Wednesday, June 30

Blogger on Vacation



Im on vacation for the next two weeks, and where Im going the internet is a rumour. Sadly, that means no blogging for a while.

In the mean time give the Southern African blog ring a whirl.




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With a Pinch of Salt

How accurate are our news sources? Not very, according to this.

African Dreams

Some interesting speculation by Wayne Wides on South African foreign policy and the planned hydroelectric super-powerstation in the Congo.

Tuesday, June 29

Montagu Pass



Notice the block house from the Anglo-Boer War at the top of the hill?

A Better, Brighter, Future

Fodder proposes a way by which to measure the success of the Iraqi invasion. I respond.

Blogs in the News

South African blogs in the Cape Times. Yeeha!

Monday, June 28

First Posts

Its been a slow day in the blogosphere. What do I do on a slow day? Look at peoples first blog posts.To make it even more interesting, lets look for the first blog post by a South African. How do I define a South African blog? Tough question. Dont know, so I'll just say "I decide" and leave it at that. (You'll have to scroll to the bottom of the page for some of these links.)

January 11, 2002: Mike Golby at YBlogZA blames Rageboy for starting his blog.
January 30, 2002: Conduit
February 22, 2002: Alien Tongue
June 22, 2002: Farrago
July 18, 2002: Fifteen minutes
July 9, 2003:Politics.za
October 11, 2003: Southern Cross
November 12, 2003: Gauteng Blog
January 03, 2004: Cherry Flava
January 08, 2004: Fodder
February 23, 2004: Natal Fever
February 28, 2004: Mzanzi Africa
March 13, 2004: Njalo Njalo
May 11, 2004: The Fishbowl

Here's my first post on August the 20th 2003.

A number of blogs have dissapeared completely. Mostly those that didn't run on blogger. On a number of blogs I couldnt find the first post or even an archive. Others Ive missed because Im blind and forgetful. If you have or know of a South African blog that isnt listed here, please leave a link in the comment section to their first post.

Friday, June 25

Boland



Looking towards Franchoek from just outside Stellenbosch. Franchoek is just on the other side of those mountains. Weather has been great this winter, but some people are worried. Im of to the Klein Karoo for some mountain climbing. Enjoy the weekend.

A Moral Oil Company?

A perspective on the moral questions that plague the oil industy in Africa.

Mbeki no neo-con

Jonty at the Fishbowl on Mbekis shift to the left.

Thursday, June 24

Stellenbosh Campus



The weather is better today as you can see. Weather blogging could be my new thing, dont you think? Stellenbosch campus is really stunning. Note the white walls, terracotta roof and the gables of the building. If you look at the campus from one of the surrounding mountains it looks like a gaint empty terracotta parking lot, just prettier.

See this site for a brief overview to the university.

Traditional medicine

Long the darling of the a new South Africa. WHO could have a problem with it. (Via Pondblog. Sorry about the pun, couldn't help myself. Really. Ive got a problem.)

The lies of Michael Moore

Its been a talking point around the blogosphere, but if you havent read this article by Christopher Hitchens yet I definitely recommend it.

Bashing Bush

Laurance on "Bush Bashing" and the tough choice that really isn't any choice.

The problem is that any vote for Kerry will be seen as a victory by Osama and his ilk. The only way a democratic candidate could have seriously challenged Bush in this election would have been by being even more anti-terror than the Bush crowd. The democrats were unfortunately so enjoying their "Bush bashing", that any serious candidate had no chance of being elected during the democratic parties election process.

This is unfortunate as I think Bush has become a liability for America. One of the biggest problems in the world currently is the sense of fear and the lack of trust that exists in the world. That this is the goal of the terrorists is frightening. Bush has contributed to this, whether he is to blame or not, and a serious candidate could have been able to mount a successful challenge. Looking at Bill Clinton signing books in New York, I'm reminded how good he was at putting the world at ease. (Would the French and Germans have dared to oppose him at the UN?)

As things stand Bush will in all likelihood have 4 years in which he can hopefully show that his policies have been the correct ones.

Update: Jim Hoagland on problems of perception, the cost of failure and the blame game that the Bush presidency has become in the run-up to the November election.

