Sunday, March 2, 2014

Australian 'call centres' moving to New Zealand---thanks mate---but

Sometimes when the phone goes around six at night, I cringe, assuming that it is yet another call form one of several sources:  It is either a scam, whereby there is a pause followed by a very badly accented vice imploring me to check out something to do with my computer or maybe some other obviously spurious cause. They are quite easy to sort out from the ‘real thing,’ and depending on my mood, I will go along with their crap for a while before they realize that I am on to them and hang up (Sometimes they have even sworn at me---but at least I have taken their time from other people who would be more than bothered by the calls)
Another source is the endless parade of callers from within NZ that are trying to get me to sign up for some sort of ‘Government subsidized energy saving service, like insulation or heat pumps, even solar water---all of which I can proudly say I already have. They don’t waste their time and politely wish me a good day. But----I would love ‘them’ to put me on some damn list so that they don’t interrupt my dinner time.
The other types of calls are the ones that I find most difficult; the ones wanting a donation for what are very worthy causes, but the old dollar can only go so far. This year alone, I have given to at least four ‘causes.’ I find it very hard to put them off, and my bank balance is the loser for it. Still, I guess I just have to work out a system where they send me something in the mail and I can sort through them and decide at a later date. (Is that another way of just--- not giving?) On-the-spot pressure is something that they probably rely on!
I see that quite a few ‘call centres’ are moving from Australia or from places further afield---to NZ---because we have an accent similar to that of the Aussies or because we are seen as a cheaper option than Australia itself. We are somewhere in the middle of the range re costs. That we speak very good English (stop laughing Aussie cousins!) is also a factor for those calls aimed at NZ and Australia. I am not that comfortable with NZ being seen as a ‘low wage’ economy, but that is obviously a factor; one that Mr Key is quite happy with. Where did all his talk about making NZ a high wage, ‘skilled’ work force. Funny how such platitudes go out the window! What’s next---moving Holden and Ford to NZ? That would be quite nice! Or maybe the Chinese will move some of their manufacturing base here, as their wages start to become more in line with developed nations. Strange times we live in, or is it just---‘progress?’
As for those ‘call centres,’ bring them on---but to the smaller secondary cities and towns of NZ. They could do with a bit of a ‘shove up.’

Ukraine---far more complicated than at first glance---beware-trouble lurks here!

Ukraine poses a problem far more complicated than mere big power rivalry. Put the latter aside and look at the history, both of Ukraine/Crimea, the relationship with this region to Russia and the former Soviet Union, plus the obvious ‘resettling that has been going on for many years re Russian citizens moving to the Crimea in order to legitimize later action on the part of Russia to reclaim this strategically important territory.
 Why is the Crimea so important to Russia? Russia has always yearned for a ‘warm water’ naval base, to protect its southern flank and allow it closer access to the Middle East and the Suez Canna. This has been so for at least two centuries, so no one should be surprised at the continuance of this policy. Other ‘Great Powers’ have been driven by the same desire for ‘security of their interests overseas.’
Ukraine has also posed problems for Russia, simply because if where it lays geographically. Several times it has acted as a conduit for forces opposed to Russia, be it the old Empire of the Tsars or the Soviet rulers. One has to be Russian to truly understand that. Ukraine has a divide within itself, between the Western leaning Western regions to the more Russian ‘feeling’ East. That there is tension should not come as a surprise.
There is also a right-wing neo Nazi side to Ukraine and it is feared that this group, may be positioning itself for yet another takeover in Kiev. Naturally many Ukrainians will be uncomfortable with this and Russia doubly so. The more moderate sector of Ukrainian politics is weak and lacks the backing of any obvious power brokers.
Now add Putin’s plans and the mix gets even messier. He will not bow down to the West as he showed during the Georgian war of a few years ago. He is prepared to go to the brink and beyond, knowing that the EU and the USA will not go to war over this far flung ‘non Nato’ country.
We need level heads at this crucial post-Cold War time in our history. We do not need militaristic adventurism under any guise, nor do we need a Russian invasion of this former Soviet Republic. Pay that the level heads of moderation prevail and that the streets of Kiev and other cities do not run with blood.

China battles with the 'cost of success.'

Without doubt, China has made huge gains over the last few decades. Once the leadership of the Communist Party took a more pragmatic view of economics, the pace has not slackened. China as a producer for the world is unmatched and as the quality of the goods improves, there will more spectacular gains. It goes without saying that it will not be long before we see large numbers of Chinese manufactured cars on our roads, both those made for the lager foreign manufacturers like Toyota but also those newly emerging Chinese models, like the Cherry.
There is a price for this massive expansion of Chinese production and it can be seen in the form of incredibly unhealthy pollution statistics. On any given day, in Beijing, the air quality is outright dangerous to those breathing it. Masks will do little to protect the wearers.
For a while, during the Olympics we saw what can happen when the majority of the polluting factories closed, but that is not the answer. The Chinese Government knows there is a problem and along with the growing green movement in China, I doubt that the issue will be ‘side-lined.’
China is making gains re solar and alternative energy solutions. It is now the largest manufacturer of solar panels, making them a viable option for countries outside China. Add in wind turbines and we will start to see a lessening of the pollution that not only affects China, but those countries nearby. China gains and so do we. The price of progress must be balanced by an enlightened attitude; one that we are starting to see.

