Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Hail Xenu!

Trey Parker and Matt Stone have come out to the world media as Xenuists! The South Park creators had this message for scientologists:

So, Scientology, you have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for Earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!

Hail Xenu, indeed. And the reason for this outburst of Xenuist loyalty? Tom Cruise threatened to pull out of all promotions for Mission Impossible: 3 if the scheduled re-run of the now-infamous "Trapped in the Closet" South Park episode was not pulled by Comedy Central. Considering that Paramount and Comedy Central are both owned by Viacom, this isn't implausible. Cruise's camp denies it, of course, but industry sources, and Parker and Stone themselves, have confirmed the rumours that have been flying around the blogosphere since the episode was replaced by a trite 'tribute to Chef'.

Yes, Tom Cruise is in fact a big girl's blouse.

Midweek Mayhem

One of the clients is down from NY, I'm very busy and so my nettage is limited for the moment. Chances of getting anything meaningful this week are slim. However, i do have a few nuggets for you:

There's a possibility that Isaac Hayes did not quit South Park, contrary to last week's Midweek Cuckoo. Indeed, he is apparently recuperating from a stroke he suffered in mid January, and has not made any press releases or statements lately. People close to the singer are wondering who exactly issued the statement claiming that he was quitting due to South Park's religious intollerance. It apparently wasn't him. Scientology puppet masters, anyone?

The british (well some of them anyway) are being a bunch of babies about the institution of ID cards. Who cares? I carry my ID book everywhere with me. I have found it very comforting to be asked for ID when doing things like drawing large sums of money from my bank account. When i was in the states, i noticed that the majority of people do not sign their credit cards, or sign them 'Ask For ID' to ensure that they cannot be used without presentation of valid identification. How is it in any way an 'infringement of civil liberty'? Your rights and liberties are not being infringed by someone asking you to prove you are who you claim to be, especially when doing something that could be harmful to the real you, like clearing out your bank account. The carrying of an ID book or card can only protect you. Bunch of socialist, welfare-dependant, tea-drinking hippies.

Locally, the DA have come up against a wall in their efforts to take a snake oil salesman to court for claiming without evidence that his herbal remedy can treat HIV. It's not that it went to court and they lost, it's that the public prosecutor refused to press charges of fraud. Prosecutor Jabu Ngcobo defends his decision:

There was not enough evidence to prosecute, and when I looked at the evidence, I did not see fraud. He (Gwala) said he believes in his medicines, and said it in good faith. He told them (the DA) to come back after four months, and if it didn't work, then they should have come to us after that period. How can I dispute his medicine without testing it for that period of time?

Excuse me? Did i read that right? He's saying the because he can't tell until the four months is up whether the medicine works or not, that he can't prosecute? Is he a doctor now too? If he is, then he must have heard of things like standards boards, and official efficacy trials? But wait, it seems the law in South Africa actually protects this kind of charlatan from prosecution. In fact, the Department of Health has drafted an African Traditional Medicines Bill. According to sociologist Herbert Vilakazi:

The constitution of this country mandates us to recognise and to respect the cultural practices and models of African people, of which African traditional medicines is one. They should have recognised the fact that it wouldn't go far because Ubhejane is not bound by regulations. It is umuthi wenyanga, a herbal mixture, and it does not need to be registered.

So basically what he's saying is that African people are so physiologically different to westerners that they need a whole 'nother kind of medicine, that the clinically proven and tested western medicine will not be enough for them. Does he not see the inherent racism in that statement? Why are africans so different that they need different medicine?

And really, this bullshit about 'herbal mixtures' not needing to be registered is such a front for people who want to contravene legal testing of their 'cures'. In the States people do exactly the same thing to get around FDA regulations - declare it a 'food supplement', or a 'herbal remedy', over which the FDA has no jurisdiction. It's one way liars continue to sell Colloidal Silver to people, even though they know it causes argeria. Never mind that they are making all sorts of claims about efficacy that have not been proven, what have they done to investigate side effects? Contra-indications? Anything?

