Thursday, 28 February 2008
Sunday, 24 February 2008
48 hours in Rome and how much can you eat while fitting in all the sites as well? A lot. You would think that as a coeliac there would not be much for me to eat, as Italy is the home of pizza, pasta, panini (a lot of things starting with a p), but you are wrong! Oh how there is delicious food to be found, and find it I did!
First stop at after arriving at 9:30pm was to see the Trevi fountain lit up at night and to eat the best sorbet in Rome - honey, lemon & grapefruit - I could see why this place was world famous, then off to bed as an early start awaited me.
Another bit of berry sorbet to keepUp the next morning and after a latte standing up, Italian style it was off to the Vatican to join the cues of people and tour groups to see the Museums and Sistene Chapel - which was worth it. me going on my wanderings towards the center of Rome and off to the Via Condotti, home to the real Armani and Versace and then on to the Spanish Steps. Workers cafe for a lunch of roasted artichokes and mushroom risotto. Fantastico! Then off to see the rest of the city and a bit of Ancient Rome.
Dinner was a plate of the most amazing antipasti - caramelized eggplant, thinly sliced courgettes, buffalo mozzarella. olives, peppers, calamari, mussels and baby clams. But the best were the very thinly sliced fresh artichokes marinated in fresh lemon & olive oil.
Saturday started off at Pepy's Bar for a latte and freshly squeezed blood orange juice. Real coffee - I am afraid to say that I was better than Australia...Sorry Mr Dench! Pepy's also serves Panini - "Panini Kosher" being filled with spinach & mozzarella! Then hit the streets to see the rest of the city, the Parthenon, Campo di'Fiori were there is a massive fresh produce market every morning and then after a prawn, rocket & olive salad off to see the rest of Ancient Rome before a last peach & blackberry sorbet and a bressola salad before heading for the airport and home.
Amazing to catch some sun, see Ancient Rome, walk and walk but unfortunately the Pope did not grace me with his presence. Maybe next time. Next round of eat-off - Greg, Khala Lumpur? Otherwise the rest of the pics are on Picassa http://picasaweb.google.com/anfraser/Rome2008.
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
21st century here we finally come!
Bandwidth at ‘fraction of today’s cost’
THE price of international bandwidth will plummet 80% when the Seacom undersea cable goes live on June 17 next year.
Seacom will be the first of several proposed cables to finally reach African shores and local universities have already been promised international bandwidth for just 2,5% of the fee they currently pay.
Seacom president Brian Herlihy said the $600m, 17000km cable running up Africa’s east coast, then on to India and France, was on track for a “dead-certain delivery date”.
Its bandwidth will cost as little as R267 a month per 1MB, compared to between R3500 and R11000 to use Telkom’s bandwidth on the existing Sat-3 cable, or a punishing R231000 for satellite connectivity.
- She can watch Fame with the sound turned off and recite every single line from the film on cue
- She thinks Damien Rice is good karaoke music
- She once met William Kentridge in Melbourne and cried (give her a break, she's theatrical!)
Monday, 18 February 2008
Go check it out - I started a discussion on economic policy. There are others on the Scorpions, etc. Hopefully more will emerge...
Sunday, 17 February 2008
Saturday, 16 February 2008
Friday, 15 February 2008
Thursday, 14 February 2008
Since touch down at Cape Town International I have found myself surrounded and over-whelmed by what I consider to be counter-productive and simplistic responses to news-worthy subjects and play is almost always stopped at the drawing of the red card, which in South African terms is the race card. For the most part, it seems that critical and potentially prosperous discussions are reduced to a crass summary of the colour of the parties/people involved. To my mind, this is not only deeply saddening but fundamentally self-sabotaging. So where are my examples and what is this bold and admittedly generalized statement based on, I hear you say? Perhaps the most relevant place to start is the most recent example to mind. The proposed national schools pledge.