I must have a big mouth---well--- there are now more than 1700 blogs on my site---go read!

It has been more than three years since I got bitten by the ‘blog fly.’ I suspect I caught it at the Manukau Heads, on that auspicious day that I decided to start writing. At that stage, it was a book and that happened but I have yet to publish the results of that decision (Sons of Orpheus). Instead, there have been three other books; first COASTAL YARNS, then ROSKILL and the last book, TALK TO ME. The last two are either on Kindle, or will be very soon, available from my about to be re- launched website---
I would very much appreciate you downloading them on your Kindle or your reading AP, which is also available through my website. Please pass on or SHARE the link and above all, if you read any of my books, please do a review. That is what feeds the attention of Amazon and increases my ‘visibility.’
Back to the blogs: I got quite a shock today to notice that I have written more than 1700 blogs. It is interesting to see how they have changes and to see the links that many of them have. I know that my digital advisor is sorting them out into themes so that they resemble ‘books’ within themselves. I cover many topics, ranging from food, my bariatric surgery journey and the fight I have had with my food obsessions (There, I have ad mitted it!)
I love to write about the topical issues of the day, including politics. Yes, I am comfortably in the mildly left of centre, but do not restrict myself to that position. If anyone comes up with a good idea, one that I like, I will give it credit, no matter where on the ‘spectrum’ that ‘voice’ places them. I will not be a party hack, even though I am likely to ‘help out with the phones,’ for the Labour Party. I fully expect to get the boot from that position, if a Labour politician does something stupid or announces policy that I do not agree with. My loyalty has always been in question, with ‘any’ party.
I also like to poke fun at people who put themselves in a public position and then make fools of themselves. Any political figure or world leader is and can be a target. I expect the same in return.
I write blogs to sharpen my writing skills and yes, there are heaps of mistakes and typos. I write fast and tend not to see the mistakes until after I have pushed the ‘publish’ button. Some of those mistakes are---prices!
Thanks you to many thousands of hits on my blog site and website. The figure stands at over 112,000, as of today (3rd March, 2014) I am constantly surprised at the number of countries reading my blogs, sometimes wondering how you found them. Thank you, and may you keep reading them, along of course with my books.

Russia, China, USA, EU and anyone else who wants to join a 'grand coalition' against terrorism---

If there was ever a time, whereby the world's major power groupings needed to find a common cause, then it is now---a 'grand coalition' against the widespread use of violence against peaceful communities. It seems that no country is immune to the cowardly attacks on civilians. Of course it has always been so in history. Any group that has a grievance, imagined or real, that is not capable of meeting the 'oppressing' force on  the battlefield in a conventional way, resorts to methods that rely on terror and ones that employ methods where the 'freedom fighters' can hide amongst the civilian population.
Events over the last few years and the one we have just witnessed in China spring to mind. Such events do not exists without a 'stimulus,' be it denial of self determination, political disenfranchisement or other 'causes,' the results are disturbingly similar---the loss of innocent lives.
The UN has basically failed in its stated aims of promulgating the expression of nationhood, because the main power players have the right of 'veto,' over the wishes of these groups. Therefore, they seek methods that most of us abhor, and the carnage continues on the streets, railway stations and other public places on all of the continents.
In some cases the very same countries that once had 'revolutions' in order to arise as nation states, have themselves become targets of minorities or 'subject peoples within those modern nations.
BUT---n there are clear cases where no amount of compromise will satisfy the proponents of these violent attacks and we see the results on our TV and computer screens every night.
Instead of uniting to fight this scourge,  the main players twist and divide their policies in order to attain some sort of temporary 'bragging rights,' but on a much larger scale than the schoolyard variety. It is called international power playing and the result is that 'terrorism' continues, fed by the inaction and fractious selfish gaming, sometimes fed by corrupt politicians, who gain from the continued disorder. Ask yourself, who is gaining from the current fiasco in Ukraine and the Crimea. Call it what you wish, but dig deeper, beyond the purported nationalistic aspirations of the inhabitants of the region. It is others who gain and as usual the ordinary people who will suffer.
Surely the power that the main powers could muster, along with real cooperation, devoid of nationalistic and paternalistic power grabbing---oops I should stop, because that is what feeds terrorism, and the very idea of a 'united front,' both to address the causes of terrorism and to fight it when needed will not be addressed as long as we have a UN that is nothing more than a collection of 'those who 'have and those who will never be listened to.'