Notes From The Margin

April 15, 2008

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish….

It’s been a year since NTFM first debuted in the blogosphere, in that time we have done 198 posts which have been seen by 42,000 visitors, we have logged some 650 comments and unfortunately we’ve also dealt with 10,000 emails of spam. Small numbers perhaps in comparison to Barbados Underground or Barbados Free Press, but we think that we have established our own following and we’ve also established a reputation as a quality blog with high standards.

It’s been an interesting ride, that has taught us much. The search for quality articles has led us down some interesting paths and turned up some surprising stories. We are particularly proud of the work we’ve done on the whole Venezuela issue as it relates to the Caribbean. We remain deeply concerned that not enough is being done by the mainstream media to educate Barbadians about our South American neighbour.

We started a blog in large part because we were concerned about what was being said about Barbados in the blogosphere. Based on what some very biased people were saying, it would be very easy to equate Barbados with Zimbabwe. That is not the Barbados we know, the country we know and live in may not be perfect but it’s a far cry from what is portrayed on BFP and to a lesser extent BU. A dermatologist following their approach would describe someone with acne as having flesh eating skin cancer. We felt there was an unfilled space for balance and thoughtfulness, a space that over the last year we have tried (with uneven results we admit) to fill. We freely admit that there is an important role for Barbados Underground and Barbados Free Press in ensuring democracy and freedom in Barbados, we may disagree with their methods but we believe that they are truly motivated by good intentions and that in the long run they are a healthy addition to the Barbados social scene, we wish them well.

However after a year, we have found the demands of running a daily posting blog difficult to meet. In that regard we have considerable respect for David over at BU and even the BFP crew. Given the demands of our day to day lives we find that we can no longer devote the time to NFTM that will maintain the standard that we want to have.

In short NFTM has had it’s day. We have to admit, it’s difficult to put down something you have carried for a year, but it is far better to go out with style than to dribble off into obscurity.

To our well wishers thank you for your kind comments, to our critics… when you think about it, you’ll come around to our opinion 😉

Farewell

Marginal

Marginal puts down his editorial pen.

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March 18, 2008

Welcome to the 5 year long election campaign!

When the dust settled on January 16th the two parties ended up being quite far apart on number of seats but actually quite close on total number of votes cast. With only an 8% difference in terms of total votes, it means that the current government is vulnerable to a 4% swing. This means that despite a comfortable majority in Parliament, the Thompson administration must politically plan from now with an eye to elections in 2013. It also means that the Mottley opposition is already keeping an eye on that year.

As a result of this we are likely to see Mr. Thompson trying to attack what has long been perceived as the BLP’s strongest point; it’s management of the economy. The BLP for it’s part will pick at every flaw in the government’s actions.

This leads to the  ludicrousness of things such as Government suddenly becoming skeptical about unemployment statistics despite never having said a word about it before or during the campaign. It certainly was not a part of their platform. They are not releasing those figures because it will reinformce the BLP’s perception of good governance.

For the BLP’s part, this whole “We don’t know why the government won’t work with our consultants” is laughable. They damn well know why and they would do the same if they were in office as well.

What it amounts to is that we are in for a five year long election campaign, with the cut and thrust of January continuing at a lower intensity until 2013

Strap yourselves in, it’s going to be a wild ride!

Marginal

March 2, 2008

Troubling Developments In Grenada

On of the more troubling stories to cross the Margin’s radar recently is this story out of Grenada where from what is being said it would seem that police were caught spying on an opposition party planning meeting.

 Grenada’s opposition party has accused the Keith Mitchell administration of spying on a private meeting of its executive and wants Scotland Yard to investigate the allegation.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) claimed that a police officer was caught secretly recording a closed-door meeting and pointed fingers at the Prime Minister’s New National Party (NNP) as the ones behind the move.

But the NNP has denied the spying allegation.

Of all of the islands of the english speaking Caribbean, Grenada has had one of the most erratic relationships with democracy. Having gone through years of mis rule under Gairy, the Revolution and invasion (or intervention) by the United States military.  In spite of all of the foregoing, Grenada has developed today  into a flourishing and stable democracy.

For the coming election on the Spice Isle the stakes are higher than ever, for the first time in a while it looks as if there may be a real chance of the Government changing.  On the night of the Barbados election we made the statement that the true test of democracy is when the result of the election is accepted by supporters of all parties the winners and the losers.  If anything is allowed to cast doubt on the integrity of the electoral process in Grenada the consequences may be significant.

On an island with Grenada’s bloody history, democracy is too fragile to take anything for granted.

Marginal

 

 

February 11, 2008

What will the cultural academics say about Rihanna when the history of this time is written?

Well it’s old news by now that Rihanna has won her first Grammy. We on the margin are thrilled for her and once again renew our call for some form of national recognition for the songstress. Congratulations to her once more for her achievement.

But we got to thinking about the long term for Ms. Fenty… and we asked ourselves the question:

What will the Bajan cultural academics say about Rihanna when the history of this time is written?

Those slobs like us on the Margin think its great that someone from “bout here” could attain so much in such a short space of time at such a young age. But I can hear the linguistic gymnastics going on already in some quarters….

What does it say about the Barbados “music industry” if the most successful performer to emerge from the island simply bypassed the entire industry? We’ve heard at least one comment that she never sang in the “teen talent contest” We can hear lots of lip service from all and sundry about the development of a “music industry” but really how many international artists has it produced? It’s enough to make one question the relevance of the local scene.

