27.2.14

Hands off my porn, dammit.

Fellas, I'm ready to get up and do my thing (yeah go ahead!)
I wanna get into it, man, you know (go ahead!)
Like a, like a sex machine, man, (yeah go ahead!)
Movin' and doin' it, you know
Can I count it off? (Go ahead)

One, two, three, four!

Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)
Stay on the scene, (get on up)
Like a sex machine, (get on up)...

Good news, bad news.

The good news is, you can now get into Uganda with nothing but your humble ID card.  Woohoo!  The bad news?  There will be fewer sights to see, now that our old friend Rev. Fr. Lokodo has finally gotten his anti-miniskirt bill signed into law.  Remember him?  He's the genius who declared, last year, that anything above the knee would be outlawed.   I laughed and wrote him off as a bit of a crazy bugger, but guess who's laughing now?  MPs pass Bill against miniskirts  ““With the enactment of the Bill, my dream has been fulfilled,” said Fr Simon Lokodo, the Ethics minister.”  That's right, he's laughing his porn-hating ass, sorry, head off.  President Museveni signed the bill into law on February 6th this year. 

Dammit.

The Bill defines pornography as any cultural practice, form of behaviour or form of communication or speech or information or literature or publication in whole or in part or news story or entertainment or stage play or broadcast or music or dance or art or graphic or picture or photography or video recording or leisure activity or show or exhibition. It also prohibits any combination of the preceding that depicts unclothed or under clothed parts of the human body such as breasts, thighs, buttocks and genitalia, a person engaged in explicit sexual activities or conduct; erotic behaviour intended to cause sexual excitement and any indecent act or behaviour tending to corrupt morals.

Eh?  Unclothed or under clothed?  What the fuck does that mean?  Is there a definition of 'clothed' somewhere that we may refer to, lest we get arrested for showing more breast than is considered acceptable?  And what the hell is erotic behaviour intended to cause sexual excitement?  Sexy walking, flirting, making eyes over a cup of coffee?  Or are they talking about more explicit behaviour, like pole dancing, or a lap dance from an almost nude stripper, or a lap dance from your nude lover...  I don't mean to be flippant here (well, actually I do, I'm flipping him the bird all day and all night, but that's another story) but who decides what's erotic, and why?  Folks, I get turned on by people reading books and shit, so does that mean they'll get arrested for being erudite in my presence?  Don’t laugh, all you buggers reading this are getting me so hot right now...  Hang on, does this law make my sewer illegal, over yonder?  Hmmm...  If you're currently in UG, you might want to ignore the insistent knocking on your door right now, just in case.  I'm just saying, I'm not coming to bail you out, my friend, it's been real and ef'thing, but you're on your own, I have my own irrational government to deal with. Moving swiftly along.

Now because the Ugandan parliament has taken it upon itself to fill my life with sorely missed mirth, it gets worse, or better, depending.  “The Anti-Pornography Bill, 2009 sets up the Pornography Control Committee, responsible for the implementation of the law and for taking necessary measures to ensure early detection and prohibition of pornography. The Committee will also be charged with the collection and destruction of pornographic materials.”  Parliament passes Anti-Pornography Law  I don’t even have to work for the jokes any more, do I?  Early detection of pornography?  Like when the thought first enters your head to procure, or produce, a little porn?  Or do they mean when the script is being written, or when they're setting up the lighting, or when the main attraction is getting undressed?  How early is early, because they could be so early that no crime has been committed, no?  It's a conundrum, is all I'm saying, 'Minority Report' all over again.  But wait, there's more.  “The committee, whose representatives will be drawn from various sectors including the media and entertainment industries, will also offer rehabilitation services to victims of pornography.”  Uganda bans miniskirts, pornography  That's right, they will restore your damaged, umm, health too, because that's just the kind of caring people they are.

And just to clarify, “Minister Lokodo also identified sex tease shows commonly known as bimansulo, videos or photos depicting child sex, and musicians, especially female artistes, who perform in very revealing short dresses, as the other banned acts. “We do not like you to behave in a way that draws the attention of other people. Be decent and let your cloth show you as a decent person,” Lokodo said. Asked to draw precise indecency lines, the minister said: “If you are dressed in something that irritates the mind and excites other people especially of the opposite sex, you are dressed in wrong attire and please hurry up and change.””  Irritates and/or excites mind (or other?).  Right, got it, no short skirts, or low cut tops, or attention grabbing behaviour, or sex shows.

Alternatively, we could just avoid Rev. Fr. Minister, as it turns out the law does not actually ban specific clothing.  “However, The Observer has established that the new law has nothing to do with the length or shortness of women’s dresses. Although the initial draft bill sought to restrict women’s dress freedoms, the law that was ultimately passed targets media organisations that show what is deemed to be pornographic material.Caution, confusion greet miniskirt law   Now you know, no?

Good news, bad news.

The good news is, the anti-miniskirt law isn’t really about miniskirts.  Woohoo!  The bad news?  Your porn is now illegal.  Well, more illegal.

Dammit.

Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)

You said, you said you got the
You said the feeling you got to get
You give me the fever 'n' a cold sweat
The way I like, it is the way it is
I got mine 'n' don't worry 'bout his


I would like to dedicate 'Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine' to the good Minister of Ethics and Integrity, a man in dire need of five or so minutes of the funkiest music this side of 1970.  James Brown is proof that you don't have to look sexy (read, unclothed or underclothed) to be sexy.  Watch him in the video, fully clad, hair fro-ed and shit, getting down and sexing the hell out of that track.  Rev. Fr. Minister, kind sir, you might want to consider loosening your way too tight collar...

And then, shake your money maker
Shake your money maker
Shake your money maker...