Wednesday, June 23

Stellenbosch



Winter has finally hit the Western Cape. It should hopefully be over next month. Its a balmy 18 degrees, but I miss the sun already (that's Celsius, for all you troglodytes still living in the 18th century). This picture is of Victoria Street, running through the University campus. Its winter break, which is why the street is so empty.

Wishful thinking

Minister Kasrils spends some time fantasizing about what could be;"South Africa is sitting on 86% of the new energy source of the world"

Rumours of Al-Qaeda

RW Johnson believes that there is a connection between Al-Qaeda and Zimbabwe, and that the South African government is happy to overlook it. (via Mzanzi Africa)

...
Another straw in the wind was the revelation that closed circuit TV cameras within the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Cape Town had recorded the image of a known al-Qaeda suspect lolling against the restaurant's bar a month before the bomb-blast there. The police, who identified the man as a Moroccan based in Zimbabwe, strangely refused to act on this information. It is tempting to link this attitude with Pretoria's rapid volte face on the issue of 9/11. By January 2002 ANC pressure on ex-president Mandela had forced him publicly to recant his previous condemnation of Bin Laden, while deputy president Zuma announced that the ANC no longer saw 9/11 as a terrorist act but as a blow in a wider struggle against imperialism. He simultaneously denounced Britain and America for their war on the Taliban which, he said, was aimed "against innocent Afghan civilians". Given president Mbeki's support for president Mugabe it is possible that Pretoria was not keen to see a line of enquiry opened up in the Planet Hollywood affair which led back to the presence of al-Qaeda activists in Zimbabwe.
...

Rumours, innuendo and conjecture. Any of it true? Who knows. What I do know is that Mugabe and his goons might be dangerous and desperate but subtle, competent or smart they are not. If there is a connection the chance of it staying quite is about as good as South Africa winning the world cup in 2010. Could happen, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Would an Al-Qaeda presence in Zimbabwe necessarily be a bad thing? It would definitely be a serious error on the part of Mugabe and Al-Qaeda. Zimbabwe isn't the Congo, and contrary to what the rest of the world imagines Zimbabwe to be, Zimbabwe is a comparatively well developed and accessible country.

The political protection that Mr Mbeki can provide Mugabe is tenuous at best, and should America believe that there is a serious Al-Qaeda presence the amount of pressure that America would have to place on Mbeki to jump the Zim ship can probably be summed up into one sentence; "Lets talk NEPAD".

America also has a convenient regional ally in Botswana, which has been none too happy with Mr Mugabe. As luck would have it America already has a military base in the country. Aggressive support for the MDC would also change the situation in Zimbabwe dramatically. This would probably lead to civil war, but with American military support and the acceptance of the South African government international intervention (possibly under the flag of the SADC) would be politically possible.

As for Al-Qaeda, escape from Zimbabwe would not be as easy as from the other places they have been operating in. Neither can they move in Zimbabwe inconspicuously. As Johnson points out. Ten shaky looking muslim men stands out like a sore thumb in Zimbabwe.

Keeping all this in mind, Mr Johnsons article perhaps makes sense in a way. Im sure Mr Johnson would love to see Mugabe make this mistake, and he is perhaps not totally objective when it come to the subject matter at hand.

Where would I be if I was an Al-Qaeda cell looking to set up an operation in Southern Africa? Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg comes readily to mind. Large criminal organizations... Busy international travel routes and a very sympathetic local minority... The benefits go on and on.

Sour on South Africa?

Interesting piece on the economic perceptions about South Africa. I think the perceptions are mostly wrong, but still valuable to know what they are.

Tuesday, June 22

Epidemic in AFRICA!

Prepare for the latest medical scare story;

Polio epidemic warning for Africa - BBC
West and Central Africa is on the brink of the largest polio epidemic in recent years, experts have warned.

And better yet, its in Africa! This lets western papers print its favourite pictures from Africa. Poor sick black children. Ahh, back to the halcyon days of Ethiopia.

