The important thing about modern western civilization is successful lying. Not only to others but yourself. We spend all day being bombarded with lies so outrageous that we become immune to recognising them: this pill will make you thin, this dress will make you gorgeous, that car will get you laid, Iraq/Iran/Israel/ The Disney Corporation is your enemy, Crocs are so comfortable people will forgive you for looking like a moron, that Presidential candidate is completely different from the others and will represent your best interests and these sunglasses will protect your eyes whilst making you look cool and not at all like some half-bug-half-human from a ‘B’ horror movie.

If tasty food full of sauces and decadent pastries make you fat why do the French have one of the lowest obesity rates in the western world? If those sunglasses make you look so cool why wasn’t anyone wearing them 5yrs ago? Fashion is not new technology. If that Presidential candidate is so much your bitch- who gave them the money to run their campaign? Was it you? Didn’t think so… tight-arse.

But the first point (about the French) is true: they consume lots of all the food you shouldn’t eat, they have no worries over “low fat” options and what do you get? Not Texas, surprisingly. You get a country that is in shape despite having the same affinity for gymnasiums as the Bhurka- wearing women of Iran do for the beach. The French do have the advantage of having none of their food created in labs. This is, after all, the country where a terrorist organisation bombed a McDonalds not because they were anti- American but because they thought the food was offensive to the French Culinary Tradition. These are my kinda terrorists: clear thinkers. Why hate a group of people you’ve never met? Hating bad food. That is smart!

The difference between the French and the rest of us is the size of our TVs. The French spend less time working and worrying about acquiring material possessions and more time hanging out with family and friends, having tasty meals and remembering that their boss is just another arsehole who can go jump because, quite frankly, the whole of London will not freeze to death if his company’s line of pullovers arrive a day late. More is the pity, she thinks, as the English are notoriously dour.

So, you’re overweight because you work too hard.

If a comment like that would, as in my case, result in everyone you know falling down in fits of paralytic laughter there is another excuse. That is: more than 50% of you is not even “you”. You see, you are not just a product of your own DNA but a super-organism made of streams of bacteria that have sweet f-a (the technical term) to do with human genetics. You have a kilo of bacteria working for you in your gut, alone. There are 100 trillion cells of “not you” and only a few trillion that are.

This is why you are overweight: it’s not you, it’s them,  and it may be time to break up. The bad news is you need this bacteria to survive. Without it you die. This will guarantee thinness- if that’s what you’re into.

It also explains why people who use anti-bacterial soap always look a little anaemic.


sa_flag.jpgI live in South Africa. In crime-ridden South Africa. In Beautiful Cape Town. In the murder capital of South Africa. In a place ruled by fear where “no-one is safe*”. Where crime is out of control. Apparently.

These are, all of them, the views of our local television and print media. Media who rely on advertising. media who rely on readership. Media who rely on grabbing our attention and on holding it. There is no better attention getter than fear.

We continually refer to ourself as the crime capital of the world yet we are one of the few third world countries to provide anything near accurate statistics. China, India, Russia, Nigeria, Brazil, Jamaica, Mexico, and Pakistan have no reliable numbers and in some cases no numbers at all. Even where you have statistics certain murders, like honour killings in Muslim states, are not included.

I have lived here in Cape Town for 14 years straight, since before our first democratic elections. In that time no member of my family nor any one of my friends has ever been murdered. When I owned a bar with upwards of 300 regular clients who I knew well, would drink with and chat to not one of them ever told me of a close friend or family member criminally murdered. There was always “my mother’s cousin this” and “my cousin’s mother that”, all third-person tales but never “my dad was shot in the head last night and my mother raped and killed.”

I do not want to detract from the pain and suffering of those it has happened to, and I promise you it has happened- in your country too. But in this attention-seeking world where people have no time to have a life worth speaking about, where we no longer discuss philosophy at dinner, where politics is debated in sound-bytes not substance and religious coversations alway end in someone shooting someones dad in the head and raping their mother we humans are desperate for conversational topics that will give us attention.

Crime is an attention-getter. Fear is an attention getter. Telling ‘ghost stories’ is an attention getter. I firmly believe in the old axiom: “never let facts ruin a good story.” I am, at heart, a teller of tall tales and interesting anecdotes. I like to play with words. But I try and garner attention from humour, from the positive. It is far, far easier to attract attention and galvanise people with the negative. Ask these people and organisations: Hitler, Stalin, Moussolini, Al Queda, Neo-Nazis, Christian Fundamentalists, George W. Bush, Isreal, Tony Blair, Fatah, Hammas… I will not bother going on. You get the point.

