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Archive for May, 2007

Writing is not like any other career. You need to love writing and be motivated to write consistently. You learn writing most of the time the hard way. This can never be over-stated.

Reading interviews of established and working writers, learning from their views and getting inspirations from their thoughts are what can get you motivated to write if you are thinking about writing as a career.

You remember some time back I interviewed an established writer, Nick Daws? If not, you can read about it here. Well, Nick has been interviewed again, this time by an American journalist A. Brewster Smythe for the Associated Content website.

In this interview they examine and discuss issues like the influence of the “new media” on the “print media”, the challenges facing newspapers, and whether a degree is needed for a writing career.

Nick seems to share my thought on the controversy about academic degree which I discussed in one of my previous posts. “Many of the world’s best writers have been self-taught or followed non-academic paths”, he says.

Nick also tells about how he began to write correspondence courses.

You can access Nick’s interview from here.

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Do you smoke? If you are a smoker, do you know that you don’t have the right to endanger the health of non-smokers? Are you current on the latest initiatives or legal provisions in your country?

I was a casual smoker at one time. I used to take a few puffs from my friends during outings and fun times. Like many hard smokers, I didn’t pay heed to the harmful effects tobacco smoke can have on my health. The only thing I realised and I hated the most is the bad breath that came out; stinky mouth. How disgusting when you have to approach your partner or your mate or anyone who doesn’t smoke.

As I had started to experience unstable blood pressure I decided for a check up in 1998. I was shocked when the doctor asked me if I was a heavy smoker. Reason? The echocardiography revealed dark spots; well this is what he told me. He didn’t trust my word when I insisted that I smoked only on rare occasions; not even one cigarette in a week. If I had dark spots what would be the case with regular smokers? I felt so much remorse that I stopped tobacco consumption for good. No first hand smoking at all. I’m not so sure whether it applies for passive smoking as we are all somehow exposed to smoke in the environment.

Tobacco is known to be the second major cause of death in the world. It is responsible for about five million deaths each year. It accounts for numerous diseases, disability, and malnutrition, loss of productivity, increased health care costs and serious economic problems. In a report in 1994 it was estimated that the use of tobacco caused an annual global net loss of USD 200,000 millions. The current pattern in smoking is expected to result in some 10 million deaths each year by the year 2020.

Studies have shown that smoke contains some 4000 toxic chemicals. These affect not only the smoker but also non-smokers who live in the surrounding by a phenomenon known as secondhand smoking or passive smoking. Secondhand smoke is other people’s tobacco smoke. It can cause serious damage to the human body, like blood clotting, increased risk of lung cancer and heart disease. The risk of such diseases is the same in smokers and secondhand smokers. Secondhand smoking occurs mainly in enclosed environments, in rooms, offices, bars, restaurants, casinos, vehicles and other such places where people smoke.

Secondhand smoke stays in the environment for long and is most of the time invisible and odourless. In a room it may be present after two and half hours even if you open the windows. In a car it’s even worse as all the smoke is concentrated in a small area.

Scared? Well, there’s every reason to be. But we can do something about it, together. Although most smokers would argue it’s not easy to quit smoking. If you can choose to smoke at your own risk and peril, you have no right to put other people’s health at risk. Non-smokers have the right to a smoke-free environment.

That’s why the United Kingdom will be introducing a law “to protect employees and the public from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke”. As from 1 July this year, therefore, smoking in all “enclosed” and “substantially enclosed” public places and workplaces will be prohibited by law. The law aims at a smoke-free environment.

Enclosed premises would include those having a ceiling or roof and fully enclosed except for doors, windows or passageways. Substantially enclosed premises would be those with a ceiling or roof but having an opening in the walls that is less than half the total area of the walls.

So you won’t be allowed to smoke in a public transport and work vehicles carrying more than one person. Smoking signs will have to be displayed in all smoke-free premises and vehicles. Indoor smoking areas including staff smoking rooms will be forbidden; and anyone willing to smoke will have to go outside. There will be a legal responsibility on managers to prevent people from smoking in smoke-free premises and vehicles. It will be a criminal offence if you don’t comply with the requirements of the law and you’ll be liable to fixed penalties or maximum fines upon conviction.

What better initiative than the upcoming UK legislation to crack down on smokers in the context of World No-Tobacco Day to be celebrated on 31 May with the theme: “Smoke-free environments”.

In Mauritius the campaign has started on 23 May and will last until 7 June to sensitize people on the ill-effects of smoking and the need to promote a smoke-free environment. TV spots, forums, radio talks, poster competitions and regional workshops are scheduled during that period.

But it’s all a question of personal choice and conscience. If each of us could contribute in bringing a halt to tobacco smoking, the world would be a healthier place to live.

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“Sugar is the most economic and most efficient source of production of ethanol.” That was a statement made by the Mauritian Minister of Agro-Industry at the opening ceremony of the 31st session of the International Sugar Council (ISC) at the International Conference centre at Grand Bay.