Oh but i forgot, it's herbal, nature would never create anything that could harm us. I'll just brew up that White Oleandar tea for you then, shall I?

And on a lighter note, i bet if Tom Cruise had a blog, it would be just like this one.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Why stop there?

IOL is reporting today that a correctional services review is planning to curtail the privileges of prisoners convicted of rape and crimes against women and children. What i want to know is, why only them?

What is the point of giving prisoners any privileges at all? Why is it that someone who has proven themselves incapable of being a member of society should be granted any of the comforts afforded by that society?

As far as i'm concerned, there is no such thing as a 'human' right. There are only civil rights, the rights granted to you as a citizen of society, as a signatory of the social contract. You agree to co-operate with your fellow man, working towards the betterment of society as a whole by playing your part as a cog in the engine, and treating other citizens as you would treat yourself. In return, society affords you certain privileges, like life, food, shelter, self-determination and employment. You are not deserving of these just because you are human. Drop a human in the middle of the Amazon jungle, without his society, and see how far he gets shouting 'i have a right to live'.

Now, when you break that social contract, you should be removed from society and from the privileges it grants you. You have shown you cannot hold up your end of the bargain. As someone who has proven that they are incapable of being a citizen, you should not for example be allowed to vote. You should certainly not be allowed to have conjugal visits, earn money, buy cigarettes or eat anything other than a basic protein-vitamin paste that sustains your nutritive needs. You should be made to understand that society gives you certain things on tolerance of your co-operation, and without society, without your fellow man, they would not exist. You should be made to understand the consequences of your actions. And after a time, if you have shown willingness and understanding, you may be allowed back into society.

And if you transgress again, that is it - no second chances. You are removed from society permanently, and placed in prison for life. End of story. If you cannot learn from your first mistake, then you are unable to be rehabilitated. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

But instead, we have health spas that are stricter than prisons. Hell, there are play-schools that are stricter than prisons. We have prisoners who can pay someone R50 to let them escape, or pay someone R10 to bring a juvenile prisoner to their cell for 'entertainment'. We have prisoners who vote on who should rule the country, prisoners who can get a pizza ordered for them, prisoners who commit the same crime they were jailed for, the moment they are paroled. We have prisoners who are released for the president's birthday, who vow that if released the first thing they will do is go and kill someone, and who make good on that promise. We have murder and rape a common occurence in prison. And nothing changes.

You say you will curtail the privileges of rapists, of child abusers and mistreaters of women. I say what makes women and children so special that crimes against them are somehow worse than murder? Don't wimp out now - remove all privileges, from all prisoners, for all crimes. They have shown that they cannot abide by society's rules, now show them what society would be like if everyone behaved like them.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Midweek Cuckoo: Isaac Hayes

There was a time when Isaac Hayes was cool. The man had soul, he could play a mean sax, and best of all he was the voice of the saltiest chef on tv. But this week, Isaac has proven that not only is he nuts, he's a hypocrite to boot.

Isaac has quit South Park, walking out on his contract in protest of the episode aired last november that poked fun at Scientology. Isaac, you see, is a scientologist. And scientologists don't take well to being mocked. Granted, they take it better than certain sects of certain religions who have offered a million dollars for the heads of certain cartoonists, but their reactions are still a little overboard for a supposed religion.

I've spoken at length about scientology before - about their beliefs (so much space opera even gene roddenberry would blush), about their itchy trigger finger on the sue-gun (and look, scientomogy is still standing), and about their fake personality tests used to lure potential cultists. So the scene is set - we all knew that when South Park finally took on the subject in their usual no-holds-barred style, there would be action. But i never thought that it would result in Chef quitting. I mean, Isaac Hayes can't be mad at Trey Parker and Matt Stone for taking a dig at Scientology, when he's happily participated in shows that mock Christians, Mormons, Muslims and Jews, right? That would be hypocritical.

Yes, indeed it would. Isaac appears to have caught self-righteousness overnight. In his own words:

"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins," the 63-year-old soul singer and outspoken Scientologist said.
"Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored," he continued. "As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."

Really, Isaac? Isn't it interesting then that according to Matt Stone,

"He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians."

