Wednesday, March 31, 2010



I'm working on a new term, a phobia that is very real for me. Fear of fat strangers, or other people's fat. I may have mentioned this before. I am a weightist. I am impatient and intolerant of fatty-boom-batties.

Before I get this rant-train properly started, let me defend myself here: I'm not a complete bigot. I'm not talking about a few kilos overweight or a slightly higher BMI. I'm not talking about folks who are "bigger boned" (like most of the Dutch nation) and to be honest I'm jealous of woman who actually have hips. Yes, I've heard the arguments. I know there are genetic builds and medical conditions and in certain cultures, blah-blah-blah. Maybe I'd be of a different mindset if I wasn't built like a hungry waif. Maybe. But I'm talking about huffing-and-puffing to get up two steps. Not being able to walk or move comfortably, breaking into a sweat at the mere thought of slight physical exertion. Overweight to the point of threatening your very existence - but not letting that be a warning to your lifestyle, because isn't that what mobility scooters are for?

My xenoadipophobia is most active on public transport. Fatties get on a sort-of full compartment, look at option A (a normal sized adult male) or option B (me), and sit next to me because I don't take up as much room as option A. Urgh! Thank you, please do come and squash your flab up against my leg and shoulder. I know it is physically impossible to push your legs any closer together, but I'm still going to pull up my nose. Because your foreign fat is now touching me. Ew. And you're sweating. So let's add another sense to that revulsion. BO. Yuck.

This situation can also be compounded if said-fatty is a smoker. Yes, because they aren't doing enough to slowly kill themselves with obesity. If the heart's going down, the lungs might as well go with it. Mmmm, stale smoke on top of BO and uncomfortable invasion of my physical space. When this happens, I literally (and without any subtly) pull either my top or scarf or whatever item of clothing I can find to cover my breathing orifices. Thereby sending a clear message of "you stink, and I think you should know this". It's not the most PC of things to do, but I'm not on the train to make friends and neither is Smokey McFattison. Clearly.

Another alternative and possibly more horrifying is the fatty mom. Okay, these are definitely not the biggest of the fatties, mostly because they actually do burn off some of their calorie intake by chasing after their (inevitably numerous) toddlers, but the horrifying part is watching as they build an over-sized mini-me of themselves. A little fatty in the making. I watched a kid, still pram-bound, eat an entire burger from Burger King. And even when he got about halfway and tried to pass the rest of it to his mom, she simply rotated it and passed it straight back to him, with instructions to finish it. That's it Mom, combat those school yard bullies by making sure your kid can simply sit on them by the time he's six! I know sweet fanny-adams about raising kids and healthy diets, but I'm pretty sure fast-food burgers are not on the recommended daily intake list.

I'll not go into how I feel about airports and airline weight restrictions. That's a whole 'nother rant in itself, which I have covered before. Mills reckons karma is a (fat) bitch and one day in the not-so-distant future, I'm going to balloon to monstrous proportions. I say bring it on. Then I'll get a mobility scooter, I'll take full advantage of the fact that it's "intolerant" to charge fat people extra on full flights and I'll sit next to - and sweat on - the skinny-assed kids every time. Splendid.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Can we really learn from our past?

A few years ago, I went to the Apartheid Museum. It was mortifying, horrific, shocking and wonderful. All at once. But the exhibition that struck me - and has stuck with me the most - was the archive footage of international news broadcasts. This is what the outside world was seeing, while we - the white folk in South Africa - were obliviously listening to the news Riaan Cruywagen was presenting, on a need-to-know basis. And there was a lot that the government felt we didn't need to know. Watching those news broadcasts, aired at the time in Europe and America, I could finally understand (at least to some degree) why foreigners have on occasion looked at me with such disgusted interest when they learn that I grew up in Apartheid.

Disgusted interest. I think that describes it quite well. "You're white. And South African. You're a racist bigot. What was it like?"

