Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fiction-Heavy PM Asks That We Stick to The Facts

With respect to the H1N1. He even went on to warn us of an unmitigated disaster if Tamiflu was doled out irresponsibly. If that's not an indication of what he thinks of the judgement of doctors in Mauritius in general I don't know what it is. For sure we all know one or two people with medical training who are complete idiots or who are not exactly Barnards or Penfields -- if you don't know what an idiot is. But I don't think it's fair to people who spend long and difficult years studying how the human body works.

And he said that after holding two press conferences within a few days to tell us that we had 5 dead and barely 50 confirmed cases. Parents with an internet connection or relatives with one of course didn't buy into this fiction and decided to keep their kids at home while Jeetah and colleagues were busy looking for the iceberg in the wrong places. The number of confirmed cases has now risen by a factor of 1,300 in just a few days. And government is reopening schools tomorrow because August 31st is a Monday and as everybody knows nothing keeps potentially deadly viruses like the H1N1 away as the first business day of the week.

Were we deliberately misled so that tourists are not scared off and some bean-counter somewhere does not get up in the middle of the night crying about some dumb growth rate number? Even if that meant counting more deads that we should have? Or was it Ramgoolam, after entertaining the fiction that SSR had something to do with free education, serving us some more of the good stuff?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

How a Narrow Margin Kept Mathematicians Busy

For more than 350 years after if prevented a frenchman from sketching a demonstration of a theorem which includes the famous one by Pythagoras as a special case. This extremely well-researched and written book chronicles the contributions of outstanding mathematicians over that long journey until it was solved in 1994. It's not everyday that math is on the front pages of the New York Times, is it?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Peak-oil Conundrum

Theories abound regarding the imminent collapse of oil supply. The recent discovery of a massive quantity of oil lying under Brazilian waters is vindicating skeptics like Michael Lynch, an energy consultant formerly from MIT. He writes: "A careful examination of the facts shows that most arguments about peak oil are based on anecdotal information, vague references and ignorance of how the oil industry goes about finding fields and extracting petroleum".

He goes on to even suggest that, as fresh supplies emerge, oil will be so abundant that a new $30-a-barrel era is not as fanciful as conventional wisdom holds. This is nonetheless far from a case for downplaying the urgency for developing alternative sources of energy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Size Doesn't Matter

That is, as long as we get the basics right.

Thorvaldur Gylfason, an economics professor from the University of Iceland, asserts that, to sustain its economic expansion, a relatively small country with a relatively small domestic market cannot afford to keep its economy closed. In other words, Dodoland has no alternative than to embrace global capitalism. It is a matter of survival. Yet, it comes with a caveat:

"Strong checks and balances are imperative in small, heavily politicised, clan-based societies to prevent relations between politics, banking, and business from becoming too cosy, not to say incestuous."

What seems to have precisely gone unnoticed for our skippers and is undermining Mauritius-building. Should you wish to dig further, kindly read La route de Singapour.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Why Mauritians Everywhere Snub MK

Price is probably the most important factor. You know our national airline got its commercial policy upside down when it costs the same to travel to Reunion Island and to the UK and when Mauritians established in Australia start thinking that it might be cheaper for them to fly to the moon than to their zil.

Another important reason is that we don't feel that we are travelling on the national airline because there is not much that reminds us that we are. For instance outgoing crew messages are not aired in creole and some flying staff find it perfectly normal to engage in a bilingual and unearthly conversation: you speak in kreol, they reply in french.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Le pourfendeur des injustices

Tarun Jit Tejpal, écrivain et fondateur du désormais mythique hebdomadaire d'investigation Tehelka, est ce qu'il convient d'appeler une bouffée d'air frais dans un monde crétinisé de surcroît par l'immédiateté. Dans l'interview qu'il accorde au Nouvel Obs, intitulé Mon Inde si cruelle, Tarun Jit Tejpal poursuit inlassablement sa démarche qui consiste à dénoncer l'imposture des "élites". "Ce qui me préoccupe", se lamente-t-il, "c'est que les privilégiés ne comprennent toujours pas que, pour avoir une bonne société, il faut accepter de partager". De quoi faire méditer les Dodolanders.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Iceberg Still Not in Sight

5 dead out of 40 confirmed cases. That's 12.5% and according to the official numbers. The strangest part of it all is that the number of confirmed cases isn't rising fast enough to match the kind of stress our health system has been undergoing over the past couple of weeks. Our detection of the disease seems to have failed.

In the meantime, an increasing number of parents have assessed -- with the help of Google -- the risks better than our current slate of politicians and have decided to keep their kids at home until the storm has passed or official numbers start making more sense. Whichever comes first.

We will obviously need to set up a fact-finding committee to learn why the protocol did not spare each and every life that was lost.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Vision contre hallucination

Jimmy Ramdhun va bientôt inaugurer un hôtel équipé de climatisation géothermique. Pour ceux qui doutent toujours de la capacité des dirigeants de Dodoland à être en phase avec leur discours, voici ce qu'il déduit en approchant les autorités pour exposer sa démarche novatrice:

"Personne ne semblait comprendre le dossier".