In fact, he very obviously didn't mind poking fun at Muslims either, in the episode Chef Goes Nanners, where Chef converts to Islam and renounces his slave name, changing his name to Abdul Mohammed Jabbar-Rauf Kareem Ali. This was a very obvious rip off of people like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Mohammed Ali who did the same. Later in the episode he renounces Islam. So really, he had absolutely no problem belittling not only conversion to Islam, but also the tendency of African Americans to see it as their true faith, taken from them by slavery. But mess with scientology and suddenly he's throwing his toys out the cot and behaving like a little girl.

Interestingly, the Scientology episode seems to be the only one that certain networks have declined to air, in fear of being sued. Showtime also declined to air an episode of Penn & Teller's Bullshit! that dealt with Scientology, also in fear of being sued. Isn't it strange that you can make fun of every other religion on the planet, except for Scientologists who will sue you, and certain sects of Islam that will kill you. Then again, there have been rumours of scientology declaring certain undesirables 'fair game', and said persons disappearing without a trace. We shall see.

Anyway, you can file Isaac Hayes under 'Hypocrite' for now, with a cross-reference to 'Batshit Crazy'.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Incompetence: Catching

Newspapers seem to be very confused as to exactly how long it took police to find little Makgabo Matlala's body under her own bed. First they said 'more than 27 hours'. Then they said 'nearly 24 hours'. Then they said 'more than 24 hours'. More recently, they said 'nearly 12 hours'. That's a big difference, that last one. Is it just me or are they trying to make it seem less pathetic?

Although really, even 12 minutes would be too long. Seriously, you're in a little girl's room, she's missing. Look under the bed. Look in the closet. Am I the only person on the planet who ever played Hide and Seek as a child?

Interestingly enough, Makgoba is the granddaughter of Judge President Bernard Ngoepe, the same judge who was meant to be presiding over Zuma's rape trial, but recused himself at the request of the defense. It was thought his judgment may be biased as he was the judge who signed the warrant to search Zuma's house in connection with his upcoming corruption trial. Now i'm not really one for conspiracy theories, but does this seem like a message to anyone else?

Speaking of the Zuma rape trial, trauma specialist Merle Friedman has testified that the victim's actions after the rape are consistent with the behavior of a rape victim, and of any sufferer of extreme trauma. No big surprises there. The man is as guilty as OJ, and will probably be walking as free very soon.

And speaking of missing children, Kelly Jolkowski is using the disappearance of her son Jason to bring a very important message to the world: when your child goes missing, do not trust the supposed 'psychics' who come knocking at your door promising to find your child (for only a small fee). Her son disappeared without a trace nearly five years ago, and she has been the victim not only of this tragedy, but of the bloodsucking parasites who descend on anyone in her position. Read what this woman has to say: she has combined her own experience, and extensive research, to bring you the real truth about psychics and missing children:

"There is not one proven case in which a psychic, using special powers or abilities not given to the typical person, has located a missing person, whether dead or alive. It may be possible that some persons have an ability that defies science and logic, but there is no known scientific evidence of this. These persons re-victimize families by taking away hope where it should stand, and giving hope where there is none. No person has the right to do this to another. "

Friday, March 10, 2006

Good Old South Africa

Well, here we go again. It's been a while since i've read the news, but nothing seems to have changed.

Our health minister is out to ruin small pharmacies again, trying once more to institute controlled medicine pricing, even after the constitutional court ruled against her twice for trying the same crap. Last time the pharmacies that were worst hit were those in the rural areas and townships, forcing the poor people she was supposedly 'helping' to travel even further at greater expense to find medication, and forcing many many people into unemployment. I wonder what will happen this time?

The rape trial of our ex-deputy president continues, with the defence team using the standard pathetic tactics of attempting to discredit the victim rather than give any real evidence. Their story? Zuma did have sex with her, but she consented. And he didn't use a condom. And he knew she was HIV positive. Oh, and she's crazy anyway because she underwent treatment after losing her father, and had an abortion once a long time ago. Slut.