Just so you know i am not claiming a Utopian State here in South Africa and that there is crime. Here is a list crimes I and my family have had to ‘survive’ since 1994.

Me: 1994- car stolen (inconvenient), 2003- cellphone stolen from bar, 2003- hit by drunk in a bar (are you looking at my bird? Yes. Wallop.)

Mother: 1996- car stolen, 2006 house break in (slept through it).

Father: 2004- tools stolen from garage, 2005- front door key stolen by someone doing work on the house (changed lock), 2006- front door key stolen by someone doing work on the house (changed lock).

All of the above is merely mildly annoying, not tragic. None of us now lives behind an electrical fence or razor wire. We still live our daily lives with doors unlocked. I still go out drinking. I got another cellphone. My car was insured. And through all this the most traumatic crime I had to deal with was the way the insurance company screwed me on my claim.

Although we do have higher crime in South Africa than first world countries, it is not nearly as bad as the hysterical media portray. It is true our police are ineffective against it: we have more crimes per police officer to deal with than Europe and less budget for training and the technology to assist them. We do have corruption in our police force as does every country in the world. I can, with confidence, state that looking at our statistics for crime and the size of our poice force that I cannot see them getting our violent crime down to first world levels with things as they are.

For all our vocal complaining and apparent fear when I, at a dinner with white and coloured friends, no black people**, bring up questions like “what do you think the causes are?” everyone says “poverty” first. Quite a few of people say “culture issues” and the ones who are not coy or who are drunk say what the people who say culture issues really mean, “black South Africans have no respect for human life.”

We all seem to agree that poverty is the problem. So, if you are bitching about crime and poverty is the leading cause- “what have you actually done, personally, about it?”

“We pay our taxes,” is the reply. Okay, what if that isn’t enough? What if that means we only get out of this in 30-50 years? Are you willing to pay more taxes?

“We already give 30-40%, the government should be able to do it’s job with that!” But, of course, it cannot. It cannot raise company taxes either because it wants more jobs to come to the country. It cannot raise taxes on fuel because that will push up food prices (transport). It cannot get more money without raising taxes. And whats more I think we are right not to want to pay more taxes. Governments should not be trusted entirely. The whole concept of democracy is based on distrust of our leaders. About 40-50% is the highest we should give directly to government.

What of the “culture” issue. The same people who say “black people have no respect for human life” are usually, in my experience, the same people who own guns. They are also the same people who are obsessed with their right to protect their property and “will shoot anyone who tries to rob me!” I would not dream of killing someone for trying to steal my television or my car. I might want to give them a bit of a kicking but that is natural anger. A prominent Afrikaans rugby player recently (last 10 years) killed his own daughter by emptying his gun into one of the family’s cars being backed, engine off, out of the driveway in the early hours of the morning. She was sneaking out to meet friends. If he respected life over property his daughter would still be alive.

These are also the same people who complain about beggars at traffic lights. I cannot give to every one and I cannot give every day. But when I cannot give I smile, ask them how they are today and then politely refuse. Respect. Most of these people would rather not be there. Many would prefer to have a job. For the professional beggars who pressure you and guilt you there is no reason to get angry. If they carry on you say, “I did say no, to carry on is really not nice. Please stop. Now.” If they still pressure me it becomes: “Now you’re being impolite, I will remember you and never give anything to you.” The next time they are at that light I remind them. Not angrily. Respect.

A culture clash is not the problem. A general culture of disrespect for the suffering of others and human life prevails in all communities in South Africa. Our property is more important than our neighbour’s well being. Oddly another country with the same philosophy has an unusually high murder rate. America. Covered well in Michael moore’s “Bowling for Columbine”.

The fact is, if we want a crime-free South Africa the first thing we need to do is show that we give a crap about the people who have nothing. Whether you give your time to a building project on Sundays as free labour. Whether you can afford R15000 to buy a plot of land and build someone a small house. Whether you can go to a poor school and offer R1000 per month to pay for an after-school sports program. If we want a better life for ourselves we not only have to pay taxes to pay for infrastructure, we have to make direct contact with the people who have little or nothing and let them know: we give a shit.

midnight jester

* Newspaper Headline, supposed quote from head of our top police unit.

