Wikileaks confirms that politicians are [insert most insulting word you can think off, then try again]

If you haven’t heard about, read or watched something on television recently surrounding the furore that has erupted around the leaking of confidential diplomatic documents by Wikileaks, welcome back to earth.

There has been much commentary about this unprecedented releasing of secretive government information, with most people (reasonable ones) supporting the leaking of the information to the public, and some who think that ordinary people should not be privy to it, citing all sorts of disingenuous arguments such as compromising state security, the sanctity of confidential interactions and the protection of innocent people. Disappointingly, some independent media sources fall into the latter category, which is rather nauseating, considering the media’s general stance on freedom of information.

Off course, the affected diplomats and politicians seem to be in an amusing frenzy, trying to save face, suck up, point fingers, threaten, grovel or just hide. One, Hilary Clinton, accused of encouraging  spying on UN Diplomats in the documents, labelled the leaks as an attack on America’s foreign policy interests and on the international community. What a load of bollocks! Talk about attacking foreign policy interests? Didn’t America attack Iraq and Afghanistan, and couldn’t these two countries be classified as foreign policy interests? To think I supported this bitch for President!

Here’s the thing about this whole incident. Politicians around the world demand a separate set of standards for themselves. They insist that ordinary plebs should be honest, transparent, respectable, diligent, hard-working, sympathetic, loyal, dependable, patriotic, law-abiding etc. They also demand that they should be exempt from these conditions. Lesser mortals than themselves are consigned to the role of mere voting fodder, and contributors to the treasury.

International relations are supposed to be simple. I’m convinced that if  ordinary people (intelligent, naturally) were allowed to foster and maintain relations between countries, we wouldn’t have a tenth of the problems we now have. But just add a politician and/or a clergyman to the equation, and international relations is doomed to be totally fucked up. Politicians and clergymen bring excess baggage into the arena. They need to create their own personal playing fields and they bring with them despicable tools like religion, culture, ethnicity, race, creed, clansmanship, tribalism etc. with which to sow the seeds of acrimony and unhappiness; the latter most useful for keeping them in power.

And these morons think that they can control information. They think that information belongs to them only; they demand total rights to all information that they have conveniently categorized as too sensitive for ordinary eyes. When there is a leak, they react with venom. Why? If all they were doing was above-board, they should have nothing to worry about. But the thing is all they are doing is not above-board…

According to Heather Brooke, writing in the, “…when data breaches happen to the public, politicians don’t care much. Our privacy is expendable. It is no surprise that the reaction to these leaks is different.” She also reveals that:

Leaks are not the problem; they are the symptom. They reveal a disconnect between what people want and need to know and what they actually do know. The greater the secrecy, the more likely a leak. The way to move beyond leaks is to ensure a robust regime for the public to access important information.


Politics, however, has remained resolutely unreconstructed. Politicians, see themselves as parents to a public they view as children – a public that cannot be trusted with the truth, nor with the real power that knowledge brings.


Much of the outrage about WikiLeaks is not over the content of the leaks but from the audacity of breaching previously [e]nviable strongholds of authority. In the past, we deferred to authority and if an official told us something would damage national security we took that as true. Now the raw data behind these claims is increasingly getting into the public domain. What we have seen from disclosures like MPs’ expenses or revelations about the complicity of government in torture is that when politicians speak of a threat to “national security”, often what they mean is that the security of their own position is threatened.

It’s quite clear from this latest leaking of information, that we are facing a new revolution with the onset of the digital age, as Brooke terms it, a revolution that politicians need to take cognizance off; the people want to know what the fuck is going on. Hide stuff from us at your peril!!!

If you’ve got murder on your mind, come to South Africa

Hmmm. I’ve just read that our Tourism Minister, wants to promote South Africa as a great destination for shipping cruises. May I suggest (dis)honourable Minister, that we’ll make more money promoting this country as the ultimate murder destination.

Yes, that’s right. If you’re thinking of knocking off someone, bring or lure them here. You will not find a more beautiful, accessible, murder-friendly destination in the world. Forget about Mexico, Afghanistan or Iraq; you need to do the deed without having to worry about getting knocked off yourself.