So, even if Zuma is found not guilty, one can only draw the conclusion that by his own admission he is too dumb to live. I hope he caught HIV during that little escapade, because anyone dumb enough to have unprotected sex with a known HIV-positive person deserves exactly what they get. Or, he was safe because he has it already. Either way, this is one man who is way too stupid to ever be president, and may just die before he gets the chance. I hope.

Ten days after the announcement that Koeberg was sabotaged and arrests imminent, we are still in the dark (haha) about how the mystery bolt got in the reactor, and where these 'suspects' are. I'm sticking with my story - some twit screwed the cover back on and discovered only three bolts, and quietly replaced the missing one, hoping no-one would ever notice. As soon as the unit crashed, he disappeared into Llanga or some place similar, never to be found again. Then the government used the tall tale of sabotage to avoid their votes sliding. It's a story with so much more local flavour and spirit.

Oh, and you should go and read schpat's blog to discover just how bad our local police force are. Couldn't find a four-year-old kidnap victim's body in her own god damn bedroom. Her own bedroom! Talk about running through the crime scene with a fine toothed comb! When we talk about 'crack police work' in this country, we mean work that would imply the police were on crack.

Midweek Cuckoo: Fred Hutchison

You will all have to forgive me for not posting a wednesday whackjob in a couple of weeks, but power cuts and work have been conspiring against me. To make up for it, today i have someone who is not only nuts, but is a great big foolish ass on top of it.

Fred Hutchison is a retired beancounter who styles himself as a christian, lay philosopher who has "written hundreds of essays about religion, politics, history, philosophy, and science". He's an armchair physicist, theologian and political commentator. He's also completely out of his tree. The thing about Fred is that he's not your run of the mill conservative, right wing religious crazy, who claims he is against abortion, gay marriage, evolution and physics because the bible tells him so. Fred claims all his beliefs are based in unshakable science.

Fred has argued in the past that science proves from first principles that there is no such thing as gay marriage. His reasoning is that first principles state that man has an innate nature, and that nature is for man and woman to join together in marriage. Being gay is against man's innate nature. Of course, he has made a logical error right at the start by assuming that man has an innate nature, never mind his assumptions of what that nature is. In fact, he inadvertantly explains his own assumptions while attempting to show why they are so true. To quote:

The advocates for traditional marriage have the advantage in the debate over first principles. It is easy to persuade a man that he has an innate nature because the idea is simple and clear and is naturally agreeable to the instincts of the human heart. In contrast, telling a man that he is a construct of myriad external factors reduces him to a programmed automaton, an idea that diminishes man and is repellant to the human heart. One of the most effective lines a conservative can utter is, "We are not programmed automatons. We are men with reason, free will, consciousness, and conscience. Therefore, no one is compelled or programmed to become gay. No one who is gay is compelled by blind necessity to remain gay.

Indeed, Fred, it is exactly because it is the easy thing to believe, that it is simple and clear to the heart, that people are so easily swayed by the concept. You can also see here how Fred either completely misunderstands the concept of man as a product of his environment, or he is deliberately deceiving the reader. You be the judge. I might lean towards the former, as in the same essay he also says he takes the term Intelligent Design from science. Let me be very clear - the term Intelligent Design has as much origin in science as the term Astrology.

Fred has written many other essays for his column on Renew America, including one that states there's no scientific evidence that carbon dioxide can affect the temperature of the planet. Yes indeed, Fred has disproved global warming. Of course, it seems he has done so only to himself, as his understanding of how carbon dioxide contributes to the greenhouse effect shows such a deep level of misunderstanding, it appears that a grade schooler wrote his essay for him. His reasoning is pretty well ripped apart at Gristmill, including some responses from Fred, so i'm not going to repeat it here. But suffice to say, he makes a fool of himself.

But really, i've got no knowledge beyond the layman's about philosophy, religion, or climatology. So while i would say Fred is full of crap about these subjects, i'm not really in a position to be 100% sure beyond what seems logical and what i can look up for myself. What i do know, however, is physics. I did all my university studies in theoretical physics and astrophysics, and i taught astronomy for 2 year, so when Fred starts ripping into Einstein, that's when i can really spot the mistakes.

