Thursday, March 18

BBC Guide to SA opposition parties

The BBCs view on South African opposition parties. Interesting is the percentages won by each party in the 1994 and 1999 election. Asuming the DA wins most of the NNPs votes, and that the IFP stays the same of loses only a little, the DA could win just over 20% of the vote.

Tuesday, March 16

The Intrepid Reporter

The DP/IFP rally was certainly interesting. Im going to give some first impressions and I'm planning to write a longer piece tomorrow.

Dr Buthelezi was very relaxed. He arrived early and hung around outside the hall chatting with a few people. There was only one bodyguard I saw, and he didnt seem very worried or active. Hey, I got to shake hands with him, so that made my day. Another thing that struck me is his age. He is 85 years old, but you wouldnt say it by looking at him. You can feel it in his grip however.

Mr Leon arrived later with is procession in tow. I never saw him off stage so I couldnt watch him not wear his politicians hat. His movements when he speak seem to me to be contrived. He wants you to read into his body language the obvious message. It doesnt seem natural to me, and Im consequently not that convinced by his message. What struck me however was that he never stops the act when he sits on the stage and others speak. He is always doing something. Pulling out an article with a flourish, studies the article intently, puts on his glasses, takes off his glasses, shake his head vigorously at some comment by a speaker. Sometimes however, the mask slips as he scans the crowd and you can almost see the mind working. ("How many black people could we draw? Where are the cameras? Whats the crowds reaction?") Almost. He is a classy politician, and he makes the rest of his posse seem clumsy.

The iHP-140 recorded amazingly. Using the internal mike and sitting about three rows from the stage quality is crystal clear. I was worried about ambient noise, but it was no problem. It recorded about 50 minutes of speech on about 53 megabyte of mp3. About a meg a minute at 128 kbaud. Pretty impressive as I thought the internal mike was of inferior quality.

BlogStyle

If youre a regular blog fanatic, you should be familiar with the bog classifications linker and writer.

When I started to blog I was mostly a linker. This however changed as I found linking to be almost redundant. The scope of my blog is limited almost exclusively to South Africa and world events in context to South Africa. This meant that anyone interested enough in my blog to read it would almost by definition be aware of the major news events of the day. No need for me to point them out. In time my posts became mostly longer pieces. More words, less hyperlinks. Still, discussing the major event of the day in South Africa also seems almost redundant, especially since other people are already doing (See here, here and here) such a fine job, and I have little interest in day to day politics

Writing is also a lot harder. Its a challenge. Its fun. Its dang hard to do it everyday. Bloggers such as the Head Heab and Abiola make it seem natural. Its not natural for me.

So, Im looking to send the blog in a new direction. Im still going to be writing longer pieces, but Im also going to be linking to subject more diverse than just South Africa to keep the momentum of the blog going and hopefully make youre blog experience more interesting.

To start with, and since Southern Cross has done it, Im going to try my hand at some journalistic blogging. The DA/IFP rally is scheduled for today in Stellenbosch, with both Tony Leon and Mangasutu Bhutelezi scheduled to attend. I'll be youre man on the spot.

(And it give me a chance to fool around with my iHP-140's recording features!)

David Brooks: Al Qaeda's Wish List

At least Mr Brooks sees the Spanish election for what it is. A stunning victory for Al Qaeda.

Thursday, March 11

The one that got away

On the topic of what's cool in the world these days, the fishing cam must be the ultimate. Now you can have pictures of the one that got away! (Via Gizmodo)

And I went and wasted my hard earned dosh on an mp3 player? (Since I'm on the topic, does mp3 player take an a or an an in front, since you say empee three?)

Pre-integrated People

A good piece by Wayne at Commentary.co.za on the lowering of travel restrictions to a host of countries.

I agree with him on this issue, but Im perhaps a bit happier to see more Chinese immigrants come to South Africa. The South African Chinese community is certainly a great asset for our country, and its growth can only do us good.

