Wishing you a happy year end-December 31, 2021

I’ll spend much of today reflecting on 2021, if I spend any time reflecting at all. I’m more likely to think about how many people I know, personally, have tested positive to COVID during the last 10 days, compared to to whom I knew in that status the other 350+ days of the year. I had my fears about Christmas travel, but I am not yet regretting it.

However, meantime, I like to keep a smile on my face and maybe put one on those of others. So, two reports hit me over the past 24 hours. I share them, simply.

Banking on it:

Taxing times:

My first-born and I were talking about her financial planning and she explained that the IRS are always finding ways for people to ‘out themselves’. I said that most criminals are not that smart and often don’t need help outing themselves.

Bonne année!


2021 fun: Guardian Sports moments -December 30, 2021

Jamaican politicians proving that memory is a constructive process-December 29, 2021

An interesting exchange has been going on in our main newspaper between a former Cabinet minister (Derrick Smith) and his former prime minister (Bruce Golding). It’s clear and stunning that each has a completely different recollection of a major life event. Just read the two letters written and published by each…so far:

Now, Smith’s assertion first came in a book he’s recently published.

All of this reminded me of the now well-established psychology finding that memory is a constructive process…’Human memory is not a literal reproduction of the past, but instead relies on constructive processes that are sometimes prone to error and distortion.’

No kidding!

Trouble a’t’ sugar mill…Bim goes bam, with snap election-December 28, 2021

PM Mia Mottley gave Bajans a surprise Christmas present by announcing, yesterday, snap elections on January 19, 2022

Word is that dissent within her ruling Barbados Labour Party is forcing her hand: they won all 30 seats in elections a few years ago, and one member ‘switched’ to give a semblance of opposition, with a 29-1 seat count.

Word is also that many citizens are not happy with the COVID pandemic management. Join the queues!

Whether or not the Opposition, Democratic Labour Party, will be ready we will see, but both parties are led by women, for the first time:

Meantime, the DLP President has called the early elections a sign of “panic”:

Brexit is breaking the UK: it was a lie that it would be otherwise-December 27, 2021

Don’t take my word for it, read what some quality media say.

Lord Frost, the Brexit Minister, isn’t a mug and he’s jumped off the ship:

COVID plans and Northern Ireland were tipping points:

Desmond Tutu died: some tributes-December 26, 2021

Many words will be written about the life of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but some of those early tributes are notable.

Guiding lights are the Christmas story-December 25, 2021

The Christian Christmas story holds many messages. One I like is that it’s full of allegories, one of which is about the star and guiding lights, not about the birth of an infant. The star in the sky is the star of the story: it pointed the way and shone brightly to make sure the three kings/wise men, or whomever, did not go astray.

How that translates to modern life is always apparent to me, when our family gathers for the Christmas holidays. As time has passed, we’ve all grown older, inevitably, and children are now parents and have their children, etc. As we congregate under a few roofs, for a few weeks, we get to do lots of things together, including sharing memories and carrying on traditions. Here’s where the light starts to shine.

As ‘grandma’ grows older and is less able to do what she did in previous years, others have to step in. As it was when her parents aged and their abilities waned. It’s a part of life. Now, her children can take the lead in food preparations, especially, but also in the trappings of Christmas, which she holds dear, and others do, too, as constants in their lives. It’s not about critiquing grandma’s choices and tastes. Her table cloths and wreaths and lights the manger displays, etc. are what make her house ‘Christmassy’, and if they were not there, something seriously wrong was affecting the world.

But, eating is a big part of Christmas traditions and certain food must be done ‘right’. Now, all the daughters are not are happy in all aspects of cooking, and that’s no problem. At least, they have some skills, even if it’s just that of organizing the buying or arranging others to do what they do best, by way of cooking.

They all now have children and they should now understand that for things to go on ‘normally’ they have to learn the arts and tricks. Tastebuds are not passed down through the DNA chains; they are developed by the sampling through the years. “It doesn’t taste right” is that the same as it doesn’t taste good: ‘right’ can be that it doesn’t have enough pepper for the levels of acceptable tastes in the extended household.

So, I’ve been gladdened to see our daughter getting up to her elbows in learning how to cook grits, make bread and make macaroni cheese. If she chips in for three recipes are year, the very least, she’ll have armed herself to be able to please her own palette and change those of her friends.

