An Addiction

I didn’t believe that the Internet could be addictive until I lost my connection around the 24Th of April. It seems my DSL modem had given up the ghost, and it left me totally lost. You will notice my last post was on the 24Th of April. The feeling was worse than when I quit smoking about a year and four months ago (yeah, I’m still counting since I have quit twice before and started again; but that’s a different story).

I’ve purchased a new modem at some considerable cost, done some re-configurations and I’m in research heaven again. And, I can update my blog again. It’s a strange feeling, not being able to log on, and surf. It’s almost as if I had lost something very precious, like a death in the family. It’s a feeling of emptiness. OK, that’s maybe too far-fetched, and you’re saying “get a life, it’s only an Internet connection.” So, maybe I need to go out more often, socialize more, become less of a nerd.

Actually, I quite like my new lifestyle, sedentary though it is. I’ve got to a stage where I don’t miss the socializing. Apart from my charitable activities, the latest rock concert and travelling to new places, I don’t care too much for socializing any more. At my age, I look forward to collecting information, learning new things, researching diverse subjects. Amazingly, I don’t miss any of the fast life that characterized my younger years. I can still party hard, but if you want me to participate in your latest debauched event, please call to make an appointment. I’m busy indulging in my new-found pleasure – trawling the information highways of the world…

The Death Penalty

In a country besieged by rampant crime and lawlessness, calls for the reinstatement of the death penalty has suddenly become widespread and more vocal. Traditionally, only the white population were in favour of the death penalty, but recently large sections of the non-white population seem to be in favour of its return. Even Jacob Zuma, the probable future President of South Africa has given clear indications that when in power, his government will seriously reconsider re-instating the death penalty. It is a strange development, given that the death penalty was abolished due to its association with our apartheid past.

It seems to me that the good people of South Africa, desperate for a solution, and spurred on by emotional, rather than rational thinking, are prepared to trade in some of their hard-won freedoms for a brief respite from the crime situation. Progressive democracies all over the world have repealed the death penalty, for the simple reason that it is barbaric. Only a few despotic governments still cling to this dark-age law, to maintain control of their subjects. The death penalty allows governments to carry out state sanctioned murder. All people who value their freedom should never allow their governments to enact such archaic laws.

Logically, the death penalty wont work in South Africa, because it is simply not regarded as a deterrent by hardened criminals who know that in order to be executed, you first have to be caught. And we all know that in South Africa, the chances of criminals being arrested are pretty much non-existent. The police force are ineffective at best and downright incompetent or corrupt at worst. Let’s face it good people, you’ve first got to catch the crook before you can string him up from the nearest tree. So rather than waste valuable effort on re-instating the death penalty, let’s concentrate on re-instating competence and ethics back into the police force.

A Singing Sensation?

Over the past weekend, my friends and I were treated to a star performance by a little underprivileged girl, at a home for abandoned kids, where we were conducting our monthly social responsibility exercise. We have a group of dedicated guys who get together once or twice a month to do our bit for those less fortunate, usually by providing cooked meals. We call ourselves “Daxina Feeding Scheme” or DFS for short.

Enough about us, back to this remarkable child. While capturing this video, I was struck by the utter devotion, passion and obvious effort (for want of a better description) the child was putting into the song. It was an emotional moment. The child obviously has talent which needs to be nurtured. The guys from DFS have set up a meeting with the preacher of the Church this child attends, with a view to assisting financially or otherwise with regards to this child’s further education and training in the field of music. I hope we can provide the impetus in what could be a promising future for the child.

I tried to get the video as clear as possible and cut out some of the wind noise, while keeping the file size down to a minimum. Hope you enjoy…

The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know…

Aside

Have you noticed how the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know. This amazing piece of literary genius has been attributed to Socrates, by Plato, but that needs to be confirmed. It doesn’t really matter who said it, it’s just important that it was said, and needs to be understood.

For those who are not afraid to explore and learn, this paradox will become apparent soon enough. Your quest and thirst for knowledge will leave you extremely frustrated. Each new thing you learn will lead you to another new thing, and another, and so on. The more you uncover, the more remains hidden, that needs to be sought out and exposed. It is ultimately impossible to know everything. That is what makes life so fascinating, and also what will be my greatest regret on my deathbed; not knowing what new things I could have learned if I’d lived longer. For me, there can be nothing sadder than this, but if it’s true what they say about your life flashing before your eyes on your deathbed, then I’m sure to have one heck of a long flashback, crammed with all the things I’ve learned.