** Black, white and coloured are not insults in South Africa, just convenient reference points. I pity all of you in other countries who have to tiptoe around these words.


January 25, 2007

Warning: if you are beyond jingoism and too intelligent to be emotionally swayed, without reason, by the actions of 22 men of questionable character and a ball on a small but immaculately maintained piece of open land 10,000 miles away then this post may well shock you, or bore you to tears. You have been warned…

Never before in a match have our dear Tottenham Hotspur’s frailties been more in evidence. Losing a two-goal lead to a second string Arsenal side after the previous travesty that was the football match at Fulham is painful indeed.

In the first half with everything to play for Tottenham were, at times, magical. I speak not of the ‘disappearing team’ magic act that had so little commitment going forward against Fulham they looked like a gay bachelor in a shotgun white wedding, no. This was the real magic.

Forty-five minutes of nothing-to-lose, all-in, aggressive, stylish football. Spurs, a side that is notorious for only arriving 15 minutes late in many of it’s games, had even noted the kick-off time correctly.

Arsenal’s first 15 minutes were designed to take advantage of Tottenham’s frailty and lack of confidence against sides that close down aggresively and all the way up the pitch. Instead the men in (mostly) white turned it around and defended all the way up the pitch themselves, risking the back two being exposed and creating some wonderful attacks in the process. Even Gardner, who has always been my ‘mistake a match’ man and has had little first team football, looked comfortable. Arsenal, in turn, looked preplexed and even Flamini, with no supporting cast, found Zokora and Huddlestone too much.

I sat at half time hoping against hope to see more of the same in the second half and, for 10 minutes, that’s what I got. I was bouyed. Ninety minutes of attacking, committed football? Surely not!

I have spent the last 5 years screaming ineffectually at various television screens here in South Africa, trying desperately to get 11 men 10,000miles away to hear me. Shouting three important words we should all hear, from time to time, from the mouths of those most dear to us: “close him down!”. In retrospect perhaps an email would have been more effective. Or a text message.

Actually, once the appropriate prepositions and expletives have been added it’s more like seven words: “close him the fuck down, you bastard.” But that is less than relevant, “you say tomayto- I say tomarto” stuff for it was this, yet again that let us down.

First little BE-K at left back who had had a pretty storming game up to that point decided that the best course of action at the edge of the box was to stand six feet away from his opponent looking pensive and French. There are bad habits that can be picked up in France that are, on a good day filled with light and sunshine, forgivable. A man who wears a silly hat with no discernable front or back may still be my friend. A man who bakes bread in such a fashion and shape that it is unable to carry conveniently without causing destruction and devastation to all who pass withing three feet of me may be passed off merely as a man with a charming and jockular sense of humour. The man who delights in the flavour of the legs of small amphibians may not feel my wrath or dishumour.

The man who stands around looking pensive, artist-like and broody while smoking Gauloise, however, deserves punishment as only the Germans know how. Yes, a lifetime of Bratwurst and Wagner. For a moment BE-K was short only the cigarette hanging loosely from his lips and an unfinished novel full of angst, passion, sex and people sitting in coffee bars discussing existential ideas.

The problem with these little French flashbacks is not only the effect it has on that player but also the contagious, disconcerting effect on others, especially those from French-speaking nations. Minutes later, on the halfway line, the previously heroic Ivorian, Zokora, found himself doing a formidable imitation of Marcel Marceau stuck in his glass box, afraid to tackle (I cannot be sure that Marcel Marceau was afraid to tackle, but odds are: yes). This allowed time for Flamini to pick out a pass down past our surprised, arty left back and the rest, as they say, is me historically storming out of the room refusing to watch another moment.

In my day-to-day business I build teams and I coach football in my spare time. Let it be noted that part-time football coaches are the worst sort for ‘back seat management’, but I cannot help but feel, here in my ivory tower, that there is something lacking in this Tottenham Hotspur side all the way from Robinson up to Jol. It is a certain kind of confidence: the confidence to make mistakes.

Benoit Essou-Ekotto was afraid he would be left standing for pace and so stood off too far- possibly he was not fit enough coming back from injury as he had coped pretty well up to then. Admittedly his cover was late in arriving. When our Ivorian stalwart Zokora stood off he had just had a series of unsuccessful tackles, although most of them had still shepharded play into safe pockets. Neither had the Freund-like confidence (misplaced or not) to jump on in regardless.

