September 27, 2006
In one of my previous lives, many years ago, I was an event co-ordinator. I was asked in passing by a friend some months ago why i don’t still do it. Having recently taken on the organisation of a party for my father I can answer beyond the statement I gave at the time: “I am bored of it.”
It is not just that. An event is all about planning. If you plan it perfectly, down to the last detail then you will, almost definitely, be able to cope with the 172 last minute crises caused by the indomitable human spirit’s ability to entirely screw the pooch at every available opportunity. You see, it’s all about ducks and getting them in a row. But ducks, who are often seen swimming along in a neat little row, are a first world kind of animal. Ducks like being in a row. You will see them on the ponds in Hyde Park in your next London visit. They will look all insufferably cute: swimming in a well behaved, civilised line. Enjoying the art of queuing, just like the English. Fantastic.
Africa, though, to continue my lifelong abuse of the mixed metaphor, is a different kettle of fish.
In Africa we are more into our elephants, giraffe’s, hippo, rhino and the big cats. Try getting any of those buggers into a row, especially the cats, and you will know what it is like to organise an event in South Africa. No matter how hard you try you will not be able to keep those cats in a row for more than 5 minutes before one of them is clawing at the couch, another is spraying musky scent everywhere, two are shagging loudly in the corner and one is out the window claiming the better part of the three surrounding blocks for territory. Focus, obedience and reliablility are not on the agenda.
To a certain extent this is true of all business in South Africa. My experience of event management, however, shows it in it’s extremes. I would liken each individual event, in difficulty if not in size, to forming a small company and making it, briefly, work. In America, Europe or the UK a difficult task. In South Africa, a monumental one. I fail to recall the last event I attended in South Africa that actually impressed me by it’s organisation and flow but, here is the thing: it doesn’t actually matter that much.
Any organised event (especially those givn to event co-ordinators) is seldom, if ever, terribly important. Party Political Conferences, Product Launches, Racing Events, Weddings, Funerals. This is another reason for not doing it any more. It’s pretty bloody meaningless.
Important things tend to happen without organisation. Conception, birth, death, falling in love, spotting a new pair of shoes, making friends, first kisses, being adopted by stray animals, car crashes and really good parties.
Perhaps Africa has the right idea. Enjoy life.
As a true poet once said: “Ain’t nothin’ in this world worth the worryin’.”
September 26, 2006
This is all over the web and now everyone is having a go at the media for the fact that average US citizen knows so little about what is happening in the world. But is it the chicken or is it the egg?
Is the US cover different because the media have an agenda about what they want to portray to Americans or because the people would not buy the magazine if it had the other cover? My guess is it goes all the way back to school where the kids are taught very little about anything but the US in history and geography so the interest is never there.
September 26, 2006
It’s quite a thing, watching the South African political landscape. South Africans have a habit of taking things at face value but we have a government where reading between the lines is a must. Moderate South Africans, especially moderate white South Africans, have been most concerned recently by the idea of Jacob Zuma as the next President of South Africa. He is viewed with fear and loathing by people who would equate him, at least in levels of ignorance and arrogance, with George W. across the pond.
He is a man who, it seems, has massive grass roots support particularily through the unions. The ANC old guard, however, are not his fans and would prefer to see a more statesmanlike, moderate person come to power rather than the boistrous frivolity that is Jacob Zuma. So he is a man who could split the ANC and it’s supporters. Not actually a bad thing for the country, thinks this jester, leaving it a three party state with parties needing to co-operate to maintain power rather than steamrollering whatever new legislative idea they have through parliament. That sounds like a proper democracy to me after wearily watching supposedly democratic two-party states like England (sorry Libdems, will change my opinion if you ever provide a Prime Minister) and the USA. It’s easier for big companies to buy off the government by backing campaigns if there are only two horses in the running. Spread betting I believe is the term.
