Monday, February 28, 2011

This is PISSING ME OFF!!!!!!!

Some little bastard is fuckin' around with my postings.

I cannot post comments to other blogs, nor can I check my Facebook page.

I am not sure if it is the client's web nanny filtering what I can and cannot do while I am connected to their internet connection, or if it's the proxy settings I had to set before I could get onto their WAN.

Whatever it is, it's annoying the fuck out of me...

SWMBO just made my day...

I got an email from SWMBO back home, which almost had me laughing out loud in the office. I would have if the people around me weren't so dour.

I could picture her expression and shriek from what she told me...

I must tell you a funny story. Actually - at the time it wasn't so funny. On Friday morning had to act as vigilator for some of the (clientname) people who were writing their CBCI exam. I was about to leave and realised I do not have anywhere to put all the exam booklets and answer sheets etc. that I need to take with me. My laptop bag was not big enough so I was looking in your study area to see if there was a shopping bag of some sorts that I could use. I see a nice slim black bag with zips and a nice long handle and think "perfect". It looked like it was a "new" item that has turned into a "fishing bag" so I just decided to take out whatever was in it. I nearly SHAT myself as I stuck my hand in cause something got hold of my finger and wouldn't let go. And....... to top it all, there was more than one of those "chocka buggers" in the damned bag. I did let out a couple of swear words. I took everything out and released these "creatures" from my finger. I was now 15 minutes late but at least I got a decent bag. I am not touching those "things" again. They are lying on your desk. I just hope I remember it when I am on the house phone. I might forget and put my hand on them again. I think i should move them RIGHT NOW before I get the fright of my life again. Geez..... I did laugh afterwards in the car. You cannot imagine what went through my mind when I put my hand into that bag. Yikes.

This is what SWMBO touched...those little spikes at the bottom, luckily, do not have any barbs otherwise she might have had to go to a doctor to have them removed...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Architecture images are back...

so it means that someone decided my photos were not of a subversive nature and reposted them back onto my blog...

Shukran, whomever you are...

On project in Dubai...Part 5...

Finishing in the office around 17h30, I head back to the hotel for a weekend that's a day earlier than I am used to. Like I care?

The train is packed with other weekend hopefuls also heading home. The ride is uneventful.

Back in the hotel, I decide I am going to walk to the Dubai Mall. It is only 2km or so from the hotel and in the cool evening air it should be pleasant.

Which means it could only get shitty.

And shitty, it was. The first part of the walk was fine, the pavements are wide and uncrowded and you don't have to continually watch your back like you do in SA and other countries. Nobody fucks with anybody else's great.

The place probably has its crime, but I haven't seen any...yet...and I don't care to either.

I walk past the station I usually use to get to the office, heading for the next one as a landmark. The Sheikh Fayed freeway is as busy as the N1 through the Woodmead interchange, except that this goes on 24hrs a day here. There is no respite from traffic in Dubai.

About 500m past the second station, they are building a new offramp to take cars off towards the new Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world. For this, they have blocked all routes around the freeway and are even digging a tunnel in the road parallel to it, so that is blocked off too. As a result, I have to walk back the 500m to the second station, then cross over there using the bridge as a thoroughfare, but that side of the freeway is dark and dodgy-looking so I opt for the train instead. It takes me the last 600m to the Burj Khalifa station and there is still another kilometer to walk from there to the Dubai Mall itself.

All this is happening in +100% humidity, even though the air is cool. I can feel my bollocks sweating in my jeans and my thighs chafing against the denim. Not good - I know I am going to regret wearing these jeans by morning.

The mall is fuckin' massive - quite possibly the biggest in the world (though I haven't checked) - and certainly 10x the size of Sandton Mall in Shit Towne. There are five wings to the mall, each with four floors of wide shopping avenues, almost like highways in themselves.

There is an aquarium with an underwater zoo, with a mall-facing window which must be 50m long and 10m high so that the public can see all the creatures and fish in the marine tank. There are at least three ragged tooth sharks, countless eagle rays, kingfish, elephant fish, variegated batfish, and the biggest fuckoff brindle bass I have ever seen. A monster.

I take some photos but there is a lot of backlight reflection from the shop windows behind me and I cannot find a section of glass that does not have a reflection of some kind.

After watching some young arabs get chased away from touching the glass, I see a sign saying "Waterfall Court" and I think "Uh huh, that should be interesting".