Whether this is because of the expectations of the board are making Jol uneasy and that him inexpertly passing that on to the players or the expectations of people like me, the fans, I do not know. I will say this: as a fan I would like to see the players giving it all and making their mistakes. If that gets us into European football, fantastic! If it doesn’t I am fine with that. As long as we stay above relegation and play attractive, attacking football I’m there. I’ll buy the shirt at ridiculous prices. I’ll pay excorbitant fees for satellite television broadcasts and help bring in that 900million pounds a year.

I became a Spurs fan at the age of 7 in a rugby-mad nation not for trophies or boasting rights. I did it to be entertained by players of talent, grace, guts and determination. And sportsmanship. Players to look up to and admire for their skill and enjoyment of the game. When it comes to supporting a football team it really isn’t, for me, about winning. The old cliche stands: it’s the way you play the game.

It takes a certain kind of self-absorbed, overly-confident man to find great entertainment sifting through their own writing and observations of the past. Stopping occasionally to muse on the genius of insight and pathos contained within.

Well, I am that man. Apart from the bit about the pathos, genius and insight which all sounds a bit gay, really. Not on with me having a “macho” day and all. I should probably put on a vest right away, open a beer and forget to wash for a week.

As it happens, a comment by my reader led me to one of my old pieces, which got me to reading more which led to this (lazy) post. My writing tends toward the less flippant these days. Perhaps it’s time to start drinking heavily again.

99.03.10 M.P.D. posted August 16th, 2006

98.01.28 Transformers posted August 16th, 2006

98.01.28 Relationships posted August 16th, 2006

98.04.03 M.P.D. take 2 posted August 16th, 2006

98.12.07 Democracy posted August 16th, 2006

I also like this

And just to prove I’m not completely self-absorbed: one of my favourite observations of all time not made by me.

“I believe the Jews have made a contribution to the human condition out of all proportion to their numbers: I believe them to be an immense people. Not only have they supplied the world with two leaders of the stature of Jesus Christ and Karl Marx, but they have even indulged in the luxury of following neither one nor the other.”

Peter Ustinov. British Actor and raconteur.

It’s amazing how running accross seemingly unrelated information can suddenly make the world so clear. Being a person who is unafraid of the word “conspiracy” and does not think it’s use automaticaly warrants a visit to the funny farm, padded cell and fashionable jacket included, I though I might share in a moment of clarity.

Growing up in the 70s and 80s in South Africa I was the child of a country whose governmental approach to child safety (and the economy and international relations) involved harassing, making a misery of and sometimes removing the lives of a great many black people living in poverty. Some as little as 10 miles away from me.

Somewhat akin, then, to george Bush’s war on terror in Iraq but with Arabs instead of Africans and a somewhat larger geographical difference, as if that matters in our bright new global village.

But, my point? Do I have one?

I do. I will get there, bear with me. I need to cite the evidence first.

I note that we, as a species, are being weakened systematically throughout our lives (with the USA at the forefront), starting from infancy. First, things that may seperate the wheat from the chaff are being removed. The chaff, is, in fact, being preserved and protected in such a manner that it is indistinguishable from the wheat in almost all circumstances.

When we are in a crib our parents are brow-beaten by Dr. Phil, Oprah, child services and interfering know-nothing friends into putting baby monitors next to a crib to, wait for this, amplify the sound of a screaming child at 3am in the morning. Parents in the 50s wouldn’t have dreamed of it. One of the first things you did when you had a pregnancy (before buying the crib but after the hurried ceremony) was sound-proof the kids room. Between 8pm and 7am the child was placed in a tiny cell with no entertainment and only a small blanket to choke on and left to it’s own devices. Any creature that can accidentally kill itself with a small blanket needs to be removed from the gene pool. I do not want that creature to end up as my driving instructor or even serving me fries at some appalling take-away. One small baby is not that big a deal and it’s so easy (and fun) to make another!