24.2.14

Why your wonderfully pert bosom will save the world, and such like fiction.

Why do the women in action films always, make that only, wear push-up bras?

I realise that most action movies are made for men, by men, but given that my half of the species also has eyes, and money to spend, and a mild propensity for mindless violence, you'd think the buggers would at least try to consult a woman when making their explosion fests, no?  No.  If I had a shilling for every movie I've watched with a scantily clad woman, always in a push-up bra, serving no purpose other than to titillate the audience, I would be a bloody millionaire.  'Well, thousandaire, surely I can't have watched a million action movies, what am I, idle?' she scoffs, slowly nudging her stack(s) of bootleg tapes and DVD's further under the table, all surreptitious like.  What?  Yes, I have video tapes, it's not like you can throw them away?  Ah shit, I'm so analogue it's embarrassing.   Moving on swiftly...  It used to be scantily clad women hanging around in movies like accessories, but the feminists raised a stink and now the scantily clad women have guns too, and occasionally save the world.  In push-up bras.  Oh joy!

Now I don’t know about other women, but when I'm looking to get into some strenuous activities of the saving the planet (read, America) variety, I like to put on a comfortable bra, one that has no under-wires eating into my rib cage, and no dodgy cups pushing my twins up as close to my chin as possible.  But these women on screen?  No no no...  These women are wearing lovely, delicate, little bras designed to lift and separate, and expose, and this as they get thrown around the room by people/things twice their size, running 100m dashes in two seconds and blowing up a loose building.  How now?  Mr movie director, I'm sure in your fantasies a woman will scale a 10 foot wall with ease in nothing but Victoria's Secret lace underwear, but in the real world, I assure you, she will not.  It's not that she can't, it's just that she doesn’t need her fun bags, and other, getting in the way of her speedy escape, not if she can help it.  Women are nothing if not practical, and if I know I'm going to chase a bad guy halfway around the city, on foot, possibly culminating in fisticuffs, you have to know I'll strap those babies down good and tight.  You can't have them flapping about while you sprint, that shit is uncomfortable.  Worse still, imagine them swinging in the face of the villain while you bitch slap his ass, what if he pulls a Justin on your Janets and malfunctions your wardrobe?  Life and death, people, I have no time to be wondering whether the twins will make a surprise appearance.

Of course, the geniuses responsible for action fiction have no interest in reality, which is why Wonder Woman spends all her time in a strapless bustier that only just covers her lovely DD's.  These buggers have no clue.  Speaking of which...

Why are the women always in high heels, all bloody day long, even when they're kicking ass?

I watched a movie last night which had a woman fleeing from an alien robot in 4 inch pumps, and she got away.  How now?   Ladies, have you ever worn heels,real heels, 3 or more inches? You've just nodded, because we all have a couple of those in our closets.  Now tell me, did you walk around in them all day?  Maybe even took a quick jog round the corner?  No?  That's probably because you're sane.  Gentlemen, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  High hells hurt.  They look good, but they hurt like a bitch.  A woman cannot, and should not, spend an entire day in 3 plus inches, not unless her job entails sitting around all day, and never having to walk for more than five minutes at any given time.   Those cops on CSI standing around in the lab in Manolos?  Never ever.  And the fixer woman running around Washington in her Louboutins?  In hell.  And the super spy cum assassin killing a small army while daintily shod in Choos?  Really?  High heels are designed to get you from point A to point B, where point A and B are separated by a distance no greater that 167m, on a flat surface.  All those women on screen stomping about in sky high heels?  They take them off the minute the director yells, 'Cut!' and that's after only half an hour.  The ones running around?  Wamelipwa, literally.  Note how when the tabloids take those 'seen out and about' photos, the same women are always in flat shoes.  All I'm saying is someone is lying to us, and being the sheep we are, we're swallowing it, hook, line and bloody stiletto.  All the women you see tottering around our city of cracked pavements?  There's a reason they're tottering, their shoes are uncomfortable, and unsafe, but she looks good, no?

Stop looking at me badly, I have nothing against heels, I love them.  I've already told you how I use mine like a weapon, seeing as how they allow me to tower over unsuspecting buggers, or at the very least look them in the eye, but I know to use them wisely, when I shall not be required to make a quick getaway, or walk for more than 15 minutes.  High heels may be one of mankind's most famous inventions, but the fact remains they are not particularly well designed.  A heel tilts you forward, forcing you to compensate by arching backwards, thereby giving your legs and ass that lovely shape, but in the process ruining your posture and hurting your spine, and shoulders, and feet.  I get the feeling some of the gentlemen reading this are giving me a blank stare right now, so let me make it a bit simpler.  See that car parked by the curb?  Try to push it over.  No joy?  That's because it's stable, on four wheels and everything (and it weighs a couple of tons, but let's not split hairs, I'm trying to make a point here).  Now picture a three wheeled Tuk Tuk.  A well placed shove and you can get it on its side, yes?  Women in high heels are Tuk Tuks, unstable as hell, but much prettier (I hope).

TV and movie people, women who walk around a lot do not wear heels all day, and they sure as hell don't sprint up stairs in them.  Stop shaking your head, they do not.  And neither, for that matter, do they spend shit loads of money on designer shoes and then wear them to go shopping for vegetables and such like mundane activities.  Expensive shoes = showing off = (possibly fancy) occasion.  Just because we're silly enough to wear the damn things, that doesn’t mean we'll wear them anywhere.  Bloody Nkt!

Why are the women on TV always in perfect make-up, even when they've just woken up?