Fred thinks he has outwitted Einstein, and proven from his armchair that the great thinker was wrong on just about everything he ever said. Now this is a debate i can pull apart. Let's start from the top:

If reason and free will exist, then Einstein's cosmos is false. Exactly how does Fred come to this conclusion? Neither theories of relativity deny or make impossible in any way human consciousness or free will. They do not imply a deterministic universe on any scale other than that where gravitational effects dominate. Fred fundamentally misunderstands the effective range of gravity. Gravity does not determine neurons firing in your brain, idiot, although in your case you may think this as the proximity to the planet does seem to permanently affect your ability to cogitate.

Einstein claimed he was inspired by the beauty and harmony of the cosmos. But a picture of everything melting into every other thing is the epitome of ugliness and disorder, as we learn from surrealist artists such as Salvador Dali. Can anyone else say 'subjectivity'? For a start, how does Einsteinian gravity imply everything melting into everything else? And who says surrealism is ugly? I'm a huge fan of Dali, and I think his paintings are fantastic. And weren't you just complaining about Einstein's cosmos being deterministic? Isn't that the best example of harmony, where no foot could be put out of place? If you're going to misrepresent a theory, at least be internally consistent.

When he said, "God does not throw dice with the universe," he was referring to the seeming disorder of Quantum Mechanics... Wrong. He was referring to quantum mechanic's fundamentally probabilistic nature. There is nothing disorderly about probability or statistics, ask an actuarial scientist.

However, when Einstein tried to prove that movement and time are relative, he ignored his dictum about the relativity of the movement of two objects. Einstein proposed that if one twin brother took off in a spaceship flying near the speed of light and if the ship returned fifty years later, the twin which stayed on earth would be old and the twin in the spaceship would still be young. But this is nonsense. Indeed, the use of the twin paradox to demonstrate special relativity would be nonsense. But as any first year university student could tell you, the twin paradox is used to describe general relativity. So yes, during the phases of constant motion Fred would be right. But the whole point is the acceleration phases, where the twins are no longer in an inertial frame of reference. Dumbass.

During an total eclipse of the sun in 1919, Einstein predicted that when the sun peeked out from behind the moon, the first rays of light could be observed from a point on the globe which would lie beyond the horizon if the sun's rays are straight. For a start, Fred's got the experiment wrong. Yes, there was a solar eclipse involved, but it was used so that stars near the sun could be observed. The whole point was the star's light curving around the sun, not the earth, and it certainly had nothing to do with sunlight. But it gets worse...

...could not the sunlight bend when it passes through earth's atmosphere, like light refracting as it passes through water or through a lens? Yes, Fred, you complete nitwit, they took that into account. You think you're the first person in the history of the world to think of that? You arrogant ass.

Newton is more practical and makes more sense when it is applied to the human scale, to falling bodies and flying baseballs. Einstein's theory of gravity cannot explain why a falling bodies near to the earth fall straight downwards. Again, Fred shows his lack of any real research before running his mouth off. Einstein's theory reduces exactly to Newton's theory on a small scale. It encompasses Newton's theory within itself, a necessity for any universal theory of gravity. And who says Einstein's theory doesn't explain why falling bodies near the earth fall straight down? It does. A straight line is also a geodesic, numbnuts, and besides not all bodies fall straight down or have you never heard of parabolic motion?

Einstein's mathematics did not work. He made up a number to make his equations balance and called it the cosmological cosmos. Einstein cheats! Indeed, because Einstein's religious convictions led him to believe the universe was static, he did not believe his own equations when they described the universe as expanding. So he put in the constant, because he believed that he must have made a mistake. Later, when it was shown the universe was actually expanding, he called it the biggest blunder of his life. All this teaches us is you shouldn't assume religion trumps science when the two disagree. Einstein should have had more faith in his own maths. Without religious convictions, he would have beaten Hubble to the chase. In fact, if it weren't for his religious aversion to quantum mechanics, we may today be sitting with a quantum theory of gravity, that elusive holy grail of physics.