FFS, there is a four storey face of water running down a granite backdrop, dotted with stainless steel figures, all in a downward-diving pose mounted on the wall. Magnificent is all that comes to mind. More photos at all angles and distances.

After that I find the food court and have what's known as a "Bento Box". Indonesian noodles the thickness of caterpillars, half a dozen skewered prawns, three chicken drumsticks and a small pile of beef pieces, all in a savoury sauce. Accompanied by a diet Pepsi, it;s not too heavy a meal and relatively cheap at about ZAR70.

I buy nothing in the mall except for an ice cream cone with two scoops of Italian ice cream on it, caramel and chocolate flavours. Even that cost ZAR42, which would explain why I bought nothing else.

I had wanted to buy a couple of casual shirts but I refuse to pay ZAR700 for a piece of cloth that says "Levi" or "Tommy Fuckin' Hilfiger" on it. No way!!

I walk out into the area between the mall wings to find there is a musical dancing fountain display and it too is quite spectacular as you will see by the photos when I get them posted.

The walk back to the train is nice and cool except for the sweating in my jeans caused by the humidity.

It's just as well I left the mall when I did as it is the last train for the night. It is 23h30. I couldn't have faced a walk back to the hotel in sweaty jeans.

Back in the hotel, I set the alarm for 8am so that I can go sightseeing while I have the opportunity.

Part 6, coming soon to a blog near you...

Friday, February 25, 2011

On project in Dubai...Part 4...

I end up working until 01h30 and, after emailing my report to the guys, shut the laptop down and brush my teeth before climbing into bed with the TV remote control, so that I can relax my mind a bit before sleeping.

I planned to wake at 8am and that's exactly what happened. A dead sleep, didn't even wake up once. Fuckin' marvellous...

Late the previous day, I had managed to connect the cell phone briefly to the Etisalat network and got some sms's in from some people, including SWMBO, who is worried about the globe on the garage wall (which we had already discussed on Skype).

I also go a SMS from Vodacom, welcoming me to Dubai and, if there are any problems, to send a SMS to +27821111.

It takes all of ten seconds to fire a SMS off to them that explains the problems I'm having with my connectivity. Almost immediately I get an acknowledgement that they will investigate and that someone would phone me within two days. TWO DAYS??? (btw, it's been three and I still haven't heard from anyone).

Anyway, I don't know what they did but since then I have had no problems remaining connected.

Back to today...

I watch Sky News for a while, with interest at what is happening in Libya and feeling pity for those poor buggers in New Zealand after their earthquake.

About 9am I hit the gym again, same routine as before, then back to check email and web, then get showered and dressed to go to breakfast. The hotel manual shows that they stop serving at 11h30, but when I get there at 11h10, I get told that they've already stopped. WTF?

Anyway, I grab my stuff thinking I'll grab a sandwich at the office. However, at the bottom of the hotel escalator, there's an Italian restaurant called "Barberas". Turns out it's named after the Indian guy who opened it, back in 1870...go figure. I decide to stop there and have a panini (tuna and cheese) and a Turkish coffee. I'd been wanting a Turkish coffee since coming back to the region and at AED15 (ZAR30), I thought "fuckit". It's better than any espresso cos it's like espresso X 10 and more aromatic. Very tasty.

So now, lunch over, I'll grab the Metro into the office for a couple of hours.

Part 5 to follow...

On project in Dubai...Part 3...

And what a great sleep it was - 8hrs solid! I didn't want to get out of bed and felt myself drift off a couple of times but resisted the urge.

I staggered out of bed, showered, shaved, shampoo'ed and ad shumshing to eat and then I'm on the Metro train to the office where I spend a boring, tiring day reading piles of documents and trying to complete a report, without much success. The room I was working in must have been an old fridge to the building's previous tenants. It was fuckin' freezing.

So, it was with much relief, that I got kicked out of the room at 4pm by some arab wanting his room for a conference call. On ye go, pal, freeze yer bollocks off.

For the first time in three train rides I managed to get a seat. So now I was able to have a look out of the windows at some of the sights without having to worry about overbalancing.

There are some amazing buildings in Dubai - all glass fronts, which means their aircon bills all year round must be astronomical, but even more so in summer.