How long before someone laments the Iraq war and its impact on the poor children of Africa dying of Polio? ( Here's one that says America shouldn't declare war in Iraq because of polio.) Ahh, there's one. (free subscription required)

Ethnic strife halts polio war
...
The polio program has suffered from its association with America and thus the war with Iraq. "People ask, 'If the United States is so concerned about children, then why did they kill so many children bombing Iraq?' " said Sakah Saidu Mahmud, a specialist on Nigerian Islamic activism and a Rockefeller Visiting Fellow at Notre Dame University's Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. "The governor of Kano is capitalizing on this, being seen as a defender of the lives of Muslim children."
...


The BBC warns that there are 5 times more reported cases this year than the previous year. Scary stuff, until you read that there are only 250 cases at present, up from 50 last year. (compared with 300,000 in 1988)

What are the reasons for the sudden upsurge? According to the BBC;

The upsurge has been linked to a suspension of the vaccination programme in northern Nigeria.
...
This means that ten countries have now been reinfected with the virus since the Nigerian state of Kano stopped immunisations for eight months last year after Islamic elders voiced concerns about vaccine safety.

They suspected vaccines had been adulterated as part of a western plot to depopulate the region.


Love the BBC. They can make even the most demented crackpots seem so ... civilized. Meanwhile, the Kano government has found a vaccine produced in a proper Muslim country and will resume their polio immunization program.

p.s The South African government is taking no chances and has already announced an immunization program for all of South Africas children under 5.

Running on empty

Is the IFP fading away along with Buthelezi?

Monday, June 21

Mountain Stream

Public Service

Steven den Beste, as is his habbit, hosts an article on his server that should be read.

Genocide in Zimbabwe?

Instapundit thinks that the planned genocide of the white population of Zimbabwe is around the corner. I don't think so.

Mr Mugabe might be a mad hatter, but he has always realized that any direct physical move against the white population will give his opponents too much leverage. It would force South Africa to abandon Zimbabwe politically as well as give Britain a reason for interfering militarily. I don't believe Britain would, but I'm pretty sure Mr Mugabe believes this is what Britain wants.

Instead Mr Mugabe has committed economic genocide against the white people of Zimbabwe, and ruined the country economically in the process.

However, the fear that the people of Zimbabwe should have is for the power struggle that will break out when Mr Mugabe dies or own of his lieutenants decides to try and overthrow him. The collapse of democracy has left Mr Mugabe as dictator for life. Mr Mugabes promises of resignation are partly there to mollify the growing discontent in his own party. To believe that he is telling the truth is folly.

There is now no method by which power can be transferred legitimately. His own party and the army would never accept defeat in an election, and the number of hands in the cookie jar that is Zanu-PF make a peaceful transition almost unimaginable.In the chaos that could follow from this all bets would be off.

Friday, June 18

Sunset III



Looking towards the Fish River Canyon, Southern Namibia. Enjoy the Weekend.

Where's Felix when you need him

The Head Heab thinks that Zimbabwe Information Minister and former political science professor Jonathan Moyo is the breath of fresh air that Zanu-PF has been needing. Im more worried that he's just the vulture that's going to be the first to the corpse.

Fashion Queens

The latest and greatest in frontline fashion wear. (via Bastard Sword)

Smell the fear

Interesting article on Blogs in Time Magazine

I'll eat my hat

Fodder comes to the slow realization that hes going to be stuck with Goerge Bush for another 4 years. Hes right, you know. Anyone that thinks America is going to elect a guy that played checkers with the Vietcong in Paris during the Vietnam war (Yes, he fought in the war. That just makes it worse.) at a time when American troops are in a war just isnt thinking clearly.

20/20 Vision

The editors of the New Republic look back at the reasons for the war in Iraq (and their support of it).

What were they thinking

Conrad at Gweilo Diaries has an interesting rant about the 9/11 Commision and not being prepared.

The Belgravia Dispatch

Has moved to more respectable digs. The new location is here.

Addiction

Vaz gives us the lowdown on where the best dealers in Gauteng hang out. Admitting youve got a problem is the first step though. Congrats

Moving House

Colin in the Corner Office is moving house. Hope you find a new home soon. I'd recommend blogger, but I havent tried anything else yet so maybe I shouldn't.

Thursday, June 17

See Anything?



Hunting in Namibia. With only a thousand springbuck roaming 27000 hectares, hunting becomes a challenge. Combined with the fact that the springbuck see you at a 1000 meters, smell you at 500 and know the land better than you ever could it gives you plenty of time to admire the scenery.