Pharyngula is about to engage in an email debate with the Hutch. I cannot wait to see what will happen, when a developmental biologist and university professor puts his mind to slicing through Fred's inane babbling on evolution. This should be entertaining.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Power Play

Thanks to schpat, we have the dope on the supposed 'sabotage' at the Koeberg nuclear power plant. Now that the elections have been and gone, and the ANC are no longer at any kind of risk from backlash over their pathetic power management policies, Minister of Trade and Industry Alec Erwin is now denying he used the term sabotage.

Here's the article that quoted him as saying "Let me be very clear on this. The bolt that caused the generator's destruction did not get there by accident." That was published on February 28.

Now, several days later and with the elections behind him, Erwin is saying "I did not use the term sabotage."

Very interesting then, that TV cameras apparently have him saying quite clearly, "It is sabotage."

This reminds me of the time E-TV accused government mouthpiece SABC of not showing a crowd, who supported axed deputy president Jacob Zuma, booing newly appointed deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Nguka off the stage, because it made her look unpopular. SABC retorted that they had not been able to get their cameraman there in time. E-TV responded with footage of their cameraman, filming the event. Enough said. People in the ruling party seem not to understand that tv cameras do actually capture their images and can be used to prove that they said things they claim not to. Maybe Erwin should ask his local witchdocter for stronger muti to stop the cameras seeing him, i don't think it worked this time.

Not that i'm surprised, of course. The announcement of sabotage without reinforcement of either evidence or arrests was immediately fishy. The fact that the ruling party has now practically admitted that it had no proof and no intent to arrest anyone only shows what a desperate, eleventh-hour attempt it was. The sad thing is, it was totally unnecessary. Are they really so out of touch with reality that they haven't noticed their supporters are not going to just stop supporting them for such fickle complaints like lack of service delivery? I mean, when has this changed voters' minds in the past?

The Real Tsotsi

The South African film that won Best Foreign Language at the Academy Awards was Tsotsi, based on an Athol Fugard story about a young gangster who is forced to reassess his life when he hijacks a car with a baby in it.

Just so we don't all forget that real life is not like the movies, here's what happens to babies who are in cars that get hijacked. They get thrown out the window.

Night at the Oscars

I'm watching the oscars as i type this. I watch it every year. What can i say, i'm a big fangirl when it comes to movies. This time i thought i'd try blogging as i watch. Because the difference this year is i'm sitting on the couch typing on my shiny new laptop. Operative words there are 'my' and 'laptop'.

Damn, Howl's Moving Castle should have won best animated film. Miyazaki is a genius. I just watched Spirited Away yesterday, and i will be watching Howl's Moving Castle as soon as i can get my grubby little paws on it. I loved the book by Diana Wynne Jones, i love Miyazaki's other films, so there is no doubt it will be great. Stupid academy. Not that Wallace and Gromit are not very cool, you understand.

I have noticed something about the technical oscars: they are always presented by a smoking hot actress. I think the logic behind it is this: the nerds are not cool enough to invite to the real oscars, so as a consolation prize we'll let them kiss a hot actress on the cheek. That's it. That's as close as we'll let them to the real stars, and even then there should be a big black guy with an earpiece and a gun in the wings, just waiting for one of those creepy nerd-boys to try get a little more than a peck on the cheek. God damn nerds.

Rachel Weisz just won best supporting actress. Do you think it's becoming a new good luck charm, to be pregnant when nominated? Catherine Zeta Jones. Marcia Gay Harding. I'm telling you, pregnant is the new black. I predict the next big thing will be actually conceiving at the oscars. Or giving birth while accepting one.

"Pimp: sort of like an agent, with a better hat." Damn, John Stewart is funny.

Holy crap! Something is trying to eat Charlize Theron! Get it off! GET IT OFF!!! ...oh, wait. That's her dress. Never mind.