I'll post some photos of buildings after the weekend, which starts on Thursday afternoon. In arabland, the weekend is Friday and Saturday, but in Saudi Dryland, it is Thursday and Friday. UAE royalty is trying to convince the Saudis to change to the same days as the UAE so that only one business day is lost to the rest of the world instead of two. Not much chance of that cos they are religious fanatics there and weekends are sacred.

Anyway...there are a couple of huge malls on the train route, so I'll be hopping on and off on Friday morning, doing a bit of shopping.

The exchange rate here is easy to calculate. Basically, take the AED price and double it on anything you want to buy, to convert it to ZAR. The UAE currency is twice as strong as SA. All because of oil. Or what oil they had. The rate never varies and is pegged at AED3.66 to USD1.

Back to the hotel and I sign online again and have a lengthy Skype chat with SWMBO at home. Actually, it was more like a lengthy listen, with me interjecting now and then to explain how to change a light bulb on the garage wall fitting...

At around 7pm, I felt like something to eat before I do a couple of hours more work and I'm writing this (eat your heart out, Sisturrrr) from the Wagamama's restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel.

The food is great. The deep-fried squid could have come straight out of the sea, it was so tender, and the chicken yellow curry (with bed of rice) was nicely spiced and not too make-your-nose-run hot.

Coupled with that, a pint of Chinese "Tiger" draught beer and I'm reluctant to go back to the room to work, but work I must. Sadly, I pay my bill and make my way back up the escalator and take the lift to the 5th floor.

Hoo hum...the life of a project resource in Dubai...

Part 4 coming soon...

I don't believe it...

but it appears there is a UAE government official somewhere who is hacking my blog AND REMOVING THE PHOTOS I'VE BEEN POSTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I put up a photo of a new lifeboat that Prince William and his stukkie, Kate, had blessed with cheap champagne over the bows....and it is gone!!!!

I also put up a few photos of some of the architecture in Dubai, as some of the buildings are simply amazing. The photos have all been of a tourist nature....AND THEY'RE ALL GONE TOO!!!!!!!!!!

If anyone from the less-insecure part of the world can still see the pics, please let me know...thanks...

If they have gone, then the official's efforts have all been in vain, as I'll simply post them again when I get home...DOH!!!

UPDATE!!!!! By the time I'd posted this, whomever it was that was hijacking my postings, put the lifeboat pic back....obviously does not warrant censure because it is a photo of a British boat and not local...

I'll put an image of the Metro Station below again, to see if it happens again...

Some Dubai Architecture photos...

There are some amazing buildings, old and new, in Dubai. Here's a selection of some of them...more to follow...

These were taken with my phone camera...

Inside of the Metro Station buildings, they are all identical.

The Burj Khalifa building - the highest in the world.

An old South African favourite.

Front facade of the Crowne Plaza hotel where I am staying.

Not sure what buildings these are. They are over the road from the hotel.

Mall of the Emirates - with snow ski slope (angled roof).

Not sure what these buildings are. There is a "Business Bay" area where a pile of new high rises are going up and these are some of them.

These buildings are diagonally behind the office building. I loved the late afternoon sunlight behind them.

This one shows a Metro Station building from the outside (they're also known as Armadillo's here).

The entrance to Dubai Internet City, where the office is. Just about all the major IT players are within a stone throw of each other, most around a fountained park.

Just to the right of the entrance to Dubai Internet City.

The Arenco media company building, next to the office.

Caught sight of a hot air balloon in the sky on my walk to the Armadillo.

I wonder...

if we could get our own royalty (Zuma or Malema) to come and bless our new NSRI jetski?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

On Project in Dubai - Part 2

Ok, so last time I was told by the PM to get some more rest...blah, blah, blah...

In the end, I ended up doing more email and web browsing. My phone will not receive any calls or sms's - no idea why, but must be the network operator/provider, of which there are only 2 in Dubai, Etisalat and Du (short for DUH, I think).

The only one that connects on roaming for any length of time is Du and no amount of fiddling with settings has changed anything. I can send sms's but not receive, go figure.

Anyway, about midday the PM comes up on IM and I feel guilty enough to say I was just on my way out the door to go to the office.

I get my shit together and down to the door for a taxi after changing some USD for AED (Dirhams). The damn internal claims system will not allow us to claim our per diem allowance in advance anymore and I have to fork out my own cash until I can get home and claim. Fuckup, corporation, fuckup...