Of all the fictions the film industry has spread, none has been more detrimental to women.  This 'always looking perfect' story is the reason men wake up next to us and get scared, talking about how fake we are and shit, because we don't look like we did the night before, asubuhi na mapema.  Listen here, it's not our fault, you buggers have been brainwashed.  If the movies were real, that scene with the couple in bed, first thing in the morning, would have the mama with her hair all over the place, old make up smeared on the pillow case, eyes crusty with that icky yellow stuff, saliva stain running from the corner of her mouth down to her chin.  And the jamaa would be looking just as dodgy, with his face puffy with sleep and his tongue and gums grey with gunk for good measure.  That's reality.  We all look a bit suspect when we get up, because we have just been sleeping, as in not conscious and therefore not mindful of our appearance.  But on TV, nooooo...  Buggers open their eyes looking like they've just stepped out of a salon, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, hair in place, foundation lightly applied and lips wondrously soft.  For the love of God, man, how?   It gets worse, they look just as good all day long, with nary a touch up. Lipstick never fades, eye-shadow never smudges, false eyelashes never fall off.  Damn these lies, damn them to hell.

Gentlemen, we will never look that good.  Never.  The best you can hope for is two hours of splendour in the evening, right after work, before we tuck into the Kenchic, sorry, lavish dinner you shall buy us as a reward for looking so good.

Talking of people who look good...

Why are superheroes always in skin-tight outfits, with no pockets?

This one has vexed me for years.  I know they're perfectly proportioned, all firm muscles and toned rumps, but come on, could those outfits be any tighter?  You know how Superman flies around in his body suit cum underwear, and cape?   Wait, I have to pause here and ask, what is with the damn capes?   Apart from Batman, whose cape is a fancy wing-glider thingi, why the hell are the other buggers walking and flying around with bloody sheets strapped to their backs?  Apart from the obvious fire hazard (not a ridiculous thought, they do encounter random explosions often these caped crusaders, no?), those things are none too aerodynamic, and they make for handy grips when a bugger wants to fling you about (read, Loki).  And the capes look silly as hell.  To quote Ironman, 'Doth mother know thou wearest her drapes?'  I don't get it.  Back to the skin tight clothing.  I can see the inspiration, these buggers are like athletes, they need to move freely and loose clothing can be a bit of a bother, but where pray tell does Catwoman keep the keys to the car she no doubt has (unless she walks/crawls/jumps everywhere), or cell phone, or bloody hankie in case she has the sniffles?  And Superman, the one who wears his 'suit' under his clothes all day long, just in case there's an emergency, where does he leave his regular clothes, seeing as how he's not flying around with a bloody knapsack, and how is it they are never stolen in that crime ridden city of his?  The less said about Batman and his rubber/plastic get-up the better, but at least he has the good sense to carry a tool belt, no?  That and he's a clever bugger, he uses the wondrous power of mechanical engineering to get around, unlike the broke ass bastard with spider goop spewing out of his hands, swinging all over the place, until it runs out.  See, if Spiderman had pockets, he could carry a spare cartridge or two, no?

The only advantage I can see to the tight clothing is how perfectly it outlines the ladies' impossibly perfect boobs, and bums, which brings me back to, why are they always in push-up bras?


17.2.14

How to buy a laptop, mendaciously.

Of course I have something to say about this saga, I've been whining about it for at least six months, possibly more.

What.  The.  Hell.  Man.

This government of mine is six kinds of special, seven if you count the railway (more on that later). How hard is it to go out and buy shit, when you have money? And why can we never buy anything without it becoming a three ring circus? Just once I would love to read that the government of Kenya has gone out and spent a loose billion, or twenty, or four hundred, a. on something we really need, b. bought at the cheapest price available in the market, and c. without skimming at least 30% off the top. I don’t know if they've realised it yet, but we are not the richest buggers in the world. Contrary to their delusions of grandeur, these mandarins of government obsessed with our new found oil and mineral wealth, we cannot afford to throw a loose billion, or twenty, or four hundred, around like it's Friday night in the club and we just got paid.  You buggers, we got bills to pay (more on that later too).

Now before you write me off as yet another malcontent looking to overthrow the government with my unhappiness, let me give you my expert credentials. I bought a computer last year, one and a half computers to be precise. See, I know stuff about how to buy stuff, because I am a normal person who has to buy stuff for herself, seeing as how I don't have a procurement officer in my abode. I'm not bitter, I’m just saying I know how to shop. You write a list of what you need; then you window shop, online or pounding the cracked pavements of the city and the slick corridors of the malls, to see what's available and at what price; then you draw up a budget, find the cash and buy the one that does what you need at the price you can afford. The end. Sometimes, you get a good deal, as I did with my one full computer, but sometimes you end up with an overpriced paper weight, as I did with the half computer. Thing is, I shopped well for the first, and not so well for the second. For the first I did my research, for the second, I looked for the cheapest deal possible. The first is a computer with a (hopefully real) name and an 'Intel inside' sticker on the front, the second was a Chinese no name tablet that bore some resemblance to a galaxy tab (I say was because it only worked for half a day at most, and now functions solely as a very pretty paper weight on my desk). The first I bought after getting advice from those that know these things, because I know I know fuck all about computers, save for how to switch them on and open Google. The second? I went discount shopping, online, guided by a friend who will remain nameless for the sake of his reputation, and my life, and bought the prettiest thing that was cheapest.  Lo and behold, the damn thing doesn’t work, can't be fixed and has no warranty. Do you see what I mean about my expert qualifications as a buyer? I know things. The wrong things, but things all the same.

So you can understand my confusion when my government can't seem to grasp the simple concept of shopping. They have experts, no? How hard can this possibly be?

Quite hard, as it turns out.

Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

On Sunday 3rd February, 2013, the then presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta listed the five things his government would do immediately they got into power (there's a joke in there, somewhere, I suspect):

In keeping with our motto tuna amini kusema na kutenda, we have already made plans to act on day one to start transforming Kenya. In the first 100 days of the Jubilee Government we will take measures to make Kenya a fairer, healthier and better educated country.

One - We will release the money that has already been allocated to stock local health centres and dispensaries with the drugs and equipment necessary to treat Kenyans when they fall ill.
Two - We will abolish the fees that are currently charged when Kenyans go to public dispensaries and health centres for treatment.
Three - We will abolish all charges for women giving birth at public hospitals
Four - We will pass legislation to ensure that no child is out of school or a training institution until they reach the age of 18
Five - We will provide every child entering standard 1 in primary school with a solar powered laptop. We shall sustain this programme for each succeeding year until the day when every child in the country will walk with a satchel and a laptop.

These are things that we can do quickly – they are in effect a promisory note on the change that we will deliver as a Government. Beyond this, to truly change our country for the better we need a comprehensive legislative agenda.

Let's ignore one through four and focus on the last one, the solar powered laptops. They said this would be done in 100 days? How? 100 days after getting into State House, I don’t think they even knew how many kids were in Standard One. I'm not being mean, the cabinet secretaries, et al, were only appointed in June, 60 plus days in, 100 days after the grand inauguration they hadn’t even put up curtains (or concocted dodgy tenders for the same). There was no feasible way they would achieve much of anything in 100 days, no matter how genius their plan was. And they knew it. See, these buggers weren’t some Dida-esque greenhorns, they've been in at least two governments, each. They know how the bureaucracy works, the slow grind of the procurement wheels, the mind numbing, nit-picking over at Treasury. These buggers know how governments work and still they made this pledge, duping the masses with promises of rapid technology.

But wait, before I lynch the prezzo(s) and their government, I have to ask, don't the masses also know how governments work? When have you ever gotten something from serikalion time? What's that? Never, you say? Do you see where I'm going with this? Ah hell, I'm being too harsh on the poor buggers, everyone knows we the people have no idea what 100 days looks like, that's why they keep using the line, and why we keep buying it. Let's lynch the government instead, that's much easier than admitting our own foolishness.

Because everyone, plus their mother, has a vague theory on this laptop saga, myself included (ahem), I've sought to restrict my quest for clarity as much as possible to one source, the government itself. In these days of e-government there's no need to rely on the idiots masquerading as press in this town, you can go straight to the mouth of the horse. The Ministry of Education has a lovely blue website with all sorts of handy information.

On 02 August 2013, they published this notice, Laptop Advertisement, in the papers, and then scanned it and stuck it on their website 2 weeks later.  Classy, no? No. The ad is an invitation to bid, thus gives us only the pertinent details, that is, the money they require you to have before you can do business with them. See, this was not a wee little tender to supply staplers, this was the real deal, which is why they expected bidders to have at least Ksh 228M sitting in a bank account somewhere, a real bank account. Despite these seemingly huge obstacles, reports say 126 firms bought bid documents. Don't get excited, only 20 of them put in bids, the rest no doubt dissuaded by the elaborate requirements of the tender. What requirements? Apologies, I did not have the foresight to go buy a set of said documents, because this is not my job, and I am quite cheap, and lazy, and therefore I have no idea what said requirements were. Don’t look at me like that, neither do the journos who claim to investigate, and they get paid to do it. Fortunately for all of us, the ministry issued an addendum, answering questions raised by bidders and in the process giving us a glimpse into the madness that is public procurement.

 It's an 11 page document this Addendum One, so forgive me while I cut and paste with reckless abandon. Just for the record, the dodgy spelling and grammar is all theirs, bidders and ministry alike.

In question 3, it's indicated that they, the ministry, were looking to buy 1,378,622 laptops and 20,637 printers and projectors each. The question was, “It needs a huge budget, if Kenya has enough budget for this project in Education? If Kenya government will apply for financial support from other countries?” The answer was most helpful, “Please note that the Government of the Republic of Kenya has enough budgetary allocation for the project this financial year and is not depending on the financial support of other countries to procure the equipment.” See? We got cash.

Q 4. “Do teachers and students use same model of laptops? If not what about the amount for each? Should they be shipped with different software pre-installed?” The reply, “The requested model of laptops is only for pupils and should be shipped according to the specifications in the bid documents. The teacher’s laptops are not included in the tender.” Keep this in mind, for later.

Q 5. “There are over 50% of the schools which do not have electricity, is there already a solution for the power supply? If so please provide specifications. If not should we provide solution?” These bidders were eager, no? Alas, the ministry was not interested, “Government of Kenya has provided budgetary allocation for connecting schools with electricity.” 

Q 13. “Do deliveries have to be made to MoEST county offices in each county or are they to be delivered to each named school?” It would appear the tender included countrywide delivery. The ministry responded, “The deliveries shall be made to MoEST district education offices situated at the district headquarters as per the attached distribution list.” The follow up, Q 14, “Please give distances in kilometers (km) for each school/ county office from Nairobi.” Now slightly vexed, I assume, the ministry chap says, “Bidders need to calculate transport costs. It is the duty of the bidder to get the information from the ministry responsible for transport and from other sources.” You gotta love the state, they are nothing if not most helpful.

Q 19. “Will the students be keeping the devices at school or allowed to take device home?” This question was probably asked by a bidder looking to invest in second hand laptops, post tender. Just saying. The reply, “The laptops will be kept at school.” If I may ask a silly question, where 'at school'? Are they building special stores and whatnot or... 

