Freshly Played #5: Joe Bonamassa

India/Mountain Time

There are so many songs with great guitar riffs that I am partial to, but right now the one that’s playing in my head constantly is India/Mountain Time by Joe Bonamassa. I don’t know what it is about guitar riffs, but they cause my the fingers on one hand to involuntarily hold chords that are all wrong over an imaginary fret board, while the other strums on imaginary strings.

Air guitar is a phenomenon that affects many people the world over; I’m certainly not immune. But I tend to do it dead sober, even in public. I can’t help it, and here’s a reason why:

Hope that took you far away to another world. And don’t fight the impulse to straddle those imaginary strings; it’s quite okay to become afflicted too.

Freedumb Day

Tomorrow South Africa will celebrate Freedom Day. I wrote the same thing exactly two years ago.

Little did I know [perhaps I did, but didn’t want to believe it] that celebrate would not be the appropriate word to preface Freedom Day. Yes, people will be celebrating, but they would mostly hail from that elite group that have managed to connive their way into positions of political and economic power. Any others would have to be either monumentally stupid or ignorant, or both.

Perhaps you’ve guessed by now that things have not gotten any better. No, they most certainly haven’t. Government corruption has reached alarming levels, only dwarfed by government arrogance and incompetence.

We now have democracy, the right to vote, and although under threat, the right to free speech. But tomorrow when the people of Diepsloot queue up once again to dispense and carry water from distribution points back to their shacks, these rights and privileges will be hardly comforting at the onset of Winter, perhaps hardly in their thoughts. Diepsloot is but a microcosm of service delivery problems across the country – problems that have forced the very people who voted these government goons into power, to break out into riots.

An informal township in Diepsloot, Gauteng Pro...

An informal township in Diepsloot, Gauteng Province, South Africa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But on the eve of Freedom Day, another burning issue has got the attention of the people, like never before. E-tolling!

This vile word represents nothing more than a crass, calculated scheme by government to defraud the people of their hard-earned and ever diminishing cash supply. The opposition to the implementation of this cruel and wicked plan to relieve people of their money, has unbelievably united all the estranged races on a common social issue for the first time, in really large numbers. Only sport has ever managed that feat before. The concerted efforts of business and consumers alike, manifested itself in the form of a legal challenge to stop the implementation of this cowardly act to enrich politically connected individuals. At the time of writing, the news reports indicated that the courts will present a ruling over the weekend.

e-toll gantry Business Day

The arrogant manner in which the government tried to railroad this abberration into our already over-taxed lives, has left a bitter taste in the mouths of even their most ardent supporters. What will be the outcome of the revelations that many high-ranking politicians stood to benefit financially from this preposterous taxation scheme, remains to be seen. It is however now clear that government will be forced to postpone the implementation yet again.

More important however will be the fact that this self-serving government has been taught a grudging lesson; that power invested in them by the people is temporary. The people shall decide what is best for them, not government goons.

But will they learn? Will I be writing again next year this time, about further levels of government deprivation? Will I be allowed to write at all?

Lessons for Arsenal in fantastic Chelsea win

I think the consensus of opinion is that 10-man Chelsea played perhaps the best game of the year against Barcelona last night, in the Champions League semi-final. And the win by Chelsea against great odds was definitely well deserved.

Would an Arsenal team forced to play Barcelona under the same circumstances as Chelsea have done as well? I think the consensus of opinion would be that they would have capitulated quite easily. But perhaps the same opinionated people would have to concede that Arsenal is a superior team to Chelsea in several areas.

But not in the one that mattered the most last night.

Chelsea could teach Arsenal a thing or three about defending resolutely. And about hanging on, no matter what. Arsenal have the class of Barcelona, but without the tenacity and sheer will to win against great odds, the physical and mental toughness, they are not going to become giant killers like Chelsea or consistent winners like Barcelona.

Arsenal have however got probably the best manager in the business in Wenger, and a crop of promising players that have the potential. But will that potential mature in time for next season?

Let’s wait and see…

Thou Shall Not Commit Logical Fallacies

Do your kids a huge favor: print the poster from this link and hang it up where they can access it daily. They will thank you in years to come.