Im also not worried that South Africa will have the same trouble integrating immigrant communities as America and Europe is having. Europes problem is that it does not want to integrate the new Muslim immigrants, Americas that it cannot integrate its immigrant community fast enough.

South Africa wont have this problem because we will never even try to integrate anybody. What culture could we possible choose to integrate anybody into? We are too diverse. Immigrants come to South Africa and form or join their own communities. This is the reality of a South Africa that already consists of so many different cultures.

The Portuguese community is a good example. Very close knit, it is nevertheless spread over the whole of South Africa. It has been a part of South Africa for hundreds of years, but has always maintained close ties to Portugal. This relationship has been a boon to South Africa and has allowed the Portuguese culture to hold its own and grow in South Africa.

The only culture in South Africa that does readily integrate immigrants is, strangely enough, the Afrikaner culture. (Although the arguments as to what is an Afrikaner will probably never end either. I dont buy the one that starts with the "G" word.)
After meeting a certain Chinese guy whose family farms in the Freestate and who speaks Afrikaans with a platter accent then I do Im ready for anything.

Should one community grow large enough we'll just add their language to the list of national languages, and go on speaking our different brewed up versions of the Queens English. Thats who we are. People arrive pre-integrated.

Wednesday, March 10

Mining expedition?

Africa Confidential has the latest on the mercenaries caught in Zimbabwe. Im finding it had to get worked up about this as the kleptocracy they were to overthrow surely deserves it. Im always in favour of these kind of plots. It creates at least the chance that something better can come out of it. Sometimes the peace needs to be broken.

A case of one dictator saving another dictators ass? What a great day for the international community.

For a great comment thread and a brief introduction into the paranoid mind of an American liberal, go read this thread over at Echaton.

Easter

The Easter holiday is traditionally known for long weekend vacations and complete road carnage as Gautengers flee the rat warren they call a province. This year will hopefully be no different, as this flood of desperate vacation seekers is the life blood of large parts of the country.

The largest beneficiary of this recreational largesse has been the Natal coast (I recall fondly many a vacation spent along the Wild Coast growing up), but the Limpopo province (once part of the Transvaal) has decided to get a part of this actions and have launched an advertising campaign targeting Gautengers over the coming Easter. Not to be outdone, Natal is fighting back with one of its own. Good governance? Yes. Capitalism at work in government? Yes. Do I want to see more of this? The sooner the better.

Except for the interesting phenomenon of provinces competing for South African tourists, it looks to me to be a unintended vindication of the breakup of the Transvaal province. It is also perhaps an argument for increasing the federal powers of the provinces. One that is not based on the nationalistic desires of tribe and volk.

Then again, the abject failure of the Eastern Capes and Mpumalangas local governments is probably a stronger argument for even less federal power.

Update: Ive been thinking about this some more, and I wonder why regional countries have not advertised for South African tourists. Off hand I cant recall ever having seen advertising for any regional country. I dont know how successful the Lesotho tourist trade is for example, but Im pretty sure it could be more successful with a few well placed adds.

Then again, it might be that our neighbours don't feel ready yet to open their arms to the hordes from Gauteng. Botswana would certainly hold its nose in the air at the thought. Zimbabwe and Namibia are trying to get rid of white people, not possibly have some of them come over for vacation. I don't know about Mozambique, but I don't think they are organized enough yet to be able to even think about mounting something like that. The Swazi king is such a useless git I wont even go there. What's up with Lesotho, Zambia, Malawi or Tanzania?

Tech Cool

What's new and glorious in the world? How about this? After long deliberation and soul searching, I've bought the iRiver iHP-140, with a 40 Gig Harddrive, FM Radio, Multi-codec support and mp3 recording functionality. Forget CD's, this is pure digital pleasure.

The pretty boy on the block is of course the Apple Ipod. White, sterile, and copyrighted to the Jobs. Price wise is costs slightly less then the iRiver, but technically it is by far the iRivers inferior. When you consider that the Ipods battery life is only a year, and that the battery cant be replaced easily or cheaply (or not at all if you're in Africa), the iRiver with its 16 hour battery life (compared to the Ipods 8) becomes even more desirable.

