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Time Travel

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

I have many memories of me as a young boy being on ‘the buses’ with my mother who was a bus conductor.  They were a common feature of many local bus services in larger towns and cities in the UK until the late 1970s and early 1980s, the purpose of whom was to collect fares, supervise passenger loading and unloading and maintain discipline.

  The main reason two-person crews were needed was that most towns and cities used double decker buses for urban services and until the 1960s, all double deck vehicles were built with front-mounted engines and a "half-cab" design, like the familiar London bus. This layout totally separated the driver from the passenger saloons. The conductor communicated with the driver using a series of bell codes, such as two bells to start (the well-known "ding-ding"). I would be filled with pride as I watched my Mum do her job.

She was so important, the queen of her private realm with full control of the start and stop operation and the mastery of the main tool of her trade – a ticket machine  attached by a shoulder strap like a military sword, to calculate fares and issue tickets.  I often got to play with the machine after work and I thought I might be a bus driver or conductor one day.

Of course, as a toddler there were other career options which attracted my attention. Once a year (if we were lucky) we would make the monumental journey to Glasgow, a whole hour train ride away. Glasgow was another world where they had not only a circus but an enormous department store called Bremners where my eye had caught another career option also in the people transportation domain, but this time floor to floor as a lift attendant (so called in Scotland) or an elevator operator if you were cross the Atlantic.

Being an effective elevator operator required many skills. Manual elevators were often controlled by a large lever. The elevator operator had to regulate the elevator's speed, which typically required a good sense of timing to consistently stop the elevator parallel to the floor. In addition to their training in operation and safety, department stores later combined the role of operator with greeter and tour guide announcing product departments, floor by floor, and occasionally mentioning special offers.  It really was very captivating to my small being.

I am relieved that both these professions ceased to exist by the time that I had to seriously consider my career options. These are just two professions which have died out in my lifetime but there are countless others. The future world of work will be unlike the past because of a fundamental shift which the workforce will experience. It is about big data, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, 3D printing, genetics and biotechnology which will all bring about significant seismic, rapidly evolving and lasting change to the way business will operate. 

Emerging technologies have the potential to dramatically replace human workers in the next few years. From self-driving cars to care-bots for elderly people, rapid advances in technology will take away many of the jobs people have done. Experts now believe that almost 50 per cent of occupations existing today will be completely redundant by 2025 as artificial intelligence continues to transform businesses. Other predications are that over 7 million of today’s jobs are predicted to disappear by 2020 and that 65% of students entering primary school today will end up working in a job that doesn’t exist yet.

According to a new report by consulting firm CBRE and China-based Genesis, customer work, process work and vast swatches of middle management will simply 'disappear' and people will take up more creative professions. This means that jobs will evolve and so will real estate development.  Workspaces with rows of desks will become completely redundant, not because they are not fit for purpose, but simply because that purpose no longer exists, according to the report.

'The next fifteen years will see a revolution in how we work, and a corresponding revolution will necessarily take place on how we plan and think about workplaces,' said Peter Andrew, Director of Workplace Strategy for CBRE Asia Pacific. A growing proportion of jobs in the future will require creativity intelligence, social skills and the ability to leverage artificial intelligence. 'And for most people that will be a route to happiness and fulfilment,' the report states. Thus, we get rid of the monotony that must surely exist in many jobs not least of all as a bus conductor and lift attendant!

Everything has its end and people’s professions are no exception. Much manual work has been replaced by machines and mental work has been replaced by computers, while some professions simply disappear because they are no longer needed. And this is not some sci-fi delusion – it’s jobs that are around us now. Do you really still need a dedicated travel agent to purchase your air fare or plan an itinerary for you? With Bing Travel, Google Flights, Travelstart,  Skyscanner and a bunch of other flight-search engines, scoring dirt-cheap tickets has become as easy as one, two, three. Same goes for booking a nice room with a view somewhere in Paris after checking a bunch of real reviews and scanning all the prices.

  Airbnb allows you to rent an awesome apartment somewhere spectacular and couch-surfing lets you sleep for free on a fellow traveller’s couch. And just look at all those travel bloggers out there. Their blogs already have all sorts of itineraries and things to do in almost every city in the world.   Even tour guides have become redundant in many tourist attractions, replaced with touch-screen info centres and audio-visual commentaries and virtual reality experiences.    All of which begs the question, in a few years time will we even bother visiting such attractions or will we simply enjoy a virtual experience in front of our computers and tablets at home?

Sounds great, doesn’t it?   A life of leisure, no need to leave the house for work or play, in fact no need to work at all with clever machines to do it all for us?  But there is a downside and here it is.  It’s the old adage of ‘use it or lose it’ .  As man has evolved we lost the hair that covered our bodies when we found fire and learned to clothe ourselves.  We invented knives to cut our meat and our teeth grew smaller. 

We evolved to fit our changing lifestyles and if that is purely sedentary and cranial, theoretically we’ll only need our heads and maybe hands in the future!  I will leave you with the salutary lyrics of the Zager & Evans song ‘In The Year 2625
In the year 2525, if man is still alive
If woman can survive, they may find

They may thrive
In the year 3535
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lie
Everything you think, do and say
Is in the pill you took today
In the year 4545
You ain't gonna need your teeth, won't need your eyes
You won't find a thing to chew
Nobody's gonna look at you
In the year 5555
Your arms hangin' limp at your sides
Your legs got nothin' to do
Some machine's doin' that for you
In the year 6565
You won't need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube
Scary, isn’t it!

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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