It’s no coincidence then, that this should lead me to criticise religion for the part it has played over the years, and still does in advocating closed thinking, and discouraging the pursuit of knowledge. It is well known that knowledge leads one to question, and awkward questions are anathema to religion. Religious texts such as the Bible, even advocated that knowledge is forbidden; only the Gods are supposed to possess it. For years (happily gone by), the religious establishment preached that all knowledge was already revealed within the context of “religious” doctrine, and that there was no need for the individual to pursue it on his or her own. For this reason, the scientific and academic community were harassed and vilified. It is still happening today. Bigoted, religious communities still refuse to believe scientific discoveries; evolution being one.

Luckily, for most of us, the thirst for knowledge is greater than the fear of Gods…

Mediocre Music

After the spectacular My Coke Festival in March, featuring Korn, Muse, Chris Cornell, Kaiser Chiefs, Good Charlotte and 30 Seconds to Mars, I suppose it was too much to expect that some good live acts would follow to South Africa. Instead, currently we are being tortured with mediocre acts such as Akon, 50 Cent and James Blunt. I suppose we have to be thankful that Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, the Sugarbabes, Westlife and any boy-bands for that matter, are not scheduled to appear here any time soon.

Why is it that POP music is so obviously mediocre, the music so monotonous, the lyrics so dumb and meaningless? Take this song I happened to hear recently by Jordin Sparks featuring Chris Brown, “No Air,” as a case in point. The lyrics go something like this:

“Tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air? Can’t live, can’t breathe
with no air It’s how I feel whenever you ain’t there It’s no air, no air”

Have you ever heard such inane crap? I’ll tell you how you’re supposed to breathe; but I won’t bother. It’s better you hold your breath, for a while, a long while. OK, that’s harsh, but please don’t tour South Africa, ever. I mean, the words to a song are supposed to be poetic, insightful, full of meaning and make you stop and think. POP songs contain some of the most mindless drivel you can imagine; anything that rhymes seems to be OK. What goes on in the mind of people who actually spend good money on this rubbish?

Well, there is actually hope it seems for South Africans of good taste, as, the Counting Crows are booked to perform soon. Oh, how I long to see real quality such as Pearl Jam, Blink 182, Dave Matthews Band, Foo Fighters, Green Day, The Killers, Linkin Park, Marilyn Manson, Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead, Snow Patrol, System of a Down, The White Stripes, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers perform here in South Africa. Come’n Big Concerts, 5FM, really rich sponsors, make it happen. Save us from mediocrity.

Zimbabwe – Lessons in Quiet Diplomacy

South African President, Thabo Mbeki has maintained a so-called policy of quiet diplomacy with regard to the Zimbabwe situation. This policy apparently dictates that South Africa (and the world) should not interfere in the affairs of Zimbabwe, turn a blind eye to the deteriorating political, social and economic situation there, and insist foolishly that there are no problems existing, even though the election results of March 29, have not been released yet.

On Wednesday, while chairing a summit of the U.N. Security Council and African Union at the United Nations offices in New York, he failed to use the opportunity to show any form of leadership while millions of Zimbabweans and indeed the world, waited with baited breath for him to make a stand on the Zimbabwe crisis. Instead he chose to make the following facile statements at a news conference “We need to talk at all times with both the ruling party and the opposition,” and “You’ve got to sit and discuss with them.” Wow, what a revelation. When the world is waiting for you to say something inspiring, you say the equivalent of “water is wet.”

This leads me to conclude that all is not well with the South African President. True to recent form, he has steadfastly refused to waiver from the course he has set for himself; one of denial. Is there something that forces him to hold this course? What could it be? Blackmail? Has Robert Mugabe got something on the President? Is it the same thing that prevents certain “wayward” Ministers in our own cabinet from being axed? What could Mugabe and our (wayward) Ministers possibly have on the President that could hold him to ransom and prevent him from making just and sane decisions? What other explanation is there for a reasonably intelligent President, as Thabo Mbeki to behave so irrationally?