I was listening to the radio, just after the proposed national schools pledge was announced. Having known little about it, I listened intently and all I heard was the sound of ‘whinging whites’ (and I use this phrase with an ironic intent which is later explained) harping on about all sorts of crazy things, throwing about terms like ‘guilt trip’, ‘racist’, ‘like Apartheid’ and the like. The long and short of it was that a very vocal and seemingly very white opposition to the proposed national schools pledge. I decided that I ought to review the proposed wording of the text in order to establish whether there was any basis for the sentiment. As a reminder to myself or perhaps anyone who hasn’t read it, the pledge reads:
We the youth of South Africa, recognising the injustices of our past, honour those who suffered and sacrificed for justice and freedom. We will respect and protect the dignity of each person, and stand up for justice. We sincerely declare that we shall uphold the rights and values of our Constitution and promise to act in accordance with the duties and responsibilities that flow from these rights.
I, in fact, re-read it and I urge you to do the same. How could this seemingly harmless and in no way pointed pledge ruffle up the feathers of some people in the white community? Surely we can all identify with the significance of these statements? Surely we still believe that the injustices of the past should never be forgotten and those that contributed to its demise be remembered? Surely, this is perhaps one of the few ways we may prevent ourselves as a nation from treading these paths again? We might only know where we are going by dint of where we have been.
Why are some in a community of white people interpreting a pledge to our country, our past and constitutionalism as a personal affront? I suspect that this is in fact a very important question which needs some real consideration and redress and I suspect the answers which may be provided will be complex and varied. But the point of this article is not to address issues surrounding white identity within South Africa. That is an inevitably complex debate worthy of its own forum. The point of this article is to highlight the fact that there seems to be a knee-jerk tendency, an Apartheid hangover, to turn any issue into a race issue – even when it patently isn’t one - And this seems to happen across all racial groups. The upshot of this behaviour is, basically, that a lot of newspapers are sold with a fiery race allegation headline normally involving the word “CRISIS” and a petty, and often racist, debate emerges – leaving the truly important underlying matters unexplored and unevaluated.
In line with the above sentiment, I make the following bold statements to all members of the South African community and government officials (who I list separately because they often times seem very far away from the South African community and perhaps abode in other alien places), in case there is any level of confusion about the gist of my comments – The pledge is not simply a calculated means to entrench white guilt. Eskom has not failed because it is now managed by black people. Crime is not something that only happens to the whinging white people. Government officials are not criticized because of their skin color but most often because of their competence. Do not summarily dismiss complex issues related to identity, development, crime, and corruption and voter disillusionment by throwing in the race card. Evaluate and scrutinize the individual situations as well as your individual perceptions and oftentimes insecurities within those dynamics.
I challenge you to stop making assumptions about the ideologies and intentions of others, based on the color of our skins or their party allegiances. Where are we headed on this path? Where is all this insecurity and distrust coming from and where will it take us as a nation? This is not a fight by white people against a black government or vice versa. This is an ongoing struggle towards a better society, towards freedom and dignity, towards democracy, accountability and greatness and away from the injustices of our racially divided past.
Where we should all be in South Africa is focusing on putting pressure on our democratically elected government officials to do their jobs and get our country moving and our people mobile. Avoid this unmeritous debate on race, which we seem unable to move away from, and focus on the big picture and on the path ahead. Mobilize yourselves into productive, constructive civic action before we are left paralyzed and stagnant in the blood bath of race animosity that we know too well. Support the pledge allegiance but perhaps insist that all Parliamentarians are bound to say these words too before each session in parliament – although admittedly the word ‘youth’ may need to be deleted. I would suggest that we all need a healthy reminder of where we have been, where we are going to and what we are bound by.
Paula Jan Youens
Wednesday, 13 February 2008
And, care of the Fully Fitted blog... getchoself an edjumucation...
Today PM Kevin Rudd said sorry to the Stolen Generation and to Indigenous Australia. His speech was amazing and made the whole country cry.
At least, I did..
go check it out. Pretty historic stuff.
Posted to the web on: 13 February 2008
The real sting in tale of the Scorpions
IF THE constitution says politicians have to ask the people a question, does it not also mean they have to listen to the answer? Perhaps the most important aspect of the Scorpions saga is one which has received little attention — that it says much about part of the political elite’s attitude to the voters they are meant to serve, and to a clause in the constitution by which they are bound.
Some new African National Congress (ANC) leaders clearly have no interest in whether voters want the Scorpions. They have demanded that the specialist unit go by June because the representatives of the 630000 or so people who are active members of the ANC say it should. The 16-million who voted in the previous election, including the more than 10-million who supported the ANC, have not been asked what they think and are presumably simply expected to accept the decision.
