Monday, January 26, 2009

Is Kibaki’s succession plan viable?

By Mutahi Ngunyi
Today I will beg leave from reason and push a conspiracy theory. I call it a conspiracy because I read a pattern in President Kibaki’s actions. A pattern that suggests a possible manipulation of the 2012 election.

But before I make my argument, allow me to mention Mr Raila Odinga in passing. To repeat myself, I believe Mr Odinga has been set up for failure by the President.

I say so because the Prime Minister can organise people ‘‘against’’ an idea. However, he is weak at organising people in ‘‘support’’ of an idea. This imbalance makes him look like a ‘‘deconstructionist’’.

With the cameras on him consistently, he is bound to reveal his true nature. He actually did so this week. He told reporters to focus on the ‘‘goodies’’ he brought from India instead of asking ‘‘useless’’ questions about the maize and oil scandals.

This comment was ill-conceived and in bad taste. And this is why whenever Mr Odinga gets an opportunity to shut up, he must grab it with dear life. This way, he will have enough time to study President Kibaki’s silent schemes.

Now I must plead temporary insanity and advance my conspiracy theory. For starters, the 2012 election will be rigged. And I say so because nothing has changed.

The players are the same and their motives are intact. In other words, an orange tree cannot bear oranges one year, and bananas the following year.

If nothing has changed, we should not expect them to rig in 2007 and be of good behaviour in 2012. And although both principals are guilty of manipulation in 2007, the man to rig the election in 2012 is the President. Consider my hypotheses.

One, President Kibaki has motive. In fact, his motive is two-fold. During the Moi era, he led the GEMA community for 27 years. They languished in the cold, and their businesses had to fold. Now that they are back, they will protect their turf.

The Kibaki motive, therefore, is to craft a succession that will protect GEMA – at least at face value. And this brings me to his second and real motive. His interest is not GEMA; it is the protection of property.

In fact when Mr Uhuru Kenyatta was appointed Finance Minister, I exclaimed aloud “…what a joke!” But when I cooled down, it dawned on me that his appointment had only one purpose. The man will not create new wealth; he is there to protect old wealth. Period!

My second hypothesis regards the Kibaki choices and actors. If his motive is to protect wealth, who will execute the brief? Which crony will succeed him? Is it Mr Kenyatta? My submission is that the propertied are shameless.

If Mr Kenyatta is the man to protect their turf, they will install him and swear him in at night if they have to.

However, I doubt that he is their choice. More so because Mr Kenyatta himself told us that: “… some people claim that I am in the Waki List”.

If he is indeed on this list, he will have to climb down from his new high. He will have to resign pending investigations as required by the Waki process. What about Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, the Vice-President?

This man is not wealthy; he is just rich. Riches can be squandered in one generation, but wealth takes generations to exhaust.

And because Mr Musyoka does not understand wealth, he cannot be on the Kibaki short list. The same applies to M/s Martha Karua. She is just a peasant from Gichugu; not sufficiently pedigree.

Although she has promise, they view her as nothing but a clever ‘‘chatterbox’’. This leaves us with only one man – Prof George Saitoti. He is Kikuyu and not Kikuyu.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Go Mutava Go!!!!!

Gachoka MP Rev Mutava Musyimi says President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are responsible for recurrent problems bedevilling the country. Musyimi accused the two principals driving the Grand Coalition Government of failing to give proper direction to national issues. He cited the current food crisis which has been declared a national disaster and corruption scandals facing the government that need proper guidance.

The Gachoka legislator urged the two principals to deal severely with those mentions in various scandals in order to restore dignity and respect into key institutions charged with critical services to the people.

He said it was time heads start rolling for the sake of majority of Kenyans who still have faith in the leadership of Kibaki and Raila. "Any one at the centre of scam should be relieved of his duties and prosecuted for the public to regain confidence in elected leaders" he lamented.

Mutava claimed that the government had lost moral authority in governing as it was unable to guarantee security and life of it citizens. The MP said that it was immoral for the government to stick to power without giving Kenyans quality leadership promised in the national accord.