Thou Shall Not Commit Logical Fallacies

And oh, it wouldn’t hurt if you pay it some attention too…

Lords Of The Bow by Conn Iggulden [Book 2 in the Conqueror Series]

Conn Iggulden continues the epic life story of Temugen, now known by the name of Genghis Khan, in this second book in the Conqueror series. The legend of Genghis continues at a pace not as relentless as in the first book Wolf of the Plains, but not quite sedate either.

Genghis having united the warring Mongolian tribes into one nation under his supreme leadership, realises that the mammoth task requires him to cement his authority by means that would necessitate being both ruthless and fearless.

To this end Genghis decides to penetrate the land of the Xi Xia, Jin and Chin [China], take on this long-time enemy in their own terrain and bring them into submission. The journey South across a harsh Gobi desert, into Chin lands right up to the walls of the fortress-like cities had never been attempted before by any of the Mongolian tribes, in such vast numbers. Having had initial success crossing through the Great Wall into Chinese lands and securing his first great win in battle against the Xi Xia, Genghis realises that attacking the walled cities would require a little more thought and help from the inside.

He dispatches two of his brothers to infiltrate a walled city to learn the secrets of how they were built and how to destroy them. Having gained this knowledge, Genghis returns to sack and destroy the Chin cities one by one. In his quest to dominate the Chinese empire, he takes on the mighty Imperial army and wins a colossal battle at a mountain pass leading to the great walled city of Yenking [later Peking, now Beijing].

The vanquished Chinese general flees the scene o battle and returns to the city where he murders the young Chinese Emperor and assumes power by appointing himself Regent to the official heir to the throne who was a very young boy at this time.

Genghis Khan sets up camp with his victorious army outside the walled city of Yenking, and makes a few failed attempts to attack the city with trebuchets and other weapons. He decides to wait and let the city starve for many years before the General finally decides to surrender, first making a crafty deal using the services of the Mongolian Shaman Kokchu, to prevent the city from being burned to the ground.

In this second book, we get only brief glimpses of Genghis’ relationship with his growing sons. Of interest is his estranged relationship with his eldest son Jochi, who he suspects of being a bastard son by his first wife Borte who was raped in the first book by a Tartar warrior.

I’m sure there’s more about his developing relationship with his sons in the next book, Bones of the Hills, but I’ve only just started that one…

Imbeciles abound in e-tolling lobby

taxes

taxes (Photo credit: 401K)

The plot to defraud the South African public by way of sustained taxation continues…

Because it’s getting more difficult to dip bling-hungry fingers into the cooky jar without being caught, the latest attempt to filch legally by the South African government comes in the guise of e-tolling. This repugnant scheme involves coercing the already over-taxed public into paying criminally exorbitant tolls, to use South Africa’s national roads that have already been built and paid for with the public’s taxes.

When the scheme became public knowledge, the resultant outcry forced the SA government to put it on hold. However the lure of easy money could not be resisted, and they persisted in proceeding with this ruse of self-enrichment, arrogantly buoyed by the knowledge that the ignorant people who had kept them in power for nearly 20 years, would let it slide, like they did with so many other indiscretions by government.

Not this time however. Even the perpetually ignorant could not be forced to buy into this outrageous scheme to part them from their hard-earned money.

So the SA government tried the incentivizing approach by offering discounts to those who registered to hand over their cash willingly. When that did not work, they resorted to blackmail, threatening the public with surcharges for non-registration and punitive costs for late and non-payment, including threats of arrest and incarceration.

In between these extreme measures, government spin doctors such as Jimmy Manyi incredibly tried to convince the unwashed masses that paying the e-tolls was a method of “rolling out democracy.”

Not to be outdone, Nazir Alli of Sanral, the roads agency charged by government to administer this fraud scheme, pleaded with the public:

We appeal to all to obey the laws of our country . I encourage you to register so that you can enjoy these discounts.

This is how, we the public interpret this statement: Please don’t fuck with the laws we created to screw you. If you register, we’ll give you dumb fucks a discount for being such ignorant shits.

Nazir is on par with Manyi for being the biggest morons in South Africa at the moment – only Julius Malema tops that honour.

I have only one thing to say to Nazir and Manyi: Fuck you, your democracy, your toll roads and your government. I ain’t paying one red cent.