Get a life,

"stupid white people".

Go read Fodder to find out why.

Steves last word (probably)

Steve Sturm replies to my previous post here.

To those who claim that 'all lives' are of equal value, that is a load of bunk. Maybe it made sense in the abstract in whatever philosophy course you took during your never-ending time in school, but it doesn't play in Peoria. Nor does it play in Pretoria. If it did, and using Iraq as an example, with Hussein killing thousands of innocent Iraqis every year, then why didn't you offer up some number of your countrymen to stop Hussein? If Iraqi lives are just as valuable as South African lives, you should have been willing to suffer several hundred South African deaths in order to stop Hussein - yet you didn't.

I supported the American invasion of Iraq because I hold Iraqi lives in high regard, and would see them have same opportunities in life that I do. The reasons for the American invasion of Iraq did not matter to me, because getting rid of Saddam Hussein would have been and has been an incredible gift for the Iraqi people.

I would have supported Pretoria in sending troops to Iraq to help getting rid if Saddam Hussein. The South African government, to my disappointment, decided that helping America in its invasion of Iraq was not in our interest. This I regret and I think it was a mistake.

However, America invaded Iraq because it was in Americas interest to invade Iraq. Not because it was in the interest of Iraqis. The fact that Iraqis are to be freed from the regime of Mr Hussein is but happy coincidence.

If I could have my way, I would like to see more such happy coincidences in North Korea, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Sadly it is in neither Americas nor South Africas interest at the moment.

Our governments hold our lives in higher regard than the lives of the people from those countries. Rightly so. That does not mean we should.

p.s South Africa currently has troops in Burundi and the Congo on peacekeeping missions. South Africa also led the invasion of Lesotho when that countries government was overthrown by a faction in their military 1998. You'd be forgiven for thinking Thabo Mbeki was Goerge Bush on Speed after reading this article describing the events of the day.

Wednesday, June 16

Youth Day

Its a public holiday in South Africa today, so no blogging today. Im just showing a friend the power of blog quickly.

Tuesday, June 15

Kamieskroon se Kafee



Yes, there is a gas station in Kamieskroon. Also a pretty church and a windpump. Not much else though. Reminds me of the places we use to stop at as a child when we drove to visit my grandparents in Kestel in the Freestate.

All those other places have been replaced by the 24 hour Superstation, but at least Kamieskroon is still there.

Kenyan blogs

Since Mental Acrobatics seems to have dissapeared from the blogosphere, Ive been missing out on my daily portion of Kenyan bloggy goodness.

Ive added two very good Kenyan blogs to the blogroll. Kenyan Pundit and the group blog, Aturi.

Its almost a crowd

New Southern African webring members. Welcome to Andrew and Murray at Southern Cross and GP at Gauteng Blog. If youve got a Southern African blog, and your not in the ring, ask yourself "Whats wrong with me?"

Now go click the shiny thing at the bottom of the sidebar!

*Blush*

It seems this blog was listed by SA Computer Magazine along with Southern Cross and Farrago. All power to the blog, but there is still just something about print media that makes me faint in the knees.

Heh, why haven't I got a subscription to that fine magazine yet?

The Constructs sense of Responsibility

I commented in a previous post on Steve Sturms thoughts on torture and the value of human lives. He has posted a reply to his critics (of which their appears to be quite a few) here.

Steve takes two positions:
(1) American lives are (should be?) more important (to Americans) than non-Americans (italics mine).
(2) The use of torture should not be categorically ruled out and that it should only be done with the approval of very high authority.

Steve is wrong on both counts. Here's why.

The belief that people that are different, that people that are from "somewhere else" are of less inherent value is a natural one. It is in our human nature to mistrust the outsider. That does not make it right. If a man angers me, I want to strike him. I do not. I do not because it is not sociable. I was raised to channel my anger. To use other methods to deal with the situation. As beings who live in a society there are many things that we must suppress to be successful. This feeling that "the other" are less valuable is one of those feelings.

In its most blatant, raw and horrible forms it is racism, it is tribalism, it is apartheid and it is the holocaust. The belief that American lives should be more valuable to Americans then other lives is just another form of this feeling (granted, a lot less horrible).

