Notes From The Margin

April 15, 2008

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish….

It’s been a year since NTFM first debuted in the blogosphere, in that time we have done 198 posts which have been seen by 42,000 visitors, we have logged some 650 comments and unfortunately we’ve also dealt with 10,000 emails of spam. Small numbers perhaps in comparison to Barbados Underground or Barbados Free Press, but we think that we have established our own following and we’ve also established a reputation as a quality blog with high standards.

It’s been an interesting ride, that has taught us much. The search for quality articles has led us down some interesting paths and turned up some surprising stories. We are particularly proud of the work we’ve done on the whole Venezuela issue as it relates to the Caribbean. We remain deeply concerned that not enough is being done by the mainstream media to educate Barbadians about our South American neighbour.

We started a blog in large part because we were concerned about what was being said about Barbados in the blogosphere. Based on what some very biased people were saying, it would be very easy to equate Barbados with Zimbabwe. That is not the Barbados we know, the country we know and live in may not be perfect but it’s a far cry from what is portrayed on BFP and to a lesser extent BU. A dermatologist following their approach would describe someone with acne as having flesh eating skin cancer. We felt there was an unfilled space for balance and thoughtfulness, a space that over the last year we have tried (with uneven results we admit) to fill. We freely admit that there is an important role for Barbados Underground and Barbados Free Press in ensuring democracy and freedom in Barbados, we may disagree with their methods but we believe that they are truly motivated by good intentions and that in the long run they are a healthy addition to the Barbados social scene, we wish them well.

However after a year, we have found the demands of running a daily posting blog difficult to meet. In that regard we have considerable respect for David over at BU and even the BFP crew. Given the demands of our day to day lives we find that we can no longer devote the time to NFTM that will maintain the standard that we want to have.

In short NFTM has had it’s day. We have to admit, it’s difficult to put down something you have carried for a year, but it is far better to go out with style than to dribble off into obscurity.

To our well wishers thank you for your kind comments, to our critics… when you think about it, you’ll come around to our opinion ūüėČ



Marginal puts down his editorial pen.

April 11, 2008

A note to the BLP…..

Filed under: Uncategorized — notesfromthemargin @ 9:56 pm

We recently cruised over to the political blogsone evening when were were bored to see what was being posted there. We’re not regular visitors to either of the political party blogs (you already know the general scope of what they are going to say so you can generally spend your time more usefully elsewhere) . The DLP blog hasn’t been updated since January 13th, and there seems to have been a small update to the party website about the recent double taxation agreement. However what caught our eye was the ending to the following article:on the BLP blog.


Surely this new administration can not be taken seriously.


It’s the last line in particular that caught our eye. We had a strong sense of deja vu going back to the BLP first term in office. They had been elected tenuously much like the current government and the mindset amongst DLP supporters (and the party) ran something along the lines of….

“This is just some mistake by the part of the voters, we will reclaim the government that is rightfully ours in five years, after all Barbados is DLP country, we are the party of Errol Barrow. This is a temporary abberation that will correct itself.”

Basically they felt at the time that they were the default choice of government, that no one could do a better job than them and that they were “rightfully entitled” to the government that the BLP interloper had gotten from them just because they had made a few mistakes.¬† This mindset left them with two seats in the house of assembly.

Voters do not make mistakes, they make decisions, acting as if the DLP government is some form of misfunction of democracy will almost certainly guarantee that the voters will decide against you the next time they have to choose.

Be advised!


April 9, 2008

To The New Airport Board… Can We Have Luggage Trolleys Please?

We noted a news story in the paper recently about the new board of directors at the Grantley Adams airport taking up office.

THE NEW Grantley Adams International Airport Board will be working to improve Barbados’ tourism product.

Chairman of GAIA Inc., Rawle Brancker, said “the airport is a very integral part of the tourism product that is Barbados”.

“We will improve upon what we’ve met at the airport and work towards enhancing it and strive for the excellence that is required to make Barbados’ tourism product always No. 1,” he added, during a brief interview recently.

The airport falls under minister of public works and international transport Mr. John Boyce, however Mr. Richard Sealy as minister of tourism will have more than a little influence we are sure. WE on the margin have one request.

Can we please have luggage trolleys like an airport in the REAL world?


April 4, 2008

Beachfront Development In Barbados, A Look Into The Future…

Now that the dust has had a chance to settle, we on the margin have been reflecting on the sale of Cheffette Holetown. At $40 Million for the site Cheffette would have taken the offer. How many years of profit is that from the Restaurant? Further that’s enough money that they could build a second restaurant nearby and still have money left over. As a business deal this is fairly straight forward, Cheffette got an offer that was simply too good to turn down and that is that.

From an economic point of view, the Holetown site in condos will contribute more to the economy than it would as Cheffete. Certainly it would be part of the foreign exchange earning sector rather than being a user of foreign exchange. Economically this is good for Barbados as well.