David Bullard Axed

David Bullard, popular columnist for the Sunday Times was axed about two weeks ago for publishing a story entitled “Uncolonised Africa wouldn’t know what it was missing“. The reason proffered for his axing was that the article was racist and derogatory towards non-whites and Africans in particular. Having read the piece, I cannot understand what all the fuss is about. I found it to be satirical, slightly demeaning, but no less so than other similar articles. I have found Bullard’s other articles in the past to be much more inflammatory. The article and subsequent axing has caused much consternation among all South Africans, resulting in vile accusations couched in hatred, emanating from all sides of the population.

Why is it after more than ten years of democracy and an ANC-led government in South Africa, does race play such a big part in the daily lives of everyone. Black and White (and let’s not forget the other races) seem to be constantly goading and baiting each other with taunts that are either racially based or construed as such. Even common criticism of any particular groups of people, for example the government are considered to be racist. Can anyone say anything that will be considered as not condescending, inflammatory, demeaning or racist. South African society has become so hung up with this race based thing, that it hangs like a dark cloud over everyone, the only constant in our lives, apart from death and the taxman.

Given their past history, I can understand non-white South Africans being particularly sensitive to anything closely resembling racism, but it’s time to lighten up. All commentary, written or verbal is not cloaked in racial abuse. You need to distinguish between blatant racism, overt racism and parody or satire, and respond appropriately. White South Africans on the other hand need not embroil themselves unnecessarily in striking back or provoking further reaction. They could also learn to be a little more circumspect about what they say, without resorting to hiding their true feelings outright.

Maybe more time needs to pass before South Africans of all colours will learn to accept each other. Maybe the past is still too vivid in the minds of many, mostly non-Whites. Maybe future prospects are a serious concern for others, mostly Whites. Which may well mean that the past and future is making it difficult for people to come together in the present. Whatever the case, race based hatred is boring, tiresome, sickening and mundane. We all need to make a concerted effort to lift ourselves out of this rut. The consequences of not trying? You figure it out…

More Creationist Rubbish

This is a follow-up to my blog about the Creation “Museum”. I’m afraid the only words left to describe creationism consist entirely of expletives, so I leave you to ponder some videos from YouTube:

OK, the last one is below the belt, but I couldn’t resist throwing it in. These videos are just a sample of what’s available on-line. There are literally dozens of videos that expose creationist thinking as illogical and archaic. However, there are also apologist videos available, which when analyzed boggles the mind – do they seriously expect us to believe their rubbish. I’ll leave you to find them, and have as much fun as I’ve had viewing them.

Americans, you gotta admire them

I’ve always been hyper-critical of America and the American people, for various reasons, some not very fair. My negative perceptions were fueled by imperialist American foreign policy and a succession of bigoted Administrations, mostly Republican. However, after recently visiting the USA again after more than ten years, I must admit a certain amount of growing admiration and respect for the American people.

What’s impressed me the most is how they think BIG. Everything is done on a grand scale, 100-storey-plus skyscrapers, 16-lane highways, huge motor vehicles, planes, bridges, cities; huge everything. They are not satisfied with just going to the moon, or even Mars, no the desire to go even further is plainly evident. And they think of everything, to make life easier for the public at large; fantastic road and rail transport systems, convenient shopping, banking, entertainment, and the variety of everything available is mind-boggling. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

From watching television, the movies and surfing the Internet, you might get the impression that educational standards are on the decline, especially when listening to the youth’s ignorance of what is going on in the rest of the word. But America is still at the forefront of scientific discovery and pushing the boundaries of technology, even if those involved are largely immigrants. It is evident that the community, institutions, available funding and the systems in place in America, encourage the radical thinking which lead to scientific discovery and improvements in technology.

And you have to admit, Americans are brave; they truly have big, you know what. The feats achieved in sport and recreation, the never-ending drive to go anywhere and discover new things; it’s plain for all to see. Even though I don’t condone acts of war, you have to admire these gung-ho Americans who seem to revel in this idiotic activity. Patriotism is taken to a new level in America; they really do want to die for their country. Guts and glory; deep down you gotta feel some admiration for these Americans who throw their lives away so freely.

Now if you guys will just elect a decent President, make some changes to your foreign policy, sign the Kyoto Protocol, and curb your interference in other countries, you will be on the road to true greatness, the likes of which have not been seen in the annals of time. A bigger UP to you when you get there…