Q 21. “Local manufacturing- page 32 of tender cites OEM of the proposed hardware gadgets with demonstrable manufacturing capacity and a willingness to set up a local manufacturing / assembly facility for the proposed equipment in Kenya employing local residents. Is it a requirement that devices manufactured for lot 1 have been manufactured or assembled in Kenya?” Now this is where the digital part of the government would have stepped in, and said yes. But no, “The devices do not need to have been manufactured or assembled in Kenya.” Why would we want to manufacture laptops? That's just silly. Ahem.

Q 45. “The device should have unique identifier and should be able to be tracked in case of theft of loss. Specified mechanism should be within the means of OEM. Appropriate locking mechanism should be integrated in the device to allow automatic lock feature (within predefined period ) to be activated at school level.” Tracking devices and locking mechanisms? The ministry says, yes, “Documentation detailing a security plan with possible options for recovery of the device should be given as proposed in the bid document. Mechanism for actualizing this at school level need also be detailed in the description.” What kind of laptops were we buying again?

Q 56. “Is it a requirement that digital content to be provided by the supplier as part of the bid?” they asked. The government replied, “The main digital content shall be supplied by the Ministry to the bidders. However the bidders may specify any free learning resources they want to preload on the laptops.” Which is to say they do not object to freebies thrown in, just. Q 58. “Bid describes the need for a fully functional learning system; does the procuring entity have a student information/management system (SIS) in place? If yes, what is it? Is there a requirement to sync data between the SIS and the content sharing platform?” Wait for this elaborate answer. No.” Succinct, no? I'm not sure if he meant the government has no system, or has no plan to integrate their system with whatever they were getting, either way, no. Q 59. “Does the procuring entity have an existing learning management system. Is there a requirement for it to integrate with the Content Sharing Platform defined in 3.3?” Again, “No.” I'm starting to get a bad feeling about this... Q 60. “The Tender document states: “Pupil should be able to browse internet on the controlled list of websites”. Has a controlled list been created?” And one more time, “No.” At this point he was just checking the boxes, waiting for 5:00 pm. Woi...

And because this is government, and these buggers are most thorough, they then proceeded to issue a second addendum. No, I'm not making this shit up. There were more questions that needed to be answered, not too surprising given the answers the first time around.

Q 30. “Knowing that the majority of sites have no access to a power source, can the MOEST clarify the timeline for deploying the solar infrastructure? What exactly will each solar unit be powering? Will it be only the items included in the tender ie, computing devices, a printer and a projector? Or, will the solar infrastructure need to power lights and other peripherals?
Since about 14,000 schools are not connected to the national electric grid, we humbly request that you consider procuring solar powered laptops to service these schools, and which can provide more than 8 hours of continuous power ( instead of 5 hours) as this enable more students to access e-education and will serve to fix the "power" problem.” These sound like realistic concerns, right? How are the devices going to be powered, and why not go for solar powered laptops instead? The ministry, in their impressive fashion, responded, “Not part of the scope of this tender.” I foresee a tender for solar power in the near future, if it hasn’t already been done.

Q 31. “We are not aware of any tablet that can meet the other specifications listed, i.e. "Built in mouse with touchpad, built in qwerty keyboard". Can the MOEST narrow down exactly what kind of computing devices they will accept? This is paramount to figuring out the charging requirements for the cabinets and solar units.” Now these buggers were getting cheeky, at what point did the tender mention tablets? The terse reply, “MOEST is purchasing a laptop and not a tablet.

Q 32. “Since charging cabinets are not formally listed in the tender, by what other means does the MOEST plan to charge, store and secure up to 40 devices? Please note, no other charging means besides a charging cabinet can supply up to (40) outlets in a single, physical space. Physical security and storage of the devices is also not addressed; is there an alternative plan?
We also request most humbly that you reconsider your stand on the procurement of storage and charging cabinets for powering the laptops at the end of every schooling day ready for use the following day and in case where there is no grid power , the charging cabinets can be powered by stand-alone solar power units. This technology is available and is cost effective as without overnight charge the laptops will be rendered useless.” Again, these seem like logical queries, they're even making humble suggestions. Helpful, yes? The ministry didn't seem to think so. “The Ministry will ensure the availability of the charging equipment. The bidder should ensure placement/positioning of the charging port on the laptop is placed in a location which will allow for ease of connection to a charging cabinet.” Just out of curiosity, what exactly is a charging port? The thingi where the power cable slots in, as seen on pretty much every laptop since the beginning of laptops? And why did they ignore the security bit?

Q 42. “How will theft deterrent solution be provisioned for each device?” Remember the strange security requirements in addendum 1? The ministry clarified,“Refer to addendum I Item no. 45 : Revised to read: “Branding with Government of Kenya Coat of Arms. TPM for hardware based security support.” The rest will be done by MOEST.” I can't make this shit up if you pay me.

Q 43. “MOE has insisted on HDMI ports for the Laptop, because they would be connected to the Projectors. However, the specifications for the Projector do not mention HDMI ports. How does the HDMI port on the Laptop facilitate connecting the Projector?” This shouldn't be funny, but it is. What questions are these now? The ministry chap was getting condescending, “The specifications are not specific to connecting to a particular device. HDMI is a multipurpose port.” You can almost see him slitting his wrists in frustration.

Q 44. “MOE has asked for Parallel Ports for the Printer. However, the laptop specifications for not mention requirement of Parallel port. How does the Parallel Port on the Printer facilitate connecting to the laptop ?” Now this is comedy. Says the man, “This port is optional.

Apart from my cheeky interjections, all this is copy/paste from serikali, so the next time you think civil servants are underemployed, think again, my friend, they have addenda all over the place. Moving on swiftly...

