Black or White

imagesWith the hullabaloo surrounding Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith’s accusations that the Oscars are ‘too white’, isn’t it time we all got over this black and white ideal that seems to exist only in America? It’s so sad that people all over this country have race as an agenda, black or white, it doesn’t matter, and play that card to its fullest potential on a daily basis. Who cares what color you are? Who cares who wins an Oscar and more importantly, who cares that Spike Lee cares? It’s mind-boggling nonsense. We are all human beings, we are all breathing the same not so fresh air, and we are all going to die on this planet, like it or not. Why can’t we put our dislikes, out prejudices and our bad behavior to one side, even just for a day, and get along with one another. And it’s not just the Oscars, it’s all walks of life where minorities, not just blacks, are suffering. It’s homelessness, drug abuse, the Presidential campaign, soccer, basketball, high school, and it goes on and on and on. It will never stop unless someone, anyone, picks up the baton and says,”enough is enough”, and reminds us, as the human race, that is exactly what we are, a race. We are one, we are or at least should be, all together.

Black people, white people, yellow people, brown people and all other’s in between, led aimlessly by fanatics, troublemakers with nothing better to do than gripe. We all love a gripe or two, but come on, it’s the Oscars, and it’s not life or death. What pisses me off royally is that after Spike you get the usual suspects, those who know they need to make a move, the George Clooney’s of this world, who having listened to Spike and Jada, then jump on that showbiz bandwagon adding voice, an unwanted one in my opinion, to an already ‘out of control’ situation. Why can’t they either lead by example or just shut the fuck up? It’s all just so Hollywood and it has so little relevance, although I know they’d all disagree, to what goes on daily around the globe. There’s injustice in all walks of life. There always has been and probably always will be. I remember when I was 17 and I was in front of two buyers at a company in Aberdeen Scotland, trying to sell them packaging tape, and neither of them wanted to deal with me because they both hated Jews, and even though they didn’t know I was Jewish, they had heard that my company was owned by a Jew. Did I go screaming to the press? Did I heck. Did I call the Rev Al Sharpton or the Chief Rabbi? No of course not. I just moved on.

Change needs to happen, change should happen, and equality as well, but show me change where it’s well deserved not just because of necessity or embarrassment or color or creed. If there were any great acting performances by black actors this year, surely they would have been rewarded? Perhaps there were none, but that’s just a whole other conversation.

What Happens When Trump Is Elected?

downloadFirst of all I would like to thank each and every one of you who read my blog in 2015. I just received the figures and I had an average of 8,000 people a week logging on. Not too shabby considering I don’t publicize it, don’t subscribe to Facebook or any other social medial that might promote it and make it more popular. So, once again, thank you!
I watched the news tonight and then sat back and thought, “What happens if Trump actually gets elected?” Stranger things have taken place, right? Look at Hitler, Mugabe, Charles Taylor and even Obama. All unexpected, all elected, some dictators, some tyrants and some just plain old boring and ineffective. Trump however poses a conundrum. So far all he’s done is bully his way into the headlines, some of his rhetoric so unimaginable crass that even I, who cares little for political BS and more for telling it as it is, have been unimpressed and perhaps a little frightened by the manner in which Trump has become so popular. Slander is an easy way to make a name for yourself, but hate is another thing. Trump is hateful. Yes, he might tell it like it is, he might say what some of us think and are unable to say, but he’s a dangerous political phenom, and someone we should all take heed of when we decide where to place our vote in the coming months. I’ve read a lot and watched a lot about Hitler and his rise to power, and without wanting to compare the two (there are similarities, but I hope I’m wrong) Trump’s march to the White House has me skeptical to say the least when it comes to his actual intentions. He hates women, muslims, Mexicans and every news reporter who doesn’t say something positive to him or about him. He hates all his opponents, he hates his two ex wives and perhaps he even hates himself, but the thing that stands out for me is the way his followers and his political entourage are lapping all of this up and sensing their candidate actually has a chance to win! Are they just mind-blowingly stupid or has he promised them all some of his billions?