The Minister’s statement is pertinent at a moment when our sugar industry is facing new challenges. The Sugar Protocol, which guaranteed a market and a favourable price, is no longer valid. Alternative uses have become all the more imperative if we want to preserve our sugar-based economy. The poduction of ethanol is one such option in limiting the use of fossil fuel which generate greenhouse gases with detrimental impacts on climate change.

“In that context,” said the Minister, “Mauritius along with many other ACP developing countries is currently implementing Multi Annual Adaptation Strategies to sustain the sugar industry in the light of the EU reforms. These strategies that have been put forward are basically aimed at operating the sugar industry on the model of a cluster producing sugar, energy and ethanol in flexi-factories to reduce costs, increase revenue, and optimize use of by-products “.

Participants from 81 countries will continue to reflect on the theme ” Sugarcane – an Engine for Sustainable Development ” until Thursday 31 May.

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My post: “Reporters and Journalists, beware” made the cut in the 10th edition of the Carnival of Storytelling. It’s all at DigitalRichDaily along with other interesting ones, like Courage; and The Ominous Comma » Hormone Poisoning.

The editor says having received several stories but did not include them all due to” bouts of stupidity and boringness”.

It’s a real pleasure indeed when you happen to make it out of the lot.

Thank you DigitalRichDaily.

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Temperature slightly above normal during the day; normal during the night in the first half of the season; and below normal during the night in the second half of the season. Minimum temperature may on some occasions reach 8 to10 degrees Celsius in conditions of light wind and clear sky.

Rainfall slightly below normal. Ditto for average wind speed.

Temporary wet and chilly conditions giving rise to a sensation of extreme cold with strong anticyclones causing fresh South Easterly trade winds to blow over the mascarenes in July and August.

Those are the forecasts for Mauritius and Rodrigues as indicated by the Mauritius Meteorological Services in its 2007 Winter Seasonal Outlook released last week. They are based on various meteorological conditions prevailing on global, regional and local scales, like El Nino and La Nina oscillations, pressure pattern, jet stream location and intensity, sea surface temperature, and the Indian monsoon; and on model forecasts from Global Long Range Forecast Centres.

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It’s now a worldwide tradition, well at least here in Mauritius. Mother’s Day is celebrated on the last Sunday of May every year. Right form the early morning people flock to their mothers’ to wish Happy Mother’s Day. For those whose mothers are resting in peace it’s an occasion to pay a special tribute at the cemetery.

Flowers, fancy presents or anything that would please moms are enough to say “Thank you Mom for having given birth to me. There’s no better mom than you. I’ll ever be grateful to you, my dear mom.” These words full of significance echo in the ears of every mother this day, sincerely, honestly or just in words.

On this auspicious day it’s good if we thought a little about those who don’t have a mom or those who’ve never seen their mom, those who’ve lost their dear mummy, those who are longing to say “Mama” to the one who brought them in this world. They are numerous. Still there are quite a lot of them who despite having a mother are motherless. These are the ones with little heart, those who, rightly or wrongly, have ignored the ones who’ve sacrificed their lives for them. If only this day could bring them back to their dear mummy it would give a whole new meaning to mother’s day.

Then there are those who don’t have anybody to cheer them up, nobody to call them “Ma”,“Mamma”, “Mummy” or “Mom”. They may never have conceived, or they may have lost their kins or they may even have abandoned their children for various reasons, poverty, war, crimes, famine…. For them mother’s day would mean nothing more than a mourning day. May the Almighty be merciful upon them.

But the sad thing about this celebration is that it’s more a day for business people. Since two weeks we are being flooded with commercial adverts on radio, TV, the press and even on bill boards. Fairs have been organized at various places. Shops are offering discounted deals. The official pay day (which is usually two clear days before the end of the month) was advanced from Tuesday 29 to Thursday 24 May. All this to get people into the frenzy of buying for “mother”, or mother-in-law for that purpose, and to show that they (the businesses) care for mothers whoever and wherever they are.

As symbolic as this could be, years ago people greeted their mom with a flower. Not necessarily the case today. People are better off. They resort to material and expensive things. Does your mother require a flower or whatever gift from you to show her that you love her, that you owe her everything that you have? I’m no economist, but it would seem that it’s all a question of supply and demand, with the result that traders and businesses make the best out of this celebration.

Yet there are others for whom every day is a mother’s day. The much deserved love, respect and consideration they bestow on the one without whom they would be naught is all that they do to show how significant is every day they owe to their mom. For them there’s no better day than every day’s a mother’s day; no gift however expensive can ever compensate for a mother’s love and sacrifice.

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At its weekly meeting today, the Cabinet approved the recommendations made by the NPC. The Finance Minister stated it’ll cost more than Rs 3.5 billions to implement the recommendations. He’s is particularly concerned about the payment capacity of small enterprises who are facing fierce competitions and evolving challenges. Although he believes that some sectors can pay more than the recommended amount, he’s been all the time in favour of a compensation based on productivity and capacity to pay rather than on the only inflationary rate index.

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