Your chances of getting caught are pretty slim; the incompetence of our police (dis)service is legendary. They’re however quite good at forming blue-light flashing, motorised convoys to escort our self-important, fat-arsed politicians around at break-neck speed on our soon-to-be open-tolled roads, forcing tax-paying citizens out of the way. That, and turning a blind eye to the looting of the treasury by our elected (sigh!) politicians.

However, you need to take cognizance of the following to ensure that your chances of being arrested are eliminated or minimised:

  • Don’t plan your murder or hit in any area that is run by a competent Provincial Administration; that is to say, don’t do it in the Cape Province. Rather select any one of the other corrupt ANC-governed Provinces. Polokwane and the Eastern Cape are a good bet.
  • Don’t hire shifty, good-for-nothing mini-bus taxi drivers as part of your hit squad. They’re likely to get caught after boasting about it in the local township shebeen (unofficial bar, to you foreigners). Don’t hire drug-peddling Nigerians either; they’re just good at extortion, fraud and peddling drugs off course. Don’t approach any of our politicians either; they may like stealing, and don’t give a hoot about crime, but I don’t think they’ll be party to murder.
  • Don’t ask that cougar from Pretoria, who planned a hit on her rugby-playing boyfriend or anyone on honeymoon, for advice.

Now that you’re all set to get away with murder, please consider first spending some of your Euros and Dollars on normal touristy things; even visit some of our idle World Cup stadiums, or take a cruise. We could sure do with the money, and so could our politicians.

I’m hopeless as a human, pathetic as an alien, but it seems I’m cut out to be a predator

I’m on a mission. To learn to play. Computer games that is.

The activity that has taken the world by storm, ensnared the minds of both young and old, even the very young and the very old, has somehow passed me by. Until now that is. Since purchasing my gaming notebook [this thing is a behemoth and should more correctly be referred to as a desktop replacement], I’ve been intrigued to find out what it can do.

It boots up superfast because of the one solid state drive and renders high-definition video superbly with the aid of the high-end graphics card and quad-Core CPU. It does exactly what I purchased it for; editing video amazingly well. I’ve watched Blu-ray movies on the full high-definition display monitor. Stunning! Connected to a set of external speakers, the THX audio system is mind-blowing.

It came time to see why the manufacturer Asus, labelled it a gaming notebook. So I purchased a few PC games about a month ago, which I was led to believe would really test my systems performance and graphics capabilities. It was a frustrating month of starting up the games and then being able to do nothing else, because I’m video-game challenged, practically illiterate. Sure, I’ve played pinball before, but that didn’t require the almost superhuman finger dexterity and hand-eye coordination that modern electronic games demand. And you could kick the pinball machine in frustration, quite safely without doing any damage, when it went into TILT mode. Try that on your modern games console or computer.

Over the last month, I managed to create a SIM, which looks nothing like me, no matter how much I fiddle with the options. I also managed to buy a house and a couch. And that’s where my attempt at playing SIMS 3 came to an end, not knowing how to proceed any further. Yeah, I’ll try reading the instructions some time, if someone could tell me where it is. Next came CIVILIZATION 5. The opening introductory sequence was great. Superb, realistic graphics. I managed to choose a historical figure and establish a city. Alas, that’s where my great adventure ended, not knowing how to proceed further.

After these failures, I turned to Aliens vs Predator. I’d heard about first-person-shooter (FPS) games at some point; I think it was at that gaming Expo I attended, RAGE. The game had a cool opening sequence, stunning graphics, great sound. It looked promising. First I tried the single-player Marine missions. Ugh! I sucked at being a Marine. I did figure out how to use the mouse and keyboard, and actually got to move around – albeit in constant circles. I also managed to get a few shots off. Okay, I killed some drums that were lying around, and I think I killed that dead guy lying in a heap on the floor…again. After giving up, I tried the Alien Mission. It was easy walking around in circles, but after killing the guy in the lab-coat (after considerable effort I must add), I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do next. Yep, I’m no Alien either.

Then yesterday I made a concerted effort to get somewhere. The only thing left to try was the single-player Predator Mission. And finally, I actually made some progress. I completed two missions, by following the instructions on-screen more attentively and with more patience. Off course, I got killed almost immediately on my third mission, but I was coming to grips with the whole gaming thing. And I was starting to understand why this is so addictive.

So now, I need to get Call of Duty – Black Ops…

Will I ever complete playing any game in its entirety? Who knows? Is that even possible? I do know that I need more help though, and I’m not about to ask some 8-year old kid!