Some analyses have commented on this. But no one seems to have noticed that this attitude reduces parliamentary processes to a farce and may do the same to a clause in the constitution.
The Scorpions can be disbanded only if the law is changed. And the law cannot be changed until a parliamentary portfolio committee has held public hearings on the issue. This is Parliament’s way of implementing clause 59(1) (a) of the constitution, which says that the National Assembly must “facilitate public involvement in the legislative and other processes of the assembly and its committees”. The Constitutional Court has overturned official decisions that were taken without consulting the public, confirming that the government does indeed have to ask the people before it decides.
But some in the new ANC leadership, and the acting national director of public prosecutions, Mokotedi Mpshe — who says the end of the Scorpions is a done deal — are acting as if consulting the people is simply for show. What if just about everyone who appears before the portfolio committee wants the Scorpions to stay? The ANC leaders, by demanding that they go regardless, and Mpshe, by planning to implement their wishes, are assuming that the people will be asked a question by Parliament — but that their answer will mean nothing.
What will the Constitutional Court say about this if asked? Having ruled that the government must ask people what they think, can it now credibly say it has no duty to act on what they tell it?
THE processes the government uses to find out what the people want are deeply flawed. One reason is that most people — particularly the poor and unorganised — can’t get to them. And so, while many public participation processes have been established since 1994, people at the grassroots still lack a voice.
But that is an argument for listening to more people, not for ignoring those to whom Parliament now gives a voice. The principle is simple: if the government or Parliament ask citizens a question, they must take seriously the answer. And this is what the politicians and officials who have already declared the Scorpions dissolved show no interest in doing.
For those of us who insist that a democratic government is bound to listen to the people who elected it, this is no great surprise. Despite lip service to public participation, many politicians and officials assume that it is they alone who have the right to decide.
Which is why, if the Constitutional Court is asked to decide the issue, it could face an important test. Its task is to establish and preserve the rights entrenched in the constitution. But people do not win — and maintain — their rights because well-meaning judges hand them down: they do so only when they are able to act to hold those who wield power to account. The most basic democratic right is that to a say in decisions — the more people gain that right, the more they are likely to be able to access the other rights in the constitution by their own efforts and in accordance with their own choices. And so the most important contribution the court can make to realising the democratic promise of the constitution is to protect and expand the right of citizens to express themselves and to make sure that government does what they want it to do.
There is no better way to start than by insisting that the government not only has a duty to ask the people their opinion but that, when it does so, it must take seriously what they say.
Friedman is a research associate at Idasa and a visiting professor of politics at Rhodes University.
Monday, 11 February 2008
Saturday, 9 February 2008
Thursday, 7 February 2008
In case any of you are interested:
The UNC-Duke rivalry, also referred to as the Duke-Carolina rivalry, The Battle of Tobacco Road, or The Battle of the Blues, is a fierce rivalry, particularly in men's college basketball, between the University of North Carolina and Duke University athletic teams. Considered one of the most intense rivalries in all of sports, a poll conducted by ESPN in 2000 ranked the basketball rivalry as the third greatest North American sports rivalry of all-time. The intensity of the rivalry is augmented by the proximity of the two universities, located only eight miles apart roughly along U.S. Highway 15-501, and the dissimilar funding structures of the schools, with North Carolina a public state supported university and Duke being a private university.
Battling it out at least twice a year since 1920, North Carolina and Duke routinely rank among the nation's best basketball teams. The games frequently determine the Atlantic Coast Conference champion - Duke and UNC have combined for 79% of the regular season titles and 58% of the tournament titles in the 53-year history of the conference. The final game of the regular season alternates between Chapel Hill and Durham and has been played in Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1940 and the Dean Smith Center since 1986. Duke has won three NCAA championships and has been in fourteen Final Fours, while North Carolina has won four NCAA championships (the team was also awarded a fifth national championship by the Helms Athletic Foundation in 1936 for their undefeated 1924 season) and has appeared in an NCAA-record sixteen Final Fours. Both teams are also two of the most victorious men's basketball teams in NCAA history. UNC is #2 all-time and Duke is #4.