Speaking in his constituency yesterday, Mutava noted that the two principals promised Kenyans rule of law but bad governance has continued to dog the current government. Mutava asked the two principals to spearhead reforms to address a myriad of problems bedevilling Kenyans today.

The legislature said that with proper governance, Kenyans should not die of or suffer from food related problems. Meanwhile, a family in Mwingi has buried its 13-year-old, standard two son who died from a famine related complication. This comes in the wake of governments move to invite humanitarian assistance of up to Sh37 billion to alleviate hunger across the country.

With the poor family unable to put food on the table for three days in a row, Kilonzo Kyule had no choice but to devour wild fruits that made him ill with constipation. "Once he ate the Mbu tree fruits, he was unable to answer calls of nature for three days and he developed stomach complications resulting in his death on last Thursday," said the deceased boy father Kyule Mulingwa. Meanwhile National Vision Party (NVP) has condemned political grandstanding in the Grand Coalition, saying the ever ending squabbles is to blame for the current problems.

The party cited the famine that has been declared a national disaster and the high cost of living in urban areas as indicators that the government is not addressing the real problems facing our people.

What is Communication?

Communication is the process to impart information from a sender to a receiver with the use of a medium. Communication requires that all parties have an area of communicative commonality. There are auditory means, such as speaking, singing and sometimes tone of voice, and nonverbal, physical means, such as body language, sign language, paralanguage, touch, eye contact, or the use of writing. Communication is defined as a process by which we assign and convey meaning in an attempt to create shared understanding. This process requires a vast repertoire of skills in intrapersonal and interpersonal processing, listening, observing, speaking, questioning, analyzing, and evaluating. Use of these processes is developmental and transfers to all areas of life: home, school, community, work, and beyond. It is through communication that collaboration and cooperation occur.[1]
Communication is the articulation of sending a message through different media,[2] whether it be verbal or nonverbal, so long as a being transmits a thought provoking idea, gesture, action, etc. Communication is a learned skill. Most babies are born with the physical ability to make sounds, but must learn to speak and communicate effectively. Speaking, listening, and our ability to understand verbal and nonverbal meanings are skills we develop in various ways. We learn basic communication skills by observing other people and modeling our behaviors based on what we see. We also are taught some communication skills directly through education, and by practicing those skills and having them evaluated.
Communication as an academic discipline relates to all the ways we communicate, so it embraces a large body of study and knowledge. The communication discipline includes both verbal and nonverbal messages. A body of scholarship all about communication is presented and explained in textbooks, electronic publications, and academic journals. In the journals, researchers report the results of studies that are the basis for an ever-expanding understanding of how we all communicate. Communication happens at many levels (even for one single action), in many different ways, and for most beings, as well as certain machines. Several, if not all, fields of study dedicate a portion of attention to communication, so when speaking about communication it is very important to be sure about what aspects of communication one is speaking about. Definitions of communication range widely, some recognizing that animals can communicate with each other as well as human beings, and some are more narrow, only including human beings within the parameters of human symbolic interaction.
Nonetheless, communication is usually described along a few major dimensions: Content (what type of things are communicated), source, emisor, sender or encoder (by whom), form (in which form), channel (through which medium), destination, receiver, target or decoder (to whom), and the purpose or pragmatic aspect. Between parties, communication includes acts that confer knowledge and experiences, give advice and commands, and ask questions. These acts may take many forms, in one of the various manners of communication. The form depends on the abilities of the group communicating. Together, communication content and form make messages that are sent towards a destination. The target can be oneself, another person or being, another entity (such as a corporation or group of beings).
Communication can be seen as processes of information transmission governed by three levels of semiotic rules:
1. Syntactic (formal properties of signs and symbols),
2. pragmatic (concerned with the relations between signs/expressions and their users) and
3. semantic (study of relationships between signs and symbols and what they represent).
Therefore, communication is social interaction where at least two interacting agents share a common set of signs and a common set of semiotic rules. This commonly held rule in some sense ignores autocommunication, including intrapersonal communication via diaries or self-talk.