I'm not saying that whiteys had absolutely no idea of what was happening. They knew something was up, but it was certainly a sheltered knowledge. The fact that there were violent uprisings out 'there' was sometimes reported on TV, but it was shown as ANC and IFP, political - dare we say, tribal - clashes.... not a rebellion fighting the oppressive regime. The extent, the circumstances, the socio-political causes were simply not comprehended by most of the lighter bretheren. As a kid, I knew something was happening because we had to practice "bomb drills" in case the violence actually did get to our school in sheltered suburbia. Although, to this day, I still do not understand what sitting under your desk, holding your hands over your ears and chanting "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so..." will do in the case of a mob or bomb attack.

These days we know about the mechanisms of Apartheid, the press censorship, the media who succumbed or didn't ... about journalists who obstinately and blatantly argued that we were not getting the full story in our own country, printing "blanked out" sentences in their own publications to try to show that information was being withheld. About people who fought and died for their cause.

Back then, they didn't have the Internet. But you can be sure, if they did, they would've used it. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia have all become examples of news disseminating media globally. These days every news website has an opinion section. Almost every story can be commented and further opined upon. And boy, there are a lot of opinions out there. The fact that we can see all these postulations, right or wrong, means that we have freedom of speech and similarly freedom of press. In case you were wondering, that's a good thing.

Reporters Without Borders, a transnational organisation that monitors press freedom internationally, indicates that more than one third of the world's population currently live in countries that do not allow press freedom. The good news is that at this stage, South Africa is not one of those countries. But we were.

He Who Shall Not Be Named (because people are already paying too much attention) is trying to bring us back to those days. Although, to be honest, I think that statement allows him too much precognitive credit. I don't truly think that he is actively trying to destroy press freedom in South Africa. I think he is just too stupid to realise the repercussions of what he is inciting with his every breath into a mic. He has no education, he has not one modicum of common sense (as demonstrated on a daily basis in the public domain), but unfortunately he has become an over-sized mouth piece to a similarly uneducated demographic of our population.

He is a representative of the ANC, who in turn represent the proud nation that Nelson Mandela amalgamated with so much love and dedication... but his actions represent nothing less than a return to atrocities committed during Apartheid... which is the polar opposite to what Madiba envisaged. The thought makes me angry.

This is me taking my stand against that day returning.

You can find out more about the inspiration behind this post, here.

Just a few others who've also spoken out

Friday, March 19, 2010


Delayed trains, missed connections, get to work to discover mini-yoghurt has exploded in handbag. Stomp feet, have a brat attack, begin clean up. Lip balm and wallet are not going to pick themselves out of that goo. Clean and dry bag, try to rescue borrowed book from yoghurt stain. Nasty purple colourant not helping.

Coffee. Now. Three attempts to make one cup. Forget to put a coffee pad in the machine, berate self, chuck out hot murky water/milk mix. Start again, remember coffee pad but tip over mug as removing from machine. Deep breath, control urge to headbutt machine - or anything nearby. No more milk. Mop up mess. Start again. Resort to creamer. Carry successful mug back to desk with the double-handed coordination of a three year old.
That's my day so far. Now, let's flashback to yesterday when my shoe attached itself to my pedal.

I was wearing my comfy soviets (yes mother, the same ones stolen directly from your cupboard). What I didn't realise was that left shoelace was coming undone. What I also didn't realise was that the slightly undone shoelace had hooked in my left pedal and with each rotation was slowly winding itself around the pedal. As I cycled, the lace came more and more undone... and more and more wound around the pedal.

I had inadvertently created a shoestring spindle and an effective one at that. I didn't know my foot was merrily engaged in this process, until it came to me stopping at a traffic light which - unless you are part of a traveling circus - usually entails dismounting from the bike. As a habit, I generally put my left foot down first. This did not end well, considering that my left foot was by this stage tightly strapped to the pedal. If you've ever tried to dismount from a racing bike without first clicking your feet out of the casing, you'll probably understand my panicked confusion as my bike started to topple with me on it.

Fortunately I am a quick-thinker (on a good day) so I was able to correct this fast enough and successfully averted a full body/ground collision. But... being attached to a bike and hopping on one foot is a dance that is not often seen unless you are part of, or visiting, the previously mentioned circus. I was finally able to remove foot from shoe, and hence myself from my bike, but not before drawing a few stares. You'd swear they'd never seen a bike wearing a shoe before. Weird.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Classic Humour

Aaah... there's nothing like a good hearty chuckle, especially at someone else's expense (but often my own, too). A few of my favourite sources for such entertainment:

1) Situational. Like the recent evening that we spent with another young couple - where she and I 'accidentally' saw the answer on the back of the card, just as her boyfriend was about to act out "catwalk model" in charades. Yes, we should've told him, but he is about as macho as you can like to get and he had already started his runway impression.

