Thursday, 29 July 2010

man in hoodie reported

So, my housemate, it turns out, has started a blog entirely devoted to the bizarre postings of our neighborhood listserve. Check it out at man in hoodie reported

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Lions AND Tigers but still no bears

For those not in RSA the current hot story (not yet gagged by media control ;)) is Panjo the Tiger who escaped from his (bizarrely named) owner Goosey Fernandes's bakkie on the way home from the vet.
So apparently all those yankees were right - African: land of Lions and Tigers (bears pending)

Monday, 26 July 2010

Media wobbly continues...

... may turn to out to be more than a wobbly? One should always be extra sceptical about journos when they're reporting on their own problems (especially when many have personal axes to grind with various spokespeople, Floyd Shivambu in particular), but there's a pretty consistent and long history to this, and nothing I've read so far seems outrageiously senstational. I am officially CONCERNED.

From Legal Brief:

"These are turbulent times for media freedom, and the ANC is resolute in its determination to shackle the press – either through its proposed media tribunal or legislation such as the proposed Protection of Information Bill, or both, writes Legalbrief. The media has been warned that the proposed tribunal could include measures to imprison journalists or force them to pay millions of rands in fines. Outlining ANC thinking on the tribunal, the party’s national spokesperson, Jackson Mthembu, told the Mail & Guardian the tribunal would be ‘independent of the ANC and of the state’, but it would have the power to punish journalists found wanting. ‘If you have to go to prison, let it be. If you have to pay millions for defamation, let it be. If journalists have to be fired because they don't contribute to the SA we want, let it be,’ he said. But he was adamant that no changes to the Constitution were envisaged and that international perceptions of SA’s commitment to press freedom would not be tarnished. A proposal that the tribunal should have the same standing as Chapter Nine institutions, currently including the Public Protector and the SA Human Rights Commission, is on the table."

Mail and Guardian report here.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

The end of an era...

I was looking through some old blog posts, and i realised i hadnt actually published this one 3 years ago! Anyway, here it is...memories...

So, my time in SE Asia has come to a sad close. Since we last spoke, Alex and I spent some time in Chiang Mai (doing a cooking course, among other things) and then went back to Bangkok for a day, and then moved on to Cambodia.

Chiang Mai was fantabulous, much more chilled than Bangkok, but then it is much smaller. We did a lot of sleeping and relaxing there, because we were pretty pooped from all of the travelling until then. Notable highlights included a craft market that is probably the best i have ever seen. A whole suburb was filled with crafty things (as opposed to the rest of the thai markets that were filled with red bull and "same same but different" t-shirts) and all the temples made food and the stray thai dogs didnt rub their smelly selves against you. We (well, I) also ate some of this incendiary chilli and eggplant dip which is a speciality of Chiang Mai, and it burned on the way in and the way out like no chilli i have ever tasted before has ever done. I want some more.

We also went to check out the Kings residence up in the hills above Chiang Mai which was predictably lavish and luxurious, but the gardens were astoundingly beautiful too, and were far more impressive than any other part of his home.

We then went back to Bangkok, where we went to check out the Royal Palace and Wat Pho (the enormous golden reclining Buddha) and got into ANOTHER argument with a tuk tuk scammer when i warned some people not to get into his tuk tuk because i could see that they were going to be scammed. Anyway, he ran down the street after me screaming "Fuck YOU fuck YOU!" which is pretty comical in retrospect. We also checked out chinatown which was amazing (14% of Thailands population are ethnic Chinese) not least because of the wacky food in the markets.

Then at 5am the following day, we started our descent into hell. We took a bus from Bangkok to Aranyuprathet on the Thai-Cambodian border which was fine until the guy at the back of the bus vomited (toilet was locked) and his vomit formed an aromatic river that flowed under our seats toward the front of the bus. Thankfully we got off soon after, and headed to the border, where we got through the thai side pretty much unscathed, except that we had touts for the travel companies that organise onward journeys into Cambodia following us. I made Al speak to me only in Afrikaans, and looked blankly at the touts hoping that they would leave us alone, and my little ruse was working until they invaded my magic circle one time too many (what the fuck is it with SEAsia and personal body space?) and i shouted "I DONT SPEAK ENGLISH!" at him, in perfect english with a western accent. He nodded, and continued to follow us. Fuck.

So on the Cambodian side, we were made to pay 100 baht extra for our visas or they would be relegated to the "three hour" pile. Its a common scam that we were expecting, but what do you do? We were in a rush to get to Siem Reap, because if your bus leaves too late, they make you stay overnight at their friends guest house, whch is invariably expensive and filthy. So we get through the border, and the touts are buzzing like flies, and we dont see the bus station. In fact, all we can see is that the Armageddon has begun at the Cambodian border and the end or the world may soon be nigh. Don't get me wrong, the thai side was pretty filthy too, but this was just a level of poverty and filth i've never seen before. Bit of an eye opener actually. So we finally find a shitty bus company that will take us to Siem Reap, and we buy tickets. We soon found however, that the ticket prices were flexible, and that other people on the bus had paid half as much (while some had paid three times as much), but thats par for the course i guess.

