Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 23rd 2015 Contents Ihave recently joined the majority of
the free world in having a smart-
phone. This has been a long journey
for me, as I did not really want to get
one and have gone to absurd lengths
over the past few years to avoid the
level of connectivity a smartphone
brings. But time and tide wait for no
woman and finally I couldn t withstand
the movement anymore. I caved.
It has been an eye opening few days.
Finally I understand the compulsion so
many people have to be staring at their
devices from the time they step out of
bed until the moment they close their
eyes to sleep at night.
Deep down, I ve always felt such peo-
ple were either essentially stupid and
easily distracted or fundamentally lack-
ing in social skills. Why would you
spend time staring at a screen when
there were perfectly good humans, live
and in colour, right in front of you in
Alas, within a day of having bought
and switched on my first proper smart-
phone, I found out to my peril that
these people are neither dotish nor rude.
People just like to be connected.
I swiftly realised how affecting are the
whistles, pops and dings of smartphones
chiming new messages. You just can t
ignore them. Even a committed, hard-
core people-avoider like myself finds it
hard to not react when the phone makes
that annoying little noise.
"A message! Someone loves me!" my
reptile brain responds.
My 22-year-old daughter, Miss Thing,
is a smartphone veteran. She s had one
for years and does in fact seem to live
on the thing.
It is without question her primary
device, and she uses it for all the mun-
dane things I use my own laptop for---
writing, checking mail and reading arti-
cles online, for example. As a second-
generation netizen she has a level of
comfort on the Internet I ll probably
never have, even though I ve been online
for 20 years now. She s a Net native; I
merely moved here from Analogue
It shouldn t surprise me, therefore,
that her communication on the Internet
is so seamlessly part of her life. There
is, for example, the concept of "ambient
Skyping." This is where you use the
Skype platform, which allows voice and
video calls over the Internet, as a kind
of background application running for
hours at a time.
It s like sitting quietly in the same
room as another person and being able
to occasionally look over and smile, say
hi, and go back to whatever you had
been doing before---except that the
rooms you re in might be in two differ-
ent countries, thousands of miles apart.
The form of communication that is
the most mind-blowing to me, however,
is without question Snapchat. This plat-
form is built for recording video micro-
messages you can send to anyone else
with the app, individually or as a group.
Once the message is seen, it vanishes
from both the Snapchat servers and the
recipients devices. Permanently.
Miss Thing is not the only person
who is enamoured with this gone-
A Techcrunch.com article last year
said the platform had around 200 mil-
lion users who sent 700 million pho-
tos---and other forms of "snaps"---a day.
She said she likes it because it s like
real life---fleeting. The very imperma-
nence of it provides a relief from the
weight of the Internet s permanence.
I have emails from 2006, being a bit
of an email hoarder. My Facebook
account is like a poorly searchable
archive of the past eight years of my
life. Somewhere on FB there s a record
that Geoff Ramsammy broke up with
me on a New Year s Day how many ever
years ago, and that I got married (not to
Geoff Ramsammy) in 2013.
My life on the Internet is an open
book if you have the right passwords.
Snapchat would close some of those
chapters, relegating them to the realm of
ephemera---leaving the past in the past,
where perhaps some of those memories
But I also think there is value in being
able to go into an old box and retrieve
the letters my schoolmate Shalene Ali
wrote me when I was a teenager and
she had just migrated to North America.
The sensations of unfolding a 25-year-
old letter, smelling the dusty pressed
flower in it, slipping it back into a brit-
tle envelope...these are experiences Miss
Thing will never have.
I wonder what communication she
will look back on in 30 years when all
today s smartphones are dead and gone.
Thanks to Plastikeep---the
funded by the Green Fund---I am
now an avid recycler; not only of
plastics but also of glass, paper,
Tetra Pak and I also started
composting in my backyard.
Thanks to them I learned about
all the products I could recycle
and where I could conveniently
drop off these items. This tiny
company has made a huge im-
pact in the western area of
Trinidad where, I understand,
they are mandated to operate.
In March 2015, I read with
much anxiety about the Green
Fund giving them the directive
to close their operations so that
the government (EMA) could
make way for the National Recy-
Great to have national recy-
cling but why close an organisa-
tion that is doing exactly what
the government wants to do,
with nothing in place to replace
After much fuss from the
public (I believe), Plastikeep was
granted a six-month extension
which would now give the EMA
six months to get the national
recycling up and running.
If you think about it, the gov-
ernment is taking exactly what
Plastikeep is doing right now,
shutting them down and giving
that operation to the EMA to do.
Does that make sense? In the
back of our minds, we all know
that, in those hands, either noth-
ing will come of it or it will get
totally messed up, but I am
happy that efforts are being
made to have recycling go na-
I decided to call the Plastikeep
office to thank them for the
work that they do and express
my relief that their not-for-profit
organisation will continue, and
for another six months, I will
have somewhere to put my
I just cannot put them back in
the garbage. I found out that
this is an all-women run organi-
sation---nice people to talk to, as
Good on you, ladies! But al-
though they were very happy to
hear from me, I found out that
to they have not received the
funding for the six-month exten-
sion. The ladies cannot effec-
tively do their jobs because
there is no money to run the
I have heard many companies
complain that they dislike doing
business with the government
because it takes two to three
months, sometimes more, to
Plastikeep was granted the
extension at the end of March. It
is almost the end of June and
they have not received any
money. What madness is this?
Why is it taking so long? They
have no money, yet these dedi-
cated ladies show up for work
every day. People in "other" of-
fices are striking for more
money and doing no work or
doing work with some nasty at-
titudes; Plastikeep staffers
show up for work every day---no
complaints---with no money. I
pray for employees with a work
ethic like this.
I am rallying support for this
amazing organisation that has
brought attention to the neces-
sity of recycling especially to the
young children in schools
through their education pro-
My children, who have bene-
fited from their education pro-
gramme, are also avid recyclers.
I cannot make a mistake and
throw out a recyclable item oth-
erwise I will get a good sound
scolding from them.
Ministry of the Environment
and Green Fund---please give
them the grant money quickly!
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, June 23, 2015
LISA ALLEN AGOSTINI
It is not at all surprising to hear that the police has an-
nounced yet another probe/investigation. This time it
involves the alleged discovery of ganja at the premises
of the Prime Minister's residence in which a senior po-
lice officer is implicated.
In the recent times there has been the announce-
ment of several probes/police investigations for which
no results are forthcoming. These include the police in-
vestigations into Dana Seetahal SC's murder, the big co-
caine bust and the Jack Warner saga.
I now expect we will have to wait for months or per-
haps even years before we hear the outcome of this
newly-announced investigation. It too may in the long
run end up being swept under the carpet, like many, in-
cluding those mentioned.
Trinidad and Tobago must now be at the top or
pretty near the top of the list of corrupt countries in the
Perhaps because we are such a small island with a
small population, the extent of corruption on this island
has not yet come to the attention of other nations and
Corruption is rife in all government organisations, and
also in many large private businesses on this island and
has obviously become acceptable and part of our cul-
This is reflected by the fact that despite many people
of status here being involved in corruption, none are be-
hind prison bars. This points a finger directly at the clan-
destine operation of corruption within the police and
CONVERTED TO CONNECTIVITY
Give Plastikeep their funding
A member of the All Trinidad General Worker's
Trade Union carries his pet parrot on his
shoulder during the union's Labour Day march in
Couva on Friday. PHOTO: TONY HOWELL
Yet another police
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