Connect with us

The pulses of the nation


Halfway through a month sometimes referred to ‘Vegan-uary’, let’s start this week with a joke.

Q.How do you know if somebody is a vegan?
A.Because they tell you!

Like all good humour, it stems from its large grain of truth and bingo, I’ve just made an unconscious pun, two if you also count ‘stems’!  Vegans are the epitome of the old adage ‘there’s none so pure as the reformed’.  In other words,  when someone has seen the light – be it finding Jesus, given up nicotine or alcohol, lost a massive amount of weight or discovered the joys of naturism – they just can’t wait to spread the word and try and convert their friends, family, neighbour and work colleagues.

Veganism has been around for decades, if not centuries, but for the longest time was considered a fringe diet.  In the ‘70s, for example,  the buzzword was ‘macrobiotic’, an extreme form of vegetarianism, definitely on the eccentric side of eating, something more to inspire pity or poke fun at than to be considered as a serious dietary option.   Such diets, with their associations with religious piety and monkish self-deprivation, therefore became a legitimate target for mockery. 

Consider the episode of Blackadder when his pious aunt and uncle come to stay and decree that not only do they eat no flesh, the food of the Satan,  but everything must be consumed  raw, cooking being another device of the devil!  Fair game, you see – oops, another pun. For those of you confused about the terms ‘vegan’ and ’vegetarian’, the  difference is principally that vegans will eat no dairy or animal-related products, so not just no meat, milk or cheese but eggs and even honey and gelatin. 

Formerly such diets were chosen for their perceived health benefits or simply an aversion to killing animals for food but in recent years this has changed.  New-age vegans now quote the destruction of the planet as the driving reason behind the need to convert and oh dear, in come those inadvertent puns again because obviously when I say ‘driving’ you shouldn’t be doing that in a machine that uses fossil fuels and when I say ‘convert’ that also references the catalytic device that converts the harmful exhaust gases to less toxic emissions or indeed to the process of converting the evil combustion engine to one run on batteries.  Consider this extract from this week’s journal, ‘Science’.

‘Selling your car and skipping flights will  HYPERLINK "" t "_blank" dramatically reduce your personal carbon footprint, but if you want to holistically help the planet, then going vegan is your best bet.  The environmental impact of eating meat and dairy products is unrivalled among human activities, the authors argue, and foods like hamburgers, yogurt, and chicken wings don’t even play a meaningful role in the global diet.

While dairy and meat products take up 83% of global farmland, they provide just 18% of human calories and 37% of global protein, the report found. If people stopped eating these foods, farmland would be reduced by 75%, allowing ecosystems around the world to recover from deforestation and other forms of harm, while still generating enough food to feed all of humanity.’

Now like all such statistics, they need to be unpacked a little to understand them better.    Dietary experts consider that in a healthy diet adults should get 45-65% of their calories from carbohydrates, 20-35 percent from fat, and 10-35% from protein.   So the figure of dairy and meat products providing  18% of calories consumed  in our diets is right on the button and 37% of protein actually exceeds our requirements.

As for the quoted 83% of global farmland, this is truly where the saying attributed to Mark Twain of ‘lies, damned lies and statistics’ seems apposite.  Certainly  cattle, sheep and goats are all roamers and ideally need space to graze, but beef cattle is often raised on cramped feed lots in much the same way that most poultry consumed is from battery-farmed birds raised squashed together, sardine-style, in small cages. 

In addition, the term ‘farmland’ is misleading.  Technically, any patch of land where farming is carried out can be classified as ‘farmland’ but there is a big difference between general and arable farmland.   Hardy cattle breeds, farmed goats and even sheep can be successfully reared on scrubland or rocky hillsides, land completely unsuitable for arable crop production so another way of looking at these would be sensible land usage.

The claim that veganism is healthier than a partially-carnivorous diet is also questionable.  Meat provides minerals including iron and zinc and vitamin B12, while dairy products are rich in calcium for healthy teeth and bones and fish is an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids as well as other minerals. On a vegan diet these vital trace elements would need to be sourced elsewhere,  since  most  vitamins and minerals are only found in particular plant sources and not in sufficient quantity to supply the daily requirements of a healthy body.  

The answer for some is the new ‘flexi-tarian’ option, cutting down on animal products and going veggie or vegan a couple of times a week but that’s a form of fence-sitting, rather like deciding to walk to work twice a week but take the air-conditioned, gas-guzzlling car the other  It makes you feel purer but you’re faking it, aren’t you! Perhaps Vegan-uary should be replaced by Fib-ruary?  At least we’d be being honest!

Continue Reading


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.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!


Continue Reading


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.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!


Continue Reading



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”!

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!