Today, when youngsters are just starting to explore the possibility of danger in the great outdoors, evil safety Nazi’s prevent them from allowing their incompetence as human beings to injure or damage themselves. This piece in Radar Magazine (ref1) details the wonderful destructive and dangerous toys that used to be available for any child old enough to accidentally bruise, stab, blow up or otherwise maim and damage him (or her)self and others within throwing distance. There were darts with 3 inch spikes and heavy weights which you could throw up in the air, radioactive labs for the play-pen, cannibal cabbage patch dolls eager to take a finger off an unsuspecting tyke and flying ballerinas capable of serving up a healthy dose of concussion. A junior game of the quick and the dead. We were given food only at mealtimes, learning to feel hungry before we ate our next meal. Fun ‘snack’ things to eat in the fridge were lettuce, cabbage abd a jar of pickled onions with an expiry date from the 19th century. Hunger stimulates the brain’s ability and motivation to think (ref2).

These days children wear helmets on bicycles, knee and elbow pads on skateboards. Toys are removed from shelves if they can cause damage if swallowed. Parents cushion sharp edges in the home (I couldn’t believe that when I first heard of it) and hide the pretty green washing up liquid so there is nothing to drink while they’re out.

This carries on all through life. A local university recently tried to ban (it was later toned down to: will not officially sanction or allow to advertise on campus) any event run by students for students where there would be alcohol. How is anyone meant to fall off a roof or out of a first story window when sober? Or down the stairs? Or roll a car? Or shag a girl with more facial hair than you? All those things that teach you that when bad things happen it hurts but it will get better (unless you died or broke your neck or got her pregnant, of course).

To confuse matters further, because of this coddling people who could have been weeded out of the system and spent their lives as a hermit, street sweeper (my next job for preference), shop assistant or other person we can choose to avoid if we want- they become politician or, in one case, a school principal and expel a kid for doing completely the right thing (handing in a pellet gun he found in the school’s gentlemans toilets) rather than walking away (ref3). Why did the principal do it? Was it because, as he said: “purposeful possession of weapons is a serious offense” or, perhaps, because he was a melon headed space cadet who, in a slightly more dangerous world, would have taken a job in fecal reclaimation and settled down with a woman the size of a house had he been hit on the head by his sister’s flying ballerina at the age of 12 and spent a week in hospital dealing with his bedpan and a large friendly, nurse called Bertha? The idiocy of fighting the action of darwinist principles within society, once instituted, is self-perpetuating.

And it continues to adulthood. We sit in front of a TV instead of playing sport with our friends. We eat rubbish that fattens us up and never let ourselves become properly hungry. This “food rubbish” slows us down and leaves us malnourished and peevish not to mention unattractive to the opposite sex. Or even the same sex. We do unimportant jobs and we work hard to do them well so we are too tired to do anything but pick up crappy take out and vegetate in front of a TV. We are allowed only govenment approved drugs which (like all things to do with government) have all the side affects without the fun.

I had mentioned a point. I had. I did. I’m almost there now. It was a conspiracy theory-type thing.

Here we go. The conspiracy is to make all of us slaves and it can only be perpetuated by the most craven, underhanded, self-centered, immoral people. Or creatures. Or things.

But no David Icke Lizard people. No worldwide secret organisation cover up. The conspirators are, in our modern world, front page news. They are famous. They are observed and investigated in the minutest ways and we see graphical representations of them everywhere. The conspirators are a macroscopic pair of spiral staircases. The conspirators are our DNA.

DNA does not care for our happiness, it exists to perpetuate itself. It is life looking to make more life. As much more life as it can and it will give you the skills to survive if only because those skills are passed on from others who survived. The biggest survival skills for herd or social animals: blend in, don’t rock the boat, be stable, look for security, err toward the center. Human DNA does not care for freedom. Free creatures get picked off by predators. Human DNA (h_DNA) cares for the quality of the other h_DNA it combines with and will choose the best it can get to make even “better”, newer h_DNA. Human DNA’ cares’ for status, because status gets more mates and better mates and that way the h_DNA gets to make more, and better, h_DNA.

Westerners accept what we are fed as a society because change is dangerous as far as our DNA is concerned, it will want stability and safety. We accept things done for our safety because thousands of years of evolution tell us to. We accept the set of status-rules because our DNA is more likely to spread if we do. But it’s not going to result in happiness. Just more DNA.

How does humanity win? Slaves to the microscopic within our own cells. Betrayed by our history where cowardice survives more often than heroism. Where being a follower offers more consistant security than being a failed leader ostracised by the group? The biggest conspiracy there ever was, completely provable and factual, heading back further in time than human history.

