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Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White 

In 1984 Britain’s Prince Charles paid a private visit to Botswana, spending time in the Kalahari and the Okavango.  In this he was fulfilling a lifetime ambition, having become fascinated with the area through the writings of his close friend, anthropologist and author, Lawrence van der Post.  Many people bemoaned the fact that he was not accompanied by his wife, Princess Diana as although it was only a couple of years into their marriage, she had already acquired an aura of glamour, celebrity status and public fascination.

At the time, her absence was publicly laughed by the Prince’s staff with a breezy reference to her vast wardrobe which along with her own entourage, according to them, would have required a second large transport aircraft to accommodate the lot.  In private, however, some conceded that the Prince favoured a private holiday with some ‘me’ time.  In retrospect it was clear that this was only one of several early warning signs in this stormy and unsuitable match.

Writing this piece on the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death naturally leads to much introspection, including the unpopularity faced by the Prince in the public grief over her untimely death and the backlash from his infidelity.  Who cannot remember her pithy  one-liner in the controversial Martin Bashir interview when she remarked ‘Well, there were three  of us in the marriage so it was a bit crowded’ – ouch!  By sharp contrast, and because of her universal popularity, everyone was wiling to overlook and even sympathise with, her own extra-marital dalliances.  

Judging by the media coverage of this poignant anniversary, her universal acclaim and yes, love, has not diminished.  In the intervening 2 decades, Charles has finally been free to marry his courtesan, the divorced Camila Parker-Bowles, now Duchess of Cornwall and she herself worked tirelessly to show the public that she was not a home-breaker, just a woman in love.  She has immersed herself in charity work and royal engagements; so much so that up to a few months ago, her public image had improved to the extent that public antipathy to the thought of her taking the title of ‘Queen Camilla’ when Charles becomes king had greatly softened – the people had come round. 

However the Diana legend refuses to die with the princess and the anniversary commemorations of her death have re-opened all those old wounds.  Reminded once more of Charles’ infidelity and shabby treatment of his wife, Camilla is once more the wicked step-mother in many people’s minds and the debate about her husband’s suitability to be king has been revived.  The public’s desire is clear – the succession should skip a generation and Prince William should be the next British monarch.  More worryingly for Charles, recent polls have indicated a clear public shift of opinion against both him and his wife – the people have neither forgiven nor forgotten.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, it doesn’t work that way.  Monarch does not run of democratic lines and the people don’t have a say.  The line of succession goes to the next male heir and only on to the heir of the heir (in this case, William) in the event of Charles’ dying before the present monarch (his mother, the queen) or the even less likely scenario whereby he cedes the throne to his son.  I say ‘unlikely’ because you have to remember that Charles has been preparing to take on the role of king his whole life, informally as a child and formally following his investiture as Prince of Wales in 1969 by his mother in a  centuries-old ceremony performed at Caernarvon Castle.  

Though he did spend a short time in the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, he has never really had a day job and has spent his long life ( he is now 68) shadowing his mother and understudying the role of monarch, preparatory to wearing the crown when she inevitably dies:  And though he is certainly devoted to both his parents and it is undoubtedly a blessing that Queen Bess II has lived such a long, healthy life, last year becoming the longest-serving monarch in British history (65 years and counting),  for Charles it has delayed his taking over the mantle to which he was born.  It is therefore unthinkable that after all those years waiting in the wings and learning his lines, he would suddenly have a change of heart and cause a constitutional furore by seceding to his elder son, no matter how much his mother’s loyal subjects wish it.  They don’t get a vote!

It is not a process completely set in stone.  It first evolved through a belief called the Divine Right of Kings, a doctrine which states that kings derive their authority directly from God and that it therefore follows that succession can only be passed on through immediate bloodlines or that divine linkage would be broken.  Though this belief has fallen away in a more secular society, the succession rules have been preserved untouched till very recent times, when a change was made which would see the throne in future times ceded to the eldest child, rather than the eldest son, a concession to feminism and a nod to the fact that Britain’s three most powerful, most successful and longest serving monarchs have all been women – Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II.   Not one of the many, many kings has even come close!  Of course that change will not affect the succeeding generation anyway, since Prince William’s elder child is a boy, George (not that one, silly!)  

So the only imponderable here is whether or not Camilla will be allowed to take on the title of Queen when her husband becomes king or whether the diplomatic alternative of King Consort is conferred on her in its stead, making her queen in all but name.  However, it is highly significant that she has never been given the title of Princess of Wales.  That rank still rests with the late Diana and may she rest in peace.

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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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