There are still a few problems with the iRiver, although they are minor compared to the brilliance of this device. Firstly, Cables! How I hate cables! Because the iRiver comes with a remote that is connected to your earphones, this problem is exacerbated. Its not a problem when its plugged into the Hi-fi, or connected to the car sound system, but having to schlep all those cables along makes life unpleasant. The obvious solution would be Bluetooth, but the problem then would be sound quality, as well as having to buy blue tooth compliant Car sound systems and Hi-Fi's.

Its a great idea, but it will take a while me thinks. In the mean time a docking station and retractible cables built into the remote would make me pretty happy.

Other problems are relatively minor. The button control used to navigate files is not intuitive as it should be. The fact that it has so few buttons and has to double up on functionality is a bit confusing for me still, but I should hopefully get the hang of it. The fact that the power-on is not the power-off is a no-no for me however. The remote seems a bit flimsy. Im afraid it wont last as well as the main unit. This is perhaps only because the main unit is so superbly built though. Compared with other MP3 players the remote is pretty solid.

Overall Im a very happy customer. This is the first toy Ive gone to bed with in years! Now if only I can get my wife to let me use it sometimes...

Tuesday, March 9

Blogroll

Updated the blog roll. Ive removed some things I didnt like, and added two great new South African blogs. Commentary.co.za brings us libertarian views on South Africa, and Mzansi gives us the view from Johannesburg.

Ive also joined the Southern African blogring! Give it a whirl.

Election Posters

Its election season in South Africa. The reason we know this, is because there are about three posters on each lamp post (and there are plenty of lamp posts, for you foolish people who would ask "But how many lamp posts can there be in Africa?"). Strangely enough, it is one of the things that has not changed at all since only white people were allowed to vote. Most of the electioneering takes place on street poles. Living in the Western Cape, I can only comment on the posters here. So here goes.

The ANC runs the province currently thanks to the NNP selling them their political power in return for god knows what. The fear of the ANC is that the NNP voters might be upset at the NNP for doing this, and all vote for the DA. Getting kicked out of Cape Town after they just got here is not on the ANC's list of top ten things to do this year.

So the ANC is campaigning in Afrikaans, with the bold statement " n Volkskontrak om werk te skep and armoede te beveg". (The English version says "a Peoples contract to create work and fight poverty"). This is a bold move in what some see as the heart of the Afrikaner nation. Volk was a strong word in Afrikaner nationalist politics, often abused by the National Party, the ANC's new allies.

The NNP on the other hand comes up with "Jy verdien n billike deel" or "You deserve a fair share". What does this mean? I don't know. A Fair share of what? Of the riches of the land? Is the NNP now saying that it is in favour of a communist style redistribution of wealth? This from the party that drove the electorate to the polls with cries of "Rooi gevaar!!" ("Red Danger")

If I didn't know any better, Id say the NNP and ANC got their slogans mixed up when it was sent to the printers.

The DA has come out with "Suid Afrika verdien beter" ("South Africa deserves better"). In white areas it is also using the poster "The NNP is the ANC. Vote DA". I must say, the DA has been trying hard to shake its all white image. The only white guy I've seen has been Tony Leon. African music, Rallies in Townships, fighting poverty and crime as the political agenda. They've done it all. One poster, seen only in poorer areas, shows Tony posing with a obviously poor coloured family. Im surprised there isn't one with him kissing black babies.

Of the smaller parties I haven't seen much. The Freedom Front has a few posters up. "Daar is weer hoop" or "There is hope again" doesn't make much sense to me either. Given that their fondest hope is an independent Afrikaner homeland, and that it will never happen, Im not sure what they are hopeful about.

I haven't seen any posters of Patricia de Lille's party, which Im unhappy about. I was hoping she could get a bit more organized, but it looks like she hasn't been able get up there to play with the big boys yet.