So we let him go...and go... and go... feigning complete non-comprehension (although his runway walk was unnervingly good)... until he gave up on being a flamboyantly effeminate model and actually got down on hands and knees and pretended to be a cat. That was the closest I've come to wetting my pants in my adult life. You had to be there, I'm sorry you missed out.

2) Funny-because-it's-true news stories. Like the recent screening of porn on a children's network channel in the US. A spokesman called it a "technical glitch". With an uninterrupted duration of two hours. My understanding of a glitch is a "brief or sudden interruption" but sure.... I guess a glitch can also be a complete fek-up that continues for several hours. Eskom had a few of those in 2008. "Whoops, glitch... we'll be back up and running in the next few days!"

Seconds or maybe minutes - glitch. Hours = technical ERROR. Anyway, the real humour here is that this happened in North Carolina, one of the notoriously conservative Bible Belt states.
"The error occurred on the Kids On Demand and Kids Preschool On Demand channels where clips from Playboy TV appeared in the top right hand corner. A menu of available children's programmes was listed on the left of the screen, but nude women engaged in explicit conversations appeared where previews of children's shows normally appear."
You gotta love it when a plan comes together.

3) A well-written column. Dave Moseley, Chris Roper and Carol Lazaar have always been entertaining. Recently, Ben Trovato was brought to my attention (thank you, Mozzie). I love a good tale, especially one that ends up in the emergency room with an unsympathetic wife:
"...Brenda said girls against boys. "The way of the world," said Ted, racking the balls all wrong. I nudged him out of the way and he fell over the pool dog, who I have trained to retrieve balls that often ricochet off the table and disappear into places where no human would wish to go. Ted approaches pool in much the same way that he approaches his job - in a crablike fashion through the side entrance when no one is watching. I, on the other hand, approach the game like I approach an open bar - fast and recklessly.
Brenda and Mary play like all women play - they talk, giggle, drink, lie and cheat from start to finish. It's one of the reasons I married her. The only difference is that back then we would play for sexual favours and these days we play for the electricity bill. But let us not go down that filthy mugger's alley again.
Like all good pool tournaments that go on until 5am, the margin of error was inordinately high. Three windows were broken from balls cannoning off the table and the dog retired to bed in disgust..."
Pure poetry. You can read the full column here - it's worth it. Really.
I may be going back for more.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Science doesn't stand a chance

Los Angeles has just experienced a small earthquake this morning (their time). This in itself is not big news, especially following the devastating quakes experienced in central and southern America recently. But out of interest, I was following updates with Google Wave - most (pretty much all) of my colleagues live and work in LA and I have to admit that it has been pretty interesting following the Twitter updates as they were added.

Most of them are just standard this-is-me-thinking-aloud statements, like: "omigod, 4am - jolted awake cos of the earthquake" or "4.4 mag earthquake just hit LA!"

But one caught my attention:

"Wth. A magnatude of 4.4 earthquake at 4.04am. That is either a coincidence or someone planned it......"

[note: "Wth" most likely translates to "What The Hell". Spelling and italics are directly quoted. As are the gazillion ellipses at the end. Because everyone knows if you're not actually saying anything but you want people to think you are, you should end your sentence with as much implied mystery as possible]
And so, the conspiracy theories start.....

Omigod. 4.4 mag at 4.04am.
This must be a sign. But of what...?
Wait, it happened on the 16th of March 2010.

Four times four equals... sixteen!!!
Are you freaked out yet?!

If this isn't enough to convince you that there are ulterior forces (or should we say FOURces?) behind this recent event, read on.

March is the third month of the year. 03.2010
If you remove all the zeroes (which don't count for anything anyway), you're left with a 3 and a 21.

Three added to twenty one is twenty four, which is also a multiple of four! This can only mean one thing....
The Fantastic Four are real and they are behind the recent spate of massive earthquakes!
AND the next big earthquake is going to hit on the 24th of the fourth!