Maladi Inn Sanze, Remed Bizin Sanze

video

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Search Items Better Predictors of Flu Activity

So says Google. By looking at particular keywords punched they are able to identify flu trends up to two weeks before the CDC does. You can read all about it now. I also recommend viewing the following cutting-edge TED clip on how new retro-viruses like HIV-Aids could soon appear in a location near you.

Victoria Hospital Flu Stats 45 Times Lower

The MBC reported yesterday that out of 500 cases of seasonal influenza recorded there only 10 were of the H1N1 strain. That's a 2% prevalence and is about 45 times less than the rate the World Health Organisation's Global Influenza Surveillance Network has estimated for the southern hemisphere. Have we 38 confirmed cases because we are testing only 12 people per day?

Likewise Vasant Bunwaree was heard saying that out of 288 students exhibiting symptoms of flu only 1 was of the H1N1 variety. If the WHO prevalence rate was 10 times lower than the one it reported then about 26 of these students should be carrying the new virus.

And you can click here to find out which Tamiflu lot number have had their expiration date extended by the FDA.

Sithanen Should Make His Dissertation Public

Given that he has been referring to it many times over the last few years. It is true that Ramgoolam brushed its applicability aside when he gently reminded the newly-minted doctor who was the boss. He may have a point considering that the title of dissertation has changed from Electoral Systems and Mauritius to a more general Evaluating and Proposing Electoral Systems for Plural Societies.

Still, a document that has received so much media mention should find its way to the public domain so that the citizens whose lives it proposes to change can have their own opinion about it.

Especially given that Sithanen may be the only politician in a general election to have his name appear overnight on the posters of opposing political parties.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Suddenly, the Stimulus Package Becomes Redundant

In Le Defi+ today Darga was saying that they have literally stopped getting requests for funds from Sithanen's controversial stimulus package. In fact no money has been dished out for a 72 full days. Unlike in the beginning when public funds were being distributed in a very opaque fashion.

Of course that's another major failure for Doctor Sithanen who seems to have administered the wrong medicine, again. And another reason to seriously doubt Ramgoolam's ability to solve real problems.

CDC on Swine Flu

Friday, August 14, 2009

How Well Are We Managing the H1N1 Flu?

I'm no expert in virus propagation but I understand that this thing is spreading quite quickly: number of cases doubled from 14 to 29 in less than a week. And out of the 1,462 deaths recorded worldwide far too many have happened here. The other big question I have is whether that one Rs4.3 million machine that's testing 12 people a day is enough for the size of population we have given the number of tourists that visit us, the speed at which it is spreading and the size of our territory. Shouldn't we get more machines to test more citizens in time? We are after all a quarter-trillion-rupee economy.

The other thing I don't understand is why some kind of x-ray machine is not installed at the airport and at the port so that infected people are detected and stopped before they spread it around. Finally, has some exhaustive data analysis been carried out to figure out from where carriers are coming from and where it has spread on our island?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Roaring Sugar

Should the surge in global sugar price last longer, Dodoland should expect a respite from its usual whiners and possibly a cushion for the ever-sliding rupee too. That is until bad habits recede.

The Fish Rots from its Head

Writing in Kenya's The Standard in the wake of the African Opportunity Growth Act (Agoa) summit, Barrack Muluga, a publishing editor and media consultant, mulls how "greedy and visionless leadership" has prevented his country from living up to its true potential. The column is not only insightful, but, from Dodoland's perspective, it is refreshing in how irreverently it transcends party politics and challenges status quo.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Berenger Making Sure Dead MMM Will Implode

After wasting five years deciding who he will present as Prime Minister and making a costly mistake in not supporting Pravind Jugnauth in the last bye-election, Berenger's now wants to bring his shrinking political base back to 12 August 1971 or exactly 38 years ago. That's after the MMM essentially accused voters of being racists for not liking Ton Paulo's skin in the last general elections after the same voters allowed him to get the land's top job in 2003.

The crypto-marxists better find another leader quickly, try to have a serious plan for Mauritius for the first time in their 40 year-history and resume talks with the MSM shortly. Or face the perils of not indulging in succession-planning -- a bit like the Labour Party in 1982 -- again.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rating Agency Gets Moody

About our two biggest and hugely profitable banks. For sure and as remarked by Manou Bheenick rating agencies should be careful before pointing fingers after the part they played in the global financial meltdown.

Still, the long string of irresponsible statements uttered by the man responsible for the annual sprouting of hundreds of pockets of poverty throughout our island did not help matters. Here's what his score looks like:

2006: Triple External Shocks
2007: 5 cyclones along with early harvest
2008: 3 crises coupled with bumper crop
2009: He's working hard to prevent us from going into the ICU of the IMF but we're so resilient (come on, be thankful to the guy!)

I guess the next terms in this uncertainty-creating sequence are 4 storms, 2 earthquakes, 6 tornadoes, 42 volcanic eruptions, 3.5 tsunamis, 1 typhoon, 3 mudslides and 2 hurricanes.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Casinos Should Be Relocated in Red-Light District

Away from the principal arteries of our cities because we don't want the kind of crowd that they attract there. City centres should instead have more healthy living spaces where citizens will be able to chill out anytime of the day.

The snag is that we don't have a proper Red-Light district in Mauritius. This could explain why too many sexual impulses are gratified at the expense of at least one non-consenting citizen. It would also be interesting to find out if any politician has been receiving contributions from the casino-owners.