For USD1 you get AED3.56 at the hotel desk so I change USD25 - figure it out for yourself what I got in local money.

Into a taxi, aircon belting cool air out, and straight back out the way I had come in last night towards the office.

En route, the Paki driver starts talking and it's either he is speaking Paki or else his "Engrish" is not good. the latter is right as I eventually pick up on a word and his accent, and it becomes a little easier.

He suddenly asks me "what is a canned message?" and I'm like "WTF?". After repeating himself about five times, he points to the meter screen. "Message come here", he says, "What mean?" and I'm "Uuhhh, dunno dude, must have something to do with the taxi system". Then he hauls out a tatty Oxford Dictionary, circa 1965, and says "Engrish no so good" and I have to politely tell him it's not too bad.

When I look up the word "canned" in the dictionary it gives a meaning that it could be something "pre-set" or "pre-prepared" so I figure I'll tell him it's a pre-set message that the system is programmed to send at an event, whatever that may be.

"Ahhh, event", he says "Event on now. You know tennis? Lots of events in Dubai. Tennis on now. ATP." So I tell him him "Ok. Good.", just to shut him up.

"What means this message" pointing to the screen again, "when says 'Ok to dep'?" What? All of a sudden I'm a fuckin' expert at canned taxi system messages? Fuckoff...

"Ummm, probably means it's okay to depart", I tell him. "Ahhh, okay" says Numpty. For all I know it was Arabic code for "Ok to deploy explosive device in taxi", FFS...

All the time I'm watching the meter wondering how long my AED are going to last at this rate. When we finally pull up at the office, it reads AED36.50 (ZAR73!!). I hand Numpty AED40 in exchange for a little piece of paper, also known as a receipt. At least I can claim the trip back, minus the tip.

In the office, the three of us get together and discuss the difficulties of the client (aren't they all fuckin' difficult?) and we swap some ideas and documents for a couple of hours. I grab myself a cup of espresso from a machine in the foyer for AED2 (ZAR4...bargain) and only when I get to the bottom of, having thought it was just exceptionally strong coffee, do I find the sugar in a translucent mass.

Then I notice the the "Metro" is running. It's an elevated train system which was under construction when I was last here, 3 years ago.

It runs the straight line between the hotel and the office so right away I'm on the web having a look at prices. As it happens, there's a 300m walk from station to hotel or office at either end, a multi-use card which costs AED20, of which AED14 is fare you can use, and you can recharge the card as required. Best of all, a one-way trip is only AED5.40!! Fuck the taxi!!

A pleasant 15min ride from station to station, no worrying about how badly a taxi is being hurtled from lane to lane and whether I'm going to survive the ordeal, just a smooth train ride. What a pleasure. On top of it all, it is completely automated, not even a driver onboard. If it's late, you know there's been a breakdown, which there has never been since the rail was opened a year ago. And it is dead quiet except for the whine of the electric motors, even though it runs on rails. The wheels are completely silent.

Back in the hotel, I fiddle with the cell settings again, but still no incoming calls or sms's. I finish off some email and decide to head down to the gym. I had promised myself I would make the effort seeing as I had no other chores or responsibilities while away from home.

I do 30min on a treadmill, then some situps and light weights on my arms then decide I've had enough and go and get changed back into jeans for dinner. Which is where I am right now. I've just had a steak pie, chips and side salad, as well as a pint and a half of Murphy's stout (almost like Guinness).

I'll go back up to my room shortly and browse through more work documents for tomorrow before, hopefully, having a good night's sleep. I'm exhausted.

Part 3 to follow...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On Project in Abu Dhabi and Dubai - Part 1

Well, the folks in the desert finally agreed to start the project, so here I am in Dubai.

I'm booked to be here between yesterday (Monday 21st Feb) and the 8th March, about two weeks. Already, I'm wondering what sort of experience it is going to be, as there doesn't seem to be any urgency just yet. That said, it is early days, so things could change dramatically.

Monday 21st February

Awake at 5am, thinking of the trip. Alarm goes off at 6am, so I get up and make coffee, take a piss, put the dogs out for their morning slash as well, though not quite in that order.

Showered, shaved, and dressed in my best jeans, we head for the airport just before 8am as planned. There's a bit of traffic but we get to the airport just after 9am, with plenty of time to check in.