Wow, i think that's the third official plug i've heard for going to the cinema. They're putting watching a movie on DVD at the same level as pirating and downloading movies off the intertron. Hollywood must really be feeling the box office slump, they're not even being subtle about it. Why bother with all the 'you can't enjoy these movies to their full extent anywhere but the big screen' rubbish? Why don't they just come right out and say, 'ZOMG we are losing monies! We cannot afford our Dolce and Gabana quadruple ply toiletpaper or our Gucci tampons! Go to the cinemas and pay for our ridiculously overpriced tickets so we can make millions and millions of CASH!'

What the hell is the honorary oscar for? It's like they decided that there had to be an oscar for people who'd been nominated for at least five oscars in their career but never won a single one, and who aren't talented enough to get the lifetime achievement consolation prize. It's the Losers' Oscar. It's the oscar that says, 'You aren't good enough for an oscar, but we're going to give you this one so you stop bitching about not having one yet.' It's the oscar that says, 'Hopefully you will now decide you have reached the pinnacle of your career and stop trying. Please. No, seriously. Stop.'

How did they give an oscar to 'It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp?' How? It's not the title that bothers me. It's not the fact that it's hip hop that bothers me. It's the fact that it's bad hip hop! Bad! It's like giving an oscar for Best Picture to a sex video starring 50 Cent and filmed in his basement. By his mom.

Tsotsi won Best Foreign Film. Nice. As a South African, the only thing i can say is that it was a directorial miss not to pick Charlize Theron out from the audience while they were waiting for Gavid Hood to get to the stage. What are those people up in the director's box doing? Maybe it's a testament to how well Charlize is doing at acting American, that Hollywood appears to have completely forgotten she's a South African.

Dion Beebe just won Best Cinematography for Memoirs of a Geisha. Another South African. w00t. Pity Charlize didn't pick up best actress, would have made a nice hat trick.

And in a surprise finale, Brokeback Mountain did not in fact win Best Picture. I guess gay cowboys were still not arty enough for the oscars. I bet Ang Lee is kicking himself for snipping the scene where they eat pudding. Oh well, he can save it for the DVD extras.

Oops, i forgot! DVD bad! Go watch cinema. Give monies!

And that's it. Good Night.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Thot Plickens

This is becoming quite amusing. Eskom is now denying any knowledge of sabotage. Still no suspects arrested, either.

Oh, and in more election news, the local Islamic party has signs all over Cape Town promising to ban porn. I think it's a typo. Surely they meant pork. :)

Here we go again

Despite eskom announcing last week that the power cuts were over, we're back to load shedding. Apparently a transmission line went down and koeberg decided to 'take itself off the grid' to prevent failure. Now we wait for the line to be repaired, and we're back to random power outages.

Consequently i do not have much uptime to play with, so expect the midweek cuckoo to be late again this week. Circumstances beyond my control and all that jazz.

What i would like to mention very quickly is that the official word on the mystery bolt is now sabotage. Forces consipiring to create havok at election time. Police have suspects whom they will be arresting imminently. Any day now. Yep. Definitely going to arrest someone. Soon. Any time now.

Is it strange that the first reaction to a statement like that, coming as it does on the eve of municipal elections, unaccompanied as it is by arrests or proof, is that the ruling party is trying really hard to avoid any voters thinking they may have stuffed up provision of electricity in south africa? Because it would be terrible if some ANC supporters actually got angry enough with them to notice they do a shit job of running the country. I mean, someone might actually not vote for them because they haven't kept a single promise they made for the last 12 years.

Imagine that.

The Right not to Vote

Today in South Africa we are holding municipal elections. It's a public holiday so that people can spend all day in queues, exercising their right to vote.

I'm at work, exercising my right not to vote.

Naturally, when i tell some voters that i have no intention to vote, their reaction is bizarrely similar to when i tell some religious people i'm an atheist. Their first reaction is to attack my position as if i am some sort of abberation, and convince me that i am obligated to vote. The fact that i don't try to convince others not to vote (or not to be religious) seems lost on them. But then again people seem to think that the right to freedom of religion only counts for people who have a religion, and the right to voter freedom only counts for people who want to vote.

Well guess what, it doesn't. Much like freedom of religion is there to protect both the religious and irreligous alike, the right to voter freedom is there to protect both those who wish to vote, and those who do not. Why someone does not want to vote is none of your business, just like why someone has made the religious choice they have is none of your business.