A jester’s 10 point completely unqualified preachy plan

To make the DNA work for us:

Marketing takes control of every base instinct we have and twists it to control our behaviour. It’s their job, it’s practically written on the door. Honesty in marketing.
How about promoting as worthy of status good deeds (this used to happen- a religion called Christianity pushed for it big time and then it all got fucked up because people would rather listen to a good orator or man in a funny hat than read one half of a book and then think for themselves) instead of promoting cars with shiny wheels and big grills and cash as status?

Encourage the veneration of Intelligence AS WELL AS (not instead of) physical prowess. No, we don’t do that at the moment. The ability to make money is not connected to huge intellect. More usually it is connected with ruthlessness (not to be confused with evilness or nastiness). In South Africa, for instance, our scientists do their work for love but are treated most often like 2nd class citizens and are paid appallingly.

Teach children to think critically, not just regurgitate information. This means having teachers who can think critically. You will need to pay them decently (not hugely, though, most critical thinkers don’t value money that highly) and you will need to treat them with respect and trust. Don’t tax them either. My parents taught me from the womb to argue a point and listen to other points of view. Even argue with them. They took the time. If teachers had less useless information to disseminate (major export of Gautemala- who cares?) they could take time to encourage more discussion in the classroom. Debating should be a class on it’s own.

Everyone should be literate whether they like it or not. Every town should have a library no matter if it is unused and censorship should be done away with. In a critical society points of view need not be

To make society work for us:

Everyone in a democracy should have to vote or face 10 days community service. All of them should have to do a (quick, multiple choice) test naming the top 10 policies of any 3 parties running and what their policies were in the last election. They should have to get 90% or do it again and again until they get it right. This will also catch anyone at the age of 18 who has slipped through the literacy net.

Everyone at the age of 18 in every country should do 12 months national service. Not in the military but helping in hospitals, police stations, public transport, fire stations, schools and gentrifying poor areas. Poor people never get to see how much the other classes pay in taxes to help them so there is a disconnect. Get the middle and upper class kids down there and you get two benefits. The poor get to feel the country cares about them because they see the effects every day and the wealthier kids get to see to see the poor as people, not a statistic. Those memories make it easier when you see how much of your paycheck the government gets. And the poor kids get skills, experience and a reference.

No one starves (there is no country that cannot afford this unless they are being attacked by a military force- politics and stupidity cause food shortages, not droughts) and medical care is free to whatever level the country can afford and no further. Make the cheapest things free first? Possibly, I don’t know.

Everyone gets a roof over their heads and a safe place to sleep.

Protect the people from corporate interests: Have a Monopolies Commission with ridiculous powers. You need this in a capitalist state. Any company convicted of price fixing cedes 25% of it’s assets to a state fund. The profits of the fund going into the tax base. States should own assets, it’s not communism it’s just smart. If the government was making the money from the oil/ diamonds/ copper how much less would you pay in taxes? Probably the same but the schools might be better.

Protect the people from government: There must be, in a democracy, a branch of the police (combined with auditors) who randomly audit government officials and departments.

There must also be a free press and television news service. This might be easier than you think. I alone have 3 ideas for someone to poke endless holes in.

Discourage Jingoism in everything but sports.

Tax the purchase of cars to hell but set up a system where they are cheap to hire for the short-term.Public transport should be as near to free as dammit, comfortable, as eco-friendly as possible and does not need to be fast. As long as people can sit down comfortably they will learn to take a book and a portable radio (the book is free from the library and portable radios are a dollar). Free, clean, well-maintained public transport is a quick way to put money in the pockets of the poor and middle class and take it from the rich. If your country can’t afford to make it free for everyone have 2 classes and have no seats in the free section, people will get over it. It’s free (In South Africa where min wage about R6 ($1) per hour transport costs R15- R30 per day.)

Most Important point: Always, always, always remember that idealists with plans and ideas are the most dangerous people on the planet. On no account trust them but do listen to them. Amongst them number Ghandi, Jesus, George Bush, Mussolini, The Prophet Mohammed, Adolf Hitler, Nelson Mandela, The Pope (any of them) and Bill Gates. And a jester. Listen to the ideas, be critical.


Post scripts or: things that didn’t fit into the flow of the piece and/or were badly formed ideas or badly formed arguments or annoying or once slept with my girlfriend and we’re not speaking anymore.