Antimatter does matter

Antimatter used to be the stuff of science fiction; that’s the stuff that powered the starship Enterprise on Star Trek. These days however, our brilliant scientists have not only actually created antimatter, just recently they have achieved the stupendous feat of capturing it long enough to study it.

Scientists, led by Professor Jeffrey Hangst at the CERN laboratory in Europe announced that they have managed to capture 38 antihydrogen atoms for a tenth of a second, in a specially designed magnetic trap. To non-physicists that may not sound very impressive, but to these guys at CERN, 38 atoms is an astronomical figure, and a tenth of a second is an eternity.

While the scientists at CERN are jumping hoops, what does this latest breakthrough represent to the ordinary man in the street? Apparently not much to those who are religiously inclined, or just plain ignorant it seems. A quick browse through various websites announcing the news indicates the usual antipathy, incredulity and indifference one has come to expect of humans who are too absorbed in their own little worlds.

However, there are a good number of people who understand the importance of this research, and who are hopeful that it could lead us to understand the nature and origins of the universe. These people know and understand that such research enables scientists to uncover secrets that lead to complex technological creations that revolutionizes the way we live.

Others of course, will continue to question the vast expenditure and use of resources that are necessary for such endeavours. Yet others will feel threatened that man is venturing into areas that are best left to their vengeful, spiteful, domineering gods.

The latter do not matter; antimatter matters…

Some thoughts on the death of my father

Its been just over a week since my father passed away after a protracted illness. Now that the business of laying him to rest, and the memorial service has been concluded, I finally have a chance to pen some thoughts about the experience, which I admit does not make for particularly pleasant reading.

During my years at school, I read a wonderful quip by someone, which goes something like “Death is a dreary, dull affair, and my advice to you is to have nothing whatsoever to do with it.” Brilliant, isn’t it? Until it comes calling at your door, off course! And now it was my turn to deal with it.

My father had been quite ill for many years. In the last year or so, his dialysis sessions were increased to three times a week, but his condition steadily declined. His death was not unexpected; however it was delayed by his tenacious will to live, quite evidently through a lot of pain. The painful expression that was almost permanently etched on his face, still dog my mind. Amazingly however, he insisted on functioning normally and doing the things that were of quintessence right to the end.

This situation posed a few questions which I tried to analyze for a time, even just prior to his death, but I could come to no real conclusions. The natural evolutionary tendency for humans is to try to survive, even if the body is in revolt. But is it desirable for a person to endure pain and suffering , especially when afflicted with a terminal illness, as in the case of my father? And while its natural for family and friends to hope for someone who is ill, to hang on for as long as possible, is it not somewhat selfish in the case of terminal illness. Is it not possible that our wish for longevity, could place pressure on terminally ill people to force themselves to live a little longer, usually under tremendous pain? And off course, watching someone waste away in pain, is extremely distressing for family and friends; not to mention the burden that care-giving places on them. A vicious cycle indeed!

I received news of him being admitted to hospital about a week before his actual passing on. With the above thoughts playing out in my mind, I delayed traveling down to Durban from Johannesburg, secretly, irrationally hoping that he would pull out of this latest setback, like he had done so many times before. On the advice from my brother that the prognosis did not look very good this time, I finally decided to make the 600 kilometer trip. Again, with irrational hope, I packed just a few jeans and t-shirts, thinking that somehow he would surprise us once again, and I would be happily back on my way to Johannesburg in a few days.

I didn’t get to see him alive one last time. He passed away while I was in transit…

I remember arriving in Durban to the smell of fireworks, and receiving the news from my tearful mother. Strangely I felt no immediate grief. I was actually relieved. Is that wrong? Does being relieved when death ends pain and suffering, constitute immoral behaviour? I should certainly think not. Yes, I’m sad, but I’m happy too, for the end of my father’s pain, and just as importantly, the end of the anguish endured by his family.

The funeral did pose a moral dilemma for me, being the eldest child. I agonized for a little while over participating in the elaborate Hindu funeral rituals, but realized that supporting the family in a time of bereavement was more important than my secular principles. Although I did not participate fully in all the prayer rituals, I did ensure that I gave them my full support and was present throughout. And, the arrival of my father’s only surviving brother from Canada, did relieve some of pressure off me. At times my rational self did get the better of me when I questioned the logic of some of the religious practices, but I relented soon enough.