If Trump wins, and it’s a distinct possibility, what will happen to this country? What will become of free speech, immigration, the free practice of religion outside of Christianity? It’ll be just like his stupid TV show, the Apprentice. He’ll probably sit behind his desk with his son and daughter, looking all high and mighty, and start world war 3 by calling Putin a poosie and the Ayatollahs rag heads. He’s got that kind of mentality. Believe it! He’s the catalyst to nuclear Armageddon, to the End of Days predicted by ISIS, to yet another Holocaust, and to the end of civilization, if that’s what we have in todays society, debatable, I know! Yes, Mr Donald Trump is scary, he’s definitely different and he should not be elected unless you, the voting public, have a death wish. Again, let me be very clear, I think all politicians are liars and cheats, I’ve always believed that, and I also think that in a weird and wonderful way if Trump had tempered his verbiage and beliefs, speaking plainly and clearly without the continual insults that come spewing daily from his confused brain, he might have made a great leader and taken the USA from the quagmire that Obama has left us all in, back to where it belongs, which is the best place on the planet to live and work.

So think twice when you listen to him and three times before you vote for him or you might just end up regretting that you didn’t fire him before he got the job!

2015

2015 In Words

 

No matter what, it’s always done

Sometimes a chore and sometimes just fun

A review in words of a year gone bye

One that began with much hope then ended in a sigh

 

Terrorism from the very first day to the last

Nothing but sadness and a real pain in the ass

Refugees also, on a march to find peace

A million plus bodies washed up on a beach

 

And then there was Donald, yes he with the THE

Insulting everyone from everywhere, no matter he or a she

The idiot of all idiots, no filter and no shame

Finding much to complain about without taking any blame

 

Well here goes, my summation, though not very nice

I’ll say it just once, and without naming the price

Sadness at heart as we spin out of control

Once again spiraling downwards, our planet just like before

 

Charlie Hebdo, a massacre, J’suis very sad

So many dead and for what? This was bad

It got worse as the year just rolled into chaos

Kidnappings and killings and destruction in Lagos

 

ISIS, or IS or whatever they choose to be called

Certainly brutal and so obviously bold

With a seemingly endless thirst for more violence

Their killings and destruction were met with just silence

 

Then Putin decided enough was enough

Taking his planes and striking so tough

Leaving Obama, the weakling in silence with no power

Preferring to golf and then hide in his tower

 

It went on and on as those buildings did fall

Not caring how ancient or large or how small

Beheading of woman and children for fun

Machetes’ for entertainment instead of just guns

 

Jihadi and radicalization becoming the rage

Animals let out of a well-worn cage

Teenagers flocking to join in the carnage

At first a slow jog then a run and a rampage

 

Paris, well what can we say about that

One sleepy Friday and then rat a tat tat

Falling like flies as they fired their weapons

This was no war but it was pure deception

 

In the US again, in one school after another

Slaughtering kids now missed by fathers and mothers

And still nobody tries to put an end to this madness

Which is why we are becoming oblivious to their badness

 

Some high points some low and some that don’t matter

The walls tumbling down on this earth as it shatters

Sporting highlights are lost amongst cheating and corruption

Results that don’t matter and competition in disruption

 

Cheats and liars and cowards and many who are worse

Put them all on a plane or a train or a bus

Ship them out of this world where we don’t need their kind

Giving the rest of us hope and perhaps peace of mind

 

With another new year just a few days away

Shorter than usual, but once again I’ve had my say

What can we hope for in a future that’s so bleak?

Perhaps you can tell me if you’d find time to speak

 

Onwards and upwards and optimistic at heart

You need to be, you have to be, or at least try to be smart

For with time just a passing and perhaps running short

This is the end of the beginning and the time that one forgot.

 

© Alan Zoltie December 22, 2015

www.alanzoltie.com

www.electrichaggis.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God At His Best

IMG_2025IMG_2011 IMG_2032 How does one quantify such beauty with words that are completely insufficient.