We are being turned into societies scared of everything. Looking for security above all else. We are being programmed that way every day. Brainwashed to want a safe house and a bigger TV and our food delivered. Trained not to question the basics the way my parents did in the 60s and 70s apartheid South Africa. Like others did in the 60sUSA- that wonderful country at the forefront of the ‘love’ movement.

We are not taught politics in school. We all should be. Democracy does not stop at a voting booth. Democracy is 100,000 people marching down a street. Democracy is reminding officials who they represent. Democracy is standing for government yourself if you have to. All this takes time. Time you probably don’t have.

The conspiracy is us. Not standing with each other, not getting to know each other, spending more time watching TV than making our worlds better. The

Fear is control. Scared people don’t question, they like the status quo. Questions that need to be asked, and the answers analysed very carefully:

Every time two $Billion companies merge and people get laid off and there is less competition is it good for you? If it isn’t then it’s the government’s job to stop them. Did they? Did you, personally, do anything when they didn’t?

Why is it better for you if a corporation moves their car (shirt/nose-ring) plant out of your country and to India/China? Did the car price come down? Would I be willing to pay 10% more if my neighbour still had a job?

If I work just 8 hours a day (few do), commute 2 hours a day, take 2 hours to wind down after work, shop an average of 30 minutes per day, take 60 minutes to eat, use the toilet and shower, 30 minutes to keep the house clean and then sleep for 8 hours how much time do I have to myself? 2 hours.

How can there still be illiteracy in the richest countries in the world?

Why are the wealthy countries not topping the world in surveys about happiness?

Are you, personally, being screwed by a situation not of your making?

The world is becoming too safe and we are all in danger of something worse than death. Becoming slaves in crappy mid-level jobs in a society

I approve of alcohol. I want to be able to claim, for all my stupid actions- every damn one, that I was toasted at the time. Pissed. Drunk. Gone. Wasted. Especially to my parents, my boss or the judge if she’s cute.

The USA has had it’s civil liberties raped yet the November senate races were still close. No-one, not a single peron should have voted for the Republicans. Anyone who did should have to shut up when they get to the ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ (paraphrasing not quoting, too tired to google the thing to check) bit.

How are they ever going to learn to deal with any pain or injury.

Which of these men would you buy a used car from?Or: Which of these two men would you buy a used car from?

We humans are not, naturally, clear thinkers. We get very upset at any statement that deposes our import in the world.

Compare that, then, to the Vatican when we (being clear thinking people) first explain to them that we are not, as previoulsy thought, the center of the universe. But just living on one of many planets orbiting around a small nuclear reaction which is one of millions in our galaxy which is one of billions of galaxies in the universe.

Suddenly the Pope feels a little less important and he gets a wheeze on, tortures a whole lot of people and generally puts himself about a bit. Well, you would, wouldn’t you? Think how upset you get when you are told your job (especially those of you whose life revolves around work) is meaningless and then think what it would be like if up to that day you had thought you were the most important person on the planet. No amount of Belgian chocolate, communion wine or willing choirboys is going to make you feel entrely better. Putting a bit of stick about is bound to make up that lagging difference in your good cheer and warm the cockles of your heart.

And you can comfort yourself with the fact that, to this point, you are still the head honcho of the only known sentient beings in this very large universe. The very solid, present here-and-nowness of it. Sure, there may be a great black void beyond with very little to it apart from balls of radioactive detritus surrounded by revolving rocks but we are very solid. And here. Now.

Then one of these smartarses goes and points out that, when you look really closely at us we are actually big open spaces with not an awful lot of matter inbetween too. In fact, quite a lot, if not all, of the matter that’s inbetween the spaces is really only just a probability of matter, rather than actual, proper, solid stuff so that there’s no guarantee at any real point that you are really, absolutely here.

Well, you would be mad, wouldn’t you? Completely disregarding what such revelations could do for the weight loss industry, or “reasonable doubt” murder defence arguments in the American judicial system you’re going to feel somewhat aggrieved. Your little arty has been spoiled once more and all you have left to look forward to are power of life and death over the catholic world and being in charge of one of the largest richest (mostly tax-free) protection rackets and insurance services in the world.

Yes, protection rackets: If you do not believe in me YOU will not get into the kingdom of heaven. And, by the way, wealth corrupts so you best give as much as possible to me to keep yourself pure. Oh, and you had better tell me all your dirty little secrets too or you will burn in hellfire for eternity. Have a nice day. Peace and love and all that. Ciao.