But the ANC old guard aren’t keen on a split. They like stability. They’ve fought for their freedom and now they would like to enjoy it in comfort and who can blame them? I vaguely remember the last radical who had grass roots support and prhaps the power to split the party. Loud, abrasive and charismatic but oddly enough not someone I have heard from of late. Winnie somebody. Hang on, it’ll come to me.
So our pretender to the throne, less than 48 hours after the prosecution strangely botched the presentation of their corruption case and the judge threw them out of court for being under-prepared (albeit, with a boomerang clause) J.Z. comes out and says that he really was just pretending. He is not now and never was interested in becoming our new President and although he has the backing of Cosatu and elements of the SACP really doesn’t want his old job as Deputy president back. Do we smell a deal here?
It seems likely one was made after his address to Cosatu was, rather than an Mbeki bashing session, pretty much ANC centreline in all it’s combined intelligence and woes. I think he has learned the lesson of Winnie Whatsername who never saw the writing on the wall until it was too late and decided “if you’re not absolutely 100% sure you can beat ‘em- join ‘em”. With this supposed deal the ANC centreline would seem to have assured a moderate successor to Mbeki rather than risk a party split if the none-too-certain conviction of JZ had stumbled and fell. Looks like the old guard and JZ have decided to hedge-bet. Perhaps not a victory for justice but definitely a victory for intelligent thinking.
Just another day in paradise.
September 25, 2006
The great bottled liquid that is called alcohol and it’s sister “bad behaviour” have kept me happily, blissfully unaware of anything in the world around me usually found under the tick-boxes “serious” and “important” this week.
Its probably good that I have been away from writing for a bit since the price of a comma just went up in the world and I am hard pressed to have any punctuation at all in anything I deign to say. Our dear ol’ buddy George W currently rates a comma at 20,000 Americans a go*. I’m not stupid enough to think he would even begin to add any more value for the odd hundred-thousand-or-so Iraqi lives and wonder at the cost of punctuation should he get around to dropping the odd full-stop or two on Iran before the Democrats get into power.
Not that that’s going to really help. One group who’s first reaction to anyone who disagrees with it is to dole out a good kicking and another side that will pussy-foot around the issue trying not to offend anyone and be everyone’s friend.
But for those who think Americans just go around fucking up other people’s lives do not be afraid. They really are just trying to spread their kind of democracy around. The kind where you commit genocide against the people who already occupy the land. Then the people that are left kick out their oppressors (the Iraqi’s will look forward to that) and form a consitution. After 100 years of free labour you have to free your slaves and have a civil war. Then after 150 years you have to give women the vote and (eventually) after 170 years you have to allow black people to have it too.
Once you have that democracy there is no reason you have to uphold any of the rights held therein. By cronyism and incompetence you, too can have your judges let wife beaters go free saying “Every woman needs a good pounding every now and then,”* and rape those in your care. See, Muslim fundamentalists will feel right at home in an American style democracy, they should embrace it.
And while the land of the free and the home of the brave are out promoting war through fear, self-censoring themselves and antagonizing muslims at least the Vatican is trying to promote peace and universal understanding. Oh, hang on, wrong Pope/ organisation/ decade/ whatever. I forgot, we’ve got the nasty Nazi Pope who popped over to have a look at Auschwitz and completely failed to apologise for the Vaticans complicity in the holocaust and, of course, was ‘completely mis-interperated’ when he slagged off their islamic brothers. Not that they couldn’t do with a bit of slagging off as they’re just as complicit in the nutball brigade as anyone else. I can’t believe that it’s the french who got it right- about Iraq, war on terror and dealing with immigrants. Their rule for immigrants: you want in? You’re French first and Muslim/ Christian/ oddball/ nutbag/ Buddhist second. You don’t like it you can fuck off.
Thank goodness the French screw up so many other things as it would be a helluva thing to have to start liking them now. Especially with an English education behind me, it would feel like a betrayal of my deepest bigotries.