I volunteered to pay tribute to my father at a memorial service held yesterday, and I managed to write down a few thoughts, but quickly had to scupper that when my sister, suspecting that I would use the opportunity to speak about my religious and political beliefs, asked me politely to refrain from turning the eulogy into a lecture. I had to resort to winging it, and I suppose I did a fairly decent job, since no one in the largely conservative, religious audience, had a heart attack.

For me, life goes on. I just hope that the rest of the family can put this tragic episode behind them fairly quickly and live their lives normally again.

The Seeker by The Who

After typing the title, I realised it sounds strange; The Seeker by The Who? I’ll explain…

I’ve just been informed that my father is in hospital on a ventilator system; and the prognosis does not look too good. It’s not unexpected, as he’s been on dialysis for many years and his condition has slowly deteriorated. The only surprise is that he has clung on for so long, through some really dire episodes. That tenacity is a testament to the tough life he’s had to deal with, selflessly rearing his siblings and children after the early death of his own parents, through the hard years of Apartheid.

As I sit here, 600 kilometers away, feeling totally helpless, all I can do is to reflect on his life. The fact that I’m able to write a blog, is largely due to my father’s perseverance in making sure that I received a good education; at some cost to his own well-being probably. For that, I’ll be eternally grateful; I’ll never be able to repay the debt, not that he has ever asked for any such consideration. I still sometimes ponder being a disappointment to him for deciding not to marry and produce the obligatory grandchildren, but he has never forced the issue; unlike my mother who has been quite vocal about her expectations.

To stimulate my thoughts about the realities of life and death, I stumbled across this song by The Who in my collection which I quite enjoyed in the way it was used at the beginning of the film, Religulous by Bill Maher. It’s been one of my all-time favorites, and I think the lyrics are amazingly philosophical; perfect for introspection.

I hope you’ll join me in introspection:

The Seeker

I’ve looked under chairs
I’ve looked under tables
I’ve tried to find the key
To fifty million fables

They call me The Seeker
I’ve been searching low and high
I won’t get to get what I’m after
Till the day I die

I asked Bobby Dylan
I asked The Beatles
I asked Timothy Leary
But he couldn’t help me either


People tend to hate me
‘Cause I never smile
As I ransack their homes
They want to shake my hand

Focusing on nowhere
Investigating miles
I’m a seeker
I’m a really desperate man

I won’t get to get what I’m after
Till the day I die

I learned how to raise my voice in anger
Yeah, but look at my face, ain’t this a smile?
I’m happy when life’s good
And when it’s bad I cry
I’ve got values but I don’t know how or why

I’m looking for me
You’re looking for you
We’re looking in at each other
And we don’t know what to do

The ANC’s hot summer act

I’m sure you’ve all by now, had a preview of the African National Circus’s (ANC’s) sizzling hot three-ring reshuffle. This amazing two-step back, half-step forward act, has left us with some memorable imagery. In case you’d like to keep them for posterity; that is if you’d like to compare notes when some infamous biographies are released in the not too distant future, here they are:

  • When in charge of a floundering ship, re-arrange the deck chairs. It helps to divert attention away from the water surging in through the gaping holes in your bow. It doesn’t hurt trying to fool all of the people, all of the time.
  • When your management team have fucked things up almost beyond repair, hire more incompetent sods to finish the job. It might just work throwing more shit at the problem.
  • Send a clear but spineless message to all your detractors; have patience, your turn will come to pig out at the trough. Don’t worry about the few we’re ditching. Sometimes it’s necessary to throw out the baby with the bath water. Circus logic is unrivaled; the ANC mantra being ditch a few to create more space in the queue.
  • The taxpayers will see to it that those who did not perform, and now find themselves out in the cold, will be well-looked after. The taxpayers are always most gracious and generous, and can be easily coerced into forking out more.
  • The new performers in this circus act, will be required to sign performance contracts; which will finally be drawn up when it is time for them to make way for their successors, waiting in the wings to pig out at the trough.
  • The ring leader will come out smelling like roses, until the shit he threw at the problem, finally reaches that giant fan which is blowing a hypnotic breeze across the country.

Now if I’m way off the mark, you’ll all be so happy, you’ll have forgotten I wrote this…