded they had three things: Courage – the original definition of which means  to tell the story of who you are with your own heart. They had the courage to be imperfect. Secondly, they had Compassion for themselves first and then others because, as she reports we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.

And the last thing they had was Connection as a result of authenticity – they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were – which is something that you have to do in order to have a connection.

Another thing they had in common was Vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable also made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable nor excruciating – they just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say ‘I love you’ first, to do things with no guarantees, to breath through waiting for the results of your HIV test, invest in relationships that may or may not work out and so on.  In other words, they were willing to set themselves up for failure and it was that vulnerability which gave them the courage, the connectivity and the compassion and led to their ultimate triumph and success.

In the discovery that vulnerability is the birthplace of joy and happiness , she then embarked on yearlong therapy for herself, as being vulnerable was everything she had bucked against her whole life. We all struggle with vulnerability to a certain degree because it makes us feel naked and exposed.  Thus our coping mechanism is usually to try and numb it. When are we vulnerable? When we initiate sex, when we feel rejected, when we need help, when we get retrenched.

We deal with vulnerability all of the time because this is the world in which we live in and yet we still try to numb it. Evidence exists that we are the most in-debt, addicted, obese and medicated adult cohorts in history in our attempts to block out painful reality. The problem is says Berne is that you cannot selectively numb emotion – you can’t say ‘this bad stuff like grief, shame and disappointment – I  don’t want to feel this so I am going to have a few glasses of wine, smoke a joint or eat two slabs of Cadburys chocolate’ without this numbing your other emotions too. When we try to numb the bad stuff like sadness we also numb the good stuff in the process like happiness, joy, love, gratitude etc.

So what am I going to be teaching as a parent this time around is to let yourself be seen as your vulnerable self.  Live with your whole heart without guarantees. Practice gratitude and joy. Appreciate that vulnerable means that you are alive and believe that you are enough because, as Berne says, when we come from that place we stop screaming and start listening and we are kinder to ourselves and also to others. I will let you know how it turns out when the twins are paying for their own university education in medicine from the money they are making from their part time modelling jobs.  No pressure this time round!

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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
Samson

… 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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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

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 www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    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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