This is not the time to debate the important differences between how food is prepared in different places, and it’s an unending are of discussion even in the limited sphere of the Caribbean. We know ‘peas and rice’ (Bahamian) is not the same as ‘rice and peas’ (Jamaican). Some people cannot eat the former without coleslaw; others would never dream of having that anywhere near either rice dish.

But, when the holiday is over, it’ll be great to look back on the creations (some of which may still be around and available to travel to other homes, and tickle tongues for a few more days). That lemon curd cheesecake and coconut bread may now be a staple for the table of future Christmases. They will take their place with traditional baked ham with lemon and mustard glaze and cloves. They will fight for space with turkey well-seasoned with a hint of pepper that makes the eyes pops, with stuffing (not dressing). The homemade baked beans are never bad, but the taste is hard to get exactly the same each year. Sweet potato casserole with walnuts is that delicate sweet side dish that just tips the scale towards fabulous. The scale moves a notch further to amazing once the tartness of those home-prepared cranberries in a sauce, cooked simply with water and sugar. (Dare I suggest a dash or rum wouldn’t go amiss?)

In many Caribbean homes, gravy is never a part of a meal. If food needs moistures, it should be there in the succulence of the meat; things need no drenching. (Now, I like gravy, after years of living in England; believe me, though, that gravy in a Caribbean home is not bland-tasting, as its base is from juices dripping from a piece of meat well-seasoned).

My mother said “Never leave certainty for uncertainty,” meaning don’t leave home without eating something. The exception to that rule is Christmas Day, when one can head off to dinner, with a truly empty stomach without fear that ‘uncertainty’ would be anything other that wonderful. That said, we always have a good Christmas breakfast, albeit 6-9 hours earlier, so it’s as if we’d not eaten 🙂

There is no verdict to be handed down about Christmas dinner or the holiday, overall, expect that it’s a pity it’s really just once a year. But, we also know that the spirit of Christmas is, sadly, not something that lasts 365 days a year. Now, should I advocate for ‘Christmas’ to be made a weekly event?

Thank you, Therese Turner-Jones-December 24, 2021

Many Jamaicans were saddened, and puzzled, to learn earlier this month that Therese Turner-Jones would be leaving the Inter-American Development Bank…

Thank you, Therese Turner-Jones

Jamaica issues digital vaccination cards. Another piece to solve the COVID ‘winning’ puzzle?-December 24, 2021

The Ministry of Health and Wellness had the media launch for its digital vaccination card.

It had been heralded for Monday, but some glitches with the software stalled that.

The intention is, over the next two months, the health ministry aims to phase out existing physical cards and replace them with digital ones. Data on booster doses are to be added to the certificates by mid-January.

The project was a collaborative effort with Private Sector Vaccination Inititiative (PSVI), UNICEF and the eGovernment Foundation of India, which provided funding and access to the digital platform.

Initial reports are there as some bugs and personal records need corrections. I tried to download my card but could not because the one time authentication code (OTP) was not received; this has been a common problem.

Switching tack. I go back to my earlier questions about how Jamaica is ‘winning’ the COVID fight. One answer is that the data we’re seeing is incomplete. That’s especially true of vaccination records. We know from anecdotes that many Jamaicans sought to get vaccinated abroad, especially in the early phase of the rollout in the USA, ahead of vaccines being available in Jamaica. That’s no big surprise, given people’s needs and desire to travel, and access to the USA either as simple travellers or because people have US resident status-ie, dual citizenship, Green Card holders, working or students. Many states were not restricting vaccines to residents.

However, such people are not part of Jamaica’s totals for vaccinations, so our data is undercounting. By how much, we cannot be sure. Some have touted hundreds of thousands. But, it’s a straightforward fix, if the MOHW got people to register their vaccination status, whatever. The digital vaccination certificate could make that easier. Currently, those foreign vaccination records are part of the US (and UK and Canadian, mainly) data.

Fixing this would mean some tweaking of how records are generated in Jamaica, as they are based around the tax registration number and a mobile phone number. Those pillars need not be the only ones used, so it’s not an insurmountable problem.

However, we don’t help ourselves by understating the real level of acquired protection that the population has. It would also help in the dialogue about how far we have to go to get a better-protected society.

In that context, it’s worth noting that Jamaica’s designation by the Center for Disease Control was improved from level 3 to level 2, in terms of COVID infection risks.

“Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi”: A TED series for endlessly curious people-December 23, 2021

Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi is a TED series and podcast made for endlessly curious people who question why things are the way they are. Join data …

“Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi”: A TED series for endlessly curious people
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