If there is one lesson we should learn from the previous century it is the fact that the feeling that "other people" are somehow of less value is wrong. We are adults. We can and should control our more base natures. Steve is right in the sense that we all feel it, he is wrong to believe it is right to feel so, or to base our actions on that feeling.

The lives of Americans, Iraqis, Englishmen, Russians and, yes, even smug South Africans, should have equal value in everyone's eyes.

The state on the other hand has no base natures. It is a construct with no moral values that we do not give it and no responsibility beyond those we can enforce upon it. The state is a construct that has (or is suppose to have) our welfare as a society as its ultimate goal. A person can be held accountable for his actions. The state cannot.

The state should believe that its citizens are more important than those of other countries. No other country will (or should) care for the states citizens as much as the state. The state should give rights and privileges to its citizens and it should reserve those rights and privileges from people from other countries unless it is in the states interest to do so.

We limit the states power for good reasons however. The state has no innate moral compass to guide it and the people who should be its guide are all too fallible. Another thing we have learned is that the interest of the state and our own individual interest rarely coincides. We must protect our rights from the state, because the state will always believe that its actions are in everyone's interest (even if it is to the detriment of the individual).

Torture is a tool that should never be given to the state. It is base folly to expect the state to be able to use it responsible. Torture, as is the death penalty, is a one way street. There is no second chance. Where the state applies the death penalty in America, it is after years of consideration and even more years of waiting on the chance that contrary evidence is not found. Still, mistakes are made.

By the nature of the deed, there can never be such contemplation where torture is concerned. It is an act of passion. There can be no "You will only be tortured after due process". Will the state use this only in the most direst of circumstances? Yes, but what are those circumstances? Abdul knows where the chemical bomb is planted. His wife knows where Abdul is. The Indonesian financier knows where the wife is. Its thought that one of the 10 people picked up in the last raid knows the name of the financier. Will the state hesitate to torture if it had the right to do so? I don't think so (and rightly so). Should we hesitate to give this power to the state? Yes. Why? Because we should value the lives of people in other countries as much as we value the lives of our fellow countrymen. It should not be the states responsibility, but it must ours.

In my previous post I said that at times torture could theoretically be an option. It is not option that the state should ever be granted. It is an action that only an individual can decide on, with the knowledge that they will be held accountable for their actions. The state can never be held accountable.

Update: Steve Sturm replies to my post here.

To those who claim that 'all lives' are of equal value, that is a load of bunk. Maybe it made sense in the abstract in whatever philosophy course you took during your never-ending time in school, but it doesn't play in Peoria. Nor does it play in Pretoria. If it did, and using Iraq as an example, with Hussein killing thousands of innocent Iraqis every year, then why didn't you offer up some number of your countrymen to stop Hussein? If Iraqi lives are just as valuable as South African lives, you should have been willing to suffer several hundred South African deaths in order to stop Hussein - yet you didn't.

I supported the American invasion of Iraq because I hold Iraqi lives in high regard, and would see them have same opportunities in life that I do. The reasons for the American invasion of Iraq did not matter to me, because getting rid of Saddam Hussein would have been and has been an incredible gift for the Iraqi people.

I would have supported Pretoria in sending troops to Iraq to help getting rid if Saddam Hussein. The South African government, to my disappointment, decided that helping America in its invasion of Iraq was not in our interest. This I regret and I think it was a mistake.

However, America invaded Iraq because it was in Americas interest to invade Iraq. Not because it was in the interest of Iraqis. The fact that Iraqis are to be freed from the regime of Mr Hussein is but happy coincidence.

If I could have my way, I would like to see more such happy coincidences in North Korea, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Sadly it is in neither Americas nor South Africas interest at the moment.

Our governments hold our lives in higher regard than the lives of the people from those countries. Rightly so. That does not mean we should.

p.s South Africa currently has troops in Burundi and the Congo on peacekeeping missions. South Africa also led the invasion of Lesotho when that countries government was overthrown by a faction in their military 1998. You'd be forgiven for thinking Thabo Mbeki was Goerge Bush on Speed after reading this article describing the events of the day.

Friday, June 11

Moonlight



Enjoy the weekend.