The shit they’re saying in politics #3

Democracy for the ignorant masses

Not so long ago [oh! lets cut the crap, 18 years is a friggin’ long time], the world was celebrating South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy, or what we all thought was democracy back then.

As it turned out, the new system of government was just an improved form of apartheid – only now non-white people also get a chance to wait in long queues to vote for assholes of a different hue who take your money and fuck you.

Yes folks we traded White domination for Black domination. Now they fuck you at every opportunity and tell you how good it is for you; how it’s progressing democracy – that magical word that has the ignorant masses in awe.

Back then the ANC looked like knights in shining armour, delivering the down-trodden from the fury of oppression. Over the last 18 years  or so, the armour has rusted, revealing the apartheid we knew so well.

You can gauge the level of moral and intellectual decay in the ANC just by the spokesmen [spin doctors] that they employ to inform the masses about government’s bewildering policy decisions. These same spokesmen are used to placate the masses whenever government gets caught with its hands in the cooky jar. Yes, you guessed it – telling them how good it is for them and democracy.

Negotiations to End Apartheid in South Africa

Road to democracy? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One such specimen is Jimmy Manyi [click here if you need to find out more about this bigot].  He’s been caught with his foot in his mouth so often, it’s become his favoured position. Today he told South Africans that e-tolling of our national roads was “quite simply a roll out of democracy.” You could argue that it was meant for the voting fodder, because sensible people see e-tolling for what it is – just another [arguably their most elaborate] nauseating government scheme to steal from the people.

Yes, people, Jimmy and by extension the government want you all to believe that the roads that were built with your taxes, should now be tolled as well, and at seriously exorbitant rates. Yep, it really is fun paying for something twice, right? And you just have to believe that it’s good for you and democracy, to boot.

If you still don’t realise the cost of “rolling out of democracy,” I expect I’ll be seeing you again at the polls… voting for more tolls.

Elections in Africa are free and fair

العربية: الخريطة الهجائية لأفريقيا English: Or...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

I know what you’re thinking. You’re from one of the first world countries.

But it isn’t this: elections on the African continent are free and fair. Free for the politicians who stand for elections because both donors and the taxman is paying for it. Fair to the person or party that wins.

That’s right. And the politicians don’t have to work too hard to manipulate a win either. The people – the majority – are surprisingly pliable. You, from the first world can speculate why. It’s not that hard to figure out.

The winners join an elite body of rulers on the African continent,  the Organization of African Unity, otherwise known as the LAD’s – League of African Despots. You, from the first world will catch them on television every once in a while. They will be in a meeting of sorts, talking about shit that will never happen…. and drinking wine, expensive wine paid for by the voters of the country unfortunate enough to host them.

From Abdoulaye Wade to Mugabe, Mswati, Mbasago, Mosisili, Meles Zenawi, Mohammed VI, Mbeki (deposed), Muammar Gaddafi (dead), Malema (not yet… ruling that is), and all the way to Zuma. I’ll leave you to fill in the blanks. All given power by the people…

What were you thinking? You’re from Africa.

Freshly Played #4: Khadja Nin

Wale Watu

Khadja Nin’s Wale Watu is a 1992 cover version of the song Keep on Singing released around 1987 by Sebastian Santa Maria. Khadja was born in Burundi, but now lives in Belgium. I loved this song the very first time I listened to it on release, but lost my CD when my house was broken into in the late 90’s. I however managed to re-acquire it a few weeks ago and have been listening to it almost daily.

A commenter on YouTube posted his English interpretation of the lyrics for Khadja’s version [lyrics here], which differs from the original song by Sebastian Santa Maria [further below]:

Far from all countries/Far from Paris or Rome/There are poor people/They don’t cry; they don’t beg/They respond in this way (?)/Those people sing/Even if they sleep hungry/Come in this way…everyday

Let alone useless words/Don’t moan about your health/You don’t know poverty/Look at those people/They don’t cry, they don’t beg/Those people sing/Even if they sleep hungry

Keep on Singing

Far away from the demonstrations,/Cities like Paris or Rome/Miles away from United Nations/You know this place that waits for more/Miles from Swissair’s destinations

There’s people singing in despite of all/There ain’t the things you know, yet they sing/They keep on singing…./Ooh, Bodah Budah Budeh…

Don’t come up with your Mapa Mundi/Or the latest Wildlife magazine/What your camera brought from Burundi/The front of your Ever-seen(?)/The streets of Potosi

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

If this book isn’t already a cult classic, it most certainly should be. Subtitled The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch and released around 1990, Good Omens is a collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett [although Pratchett did more of the writing and editing], both well-known fantasy authors in their own right.