This is God at his very best and a stark reminder to all that nothing but the moment, the very present, is all that counts.

Enjoy.

Success For Harrison

IMG_3549A few weeks ago I wrote an article, Harrison’s Plight, about a friend of mine who was donating one of her kidney’s to her son.

I am happy to report that the surgeries were a complete success and both patients, mother and son, are now recovering well. But the real fight itself has only just begun.

Harrison will probably need five more surgeries before he’s 21. These surgeries are very expensive, complicated and often dangerous. This first procedure was carried out in two stages and in two different parts of the hospital. The surgery on Rory, the mother, was a four hour event that saw her kidney being removed and then transferred to the Pediatric ward in that same hospital. Rory’s kidney was then transplanted into Harrison, a surgery that took even longer than hers. Both patients were at risk during these procedures and now Harrison remains confined to quarantine for the next few weeks to ensure that his new kidney remains stable and free from infection.

The family have begun to raise money for this surgery and all future surgeries though a site sponsored by COTA, and so far the donations have been pouring in. This organization is a fantastic tool for all of those who require organ transplants and would urge you to take a look and if possible, donate a few minutes of your time, to look at what they are doing to assist families like Harrison’s.

We all with Harrison, and of course his mother Rory, a speedy and healthy recovery and a prosperous new life with the miracle that this transplant has given them.

http://cota.donorpages.com/PatientOnlineDonation/COTAforHarrisonH

And You Think It’s Easy?- Part 2

images (5)Lo Wu station border crossing, even today, it’s the last bastion of civilization and the first breath of pure relief when entering and exiting China. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve crossed that border, probably hundreds, if not more, and each time I enter China there’s a certain amount of trepidation that circulates my whole being and then each time I return to HK, I’m blessed with such a feeling of overwhelming joy that I’ve returned safely back into the bowls of western society once again.  The transition in 1980 was more intricate than it is today. Back then there were so few people trying to cross into China that when we arrived at the customs check point which signified the beginning of that great divide between west and east, I could count the people entering with us on one hand. Today however there’s a huge station on either side of the border and trains arriving every 4 minutes filled with thousands who then swarm in or out of China, depending on their pleasure. It’s far more lax, and even though travel restrictions still exist on the Chinese side for those with ‘real’ China passports, when I first crossed it was impossible for anyone with Chinese citizenship, other than diplomats, to travel. No one had a passport and no one knew what a passport was. 1 billion people, land locked. It’s always hot and muggy and the actual border line is a river with an enclosed bridge that’s always navigated with one eye on the HK side as you leave and the other aiming defiantly towards China, all thoughts on what might happen as soon as you leave the safety of everything you’re used to. You know you have to cross, you don’t want to, but you know you have to. Again, that is now, but back then, 1980, I was so excited to escape and explore this mainly unexplored country, that leaving HK mattered not. Gung-ho into the breach, as we exited the west and entered China, all 6 of us, led ably by our HK guide who was soon to vanish into the murky world of dingy roadside restaurants to gouge his appetite on dog and cat and all sorts of crap that we would surely not want to be a part of. Our new guide, Fong, was introduced to us as we left the safety of China customs. A tall chap, thin and very well-educated with a fluency in English that surprised us all. Fong quickly learnt our names, and then ushered us out into blazing sunshine that would remain our nemesis for the next 8 hours.

My very first impression, other than searing heat, was the stench of acrid sewage that filled the air. It was vile, it was overwhelming and it was there, never to leave and never to get any better than it was at that particular moment. There were very few people around, but those who were seemed extremely keen to find out who we were and why we were there. We were surrounded by curiosity, from those who wanted to smell us, to some who just stood and smiled, we were the focus of all their attentions, their eyes transfixed. We would smile back, but that just provoked an even greater reaction and one that included looks of complete disbelief from the locals, making us feel like aliens from another planet. We could have arrived from Mars and the reaction would have been exactly the same. Small people, lightly tanned, slightly yellow, some with no teeth, some with a few and some with many, all however, polite and very interested to come and talk. “Hello” was the one word they all seemed to know. Repeated regularly with a familiar grin in the hope we would stop and allow them to explore us. Nerve-racking at first then amusing after that, it never stopped. this was an education that no schooling could ever give. Entering a world that was untouched and backwards, at least backwards in my mind and completely alien to anything I’d ever seen before.