In a simple model, information or content (e.g. a message in natural language) is sent in some form (as spoken language) from an emisor/ sender/ encoder to a destination/ receiver/ decoder. In a slightly more complex form a sender and a receiver are linked reciprocally. A particular instance of communication is called a speech act. In the presence of "communication noise" on the transmission channel (air, in this case), reception and decoding of content may be faulty, and thus the speech act may not achieve the desired effect. One problem with this encode-transmit-receive-decode model is that the processes of encoding and decoding imply that the sender and receiver each possess something that functions as a code book, and that these two code books are, at the very least, similar if not identical. Although something like code books is implied by the model, they are nowhere represented in the model, which creates many conceptual difficulties.
Theories of coregulation describe communication as a creative and dynamic continuous process, rather than a discrete exchange of information. Canadian media scholar Harold Innis had the theory that people use different types of media to communicate and which one they choose to use will offer different possibilities for the shape and durability of society (Wark, McKenzie 1997). His famous example of this is using ancient Egypt and looking at the ways they built themselves out of media with very different properties stone and papyrus. Papyrus is what he called 'Space Binding'. it made possible the transmission of written orders across space, empires and enables the waging of distant military campaigns and colonial administration. The other is stone and 'Time Binding', through the construction of temples and the pyramids can sustain their authority generation to generation, through this media they can change and shape communication in their society (Wark, McKenzie 1997).
Am studying communication right now and I found this piece to be valuable

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Toward an All E-Textbook Campus!