After watching the owners friend fix the rear axle of our bus, we finally board the HellBus to Siem Reap 3 hours late. I could whinge about this trip for a LONG time, but the end result was that the 150 km trip along what is known as the "Boulevard of Broken Backsides" took seven hours and culminated in some of the passengers almost coming to blows with the driver and his mate, and a whole load of arguments with tuk tuk drivers when they dropped us (despite fierce protests from the 3-toothed british prop forward on the bus) in the darkest, scariest corner of Siem Reap and disappeared (seriously, driver and mate jumped out of the window and were never seen again).

We finally made it to our guest house, 'the Golden Banana' with two couples who had also survived the bus trip in tow. Sadly, what the guide book desribed as 'gay friendly' was in fact hetero-phobic, and the incredibly camp lisping khmer man at the counter informed us that unforunately there was "no space". The name should have given the place away...

ANYWAY, we spent three incredible days exploring the temples of Angkor Wat, the photos for which i will post in a few days time when i get to CT. Its difficult to explain the mood of the place, and i hate using words like "magical" and "etherial", but those are probably the most appropriate.

OK, this blog post had dragged on way too long, to i will sum up the rest of my time in SEAsia in point form :

  • Went back to BKK

  • Ate best som tam of all time

  • Ate hottest som tam of all time (but got maaaad respect from the guy who made it for me for finishing the whole thing)

  • Did some more shopping in Chinatown

  • Flew home to the Muthaland...

So now i am in Jozi but will be in CT on Sunday night, where i will upload all photos. Hope everyone is well...


Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Read the article then watch the video.

I'm not a huge fan of Hitchens. I mean, I'm impressed by his intellect, but I think he's a nasty person at his core. Sometimes that's funny, sometimes not. When he writes about a racist dunderhead like Mel Gibson, you know it's going to be funny. Check it out...

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Please explain.

Dude, there is something wrong with your eye.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Relive the World Cup!

With the Guardian's cool interactive tool. The minute by minute of the opening ceremony is great.

Monday, 12 July 2010

How good is this?

Dont like posting ads, but this is awesome. Loving the vuvuzela button on youtube too (you have to go to the site, doesn't work when you embed a video).

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The ANC's media wobbly is back

And I think it's entirely unjustified; the ANC should stop with its whining.

To recap, Gwede Mantshe yesterday complained that The Media (all of it, obviously) hates the ANC, and is ethically rotten. After proving this objectively to be the case, with thorough research, he quickly went on to make renewed calls for a Media Tribunal, to bring the counter revolutionary journos to book. He also said that the Press Ombudsman shouldn't be a former journalist, because the media cannot use 'one of its own' to judge when a journalist has erred.

In related news, ANC benefactors, the Gupta family, will soon be launching a new daily newspaper, called New Age. It will reportedly be more sympathetic to the ANC, poor darlings.

I for one welcome New Age, and hope it lasts longer than This Day and that other one that didn't last very long. In the meantime, I hope Gwede reads solid coverage of South Africa like this, and quits with the bleating. [Sorry if you can't access the FT - it's another good one by Gideon Rachman.]

Monday, 5 July 2010

My two (Ront) cents on the spill

This oil spill is such a fuck up. As something of an oil and gas industry 'insider' (I'm not really, but kind of) this whole thing seems to have been mismanaged by absolutely everyone who has had a hand in it, even (sad to have to point it out) Barack. Good luck 'ending US reliance on foreign oil' if you shut the Gulf of Mexico down dude. Not that the GoM was ever going to keep the US market happy mind you, but i cant see the sense (other than the political sense) in getting all twitchy sphincter about new developments in the gulf because of a spill. Thats not to say that something shouldnt be done, but there are loads of rigs operating already (not just in the GoM), and unless you want to shut them down too, a considered attack on safety and maintenance policy is probably better than knee jerk threats and sabre rattling.

Sadly, the world still needs the oil and gas, and they need it pulled out of the ground by a bunch of cowboys because that is mostly who runs the industry (except for the supermajors, of course). It's a shitty industry, but that's what has developed over the years, and the US govt (though maybe not the current US govt) needs to take some responsibility for that.

As oil companies go, 'British Petroleum' (in Obama speak) are actually really risk averse - like most of the supermajors. You should see their technical specifications compared to some of the other smaller operators we deal with (ever seen technical specs from a small SEAsian joint venture looking to exploit a reserve in the Gulf of Thailand, or offshore Indonesia?... pretty light on detail).
Tony Hayward is a massive knob, and it really is an awful thing that has happened - someone will surely be to blame when the slick has cleared - but right now would be a good time to keep your head down and fix the problem while keeping one eye on other long term options rather than getting all Johnny Two-Guns and promising to 'kick some ass'. Only thing I can't work out is whether this whole thing strengthens or weakens the argument for nuclear. I hope it's the former.

Happy Fourth, y'all!

I got all American today: hosted some friends over for cupcakes, lemonade and strawberry dumplings in my back yard. Well sort of, 'cause then we played a game of croquet, which I'm sure is not all that patriotic.

As Tal, knows, we were joined by her brother Daniel -- which was quite lovely.

Here are some pics:

Patriotic cupcakes:

Daniel in the background (Tally)!

Heading off to see the neighborhood parade:

Roy struggling with the heat:

Sunday, 4 July 2010


We went to Augrabies!