It has been predicted by web-bots, Nostradamus and the Mayan calendar, so it must be true!!

In your face, Tectonophysics. Your science will never compete with irrational arguments and fabricated calculations.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Nationale Hoerendag

Hey everybody - Happy National Prostitution Day! Streetwalkers and ladies of the night be proud, as the BNN (a Dutch broadcaster) calls for equal recognition of the oldest profession in the world. Their general shout out is, "if you get a National Secretary Day, why is there not a National Prostitution Day?" And they have a point, don't they? So this is me doing my bit to say, give your hooker a bunch of flowers and maybe a nice card today. She's worth it.

Moving on.

Facebook. I like it. I use it a lot. I particularly like the photo update section because this is where I can see who has just been to a wedding, who's put up their connubial shoot, who's updated pics of their sprogs. I am not a hypocrite, just because I don't want these for myself it doesn't mean I don't enjoy seeing such updates in my friend's lives. But at the moment, the only photo updates I can see on that particular page are "who has peeped your profile" compilations. It is driving me nuts. I don't care. I don't care who's looking at who's profile within my circle and I certainly don't care which friends are looking at other completely random profiles. And most of the updates are not on my friend's themselves but merely because they've been gawking Whothehellcare's profile. Of the 16 places available, three are ligit photo updates today. I can't wait for this fad to fizzle or implode, so that I can actually get back to cyber-stalking my friends online. Because that's what Facebook is all about, innit?

That said... maybe this profile peeper thing could have its merits. F'instance: if someone gets tagged on their ex's profile and then their current girl/boyfriend starts throwing a hissy fit (preferably publicly, as a comment on the actual photo compilation, so that I can read it please) because they always knew that he/she still had a thing for him/her.... yesssss, this could have possibilities. And that's definitely what Facebook is all about - laughing at people losing the plot on public domain. Okay, maybe the Profile Peeper can stay - but it'd better start providing some worthy entertainment soon.

In other news, it's recently been established that I can't count. This is what happens when you don't edit wot you right. You develop eleventy fingers. True story.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cluck off, it's Friday.

This week has been useless. I've wanted to blog, but couldn't find anything to get rage-worthy about, or couldn't concentrate on any one thing so couldn't narrow it down. But now I feel bad because I haven't produced anything. I feel like a bad mother, who has just left her kids to starve because she couldn't think of what to cook. Or something. Hey, there's good reason why I don't have kids. That's one of them.

Okay, so here's some random stuff.... stream of consciousness style.

Earlier this week, I was 'had'. Like "PSYCH!" or punk'd... had. First, lemme tell you that I have an iPhone - I finally won that little (admittedly petty) battle and got an unlocked sim. She's called Kumquat Koekie and has been working fine. To be honest, the whole process seemed a little bit too easy compared to my usual fights. So when I recently sent an sms to a friend (who has a Crackberry) and got an automated response informing me that smses from unlocked iPhones are undeliverable to this particular sender, I flew into a little mini-rage. The audacity of these fekking mobile providers, who the fek do they think they are completely dominating our lives and dictating what we do, who we consort with and how we do it! I instructed Mills to contact the friend (we were going over to visit them shortly) and muttered and stomped much like an angry bag lady on the walk over to their place.

On arrival, the first thing my friend asked was how my iPhone is working out. That's when the light started to come on in my head. Admittedly, it had taken me so long that it wasn't a very loud or instantaneous click. It was more like an energy saving lightbulb that takes several minutes to get up to full brilliance. Aaaaw man. I'd been had. He grinned with nefarious glee, delighting in my realisation. He'd sent the 'automated' response and was over the moon when he got a second similar sms from Mills, knowing that I had been hook-line-and-sinkered with his text. Well played, my man. Well played.

Anyway, other than that - Kumquat Koekie is working as well as any piece of technology within my daily contact can be expected to function. She's only been dropped three times, and I've had her for almost a month. She's holding up well.

Thinking of things accidental, I got off to a sterling start this morning. First I clamped my left ring finger in my uber-hot, ultra-iron-all-hair-dead straightener this morning. Two hundred and thirty degrees of skin pealing heat. Then I clamped my right ring and pinky fingers in the fold-up table on the train, forgetting that when you close those contraptions they generally spring shut with some velocity. So before 9am, I was three fingers down... eight to go. Not bad, even by my standards.