imagesFong was in a hurry, ushering us onwards at every moment. Answering our questions, and yes, we had many, and then moving on once again. We passed fruit stands selling fruit that had already been half eaten, we passed all sorts of meats being mutilated by the largest knives I had ever seen. We passed duck, chicken and dog, all on spits, gently roasting in the early morning sun. There were vegetables everywhere, green and yellow and red and all of a variety I’d never seen before. We saw fish, alive and in tanks, lying dying on the roadside, and sometimes being cooked right in front of our eyes. There was what seemed to be a tsunami of bicycles, and very few cars. Donkeys, rats, cats, and all things vermin. I even saw an alligator with his nose all taped up, sitting in a box, ready to be purchased then eaten. It was an eye-opening experience of all that’s good and bad in life. there was time to see a park, a fishing boat and someone’s home. We toured for three hours and then it was lunch, served in person by Fong and his wife. During lunch I ate rice, rice and rice. I didn’t trust any of the meats or the fish, and with all the best will in the world, those who did, did so at their own pearl. After lunch we walked some more, touring this small fishing village, which has now become a huge metropolis. It took all afternoon and at 3 PM, Fong called a halt and told us we had to head back to the border. I asked him, as we arrived at the end of our tour, “what would you like me to send you from the UK?”, and his answer, “magazines, we need to see what’s happening in the world. We need magazines”

Bidding goodbye, with I have to say some sadness, we were offered back to our HK guide and bus driver Tommy. Tommy by now had his fill of all the delicacies Shenzen could provide and he looked like he’d put on 10 lbs by the time we were reunited. We exited China, back into HK and at that time, British territory, and sped back towards the sanctuary of our 4 star hotels in Hong King. I recall siting on that bus as we drove the 45 minutes back towards Kowloon and thinking how lucky I was not to have been born in China. It was such a shithole, (sorry, but it still is, and my previous article confirms that feeling), but the people were so nice and warm and friendly. Unfortunately over the next 20 years as Shenzen grew, along with the rest of China, things changed dramatically, as they always do, and crime along with the populace increase, started to mount. I can say with absolute certainty that my first trip across was gently mind numbing, but thereafter every trip I made became more tedious and certainly more uncomfortable.

images (4)This is the border crossing as it was then and as it is now.  and also a picture of Shenzen as it is now, which is indicative of how China has progressed over the last 30 plus years. It looks wonderful and marvelous and certainly modern, but I can assure you, it comes at a price. As you have probably heard before, “you can change the place, but you can never change the people” China has changed and so have the people, but not for the better, in my opinion. China and especially Shenzen, is filled and brimming with everything that’s wrong in our world. Crime, pollution, and a complete disregard for humanity. Perhaps one day things will change there, though I fear it will be change for the worse and not the better. In the meantime, I still cherish my passport stamp, one that means a lot to me personally, and the experience, if only brief, that I had when crossing over the border back in 1980.

 

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And You Think It’s Easy?