How many points are you worth?

It seems that I've become a pretty strong supporter of America and its policies in recent years. Its always seemed to me that the recent wave of anti-Americanism has been pretty childish and overblown.

But boy, some Americans don't make it easy let me tell you. Catch a load of this. Steve Sturm has some insightful comments on when is it ok to torture. To back up his arguments good'ol Steve assigns point values to human lives.

-US citizen: 50 points
-US military: 47.5 points
-Citizen of a 'Friend of the US' country (England, Spain, Israel, for example): 25 points
-Citizen of a 'Not acting like a friend, yet not totally hostile' country : (Germany and France, for example, and for the time being): 20 points
-Citizen of a country that we just don't have a lot of experience with: 8 points
-US Human shields: 5 points
-Non US citizen human shield: 0 points (sorry, I just don't care)
-Innocent (non-arms bearing) citizen of a hostile country: 4 points
-Those wishing for the US to 'get its butt kicked' (Tom Robbins, Chrissie Hynde): 1/2 point each


As amazing as that is, it gets better. Good'ol Steve thought some more about this.

(UPDATE II) After writing this, it occurred to me that many people in this country would put a much lower value on the lives of Americans, whether military or not, and a much higher value on the lives of people elsewhere in the world, perhaps even to the point at which an Iraqi life was valued higher than that of an American, either civilian or soldier. Is this the point at which charges of anti-Americanism are justified?

Gee, anyone that thinks my life might have the same value as an Americans is anti-American. Doesn't that just give you a warm glow all over? No wonder when I start a defense of American policy with "I know they are arrogant pricks, but ..." it tends to go much better.

Sadly, the boys at Oxblog dont even blink at this argument.

However, our own Murray at Southern Cross has the time to take on the American uber-humans. Murray thinks he rates at least a 15 on the scale. I wouldn't push my luck if I were him though. He might get moved over to the 'Anti-American' side.

On the topic of torture? Yes, I believe that theoretically there can be times when torture could be the only option.

Theoretically.

It should however be a case of dammed if you do and dammed if you don't. It is and should be the most horrendous of crimes and should be punished accordingly. If there is a bomb about to go of and a terrorist must be tortured to stop it, the people responsible must still bear personal responsibility for their actions.

If it saves a 1000 lives, then that would not negate the fact that they did torture. They should still be punished for their actions.
Sadly there is no limit to torture as a method. You either use torture or you don't. There is no such thing as "We'll only torture him if ..." or "We'll only torture him a little".

To take a much overused example, Abu Graib was a crime. It should be treated as such no matter the end result. Even if the warders at the prison uncovered the next 9/11 plot, justice should still demand that they answer for their crimes.

When would torture be justified (if not acceptable)? If the warders at Abu Graib felt that the punishment they would received for their crimes was less important than the lives they could save by committing them. Sadly on Mr Sturms scale they would probably only have to stand in the corner for almost the whole afternoon.

Its so .... shiny!

The Southern African blog ring is growing! We have three new members; Isangqa, Serenity Dawn and YBLOG ZA (Note 'Southern' Africa, not South Africa. Theres a difference). Go on, give it a whirl. You can't resist, can you? Its so... shiny!




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Thursday, June 10

UN vs US

Who should be the global cop? Should there be a global cop? Are we stuck with the wrong global cop? Fodder has an opinion.

Sunset II

My President

Thabo Mbeki writes in the Washington Post and reminds me why Ive always respected him as our leader, despite the few times he has lost the ball.

Evil Empire

The evil neocon power behind the throne, Paul Wolfowitz, spells out Americas imperialist's plans for the future of Iraq.

Go read it now and may the force be with you.

Wednesday, June 9

Kam van Kamberg

Buy Me

Absa is looking for a foreign buyer. As the largest retail bank in South Africa, one of the biggest problems ABSA has faced has been the low cash reserves the bank has compared with international banks.

Im sure its been irking ABSA senior managers for years. One of the most advanced and profitable banks in the world, yet the cash on their books is insignificant compared with the big boys. Im sure they've been asked whether its right for them to even call themselves a bank.