And to the end the week, I leave you with yet another stunning example of love between boyfriend and girlfriend:

4:27 PM Koekie: how're the tikka masala preparations going?
4:30 PM Mills: well.
I have taken the chicken out.
Koekie: good good
4:31 PM approved
Mills: if I leave it long enough it may cook itself
Koekie: here's how you'll know:
first it needs to defrost
then it'll probably start clucking...
4:32 PM **pah-keurrrk**
Mills: cluck you
Koekie: then, then the clucking dies down, you'll know that it's cooked
Mills: ha ha ha thats quality humour
Koekie: I'm presuming that you're laughing at your, rather than my, humour. Although mine is clearly of a far more developed standard.
Mills: yes cluck face
4:33 PM never gets old
Koekie: right back at ya, cock
4:36 PM Ja, in your face
You have nothing
4:38 PM Mills: cluck off
4:43 PM yeah thats right, sit quietly in the corner
4:45 PM Koekie: go chanticleer yourself
yeaaaaaaah - I just went medieval poulty on YOUR ASSMills: I bite my thumb at you sir
4:53 PM Koekie: you bite your thumb at me? I bite my thumb at you...

Thereafter followed a rather broken Shakespeare recital attempt. If this doesn't demonstrate a solid adult relationship, I don't know what does.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Know your passport, Mr Armstrong

Last night, Mills had a little mini-rant (mini, in comparison to the rage he flies into about hippies and Australian and Australian hippies), about a tweet that he saw from Lance Armstrong: "Well, made it in to SA. Not the friendliest welcome I've ever received but we've all seen immigration officers like that."

You see, Lance's passport was full so there was nowhere for the SA official to stamp on his entry. Apparently you are supposed to have at least two blank pages when entering SA, and I think this stands for several other countries too. Yes, it does feel that some of these regulations are in place simply to inconvenience us (me) personally. Yes Lance, we've all had our experience with pain-in-the-ass immigration officers. Trust me... every single bloody time I take a step to the left or the right. But it's highly unlikely that any passport official in any country would let it slide. Can you imagine? Sitting with their little dated stamp ready to whack down on any available spot, licking their lips in anticipation of their important step in your commute... until they realise that there is nowhere to stamp....

"Oh I give up," says the passport official with a wink and a smile as he hands back the unmarked pamphlet, in this hypothetical and completely-unrealistic situation, "so we'll just let you through this one time. We all know that passports are just another means of intergovernmental control anyway, ensuring that you will never find out who really instigated the 9/11 bombings and caused global warming. Have a nice day now!"

Not. Likely.

The fact is, annoying or not, your passport is full. It is not something that has a little monitor that beeps at you when you are starting to reach maximum capacity. It is something that you should consciously be aware of. As much as I hate airports, I love travelling, and I have to take responsibility for my travel documents. Even the almighty Lance Armstrong, be he a god in so many other fields, still has to assume mere mortal status and go through border control just like the rest of us bleeting sheep. As such, he or (if he really is far too busy and above checking his own documents) his PA or manager perpetrated a major oversight by not being aware that his passport is running out. This is not the fault of the poor bloody (admittedly bureaucratic because it's his bloody job) passport official. Incompetent he was not. He was just doing a shitty, shitty job and it was made all the worse because he had to do it to someone who is held in such infallible high esteem. Sucks to be you, dude.

Unlike people with an EU/GB or US passports, who often take visa-less entry for granted, I have the unenviable privilege of proving residence, gainful employment, liquidity and health clearance on an all too regular basis. With the various visas and permits ranging from EU to UK to US approval, the pages in my passport are worth at least R15,000 easily. Never mind the time, sweat, blood and tears that have gone into acquiring permission for each of those precious documents.

On our recent trip to SA, I realised that I only have five blank pages remaining in my passport. The rest are full. Choc-a-blok. Considering that I've only had it for four years, the chances are very likely that my passport is going to fill up before the expiration date in 2016 and I'm guessing that there will not be a public outcry on my behalf when I am informed that entry is denied due to lack of stamping space. So, despite six years remaining, I have already put in an application for a passport renewal. Not just any renewal, I've asked for a maxi-pad, I mean maxi-passport. 64 pages, baby.

