I don’t often reblog posts, but every once in a while when one comes across something special worth sharing, it’s a necessity.

I guess this post makes me feel nostalgic as I used to do new things with regularity, until recently. Could be old age… but that’s a poor excuse, right?

analyfe

So often, our days are built around a routine. Our lives are composed of endless cycle of work, meals, family, household chores, and social obligations.

Think back to some of your best experiences in life. When were you the happiest, most excited, and completely engaged in what you were doing? I would bet those moments weren’t spent holed up in a tiny cubicle or meticulously picking lint off of freshly laundered clothes. I would venture to guess that a majority of those memorable experiences were spent doing something for the first time. Often being stretched to our limits and learning something new will make us feel at the top of our game, and even the simple act of trying something different can boost our enthusiasm, happiness, and well-being.

The ultimate experience of “flow” occurs when a challenging task overlaps with one’s skills (many of which may be yet undiscovered). When we’re comfortable with our life and routines, it’s often difficult…

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The government totally sucks…

You all know that already, right?

In this video [watch till the end – it gets better and better] Jack Black may be singing about the US of A, but right here in South Africa, they’re doing their damndest to win the race for suckiest government ever.

*****

But on a serious note, Justice Malala, a columnist in the online Times Live had this to say about the ANC this week, all of it absolutely true:

This is not an organisation whose mission is to liberate ordinary South Africans from poverty. It is a party that has been hijacked by people whose aim is to loot the state as quickly as possible before the taps are shut.

Let the world, still enchanted by the South African rainbow dream, know that it has turned out to be just a fucking nightmare.

The only mystery here is why this guy isn’t behind bars already

Português: Cerimônia de canonização do frade b...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This may sound a trifle conceited, but my regular followers will have noticed that I don’t post blogs that attacks religion directly, as often as I used to. You see, I’ve found over time that religion (aided and abetted by its adherents of course) does a bang-up job of trashing itself, all on its own.

However, I do make a point of posting about religious incidents that are so outrageous, as to make one seethe in anger at its imprudence. This is one such incident…

Pope Benedict XVI, has been under the cosh of late, and for good reason. His un-thoughtful utterances have not only further damaged (if that’s at all still possible) the Catholic faith, but his own credibility too. Over the weekend he told Irish Catholics that it is a mystery why priests and other church officials abused children. While the many years of denial has finally been exposed beyond any doubt, the Catholic Church is now dealing with the fallout, but instead of trying to make things right (is that possible?), or amends (what could possibly compensate?), they continue to act like the reasons for the abuse were beyond their human ability to control. Take this statement for example:

How are we to explain the fact that people who regularly received the Lord’s body and confessed their sins in the sacrament of Penance have offended in this way?

The attempt to make out that the rampant child abuse was a “mystery” is not only laughable, but outrageously mendacious. It is also an insult to the many that were hurt as a result of this dastardly behaviour.

His Unholiness should be told in no uncertain terms that there is no mystery here. The answer or part of it, is right there in that ridiculous statement he made. The repulsive ideology of the Eucharist, that man can “eat” of the body of Christ and “drink” of his blood, may not be the full answer, but it certainly points to it.

Freshly Played #8: Robert Plant

In continuation of my series on great guitar riffs, here is another amazing example:

Big Log

Released in 1983, it became Robert Plant’s first Top 40 solo hit after splitting up from Led Zeppelin. Incidentally, Phil Collins played drums on this song.

It is said that Plant’s lyrics are inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien of Lord of the Rings fame. I haven’t read any Tolkien but yes, the lyrics are quite poetic actually.

My love is in league with the freeway
It’s passion will ride, as the cities fly by
And the tail-lights dissolve, in the coming of night
And the questions in thousands take flight
My love is the miles and the waiting
The eyes that just stare, and a glance at the clock
And the secret that burns, and the pain that won’t stop
And it’s fuel is the years
Leading me on….

If you’re interested in that kind of thing, the rest of the lyrics can be found below the video on the YouTube website. And hey, nice hair Robert!

Bones of the Hills by Conn Iggulden [Book 3 in the Conqueror Series]

Upon completing the third book in this riveting series, I realized that each book had me feeling a little different emotionally about the great Mongol warrior Genghis Khan.

In the first book I felt nothing but admiration and respect for the young Khan who grew up surviving great odds to ultimately unite the Mongol nation under his rule. In the second book I was left in awe of his ability to command thousands of men from different tribes, and fascinated by his sharp mind and tactical planning, but just a little apprehensive about the savagery he could unleash. In the third book I continued to marvel at his ambition to conquer, but was angered by his estranged relationship with his oldest son, Jochi, and appalled at the death and destruction he could bring about at the wave of a hand.

But ultimately I had to relent and admire one of the great men of history. It was also sad to see the mighty Genghis meet his end, just as he was about to embark on a second round of conquest in China.

Bones of the Hills focuses more on his relationship with his sons Chagatai, Ogedai and Tolui, but more especially his bitterness towards Jochi, his eldest son who he thinks was conceived through the rape of his wife. We are also made painfully aware of the bitter rivalry and hatred between Jochi and Chagatai, the heir favored by Genghis. Through this rivalry we sympathise with Jochi for his bravery and principles, while despising the cowardice of Chagatai. While Conn Iggulden chose to have Jochi killed on orders from Genghis for the purposes of this narrative, historically that is mere speculation because the circumstances of Jochi’s death are not clear in the records.