Bush dismisses bloodshed in Iraq as ‘just a comma’
NY Times: In Tiny Courts of New York, Abuses of Law and Power
and thanks to Kurt Vonnegut who I paraphrased a little too much.
September 11, 2006
And they say life in Afghanistan is tough… Babies being calmed down not with warm milk but with opium! Not even David Beckham’s son had it so good. All he got was a fake pair of tits and a stupid hairstyle, like his father.
Am I wrong in thinking it’s time to open a comfortable retreat for the super rich in the beautful, rugged mountains of Afghanistan. I’m sure the Taliban would be happy to leave it alone for, say, 30% of turnover.
And you know your child won’t be allowed to wander off from childcare. Or at least won’t be in any condition to.
The Taliban slept with the devil before, and you could always subtly move in a dialysis machine downstairs for ol’ you-know-who…
September 11, 2006
I grew up in a lunatic-fringe country, ‘Apartheid South Africa’as it has become known. I grew up in a world where I would be shunned as a South African abroad. Given grief and abuse because of what the country was doing to it’s majority black population.
And now I live in one of the few sane countries in the world, ‘New South Africa’. A country where,
1. when the deputy president is charged with corruption he actually gets fired despite having incredible influence and being able to possibly split the ruling party.
2. when a polition gets convicted of corruption (accepting a car at 50% off) he actually goes to jail.
3. the government becomes the first to voluntarily destroy it’s own nuclear weapons and bow out of the ‘nuclear club’.
4. despite the vicious attacks on their AIDS policy the government continues to call for AIDS dissdents to be heard in the name of good science and fails to cave into the pressure mounted by billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies (remember, good science likes debate, it doesn’t shout it down like republican politicians in the USA). Bear in mind that politicians in other countries queue up for the campaign backing laid on by these companies.
5. if evidence of a crime is gained ilegally (due to, say, a policeman making a minor procedural mistake) it can still be deemed admissable “in the name of justice” instead of letting the miserable bastard(s) off. Take note, my dear Jacob Zuma, and stay away OJ.
6. we did away with torture rather than re-introducing it worldwide with a little ‘spin’.
7. when silly politicians decided to try and gag newspapers they got beat. Not immediately but they did.
Not that we’re perfect. We have high crime, annoying old people walking slowly on pavements and it’s too cold in winter to make the beach (unless you’re Scottish).
But perfect isn’t the same as sane. We need to remember that.
VIVA South Africa, and, please don’t shoot me. Sure, there, have my wallet…
And finally- well done wikipedia for telling China to take a hike on censorship. No caving like google and yahoo. No looking only at the money. Perhaps integrity can count sometimes.
September 4, 2006
I always underestimate the vatican. Just when I think this particular bunch of loonies has reached the height of incompetence they show off skills of which I could only dream.
Harry Potter is “the king of darkness, the Devil”. Or so says Pope Benedict XVI’s chief exorcist, Rev. Gabriele Amorth. The well respected expert in getting rid of ghoulies and ghosties likens Harry Potter to Hitler and Stalin who were also, in his opinion, posessed by the devil. Although somewhat less fictional and, importantly to public figures, not as prone to outbreaks of acne.
Now, I am no fan of Harry potter. The movies were okay but I find myself unable to absorb more than two pages of J.K.’s (the author not the singer) ramblings and feel no remorse over the fact that 2 of her 3 main characters are due to die in the 7th and last (dull) novel.
I could even be persuaded that she might have made a pact with some devil of vague proportions to get such bland writing to be so widely touted. Possibly a double deal with Dan Brown. Two souls, two flacid careers. But- her deeply squeaky characters? No.
The last time I checked any reports of the devil in his many machinations he was not annoying, pubescent, irritating with bad eyesite and a predisposition for playing with big wood between his legs.
Well, maybe the last one. The Vatican always have been against any manipulation between the legs. Unless conducted by a Priest, of course.
Then they defend it to the end.