However one of the very few remaining windows to the sea will close when condos go up on the site. Locals will have to go in either at the Holetown Police Station (the old Pizza House restaurant) or go all the way up past Sandy Lane to access the beach. Heading south after that we believe the next opportunity for beach accesss is Paynes Bay.

Now we on the Margin can’t argue with Condos, but we do have a specific issue with beach development. The development of a condo project allows the developer to make his money back quickly, with relatively little risk. A hotel means that the developer takes the business risk and all of the headaches that come with running a hotel. So if you are a developer, a condo is lower risk for a higher return and an extremely quick payback period. This is why hotels are closing for condos, we on the margin doubt that anything the new administration does will change this. (Despite what Mr. Loveridge says)

The other factor at work here is that there’s only so much beach front land in Barbados. The simple law of supply and demand means that prices for land on the coast will skyrocket in the face of huge demand fed from outside of the island. Hence we can hear about $40 million being paid for a relatively small piece of land. Remember all of those little chattel houses in the Garden in St. James? Little gold mines each one of them.

Now because the land costs are skyrocketing developers need to do two things 1. increase the value of each condo unit and 2. increase the number of units on the lot. This means that development along the beach is going to be high value, and is going to maximise the land use (so much for beach access for locals) and further is going to go up and up and up. This results in what we are seeing at Paynes Bay in St. James where the people on the land side of highway one stop seeing the sun around 3.00pm in the afternoon each day.

If you watch the BTA advertisement above it talks about

“…an island that hasn’t been homogenised and supersized and commercialised away from even being Caribbean anymore”

While these words are being said images of high rises next to the beach are being shown.

Ironic isn’t it?

We think that there is a need for a policy intervention by Government that puts the brakes on this form of development. Now this will have to be done with a light touch otherwise we run the risk of killing the goose that laid the golden egg. One possibility is restricting future high rise structures to the land side of the road. We are not saying no to development of the coast, we are simply saying if we continue as we are going now we will end up being one of those islands that no one wants to go to. The economics of it are inexorable.

Now is the time for an enlightened policy response.


March 31, 2008

Cat Piss and Pepper Removed From Blogroll.

Filed under: Bajan Free Press,Barbados,Cat Piss and Pepper,De Standpipe,Uncategorized — notesfromthemargin @ 6:30 pm

The article posted today was in our view not acceptable. These three sites have been listed as “on probation”, and this clearly violates the boundaries of that (in our view anyway). My hope for these sites was that they would provide a strong voice of an opposition supporter’s view, so far there have been a few good articles but for the most part it has been fairly quiet.

For the moment the other two sites will remain, but they should consider this a warning.

December 6, 2007

Sandy Lane Your Slip Is Showing!!!!

Looking in the Nation Newspaper today you’ll see an ad for the post of Culinary Director. (It’s on page 48) The ad has a deadline of December 7th 2007.

That’s all very well and good but…..

Here’s a clip from a website called “The Vegas Eye” entitled “Chef Grant Has Left The Building”

“As most of you know by now Wynn Resort and Casino‚Äôs executive Chef Grant McPhearson has left the building. I received a call from Grant today as he was getting ready to leave for London to meet Jimmy Page and catch the Led Zepplin performance on December 10th at the O2 Arena in London, honoring Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. McPhearson just landed a new position at Sandy Lanes Hotel in Barbados as the Culinary Director re-concepting 3 restaurants and running the Food and Beverage.

It would seem that the new Culinary Director is common knowlege in Las Vegas even though the position is still being advertised in Barbados.

Things that make you go hmmmmmmm


November 29, 2007

Earthquake Update: Reports of one fatality in Guadeloupe.

Filed under: Dominica,Earthquake,guadeloupe,Martinique,Uncategorized — notesfromthemargin @ 9:02 pm

Reports are coming in of a 3 year old girl being killed in Guadeloupe due to a falling wall. Also there are reports of widespread property damage.

A strong earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale has killed a three-year-old girl, injured numerous people and caused widespread damage in Guadeloupe.

The fire and rescue service says the girl was crushed by a collapsed wall in Trois-Rivieres on the island Basse-Terre and died on her way to hospital, while her seven-year-old sister was in critical condition.

There were also numerous injuries and widespread property damage on Terre-de-Bas, one of the Saints islands, that are located just south of Basse-Terre, the French overseas department’s main island.

The quake struck at 11:50 GMT with the seismological institutes in Guadeloupe and continental France putting its epicentre south of the Saints islands towards neighbouring Dominica, numerous aftershocks were recorded.

Most of Terre-de-Basse’s 1,300 inhabitants had gathered on the field of the island’s only stadium.

“People whose homes are intact don’t want to go back to them and we are going to have to set up a tent village,” a fire and rescue service officer said.

Many homes and public buildings suffered damage, with the church partially collapsing.

We will continue to update as news comes in


November 27, 2007

A couple of points for the Bajan Blogosphere.

I’ve been meaning to get this off of my chest and it really has been bugging me, there are a couple of major misconceptions floating around the blogosphere and it is REALLY beginning to tick me off.