After a lengthy and somewhat convoluted process, this tender was later cancelled, with the ministry claiming that the bids were overpriced by 20B. “Kaimenyi cited an untenable Sh20 billion deficit, which was above the government's anticipated budget of Sh12 billion to buy 1.3 million laptops class one pupils in public primary schools. The lowest bidder quoted Sh32 billion. Kaimenyi said the tender bid per laptop ranged from Sh23,000 to Sh28,000 as per the 20 companies.Laptops tender process halted

Slight detour, if you've read through the addenda, take a look at this article, Companies give their side of cancelled laptops tender story. “According to the firms familiar with the tender details, the cost per laptop shot up due to the specifications (specs) outlined by the ministry. The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) is said to have asked for computers that would be loaded with digital content it had developed. The bidders also claim the ministry revised the original tender documents twice, with new specs in each addendum.” Now I'm a sceptic, always ready to think the worst of my government, but these buggers are being somewhat economical with the truth, no? I also suspect the author of this brilliance hadn’t read the bloody addenda, if he had he would probably have asked a few more questions. “Kaimenyi said last week that bidders may have colluded to set higher prices.” I'm inclined to agree with Prof, these buggers are classic tenderpreneurs. Unfortunately, Prof then added, “He also said implementation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) law may have also caused prices to increase.” Own worst enemy, this government. Detour over.

The digital government, not content to let this sleeping dog of a project lie, sent out a tender, again. Our children must have laptops, see?  Now this looks like a serious tender, Advertisement for Laptops, it's in colour, man. They made it cheaper to bid, and this time they asked for separate technical and financial bids, as is the norm. They also limited the bids to original equipment manufacturers, probably to lock out out the guys of 'sharas, the ones 'who know a guy'. You'd think this plan could not possibly fail, right? Let us all pause and laugh hysterically.

“This process is a bit different from the initial one because we have opted for a very selective process that allows the government to negotiate with the shortlisted vendors to arrive at a reasonable price,” Prof Kaimenyi said. The government has also reduced the Bid Bond to Sh50 million from Sh228 million and the performance bond to Sh150 million from Sh3 billion to increase participation. The number of laptops to be procured in the initial tender has also been reduced to 1.28 million from 1.38 million. Additional 20,537 laptops for teachers will be bought separately, Prof Kaimenyi said. Restricting the tender to original equipment manufacturers blocks out companies such as Telkom Kenya and Symphony Technologies, who had expressed interest in the job. Telkom Kenya had submitted a joint bid with Olive Technologies in the initial tendering process.

Does Symphony Technologies ring a bell? They, or a company similarly named, were bidders in the IEBC tender saga last year, The Fa├žade that is the IEBC, but I digress.

That leaves the competition to HP Commercial, Huawei PTE, Samsung Electronics, Haier Technologies, ZTE Corporation and Samsung Electronics who participated in the initial tendering process that was cancelled in August. HP Commercial had quoted Sh28.7 billion or more than twice the budget and translating to a unit price of Sh20,639. Chinese firm Huawei PTE, was the highest bidder having quoted Sh60.5 billion. Others were Samsung Electronics (Sh39.1 billion), Symphony Technologies (Sh38 billion), Haier Technologies (Sh34 billion), ZTE Corporation (Sh33 billion) and Telcom Kenya (Sh32 billion). Mastec EA placed two bids quoting Sh32.6 billion in one and Sh31.3 billion in another while Shen Zhen Auto Digital quoted Sh30.3 billion.

From all accounts I've read, looks like they didn’t change too many other details in the tender, seeing as how there have been no lovely addenda and such like. They talked about including laptops for teachers, and not much else.

That tender went out in November, last year. Come January, this year, complaints about the preferential treatment of one bidder started to leak.

When the tender documents were first opened on December 10, HP was the lowest bidder at US$291 million (Sh24.7 billion) followed by Olive at $313 million (Sh26.6 billion) and Haier at US$322 million (Sh27.4 billion). The PPOA then announced a second stage where the companies had to give a 'Best and Final Offer'. HP reduced its original offer by $3 million to US$288 million (Sh24.5 billion) while Olive slashed its price by a massive $40 million to US$268 million (Sh22.8 million (sic)). Haier went down to $290 million (Sh24.6 billion). Later Olive asked to be allowed to amend its price to US$284 million (Sh24.1 million) by adding in costs like transport and technological support. Therefore Olive remained marginally cheaper than HP and Haier.

There are also claims that Olive contacted Haier asking if the Chinese company could manufacture the laptops for Olive. "Could you share with me your standard one page ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) and OEM agreement for contract manufacturing. We need to sign and send the same before delegation arrives," Olive Director of Sales Ajay Jain reportedly emailed Haier on January 4. The delegation was from the Kenyan government which was due to visit the three shortlisted bidders to confirm that they had manufacturing plants.

Then this month said company, Olive Technologies, was awarded the tender, for 24.6B.

“Olive is the lowest and most advantageous bidder at a total price of only Sh24,687,360,497.41. The Government has therefore awarded a negotiated phased-out delivery approach contract to Olive,” Kaimenyi said yesterday. He claimed the government had saved Sh8 billion by contracting Olive since the lowest bidder last year stood at Sh34 billion against a budget of Sh12 billion. The project was then re-tendered to try and cut costs. “This saving is attributed to the application of the Specially Permitted Procurement Procedure (section 92 of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act 2005) which allowed for competitive negotiations,” Kaimenyi said yesterday.

Can I point out that the 'saving' made is in fact not a saving as the original budget was 12B, and the plan has always been a bit flawed? The reporter continues,

He refused to discuss the ownership of Olive. “It is not in my interest to give the information. You can do it yourself. You can Google. This is a digital government,” he said. He said government cannot react to rumours that Olive does not manufacture laptops. He said that government dispatched officers to do due diligence on Olive and they came up "with good tidings."