So now you’re just the head of another arbitrary hegemoney (yes, with the extra’e’) and capitalist scum just like the rest of the powerful. Oh well. Best put another muslim on the furnace and ask the Cardinals to warm up another choir boy…

Spending more time with your children while they’re still young

This is terribly important because when they become teenagers they’re going to hate you. If you did not spend enough time with them they will think they hate you because you didn’t pay them enough attention when they were younger. This will turn them into disturbing, needy, clingy people who (if female) will end up dating my mate Jelly and having a messy breakup. Possibly involving police or social services but almost definitely involving the controlled destruction of his car. Which he cannot afford. Again.

Trying to get more people to have sex with you.

sex-sign-work-in-progress.jpgMales: This is particularily important up to the age of 30. No woman will really respect you unless you have slept around a bit. They want to know the man they chose was at least desirable at the time they chose him even if he has subsequently turned into a fat couch-monster shouting orders at fitter, better men on a TV screen (and more frequently, these days, a computer screen). Sure, you could just lie about it but you will get found out when one of your friends eventually decides he wants to bone your wife and lets out all your secrets to make you look bad.

Females: This is important for you not only so you can guide Mr. Couch Potato quickly and effectively to your natural orgasmic route but also because you want to scare away any men in search of women in the “pure and virginal” type of vein. One shag no longer deters these mysoginistic future wife beaters so you need to hit double figures as soon as possible to deter them and feel relaxed talking to strangers happy in the knowledge that at least one male “loser subspecies” will be quickly and easily deterred.

Eating foods that are bad for you.

At some point in your life your body will start to rebel. The same machine which used to be able to digest (and find nutrients in) fast food, alcohol and (once whilst stoned) beige linoleum will demand all the things your mother forced down your throat on pain of, well, pain when you were little. Spinach, lettuce, and cabbage will come back to haunt you like the ghost of christmas past or a creditor you thought had forgotten about you.

Doing dangerous and stupid things

Ending up in hospital at the age of 20 after trying to (whilst drunk) tackle a bush on the side of the road, missing and hitting the barbed wire fence behind, resulting in a tangled mess of human, rust, confusion and desperate fear when you realise the bull whose field you are now partially trespassing in is winding up for a glory charge in an attempt to turn you into and ideal organ donor makes for a funny story. Doing it when you’re pushing 40 is sad and people at dinner parties will edge away from you if you tell it. Yes, even the interesting people. How do I know? I just do. Risky stock market investments only count as stupid, not dangerous. Unless you do them using your wife’s money without her permission.

A young boy goes off to college, but about 1/3 of the way through the semester, he has foolishly squandered away all of the money his parents gave him. Then he gets an idea. He calls his daddy.

“Dad,” he says, “you won’t believe the wonders that modern education are coming up with! Why, they actually have a program here at college that will teach our dog BHOVA how to talk!”

“That’s absolutely amazing,” his father says. “How do I get him in that program?”

“Just send him down here with R15,000” the boy says. “I’ll get him into the course.” So, his father sends the dog and the R15,000.

About 2/3 way through the semester, the money runs out. The boy calls his father again.

“So how’s BHOVA doing, son,” his father asks. “Awesome, Dad, he’s talking up a storm,” he says, “but you just won’t believe this – they’ve had such good results with this program that they’ve implemented a new one to teach the animals how to READ!”

“READ,” says his father, “No kidding! What do I have to do to get him in that program?”

“Just send R18,500, I’ll get him in the class.”

His father sends the money. The boy now has a problem. At the end of the year, his father will find out that the dog can neither talk, nor read. So he shoots the dog. When he gets home at the end of the semester, his father is all excited.

“Where’s BHOVA? I just can’t wait to see him talk and read something!”

“Dad,” the boy says, “I have some grim news. Yesterday morning, just before we left to drive home, BHOVA was in the living room kicking back in the recliner, reading the morning paper, like he usually does. Then he turned to me and asked, ‘So, is your daddy still messin’ around with that little redhead who lives on Oak Street?'”

The father says, “I hope you SHOT that son of a bitch before he talks to your Mother!”

“I sure did, Dad!”

“That’s my boy!”

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.”

ducks. row.dull bastardsIt 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.

catsleepingcat.jpgImportant 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’.”

Must Read This

September 11, 2006

This is a brilliant piece of writing on logical fallacies