 1. The offshore industry are not crooks.

If they weren’t there your taxes would be much higher. Yes I know you read stories from the net about how “unfair” it is that they don’t pay their taxes in their home domicile, but why should you worry about propping up government innefficiency in another country?¬† If they really want to shift those companies back onshore they should lower their taxes. The use of “offshore” jurisdictions is an accepted part of day to day life in the financial services industry. Just ask those banks in exotic locations like Vermont for their opinion.

 2. A lawsuit is not proof of being guilty!

Being sued in a civil suit is not proof of guilt, in fact being sued in a civil suit is not proof of anything!  In fact its common practice by lawyers to spread their lawsuit as far and as wide as possible. Up to and including suing the secretary who accepted the letter for her boss that might have contained the information that might be pertinent to the suit if the planets align the right way next Thursday.  Thats how you get things like the Kingsland suit.

3. Just because the BLP/DLP said it, doesn’t mean that it’s not a good idea!

Come on! the number of partisan hacks that we have on line who disconnect any sense of intelligence from any facts is amazing. We’ve actually had people claim that Owen Arthur is infalible, that all of the development in the tourism industry occurred during Peter Morgan’s days forty years ago, and the list of absurdities goes on. And by the way, our pointing out flaws in your arguments is not proof of supporting the other side, we just aren’t supporting YOU.

4. The fact that you didn’t know about it, doesn’t mean that it’s a secret!

Let’s face it none of us know everything, but not knowing about something doesn’t mean that there is a great secret conspiracy to keep it hidden from the light of day!

5. Resorting to insults and invective are not only childish but you make the other persons point for them.

In case you haven’t noticed that’s why they leave those comments on the comment board, jackass!

6. Laws for defamation are not a bad thing (per se) !

They are supposed to stop people from publishing crap about people and rubbishing their reputations. Without them there would be no obligation to do even the slightest reserarch before publishing. (Oh, I’m sorry we are already in those circumstances in Bajan Blogworld.)

7. The more you allow party hacks to go unchallenged the more you undermine the credibility of your blog/media.

Starcom Networks gets this, just ask David Ellis. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be allowed to comment but certainly the blog owner should challenge all blatantly partisan opinions. Allow them free rein at the expense of your credibility. (Sorry, once again something we don’t worry about in the blogosphere)

8. The more you become a forum for the silly and the absurd the less the mainstream will pay attention to you.

Let’s face it the blogs no longer have the political force they had 3 months ago. They are no longer seen as “voices of the people” they are becoming part of an entertaining lunatic fringe that can be safely ignored.¬† We in the blogoshpere are poorer for it.

I’m sure this post won’t be popular, and will upset more than a few people, but I feel much better for getting that off of my chest.

Let the fireworks begin!


October 18, 2007

The wider implications of Hardwood Housing, The Enterprise Growth Fund and Politicians

We on the margin have been following the first real engagement of the upcoming silly season with a passing interest. We’re sure that the other blogs will dissect the particulars of the Mascoll/Murrell/Hardwood/EGF situation ad nauseum. We would like to take a slightly broader view of this, consider the following:

  1. Government has set up the Venture capital funds like the Enterprise Growth Fund and the Innovation Fund etc. to help develop small businesses who have great ideas but limited access to capital. These funds deal specifically with entrepeneurs who would by their very nature scare a commercial bank’s risk management department.
  2. The means of functioning of these funds is to take equity positions in (invest in ownership of) these relatively high risk ventures. In doing this the funds will typically take a controlling interest and award the entrepreneur “sweat equity” if he has no funds of his own to put into the operation.
  3. The EGF and its like, ARE  government funds, (Taxpayers money) and should be subject to the PAC etc.
  4. There is considerable discretion in how these funds invest, obviously if the funds are invested badly the fund will go bankrupt so there is an economic reality that the fund managers have to deal with but they do have considerable leeway in making investment decision.
  5. It is THEORETICALLY possible for abuse to happen, for example for a politician’s friends to get preferred access to the funds (We are NOT saying that is what happened with Hardwood) and there does need to be some oversight to avoid this.
  6. It is also THEORETICALLY possible for someone with a political axe to grind to pick on a random EGF company and drag it through the mud in an effort to get some of the mud to stick to a particular politician. (Once again, we are NOT saying that is what happened with Hardwood)

¬†Now here’s the rub…

How many entrepeneurs are looking at the Hardwood housing political theatre show, and deciding that they will not approach the EGF because of the risk of becoming collateral damage in a political crossfire?

And just to be even handed…

What level of confidence can the EGF give to the public and politicians on their investments as they are playing with taxpayers dollars?

Let us hope that we can find an answer to this, otherwise we may be compromising one of the most promising ways to advance economic enfranchisement of our working class.


August 27, 2007

We Pause For A Moment…

Filed under: Uncategorized — notesfromthemargin @ 6:24 pm

We ask all of our readers to pause for a moment today and reflect on the tragedy of the Brittons Hill cave in, if you are religious say a word for the people who have died, if you aren’t religious, pause anyway and consider the transience of life.


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