The standard argument from voters at this point will be 'think of all the people who died and struggled just so you could have the right to vote'. Except all those people also died so that i could have the right not to vote. People don't seem to understand that being forced to vote if you don't want to, for whatever reason, is just another form of tyranny. Forcing me to vote when there is no candidate i feel is worth supporting, is infringing my rights. That is all part and parcel of the freedom that was struggled for. If you don't like it, tough.

Of course, i wouldn't be me if i just stopped at explaining why you have no right to tell me to vote. Naturally i have an opinion about why i'm not voting, and things would just be crazy if i wasn't about to voice it. So here it is:

I don't agree with democracy. Democracy gives the average person the ability to decide who will govern the country. The problem with that is the average person is stupid, selfish and gullible. They will vote for a party like they're supporting a soccer team, regardless of how badly they perform. Their vote will not be educated, and it will not be for what they believe to be the good of the community as a whole. They will not seek to inform themselves of what each party stands for. In short, they will fuck it up.

What i would support is a meritocracy. All the same principles as democracy, only you have to earn the right to vote by doing something more than just reaching the age of majority. Anyone can earn the right to vote, you just have to apply yourself. Basic requirements would be things like a grade 12 education, attending voter education classes, and performing at least a few hours of community service of some kind. A criminal record of any kind will mean you cannot vote. Ever again.

The right to vote would be given to those who prove themselves capable of making an informed decision, and being a responsible citizen. And no, this is not reverting back to the days when you had to be a certain race or class to achieve the right to vote. Anyone from any background or race or religion should be capable of fulfilling the voter requirements by applying themselves and being socially responsible. If you cannot meet these basic requirements, you are either not motivated enough, in which case you don't really want to vote anyway, or you are basically incapable of casting an education vote and so shouldn't be allowed to.

Naturally, this is not going to happen anytime soon. So why don't i just be satisfied with what we have now? Well, maybe if i lived in a country like the US, or the UK, or Australia, where democracy functions as it's meant to, i would concede that point and vote. Except i live in South Africa, where there are majors issues with the way we practice so-called democracy. For one, we do not have a strong enough opposition to contest the ruling party in any meaningful way. We never will have a strong enough opposition, for the same reason that the ANC can do what it likes to its voters and will not lose - because people support their party because it's their party. The non-ANC parties will vote for their team: the christians will vote for the ACDP; the Zulus will vote for the IFP; the communists will vote for the ACP; the Afrikaaners will vote for the FFPlus. And those that have neither religious, racist or cultural inclinations will still be split between the DA and ID. And even if by some miracle everyone puts aside race, religion and culture and even party loyalty, and all vote for one opposition party, ANY opposition party, ALL THOSE VOTES PUT TOGETHER ARE NOT ENOUGH TO MAKE AN IMPACT.

People say it's not about beating the ANC, it's about winning enough seats for one other party so we can have a strong opposition in parliament to keep the ANC honest. Except that the ANC command over two thirds of the vote. One third, even united, is not enough to keep the ANC honest. With a two thirds majority, they can still steamroller just about any decision, and even change the constitution as they like. So the numbers don't add up.

But even if in just one city, like Cape Town, we manage to get an opposition party to win the election, it won't be for long. Look at last year, where the DA succeeded in winning Cape Town. Before the term was even through, the ANC with its offers of ministerial posts and fat salaries got enough DA members to cross the floor that the ANC was effectively back in power. Now you go and ask all those people who went out and voted DA if that was what they voted for. They voted DA, the DA won, and the ANC still has more seats in the end and has their mayorial candidate in the seat of power? Is this democracy? No. Not in any way, shape or form.

So there you have it. I'm not going to vote until there's a slot on that ballot that says 'Vote of no confidence in the electoral process', and someone is actually paying attention to how many people put their X next to it. Spoiling your ballot isn't good enough, because there's no way to tell on the spoiled ballots count how many were on purpose and how many were because they let the average idiot into that booth with a sharp pen and a dull wit.