downloadI’ve had so many people reading my post, “Why China Will Always Be a Shithole”, over the last few weeks, that I thought it would be good to do a follow-up.  I’ve been going to China for over 35 years, in fact the very first time I was able to cross the border from HK into Shenzen, in 1980, I had to get a special stamp in my passport which at that time was nearly impossible to obtain. I recall being in the Kowloon Cricket Club one evening, a place I grew to despise over time, but that’s another story, and I began chatting to an Australian chap called Dave. he was recounting his China adventures in all their glory, out loud and in a very boastful manner. In fact, he wasn’t even directing his brash and overly aggressive manner to me personally, his voice just seemed to engulf the whole bar area of that club. Dave had a fascination with the Vietnamese, especially their women. and indeed was married to one. He had complete disdain towards the Chinese, bragging that Vietnamese woman were far better under the covers than their Chinese counterparts, and Vietnamese woman gave the most subservient blow jobs of any nation on earth. He really was a piece of work, but my curiosity was peaked, not because of his sexual comparisons, but because at that point in my life I’d never even thought about going into China, and because Hong Kong was still the primary manufacturing base for all of Asia, their really was no need to venture across a border that reeked of Communism. “Dave” I asked, “how do I get a visa to go into Shenzen for the day?” I’d had a few drinks by then, well perhaps half a beer, I’m not the world greatest drinker as all my friends will attest to, and I was really interested in making a quick trip just to confirm that life in China was as crazy as Dave had made it out to be. “I’ll get you a visa mate” replied Dave, “my buddy’s a big shot at the China Visa services office in Kowloon. I think I can help you out.

And he did. That very next day, Dave made the introduction and I toddled along to the Visa office to hand in my passport and $20 in the hope that 3 days later I could return and I would have the permission required to ended Communist China. Back then getting a visa wasn’t that easy. You needed to wait for two to three days in the hope the Chinese authorities would approve your application. It wasn’t a given that you’d get the green light and rubber stamp automatically. It was hit and miss, but thankfully, three days later I returned and found this shiny large red stamp that took up a whole page in my British passport. I had received permission, and now all I needed to do was find a tour group to take me in!

imagesFor those of you who don’t know much about Shenzen, I will give you the two-minute summary according to Alan. Shenzen was a fishing village as you can see from the pictures above and below, there were only 12000 people living there until the early 1970’s when the government decided they might just start negotiations to bring an ‘Economic Free Zone” into part of that city. With that in mind, and into the early 80’s, many people, mostly HK businessmen, decided that it might be the opportunity they’d always been looking for, cheap labor and government assistance, so they embarked on moving manufacturing from their famous HK bases into Shenzen and then beyond. The growth of Shenzen as a city was unimaginable and within 20 years from the date that I crossed the border into China, its population increased from that paltry 12 to 15,000 to what is now a staggering 15 million. Obviously there have been growing pains, too many to mention in this blog, but quite honestly if you had witnessed this growth first hand, which I had the pleasure of doing, you wouldn’t believe how the Communist government have literally bulldozed their way through mountains, valleys and beyond to create one of Asia’s foremost economic zones. It’s nothing but a miracle that this happened and nothing but a disaster for those who lost their homes and farms to make way for more efficient manufacturing and production outlets, none of which the world really needed. Shenzen’s birth in the early 1980’s is solely responsible, in my opinion, for the way we all live today as consumers of a global marketplace.

downloadThis stamp got me across the border in March of 1979. I have asked many people who I know inside China to tell me what it says, but no one can. It’s faded now, but the fact that it was issued in the first place was in itself, a miracle. It was so hard to get one of these unless you were booked on an official tour. I wasn’t booked on anything but a curiosity trip, enhanced by the need to tell everyone I knew that I’d crossed the border into a Communist country, my first! I would later walk through Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin before the wall fell, and also go to Vietnam before democracy took hold, but that would be some years in the future. That stamp meant a lot, it still does, and it meant I was on my way to a culture shock that I have never recovered from.

I was introduced by a business associate, Bugie Dahber (pronounced Budgee) to one of his family members whose business was taking people with similar curiosities as mine, across the border for day trips. I signed on immediately. I only had 2 days left in HK before my return to the UK so I needed to act fast. With the small fee of $50 paid, and my visa stamp double checked by all concerned, I was primed and ready for what would turn out to be a day never to forget. I could hardly sleep that night, nothing new to me in HK by the way. I have never managed, in the 35 years plus I’ve been going, to get a really good night’s sleep there. I rose early, was collected by a mini van filled with 6 other people who were as curious as I to see what life was like in the real China, and headed north, about 45 minutes, to Lo Wu, the border crossing.

To be continued….