Also in the third installment of the Conqueror series we learn more about Tsubodai, The most successful and fearsome general in the Khan’s army of warriors, as they conquer the Muslim lands of Afghanistan and present-day Iran and Iraq. This books focuses on the battles with the Shah and later his son Jelaudin.

Genghis eventually rebukes his favoured second son Chagatai to name Ogedai as his heir. We are also briefly introduced to Kublai, son of Tolui, Genghis’s youngest son, who is the focus of later books in the series and eventually his successor.

After the sedentary pace of the second book, Bones of the Hills moves along quite briskly and it’s hard to put down. The death of Genghis Khan at the end is quite unexpected and leaves one a little deflated. However there is the fourth book to look forward to…

South Africa could do with a woman like this for President

Malawi is practically a neighbouring country, but I had no idea that the new President, Joyce Banda was making such radical changes there. It’s embarrassing; not the changes being made, but my ignorance.

In my defense, I was not expecting anything different from Banda, after Bingu wa Mutharika, Malawi’s former President ensured the Continent’s trend of setting up despots, thieves and madmen in power, until his timely death. Women are as susceptible as men to be corrupt, despotic, thieving and mad.

JOYCE BANDA

JOYCE BANDA (Photo credit: Back2Black Festival)

But not this woman it seems. No, Joyce Banda has within months of becoming the new President, made radical changes such as:

  1. Getting rid of the Presidential jet which the poor country can ill afford
  2. Ditching the cavalcade of expensive limousines that Mutharika used to ride around in like a pompous ass
  3. Announced the repeal of laws banning homosexuality, imposed by the bigoted Mutharika
  4. Sacked the corrupt police chief favoured by her equally corrupt predecessor
  5. Appointed a new cabinet (hopefully one that the country can be proud of)
  6. Re-stablished developmental and diplomatic relations with Britain
  7. Working with the Bank of En value of Malawi’s currency
  8. Refusing to allow Sudanese despot Omar al-Bashir into the country for an AU Summit in July

Joyce Banda provides hope that Africa may yet change radically, and rid itself of the penchant for self-destruction through the selection of dictators and madmen like Mugabe. And the fact that it took a woman to start this change is even more cause for celebration.

One can only hope that South Africa follows suite and ejects these greedy, corrupt, inept, power-hungry lunatics in the ANC from power. One would be even more hopeful that a woman or women accomplish that rescuing act.

Angie Motshekga: An awful example to women everywhere

I really meant to title this post “A women who should neither be seen nor heard.” But that would have been truly awful…

Let it be known that I would be proud to be called a feminist. I strongly support gender equality and care about gender issues. I truly feel for women who invariably have to work twice as hard, if not harder, to earn the respect that men get for doing little or nothing. It’s a shitty, lopsided world – where women have to prove themselves daily.

And it shouldn’t have to be like that.

education

But when a woman has been entrusted with a position of power, a position of national importance, and then proceeds to make light work of totally fucking things up, then I have to speak up yet again – in the interests of those directly affected and for good woman everywhere who make a success of their position against major odds. Such a woman is Angie Motshekga, the South African Minister for Basic Education.

Not only has Angie set education back many years in South Africa, she continues to blunder ahead with an arrogance that will put many men to shame. No doubt Angie has ample talents, but furthering the interests of education in post-apartheid South Africa, is most certainly not one of them. She seems to have the knack for stumbling from one crisis to another, the latest being her Ministry’s failure to ensure that more than 64 500 teaching positions are filled in one Province alone.

This act alone while being extremely detrimental to the educational needs of South Africa’s children, should be declared as criminal. How her gross incompetence is allowed to continue in a country having what we are assured is a democracy, is beyond comprehension.

Angie Motshekga also serves as the leader of the ANC Women’s League, an organization whose relevance in a modern society is rather dubious, when for most intents and purposes, they seem to serve only as the cheering section for the glut of incompetent men in the ANC government. A recent report in the Sunday Independent suggests that this wing of the ANC, much like the ANC Youth League, is in some disarray. Another report in the Daily Maverick suggests that the ANC Women’s League under Angie are “slavishly loyal to the ANC at the expense of women’s rights.”

Angie’s recent call for action against patriarchy was rather hollow considering her die-hard support for President Jacob Zuma, who’s undoubtedly an icon of this reprehensible social malaise in South Africa. The recent furore over the Spear painting highlighted this fact most convincingly.

In short, Angie is a pathetic example to good women everywhere. One hopes that she is removed from the spotlight before she does more damage to both our education system and the plight of women.

Freshly Played #7: Dueling Banjos

Dueling Banjos

For me, the most memorable part of the film Deliverance was the scene in which Ronny Cox on guitar, squares off against the inbred kid playing the banjo. Incidently, the composition made famous by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell for the film, was used without permission from the original composer Arthur Smith, who managed to sue the filmmakers successfully.

 

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers

Steve Martin is an actor who is more famous for his comedic roles in films, but is quite an accomplished banjo player too. Here he is accompanied by the Steep Canyon Rangers on the Late Show with David Letterman.