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spring into summer shape

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

It’s the start of a new season and it occurs to me that I might just be a change junky! I look forward to each of the seasons for all different reasons, not least because by the time that the new season arrives I am fed up with the last one.

I enjoy the letting go and embracing something new and, of course, my psyche gobbles this up like a grizzly bear just emerging from its slumber. It hasn’t been a bad winter here but I admit to particularly loving Botswana’s spring, as to quote Charles Dickens “Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade – and that captures the perfect weather that spring is here – not too hot not too cold. Even more, spring is about life! It’s the promise that everything can grow again,

Don’t you feel a stirring in your loins? Maybe it feels like you have been lying on your couch the whole winter eating far too much comfort food and hibernating like a bear yourself?  If it does, then here’s your wake-up call.  If you are anything like me during the winter my exercise programme tends to take a knock. I find it hard to get out of bed when it’s dark and cold outside and there are too many fabricated reasons not to wake up to 10 reps of bench presses, squats and crunches and instead hit that snooze button once too often. 

Once spring comes however I notice more bounce in my step partly because of the change in temperature and the tightening of my clothes and it is not just coincidence. Warmer days have a direct influence on mood and behaviour as proven in a 2004 University of Michigan study which found people who spent at least 30 minutes outside in pleasant weather — either by taking a trip to warmer climates in the winter months or by taking advantage of a newly warm spring day in the park – had happier moods. And in corroborating research, a 2014 UM study found that being outside could lead to a better mindset and reduced stress. For me I just feel somewhat rejuvenated.

So, out of your winter stupor.  It’s time to retrieve that gym outfit from the back of your cupboard and make a note in your calendar that next week, to celebrate the Spring awakening, there is the Spring Into Life Aerobics Marathon hosted by Lifeline and sponsored by Cresta.  It’s a worthy fundraising event and here is the seasonal tie-in. Spring is synonymous with life and wellbeing and this echoes Lifeline’s core purpose, according to the organisers of the event. If you don’t know much about the organisation, Lifeline is an NGO registered in Botswana since 1999,  providing free psychosocial and emotional support to Botswana society, targeting, in general, unemployed or low-income citizens who otherwise would not be able to access free emotional and wellness counselling services.

The event aims to promote a healthy lifestyle through fun and physical activity, a theme aligned with the Lifeline organisation itself. The event organisers are attempting to capitalise on the energy associated with spring and what better way to re get into your exercise regime than outside in the sunshine? It will boost your endorphins — the same feel-good chemical that comes from exercise AND may come from warmer weather, so they say. Also, if you get involved there is an additional benefit than simply kick-starting your summer programme; it’s a secondary benefit, a below the line advantage to use a marketing term, of a philanthropic nature, and that’s charity – something which is very important.

The bible teaches us that it is better to give than to receive because of course when you are giving you are also receiving a spiritual and moral benefit. As Stephen G. Post, author of The Hidden Gifts of Helping: How the Power of Giving, Compassion, and Hope Can Get us Through Hard Times, said “If you help someone up the hill, you get closer (to the top) yourself.

Whether the group is for weight loss, smoking cessation, substance abuse, alcoholism, mental illness and recovery, or countless other needs, a defining feature of being part of a group is that people are deeply engaged in helping one another, and are in part motivated by an explicit interest in their own healing.”  This is the mutual support factor which makes organisations such as Alcoholics & Gamblers Anonymous so successful in helping addicts overcome their dependency – the knowledge that you are not alone in your fight; there are other people in the same boat and help is out there.  

Which brings us back to our aerobics marathon. Participation in a charity event like this is not just about you –it’s about giving to others. Your donation of P120 for participation allows Lifeline to continue to offer its vital services to those in need and offers the double benefit of encouraging you to get back into your summer shape. If you would like to know more about the event you can visit LifeLine Facebook page: Lifeline Organisation Botswana, contact Mma Gunda on +267 75492977. Tickets available on Webtickets, all Spar store and Pick n’ Pay Sebele.
See you there!

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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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