As I go through passport control, the dumbfuck doos asks me "New passport?". I just look at him and say "You noticed" and smile while going on my way. He probably noticed that there were no multi-coloured stamps on any of the pristine pages...very observant of the public servant. Fuckin' idiot...

Grab an espresso, power up the laptop and get on the phone to TT, at work in the Joburg office to try and calm her nerves about a presentation she has to do on Thursday. It's no rocket science, but it's her first and I think she'll ace it.

On board at 09h45 and he flight is empty, with most folks getting on in Shit Towne which is on our route to the desert. One of the hostesses looks like Fishman's Model Sister. The guy on the opposite side of the aisle form me strikes up a conversation with her and determines she's from Egypt. He's about 60 in the shade...dirty old barstud...down boy...

There's plenty of leg room in my row, number 19, as it is one of those emergency aisles over the wing. Sweet, I can stretch out and trip folks as they walk past. The check in crew were good enough to tell me that there was to be a family with kids next to my original seat and they moved me to this great place. Thanks, folks. The crew of Etihad airways are the friendliest bunch I've ever seen on my travels.

The flight to Joburg is over in 1.5hrs, a full 30mins ahead of schedule. Why can't all flights between those cities be cut by that time? It is very bumpy coming into Joburg - big holes in the clouds and we drop what feels like hundreds of feet (and probably was seeing as we're in a thousand ton pterodactyl) and some female passenger screams softly a couple of times. The Egyptian hostess chuckles to herself.

There was a decent lamb wrap for breakfast, followed by a hot cup of tea. Nice.

We must have had a novice pilot coming into Joburg, cos I shit you not when I say he bounced the bird THREE TIMES before keeping it on the ground, then he skews it off to the left and jams the engines into reverse to bring it under control. That's the worst thing about these onboard cameras - you can see every fuckup the flight crew make, in real time!

I check my sms's and email, but there's nothing important happened in the last couple of hours. We have a 1.5hr wait while the other passengers and baggage are loaded. I switch off the laptop and on the MP3 player - Deep Purple "Speed King" is the first track I hear...great stuff.

A new crew takes over as the CPT-leg crew actually flew down the previous night from JNB, stayed over in CPT, then flew out first thing on the Abu Dhabi-bound flight. Nice job if you can get it, I suppose.

Somebody nearby smells of stale sweat, must be the German guy in row 18. The smell started when he moved in from row 15 - maybe he was asked to move by the people sitting around him. There are plenty of open seats as the plane is nowhere near full by the time we're ready to lift off again.

The new crew hands out more sets of earplugs - no thanks, I already have a set, as you can see by the things sticking out of my ears. Here's your sign...

The doors close and there's still no-one sitting next to me - kewl. More room to stretch out. Strange, because online checkin showed that the plane was nearly full and I couldn't change my seat. Do we really have that many people that don't pitch up for their flights? The doors close at 13h40.

Somehow, though, we only manage to take off at something like 14h15 after sitting out on the tarmac for a while, waiting for other craft to bounce their landings.

Around 3h30 later, I'm penning this story into my journal, cos I'm bored of flipping through channels on a clearly-inferior entertainment system. I think Wreckless should go and sell them a new onboard mainframe or something.

There are some great movies on offer (Inception, Avatar special edition) and great UK comedy but the system has a lip-sync problem. It's so bad it's like audio-visual deja vu. You've heard the cracks, but then the comedians mouth catches up seconds later and, as you read his lips, you think "I've heard this before".

Dinner has come and gone. A terrible little lettuce salad and nice chicken tikka "breast" (the size of a R5 coin) for starters, some decent hake, potatoes and green beans for main course. Then I find the little box on the side, that I thought was apple crumble, actually contained butter for the roll, salad dressing to camouflage the lettuce, a small Gouda cheese block, and salt and pepper. The apple crumble is nowhere to be seen and actually came afterward, with coffee so I skipped it, having eaten enough already.

By that time, I'm also well down my third double Dewars White Label scotch and couldn't care for apple fuckin' crumble so settle on a cappuccino instead.

According to my watch, at this point, it's 17h45 SA time, almost dark outside the plane, the lights are turned down low for some to catch some after-dinner sleep. I'm listening to 30 Seconds to Mars "From Yesterday". Bit of a screamer, but good solid rock song.

I have two Germans sitting next to me, browsing a "Kaapstadt" travel book and I'm tempted to tell them we're going the wrong way and they should have read that book before getting on the flight, but I leave them to plan their trip.