And it gets worse...

Education PS Belio Kipsang defended Olive arguing that it was the most competitive and advantageous. He told MPs that Olive was an Original Equipment Manufacturer, as required by the tender, because its designs will be assembled by China New Century Optronics. ”Original Device Manufacturers assemble the design, patent and brands for the Original Equipment Manufacturer,” Kipsang said. Kipsang argued that an OEM does not need to own a factory and insisted, “the Ministry for Education followed procedure in this tender.” He said HP, Olive and Haier all have manufacturing plants in China although Olive has its headquarters (sic). The PS told the committee that Olive has deployed laptops in Uzbekistan and India. He said due diligence was carried out on Olive because it quoted the lowest price.

As tends to be happen with these things, the saga continues, the other two bidders are appealing this decision.

HP appeals Olive laptops supply tender They are disgruntled because the tender specified that the supplier should be an 'Original Equipment Manufacturer', meaning that the supplier should have its own factory. They claim that Olive does not have its own factory so it cannot be an OEM.

Haier also appeals against laptop award The Chinese company will also argue that the sample 'Classmate' laptop given to the Ministry of Education by Olive was in fact manufactured at the ECS factory in Suzhou which is 48 percent owned by Haier. Haier will seek to prove that ECS manufactured the laptop for Intel in India but that the branding was later changed to Olive.

To recap, on the first tender the lowest bid was 32B (ministry said so last year), or 34B (ministry says so this year), or 28.7B (HP, according to the Business Daily).  Then on the second tender, the lowest bid was 24.7B (HP, according to the Star).  Then they had further negotiations, and settled on a price of 24.6B, with Olive Technologies, the same price being offered by Haier, and marginally higher than HP's 24.5B.  And Olive are subcontracting the manufacture to either Haier or other random Chinese dudes.

First tender, 28.7B. Second tender, 24.6B. Original budget, 12B.

Remember what I said about knowing how to shop?  List, window-shop, budget, buy.  My government doesn’t know how to shop.  They budget, then list, then buy, then window-shop to mendaciously justify what they've bought that grossly exceeded their budget, but hey, they're saving us money, right?

9.2.14

Day of love, my ass!

Valentine's Day is bollocks.

It is.

I could end this post here and I’d have made my point, surely no one can contest this most obvious fact.

What's that?  You don't agree?  You must be the delusional one shopping for a suitably fluffy gift of (not too) great value.  And then there's the wine, the dinner, the trip out of town, and all so your lovely lady can feel, umm, loved.  On this one particular day.  You poor, special creature, come let mama give you a hug...   You're addicted, man, and a little foolish.

Just like sugar,
Girl you're so sweet,
Lip smacking, finger licking good, I wanna taste you,
Like a fine wine,
Smooth and intoxicating,
Sip it slow, never fast, try to make it last as long as I can...

Now I have a theory about the soundtrack, when writing about love and fluffy things always start with Johnny Gill.  This man is one of the few male R&B artists my brother and I ever agreed on, growing up, he thought my Freddie was too woowoowoo and I thought his obsession with Tracy Chapman was just plain peculiar ( I love the woman, but come on, my brother, turn the bloody cassette over...).  Johnny we agreed on, and thus, when looking to find a song both male and female readers will appreciate, I start with Mr Gill.  Clever, no?  Probably not.  'A Cute, Sweet Love Addiction' is off the genius 'Provocative' album, an album that should be a must have for anyone who claims to have love for new jack swing.  This song is so bloody happy, you can't help but smile and sway, which comes in handy when you consider it's an ode to addiction.

I gotta have it, fall in love,
What do they call it when you can't get enough...

I hate to break it to you, gentlemen, but you're being duped, and doped.  Buggers are getting you hooked on the drug that is (monetary) romance, and you, you lovely delusional creatures, have no choice but to go along, the addicts you are.  It's a huge, stinking pile of shit, this valentine's thing (note the small 'v'), but that’s just the way it goes.  Spend that money, or spend the rest of the year explaining why you didn’t, as it's thrown in your face every time you profess love, or lust.  

On the up side, and there is always an up side here on the dark side of the interwebs, the women have it worse than you, much worse, we got high on our own supply.  Ladies, am I lying?  No need to answer.

First, she has to look the part.  A woman has to wear a red dress, or a red blouse, and definitely red underwear, and odds are all these items will have to be new, because no one wants to be the chick in last year's red knickers.  Then the poor lass gets to spend a small fortune in a salon, getting pruned (not a typo) and plucked to within an inch of her life, just so she can look suitably romanceable.  See, we know that our chances of jewellery are directly linked to how bright we shine.  No one ever put a ring on the girl who looks like she shines Beyonce's shoes, no?  Nooooo...  We wanna look like Mrs Jay Z, in the hopes that you will make like Jay Z and buy us those carats, and gold sippy cups (so the arrogance of the man?  Nkt!).  I'm just saying.  Gentlemen, a trip to the salon will set her back anywhere between one thousand and twenty thousand bob, depending on how much hair she's adding on, or taking off.  And then you have the gall to whine about the 200 bob bar of Dairy Milk?  Nkt!  I digress.  If the woman is smart, she'll make you pay in advance for all the crap she has to endure on your behalf, but if not, best be knowing you will pay for it for the next eleven months.  Now you know.