If anything, I have learnt to play embassies and consulates at their own game. I have a visa folder. It includes, but is not limited to:

Passports (old and current, relevant pages copied);
Dutch residence permit (in original and both sides copied);
South African ID book (and copy);
Unabridged birth certificate (certified and copied);
Certificate of non-marriage status (certified and copied, this is apparently important in the Netherlands for some reason);
Police clearance (certified and copied);
Three months of recent bank statements (and copies);
Letter of motivation for why I am applying for passport renewal/more pages in passport/visa for particular country;
Letter from employer indicating gainful and ongoing employment;
Letter from hosts in respective country (if appropriate);
Planned itinerary or booked flights (if appropriate);
At least four bio-metrically accepted ID photos (no teeth showing, no head gear, hair away from face, generally a peculiarly bemused facial expression);
Sometimes this folder will also include a letter from a doctor stating my continued health and (on one occasion) x-rays showing a TB-free set of lungs.
I smile, and have a friendly chat, and then absolutely drown them in paperwork. "... and here are two copies of my ID, here's by birth certificate in copy and original, here's my father's ID number and place of birth, here's my most recent pay slip and a copy for you, here's my contract indicating intention to extend... " Inevitably they don't know what to do with it all, hand it back and tell me my application has been approved.

So the maxi-passport will take up to 20 weeks (I nearly typed "20 years"... it feels about as long). But It's not a straight forward renewal - I've requested that I keep my current passport as it has at least three valid visas. So, I am hopefully going to have a massive passport for my stamp collection, as well as the old passport with the ongoing visas still running in that. I can't wait wait to explain that to passport control.

Maybe I'm too unsympathetic towards people who have no idea about when their passport will expire, or exactly what is required for entry into any given country. Maybe I'm far too aware of my passport, because I travel on third world status. I know that if I need a new visa in my passport I will need at least - at least - one blank double page. Not two pages somewhere in my passport, but two pages directly opposite each other.

I also know that if my passport is expiring within the next few weeks or months, I'm most likely not going to be allowed entry into various countries because they require that your passport run past a certain date after your expected date of return. This little point came as a rude surprise to a British friend who was recently not even allowed to board her plane for Cape Town as her passport expired within three weeks from that date. Here's a tip to any other international travellers to SA... not only do you need to have space to stamp in your passport, but you also need to be aware that it cannot expire within one month of your scheduled return date. They will not even let you on the plane.

Friday, March 05, 2010

It's not me... it's the system.

During my studies I spent a lot of time reading about parliamentary models and electoral procedures. I enjoyed the topics and even came to understand politics - in theory. But I still do not understand politics in practice. In practice, watching the people who actually do the politicking, I can only sigh.

Take Julius Melanoma for example. Why do people pay attention to him? Why do people support him? Stop putting him on a pedestal! If we all close our eyes and block our ears, he'll lose interest and hopefully start investigating an open electrical socket. Is he really going to be prepped for presidency? I'm not even going to pretend that IQ has anything to do with running a country. We all know that's bollocks (just ask the US of A). I just hope they get a better speech writer, and find some way to turn him off at appropriate moments. Unfortunately, Julius and I have one thing in common (the very thought is enough for me to revisit my mindset)... neither of us want to let go of our "youth". Step down Melanoma, you're no longer one of the young 'uns. Please stop moulding (in every sense of the word) their minds.

Before I become too worked up about this one particular individual, let's look outside of SA politics. Can you guess where the following gents are from?