Now it's Deep Purple "Burn" on the MP3 player...

The MP3 player is a trusty little gadget I bought on my first trip to Saudi Desertland three years ago. It also doubles up as a USB memory stick.

Flying over southern Sudan at 864km/h, still 3,199km to go...another 4hrs....groan...

Oh good, there's only 2,455km to Mecca, like I needed to know that, just off the port side of the nose of the plane.

The entertainment system has a section called Elements which is supposed to show all the duty free stuff, but aside from rules and regulations and how much alcohol and tobacco I'm allowed to take into whatever country, all it shows is a menu of items (jewellery, fragrances, watches, etc) all the sections show blank screens and "page 1 of 0"...DOH!!

I've been awake for 13hrs already so I'm going to catch a couple of hours sleep if possible. I put the MP3 player off after Status Quo's "You're in the army now"...

Tuesday 22nd February

We land at just before midnight, desert time, and it's about 25degC, nice and cool. The bus trip to the terminal is uneventful, if long, which is typical of these desert airports. Everything is miles away from everything else. Thank fuck we don't have to walk.

Customs is a breeze, thanks to my UK passport, and I pick up my suitcase and head for the bus terminus. There's a complimentary shuttle to the hotel which is just as well as my hotel is in Dubai, while I flew into Abu Dhabi, 120km apart. The bus is a luxury coach, aircon, complimentary bottle of water and a peppermint included.

The journey is about an hour long and the highways are in great condition. The SA roads guys can take a leaf out of these guys' books for road construction. The roads here take a pounding from the heat, yet do not melt, unlike ours that actually wash away with a thunderstorm.

As it's night, there are no opportunities for photos (perhaps on purpose by the authorities?) and the camera stays in its case for future reference.

By the time I get a taxi to the airport, checked in, unpacked and ready for bed, it's after 03h30 and I'm exhausted. Still, I set the alarm for 07h00 to see what the plan is for the day.

As it happens, I get told to get some more rest and go into the office later today. I can handle that, but instead I go down for some breakfast and do some email and blogging up to this point. It's now 12h16 local time and I'm about to head out, I think. After all, these guys are paying for my time...

Look out for Part 2 sometime soon...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Corporate Rip-off Artists...

...make me sick, the whole bunch of them.

We, the general public, continue to get stripped of our hard-earned cash and savings, just so that these corporate fat-cats can continue to get their obscene bonuses at the end of their financial year. It was reported on Sky News the other day that the Barclays CEO was reputed to get a GBP9 million bonus.

Point in question...take Barclays Bank UK, who have just posted a pre-tax profit of GBP5.5 BILLION!!! It doesn't matter how you look at it, pre- or post-tax, it is ridiculous! In layman's terms that equates to over GBP458 million profit PER MONTH, or over GBP15 million PER DAY, or over GBP636,000 PER HOUR. Incidentally, this is about ten times what that overpaid, over-idolised wanker David Beckham makes per hour and, quite frankly, neither of them deserve it.

The fact of the matter is...the man in the street is getting ripped off for the benefit of a few shareholders of a particular company, in this case, Barclays Bank, and those are the only people that are benefiting from it. The rich get richer, the poor get ripped off more and more.

And Barclays is not the only corporation doing this, they just happen to be the one exposed to public scrutiny at the moment. I happen to work for a nameless corporation who do exactly the same thing and yet, year after year throughout the financial year, we get told we are performing great, things are looking up, getting better, the share price goes higher and higher. But woe and betide, at the end of the year we are told how we need to drive profits higher, that we haven't performed well at all, and we all need to suck it up and take a 0% increase while our executives get fat bonuses just because they are "in the driving seat" and deserve it. Do me a favour...fuck off!

Dear Mr Corporate-Fat-Fuckin'-Cat, guess what? My expenses DO go up every year in line with the unrealistic increases levied by other corporations, banks and government organisations alike with the result that I can no longer even afford a flight to Durban to visit my parents. Further, I get rated as an "under-performer" because I struggle to meet my fuel bill at the end of the month if I go into the office more than twice a week so I choose to personally suck up the R700 a month that "Hell-kom" rip me off for my ADSL line (because there is no 3G connectivity in my area so I can't use my corporate 3G card), which is still cheaper than the fuel would have cost me. And why? Because the corporation panders to its fat-fuckin'-cat shareholders demands for higher dividends. Fuck your shareholders, I'm an employee who you should be looking after. There will always be shareholders, but there will not always be someone with my skills or experience generating your profits. (this will be the subject of another rant very soon)

I digress, back to topic...