Many colleges are experimenting with e-textbooks these days. But at Northwest Missouri State University, President Dean L. Hubbard hopes they’ll be an e-book only campus (or close to it) soon — as soon as the market will allow it. “We’ll move as fast as the industry moves and they’re moving very rapidly,” Hubbard says.
Northwest Missouri has long bought textbooks on its students’ behalf, renting them in exchange for a $6 per credit hour fee. The university is now piloting a move away from purchasing the paper kind. This spring, the 6,700-student university bought e-books for about 500 students in 10 different courses — including College Algebra, Intercultural Communications, and the Enjoyment of Music. In addition, McGraw-Hill is making digital access codes available to up to 3,000 more Northwest Missouri students who are using texts available in both formats.
The pilot actually began, on a smaller scale, this fall, when the university experimented with e-books and, specifically, the Sony PRS-505 e-reader model — ultimately determining that the Sony model “was not necessarily designed for what we want to do,” says Paul Klute, the assistant to the president. So this spring, students will primarily use their laptop computers, already provided to them by the institution, to read the e-books (although a smaller group of students will test out a newer version of the Sony e-reader, Klute explains).
Klute says print will probably always have some place at Northwest Missouri; for example, in the case of an older textbook that is considered definitive in a field. Still, print would be the exception, not the rule. In making this shift, university officials cite a desire to cut costs, and to be “on the cutting edge” of trends in learning and technology.
Citing the e-book’s built-in interactivity, “I’m convinced,” says Hubbard, “that students will read more and they will learn more, by using this medium.”
The proposal to go (almost) e-book only does raise some questions, however — including what the renters, i.e. students, will think. The university will be surveying students throughout the spring, but data from last fall suggest split opinion. “Our quantitative feedback suggested to us that about 50 percent of our students like the idea of electronic textbooks and 50 percent don’t,” Klute says.
He adds: “I do think that we’ll see that 50 percent that don’t like e-textbooks shift as they become exposed to the electronic textbooks.”
“That’s just a hypothesis of mine and one that we hope to realize as the project moves forward.”
“I think there’s a lot of interest, and I think a generally supportive attitude certainly among the members of the faculty that I visited with,” says Doug Sudhoff, the Faculty Senate president and an assistant professor of mass communication. “There may be some faculty who will have a really hard time letting go of the traditional textbook. That’s true anywhere. But I think, in general, as we see the results of the pilot project and if those results are positive, I think you’ll see that faculty move pretty quickly to adapt their courses to online textbooks and adopt them for their courses.”
President Hubbard also cites a hoped-for cost-savings of at least 50 percent. And that raises some questions given the college’s current rental model: While e-books are cheaper, on average available at half the price of the printed version, the university currently replaces rental textbooks on three-year cycles — getting three years’ use out of a single bound book. By contrast, consumers typically buy timed subscriptions for the half-price e-books: 180 days for books to be used in semester courses, or 360 for those used year-long.
“We would have to better understand how our rental model would work with the current system of distributing e-textbooks,” Klute says.
“We haven’t made a deal yet, we’re still piloting it,” explains Hubbard. “But we’ve been very candid with the publishers that we are not going to spend any more than we’re currently spending and we would expect over time to spend less.”
That’s a reasonable expectation, says Frank Lyman, executive vice president at CourseSmart, a digital textbook company started by five major textbook publishers. “It’s a reasonable expectation that an institution pursuing digital aggressively should be able to save money for themselves and their students. Having not been involved with Northwest Missouri, I don’t know what the dynamic is there,” Lyman says.
Lyman says that with 5,029 textbooks now availability digitally, CourseSmart covers about 30 percent of the market. “For institutions that are going to be aggressive about pursuing this goal” — of being all e-textbook — “I think the opportunity exists for them to have 50, 60, 75 percent of their titles covered by e-textbooks within the next year.”
He adds that a few for-profit colleges have already moved to e-book only in certain curriculum areas. “As with a lot of things, the non-profit colleges and universities are trying to see if there’s something they can learn from the way the for-profits operate,” Lyman says.
CourseSmart reports that 72 percent of their customers say they would buy some or all of their textbooks in electronic format in the future. Likewise, “Our research shows that a very high percentage of students who actually use these digital textbooks have a positive experience. Most recommend it to their friends,” says Jeff Ho, a project manager at McGraw-Hill, one of five publishers that Northwest Missouri is working with.
However, an August report by the Student Public Interest Research Groups found that 75 percent of students surveyed said they’d prefer a printed textbook to a digital one. Thirty-three percent said they felt comfortable reading on a computer screen, 22 percent were uncomfortable and 45 percent were in the middle.
“It’s a sentiment shared among a lot of educators that it’s the 21st century; we should be using computers for all of education. As we wrote in the report, to some extent it’s true,” says Nicole Allen, the report author and the textbook advocate for Student PIRGs. “We’ve just got to remember that reading a Facebook profile is not the same thing as reading a textbook.”
“Textbooks are necessarily disconnected from students’ needs as consumers, because textbook sales are not driven by students; they’re driven by faculty,” she says. “It’s important to remember that the consumer actually does have needs and desires and the students do have preferences as to whether they want to switch to a digital book or a print book, and they’re different. The best thing is to give students options, and a lot of them can make that determination themselves. I’m not saying that switching to e-books is wrong. I’m not an educator; I don’t know. But I represent students’ needs as consumers and you can’t rely on the market to address those needs.”
In an e-mail, Abby Freeman, Northwest Missouri’s Student Senate president, expressed support for the university’s ongoing pilot.
“I think it demonstrates that NW is continually searching for methods to improve our university and the educational setting for the students. Though the original use intended for the [Sony] e-readers may not be the best option for the students of Northwest, the continued piloting and research into the programs and their benefit is great. I think students enjoy exploring new opportunities in their classrooms and discovering if those options are a benefit to the university.”
— Elizabeth Redden
Inside Higher Ed
Washington, DC 20008


Friday, January 02, 2009

The Ten Roads To Riches!

1. Start a successful business.
2.Become a CEO of an existing firm and juice it.
3.Hitch to a successful visionary's bandwagon and ride along.
4.Turn celebrity into wealth.
5.Marry well---really well!
6.Steal it---legally--no guns!
7.Capitalize on other people's money!
8.Invent on endless future revenue stream.
9.Trump the land barons by monetizing unrealized real estate wealth.
10. Save hard, invest well.

Gleaned from Ken Fisher's book.