There are many “managers” out there who say they manage artists, but some of them have been doing it for years and haven’t had the success that Rihanna has achieved in a relatively short space of time. It does beg the question… what are they doing wrong?

Let’s face it Rihanna’s music is pop music, written for a global audience, what does it say about the people who have spent years trying to find “the next reggae” (we won’t even talk about the “bring back spouge” crowd) What are the cultural implications of that? I’m sure some academic somewhere is tearing his hair out looking for some sort of “cultural linkage” to hang a paper on.

And while we are at it, the academics are quick to talk about “a strong cultural identity” being important for success (and yes Bob Marley is trotted out to support this) But here we have an artist, who speaks with a Bajan accent, and pays homage to her homeland at every opportunity but is clearly now a citizen of the world. Next to her many of the local artists look…. well…. “local”.

We’re not decrying the local music industry, but there are loads of “armchair experts” who are quick to talk about what should be done and what Rihanna should do. “We don’t want a Sony or EMI taking our artists” we heard one say on the radio today. There are only so many labels with the power to create a superstar. Even Prince ended up re signing with Universal after trying to go it alone. Rather than trying to create an entirely new music industry, perhaps we would get further if we worked on linking local talent to the international industry.

Just a thought….

Marginal

February 7, 2008

Freedom is a funny thing….

“I may disagree with what you say, but I will fight for your right to say it”

Voltaire 

Over the last few days we’ve had quite a few posts about freedom of expression, and in reflecting on this period we’ve had to remark that freedom is a funny thing. Having a blog gives the writer the power to say anything, really with very little chance of having to face any consequences for having said it. Now in some ways this is great, corruption that would only be hinted at in public fora (or never mentioned at all) can be exposed for all to see. Lots of quiet little back room deals may find themselves subject to public exposure. Democracy is generally strengthened by this.

The corollary of having freedom of expression is that you may hear things that you don’t agree with. Things that you may find repugnant. And the funny thing is that there are many people for whom “Freedom of Expression” means that they can say what they want and anyone else can say what they want too as long as they agree with them.  That’s not freedom, that’s swapping one yoke for another.

We have taken a great deal of pressure over the past week or two to unlink from three new blogs that have been established by (we presume) supporters of the BLP. Despite, what many of our passing commenters may say, we have never set out to be a “political blog” and we don’t have any particular brief for these three new blogs. We see the ongoing campaign to silence them as a step in the wrong direction. We see a larger issue here that we feel is worth fighting for. We have been delisted from the two major Barbados blogs in the blogosphere, we have received several emails (some of it public, most of it private) with various levels of abuse.

We think we are doing the right thing.

The vindictiveness of the response makes us sure that we are doing the right thing.

We have also received expressions of support  and we thank those that have sent them.

Notes From The Margin is not going anywhere.

Marginal

February 6, 2008

Why NFTM Links to the Three New Blogs….

I posted this as comment, but I’m placing it as a post to fully ventillate the issue.

If they represent an attempt by BLP supporters to CONSTRUCTIVELY engage the blogosphere, I believe that is worth encouraging. At the moment, the blogosphere is for the most part a group of persons who all say the same thing. I believe that blogs with a different view will enhance the blogosphere. Yes I am concerned that they have a connection to BFPE, for this reason they are “on probation” If they devolve into racist talk or threats then they are off the blogroll. I am not linking to any site that contains either death threats or racisim. To the point where I warned Cat Piss when he started to go down a race related line.

What happens in the blogosphere right now is that dissenting opinion is shouted down, blocked or smothered, criticism is seen as a personal attack, and the biggest blog BFP indulges known party hacks who use information that I know to be wrong. That’s right, they use OUTRIGHT LIES to further their own political ends and BFP is complicit in that.

Further, the lack of checking of information means that innocent people have their reputation smeared on a stage that carries a global audience. People who have done nothing wrong, in many cases who have done years of service get tarred and feathered because BFP wants to increase it’s number of visitors. I’m not saying that everyone accused on BFP is innocent, some need to be accused, but that is what makes the smears of the innocent worse.

I support freedom of speech and expression however I believe that this freedom comes with a responsibility to
use it correctly.

I consider linking to the new blogs to be an effort to foster diversity of opinion. There are a number of denizens of the blogosphere that have openly demonstrated that they do not want that diversity to happen.

Marginal.

February 4, 2008

Notes From The Margin Censored by Both Barbados Political Blogs

Well it was bound to happen at some point. The two most forthright advocates of freedom of expression on the net have censored another blog.  Notes From The Margin would appear to be banned from Barbados Underground (my comments appear to be blocked) and Barbados Free Press.

Yes we on the margin have been harshly critical of these blogs (particularly Barbados Free Press) and we have resisted all sorts of comments about our listing three BLP associated blogs bajan free press, De Stand Pipe, Cat Piss And Pepper. While we were not really surprised by BFP’s actions we have to admit that we are more than a little disapointed in Barbados Underground and their creators. It is however their decision and we accept it.

We do have to say, that as much as these two blogs which are known for their unrelenting criticism of others, it is ironic that their response to the expression of a differing opinion is to resort to censorship. It’s a shame really.

We do hope that they will reconsider their decision but Notes From The Margin will continue in much the same vein as it did before weather or not they choose to link to us.

Marginal

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