Did BP executives quiver in their Gucci shoes when they were penalised billions by the USA for the Gulf Oil Spill fiasco? No, they didn't. Why? Because their profits STILL EXCEEDED the fine!! The shareholders probably breathed a sigh of relief when that one was announced to the poor. So this year they get a reduced dividend on their what? They still have an operating corporation and the poor will get ripped off sufficiently in the coming year to make up for that "lost" dividend and probably more on top of that too.

Has Chevron made any revelationary utterances since the news came out that they were found guilty of polluting the Amazon River over years of drilling operations? Hardly a fuckin' word. Yet their fuels will still reach the forecourts of petrol stations around the world and the poor will continue to get ripped off at the demands of their shareholders. No doubt Chevron's profits last year (reputed to be GBP12 BILLION) will pay for the fine imposed on them, so we won't be hearing from them anytime soon, I bet. I see they have "disputed" the fine imposed upon them, but in all eventuality, the fine will probably be reduced to GBP5 BILLION and the corporation will claim a moral victory to the shareholders. They are claiming that it was Texaco that caused the damage, before they were bought out (maybe why, seeing as the lawsuit was filed 17 years ago?) by Chevron, so the fine in "un-enforceable".

Typically, what do corporations do in answer to the reports of high bonuses and profits? Nothing, nada, fokol, fuck all...except to shut right up. Say nothing, then the problem will go away. Just as most corporations do when they are taken to task publicly for things that should not, by law, be allowed to happen.

I believe corporations should be called to account to the general public (fuck the shareholders) for the obscene profits they generate and explain how and why they ripped the public off. Then they should be forced, by law, to rebate most of those profits back to the general public through tax rebates or some such mechanism. So long as a corporation makes even 1c profit, it is a successful company, yet governments (and the public) allow corporations to continue fleecing the public to the most ridiculous amounts.

Take another SA corporation...Vodacom. I know Wreckless has a bug up his ass about this lot, and so he should. Three years ago, they reported a profit of ZAR4.3 BILLION!!! I don't know what their recent profits were, but I can only imagine they must be higher than this. How can they justify the rates they are charging people for their calls and/or text messages? So much for cell phones being the way to take communications to the masses. In the end, it turned out to be just another way to rip the poor off.

The sad part of it all is that governments are encouraging these rip-offs, as can be read in this Sky News article.

And what happens in the world of high finance to "assist" the poor to try and make ends meet? The banks push up their rates, as appears to be the call to the Bank of England in this article. This, in turn, will cause the other banks (Barclays included) to push up their rates and guess who gets it in the neck again because all the other corporations push up their rates to cover the cost of lending money from the banks? Yup, you guessed it, the poor-ripped-off-man-in-the-street....again!

Anyone with half a brain can see that the world economy is driven by one thing and one thing only. Ok, two things, the second of which is sex, but that's another story. It's not demand for money, overindulgence by spenders, profits from investments (and shareholders demands), loans to the poor, food prices, or just about any of the other reasons that are given by corporations and governments the world over.

No...the world economy is driven by THE FUEL PRICE! Let your half a brain wander for a bit of a think. EVERYTHING we have in this fucked up world is driven by the cost of getting from Point A to Point Z, sometimes via B, C and D as well if you are driving a government/taxpayer-sponsored vehicle. Grocery prices go up because delivery trucks drink diesel and goods need to be delivered from depots to store shelves. Bank rates go up because of daily operational costs to move cash around, replenish ATM's, and to refuel fat-cat-executives luxury vehicles. Communications costs go up because of the vehicles they have on the road to fix and service line demands. Even the crude oil we need to make more petrol has to be shipped so it becomes more expensive to transport that crude. Pick something in your life and you will see how the fuel price affects it with a bit of lateral thinking. Even our NSRI fuel costs go up because of price hikes, which in turn causes our corporate sponsors to have to increase their charges to clients because their sponsorships of this vital service are costing them more.

This is up for debate, actually no, it's not...just have a think about it. Man is his own worst enemy. He fucks up everything he comes in contact with, eventually. And that includes his own species.