  1. A criminal history from his teens, including assault and robbery (the convictions were later overturned, but have subsequently been revisited due to a question of 'falsification of court documents'); formerly Prime Minister, forced to step down in 2004 after a vote of no-confidence; accused of being accomplice (if not perpetrator) in the assault and rape of a woman in 2004; reinstated as Prime Minister in 2006 and most recently elected as President... is any of this sounding familiar?
  2. Accused of inciting hate speech, bigotry, racism, banned for entry into the UK and currently (and quickly) gaining popularity amongst his constituents. Incidentally and interestingly, for all his hate speech against non-Aryans, he is of mix-race origin (isn't it always the case?). Also regularly accused of a very bad hair-do.
  3. Without actually making it your full time job, I don't think anyone can keep track of the amount of times that this guy has been accused of fraud, propaganda, organised crime, falsification of records, corruption, bribery, adultery (including solicitation of prostitutes)... the list just goes on and on and on... I think when it comes to political sleazebags, he tops the lot.
Drum roll please....
  1. Viktor Yanukovych. Formerly PM, now President of the Ukraine.
  2. My local pet peeve: Geert Wilders, currently gaining power and notoriety in local elections in the Netherlands.
  3. Silvio "gives me the absolute chills just thinking about him" Berlusconi. Prime Minister of Italy since 2008.
And they're all in Europe.

I think what bothers me the most is is not the fact that these are men who are blatantly in it for the betterment of themselves (unlike Malema, who is only driving a C-class Merc as a political statement against all those racist and slutty people set on destroying his good name), but they have all had a history of being corrupt or violent or just plain idiotic BEFORE they were voted into power. So the masses accepted this and said with a shrug, "meh, there's no one else to vote for", or they don't vote at all and just let the said-politician bulldoze their way past any opposition.

Bear this in mind when lambasting the state of politics in South Africa. More than it being a problem with 'our' government, I think it's just the type of personality that politics attract. Would you want to get into politics? Why not? Probably because you can't bear the thought of being involved in that name-calling, mud-slinging, self-marketeering environment. But who would that appeal to? More often than not it's self-aggrandising 'entrepeneurs' who end up representing you, me and country. While we cringe.

I'm not saying that all politicians are wince-worthy. I like to think that there truly are some noble campaigners and I commend them for even trying to represent the people as Plato intended. I just don't think they last long in the system - they either get out or get sucked in to the dark side. The Malemas, the Wilders, the Berlusconis will somehow always float to the top. Unfortunately.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Bits and bytes

When I was finishing my studies, I did a brief stint with that stalwart show of my childhood... 50/50. As producer/researcher of a small segment, I was required to conduct an interview at one stage in a horse paddock. I don't like horses. Horses don't like me. Well, it's not that they don't like me - I don't think they actually care enough to like or dislike. There is only one mammal in control of any relationship I have with horses; and it is invariably not me. Horses are evil. Have you looked into the eye of a horse? I mean, really, looked into the eye of a horse? Pitch black and pure evil. I swear.

Anyway, so horses and I get along just fine when there's a fence or at least several hundred metres between us. On that day - despite my best attempts ("maybe you and the camera can be in the paddock, and I'll just shout the questions to you..?") - I found myself in a paddock surrounded by camera equipment, a horse breeder and several frolicking horses. The breeder, never mind the actual horses, could smell my anxiety but he assured me that the horses would pay no attention to me because he and his assistant had loaded their pockets with sugar cubes.

Okay then. Roll camera. I relaxed as I watched the horses butting and harrassing my interview subject, clearly loving the extra sugar and attention they were getting. So I failed to notice when a young filly left the group, sauntered up behind us and for some god forsaken reason... bit.. my.. ass. And I'm not talking 'Eyore' kind of ass, I'm talking right buttock cheek... ass.

Jaaaa-sus, it was sore. With a yelp I jumped forward, rubbing my tush and doing circles to keep away from the frisky filly. Of course, everyone found this highly amusing and the breeder even asked if I had anything in my pockets.

Oh sure, I carry those extra sugar cubes around with me for when I accidentally bump into playful equidae. No, I bloody don't have anything in my bloody pockets!

I don't know if that ever made it onto a bloopers reel (I don't think there's anyone at 50/50 who has enough humour to put something like that together). But I did have a U-shaped (horse-shoe-shaped?) bruise on my butt for a while afterwards. And a great anecdote... "did I tell you about the time when I got bitten on the butt by a horse, on camera?"

But it's not nearly as good as being bitten on the butt, by a pelican, and screaming like a 5-year-old girl to the delight of a live TV audience.

Aaaaah... watching a grown (Aussie) man whimper, wail and giggle nervously is always entertaining. Makes me laugh, every time.