Having not read either author’s work previously, this introduction to their comic genius has prompted me to purchase a few of their individual books which I’m eagerly looking forward to reading very soon.

The main plot revolves around the impending end of the world as we know it – Armageddon, and the efforts of the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley, to prevent the Antichrist in the guise of Adam Young, an eleven-year old boy from bringing it about, having taken a liking (in their own ways) to humans and becoming inured to the comfortable life on earth over the millenia. Aziraphale we are told is the angel originally from the biblical Garden of Eden, while Crowley is better known as the talking snake who tempted Eve.

Being the respective representatives of God and Satan on earth, both form an unlikely friendship and conspire to ensure that the baby from Hell that Crowley is tasked to integrate into human society, does not actually grow up learning to differentiate between Good and Evil. Needless to say, in a comic mix-up at the hospital the future Antichrist winds up with the wrong family and grows up to be a relatively normal eleven-year boy who begins to utilize his unearthly powers without knowing it.

As the fateful day of the Rapture approaches, the race is on by both demon and angel to find the Antichrist a.k.a. Adam Young, to prevent him from initiating it. But there are also a host of other characters after him, some to help him end the world such as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding motorcycles, and others such as Anathema Device, the descendent of the witch Agnes Nutter, and Newton Pulsifer the witch hunter  descended from the man responsible for burning Agnes at the stake. The latter pair team up to find Adam and help save the world.

The rather neat ending in which the world is saved from annihilation was a bit of a let-down, but overall the many laughs and perceptive commentary about the state of the world up to that point, more than make up for it. I found the final thought from Adam [listed further below] is something everyone should aspire to.

Perceptive Commentary About the State of the World, or My Favorite Quotes

  1. God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.
  2. It happened to them at a certain age, wives. Twenty-five blameless years, then suddenly they were going off and doing these robotic exercises in pink socks with the feet cut out and they started blaming you for never having had ti work for a living. It was hormones or something.
  3. They’d been brought up to it and weren’t, when you got right down to it, particularly evil. Human beings mostly aren’t. They just get carried away by new ideas, like dressing up in jackboots and shooting people, or dressing up in white sheets and lynching people, or dressing up in tie-dye jeans and playing guitars at people. Offer people a new creed with a costume and their hearts and minds will follow.
  4. It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.
  5. They were born into a world that was against them in a thousand little ways, and then devoted most of their energies to making it worse.
  6. People couldn’t become truly holy, he said, unless they also had the opportunity to be definitively wicked.
  7. There are some dogs which, when you meet them, remind you that , despite thousands of years of manmade evolution, every dog is still only two meals away from being a wolf.
  8. “Churches? What good did they ever do? They’m just as bad. Same line o’ business nearly. You can’t trust them to stamp out the Evil One, ‘cos if they did, they’d be out o’ that line of business…”
  9. He’d have liked to believe in a supreme God, although he’d have preferred a half-hour’s chat with Him before committing himself, to clear up one or two points. He’d sat in all sorts of churches, waiting for that single flash of blue light, and it hadn’t come. And he’d tried to become an official Atheist and hadn’t got the rock-hard, self-satisfied strength of belief even for that.
  10. It was then that Marvin got religion. Not the quiet, personal kind, that involves doing good deeds and living a better life; not even the kind that involves putting on a suit and ringing people’s doorbells; but the kind that involves having your own TV network and getting people to send you money.
  11. “I don’t see what’s so triffic about creating people as people and the gettin’ upset ‘cos they act like people,” said Adam severely. “Anyway, if you stopped tellin’ people it’s all sorted out after they’re dead, they might try sorting it all out while they’re alive.”
  12. There never was an apple, in Adam’s opinion, that wasn’t worth the trouble you got into for eating it.