After all that drama, she then has to act the part.  A woman on valentine's must display great joy, all the damn time.  If she's unlucky, her man will feel the need to send flowers to her office, thus she has to trudge around the city lugging a (and I use this term most loosely) bouquet around, answering all manner of irritating questions from nosy buggers looking for a spot of gossip (did she send them to herself or didn’t she? Hmmm...).  If she's really unlucky, he'll send a teddy bear too, because what grown ass woman doesn’t like a white, super-flammable, 'made in a Bangladesh sweat-shop' teddy bear, about yea tall?

And then there's what is almost always a disappointing night out, or in if the man is being a cheeky (read, cheap) bugger.   Seeing as how this year the bloody day falls on a Friday, you get to go to the same bar you go to each Friday and pay double for the same glass of wine you normally drink, but on the up side, because there's always an up side, the first 50 couples get a complimentary rose, no?  No.  It doesn’t matter if you show up at 5:05 pm, when the doors have just opened, the free flowers zitakuwa zimeisha (that's a true story, by the way, so be warned, don’t go thinking you'll get her free flowers at the door, that's a marketing gimmick to get you to the door, their door).  Going out on this one particular day consists of a night in a crowded bar or restaurant, with crap service, likely crap food, and definitely crap wine, and to cap it all off, a crap shag when she gets home, nothing but quick removal of fancy lingerie and 10 minutes later he's snoring, exhausted by all the romancing.

This shit is sexist, no?  I think we should have a men's equivalent, a day when the men get pretty (or die trying) and act happy, while the women swagger around (fake) moaning about the money we have to spend, and bragging about the great sex we'll get in return.   See, that's all its about, this fake holiday.  Valentine's day (I spit upon you) is about two things.  Money and sex.  No, no love.  No really, there's no love whatsoever.  Women want the money, or the things the money can buy them, how else will they know their men really care?  Did you read the article in the Saturday paper (To gift or not to gift?) about what gifts women really want?  There was a lady, sorry, woman, asking for land, as in ardhi, as in a ka-plot. Say it with me...EH?   There's no way you can read that and think that women aren’t in it for the money.  Don't go smirking, gentlemen, all you care about is the sex, why else do you think the condom companies are hustling the way they are, selling latex like its going out of fashion, all under the guise of love (because if you love her, you'll Durex her, no? Probably not...)?  Does that sound crass?  Good. 

This merchandising holiday was created for the sole purpose of exchanging goods and services, for a fee.  The flower guys make some cash; the Chinese guys making plastic flowers make a bit too; the evil Nestle-type multinationals ripping off cocoa farmers in Ghana make even more; the coffee shops and bars peddling overpriced coffee and wine earn their monthly profits in one night; the hotels dangling overnight packages at double the regular rate, for the couple that just has to get away for some romance (read, sex), they're on the gravy train too; and let's not forget the peddlers of love (well, sex), the working women, and men, they who take advantage of the lonely souls who've bought into the idea of a day for love (at any cost), the peddlers need some love too, no?  It's a commercial exercise this valentine's thing, and I for one refuse to part with my hard earned shillings to pay double for half (take that as you will).  Of course, it could also be that I have no one on whose behalf I would suffer the indignity, yaani I haven't drugged anyone (yet), but that's beside the point.  Ahem.  Money and sex.  Either you're selling or you're buying, so which is it?  And on a possibly related note, I have some lovely roses I'm selling, she says, glancing at her landlord's solitary rose bush, conveniently in bloom...

A functional condition (and they call it),
A cute sweet love addition (coming back for more),
Unconscious repetition (I can't get enough),
A cute sweet love addition...

Romantic, no?  No, dammit, it's just bloody addiction.  

Housekeeping

The bloody internet is a cold and cruel place, man, cold and cruel.  Can you believe someone somewhere stole my tunes?  All of them.  Swiped the whole damn folder and everything.  Hell, they stole the bloody account too, and now I have no cloud storage to stream from.  I mean really, how low can a bugger go?  How low, dammit?  Do I sound slightly hysterical?  That's because I am.  It's like someone snuck in and stole my babies, all dingo like.  Bloody useless mother...  Nkt!  Cold and cruel this internet...

On a brighter note, I now have a YouTube thingimajigi.  Woohoo!  My people, the tunes are now audiovisual, because it's 2014 and we are advanced and shit. Ahem. There's a handy little gadget in the right hand column (in the web layout), helpfully titled THE SOUNDTRACK, soon to have the entire playlist (I'm working backwards, might take a while).  I have to warn you, some songs have no videos, because they're old (yaani pre-MTV), but better a song with no video than no song at all, no?  Thought so.   Slight detour.  Please, please, please listen to MJ's acapella version of 'Wanna Be Starting Something', it is most brilliant.  Stop frowning and just listen to the bloody song, you useless buggers.   See how I did that?  Beg, then demand, just like our Gavana.  Insert own nkt! Detour over.  Enjoy the tunes, and the videos.  Yes, I do realise that I should have done this from the get go, but in my defence, I'm a bit slow, technologically.

Speaking of slow, I'm finally tweeting, 6 tweets and counting.  I know, muchos impressive, no?   Nod.  Good.  The way I figure, rather than struggle to figure out how to share my random reading lists on the blog(s), si I just tweet the links?  I know, absolute genius.  Or not, I have 5 followers, one of whom has been following for about 2 years (during which time I didn’t tweet so much as a LMFwhateveritscalled, the second is Woolie (a.k.a. inciter number one, he that's teaching me how to tweet...kinda...not really...), the third is a random mzungu, and the last two are one company of unknown origin.  Clearly, I shall be a raging success, no?  Probably not, but when has that ever stopped me?  If you like the random links I post in the research section, and over at Dunia, find me na huko, @alex_kainikii.

Na kwa hayo machache, I shall now attempt to put up a real post.