Well, dagnabit, if you cant beat them, you can have them buy you out. As a loyal ABSA customer I can only welcome this move. ABSAs profits for the last year has been obscene to say the least. If I had a better banking option I would take it in a New York minute, but the rest of the players in the market are either more of the same (Standard), hopped up on drugs (Nedbank), wishing they were never sold off in the first place (First National i.e. the old Barcleys) or so insignificant people look at you funny when you pull out their cards (BOE etc etc).

I tried internet banking for a while (Ican Online). I was very happy with the services they did provide (cheap, good interest, helpful, intuitively easy) but they didn't provide the services I needed (ATMs everywhere, Home Loan, someone to grouse at at least once a year).

So yes, please, wont someone please buy ABSA.

Tuesday, June 8

Sunset



Sunset over Railtracks. Southern Namibia. About 50 kilometers North of Ai-Ais.

Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action seems to be a topic that crops up every few months. Jonathan commented on the issue brought up by Mr Lekota, Minister of defense for South Africa. Mr Lekota was asking why it was necessary for him to have a minimum percentage of white troops in the armed forces. Rethabile also addressed it yesterday, saying that he thinks that it is a necessary evil.

My own opinion is that affirmative action is a tool that if used wisely and with restraint can help South Africa overcome some of the challenges we face. It can help open doors for people from communities that never had access to the opportunities available to others which in turn can help communities feel that they have a stake in the future of our country.

If used irresponsibly or with the intention to punish or hurt affirmative action will destroy South Africa as surely as Mugabe has destroyed Zimbabwe.

There is a difference between affirmative action in America, where the recipients are a minority, and affirmative action in South Africa, where the recipients are the majority. Strict quotas and the enforcement thereof will mean that the majority of South Africas white population will be without (even the possibility of) employment. This in turn will mean that the brain drain that we have experienced in recent years will become the flood that scaremongers have warned about, which will destroy the very economy which South Africas black majority wishes to join.

Worse than that, an economic 'land grab' will mean the end of the spirit of reconciliation that has been the backbone of South African society for the last ten years.

On a personal level affirmative action affects my family severely. The opportunities I would have normally in other countries are not as easily available to me in South Africa because I am a white man. Still, the majority of trained professionals entering the work force are still by a large majority white men. In addition to this, I believe the opportunities available to us overseas since the end of apartheid make up for some of opportunities lost at home.

The policy of the ANC, as pertains the private sector, has been that of affirmative action. However, they have used the carrot rather than the stick by using government contracts as a reward for companies that have been proactive in applying affirmative action. I think this has been a good policy on their part.

In the public sector affirmative action has been rampant, and the damage done by employing people without the necessary training or experience can be seen in the number of jobs that have been outsourced by the new government (PPPs, or public-private partnerships, has been the buzzword not only because the ANC are such devout capitalists). It has however been very successful in that it has created a black middle class relatively quickly.

The future success of affirmative action in South Africa will depend on the economic growth we are able to achieve in the coming years, and the ability to move more and more people into our formal economy. That in turn will depend on us being able to use our most skilled people to the best of their abilities. The majority of those people are white South Africans at the moment. Affirmative action is therefore very much a Catch-22 for the new South African society.

Where is the Justice?

André Steyn was recently saved from a sure death by his Nokia cell phone, which stopped a bullet before it blew his head off.

While traveling 15 km outside Johannesburg in early may, Steyn was approaching a toll plaza in a four-ton truck and trailer when the drama unfolded.

"I heard a 'doof-doof' sound and one of my colleagues shouted 'they are shooting at us!' Alongside the truck was a bright red car with a man hanging out the window. I saw a flash and after the second shot I felt a pain in my hand," Daily Dispatch reported him recounting his story.

The bullet entered Steyn's hand and came out the other side and was stopped by his mobile phone before it could enter his temple and kill him.


Andre has been given a new Nokia 6610 for his trouble by a local cellphone distributor. What I want to know, is why he hasn't been fined R500 by the traffic department for talking on his cell phone while driving. (Via Gizmodo)

Monday, June 7

Abandoned



Namibia. An abandoned house in the desert. The style is indicative of the early German settlers.

Tuesday, June 1

A Hunting We Will Go

Im off to Namibia for a few days. I'll bring back some photos, so come back next week.

I'm not hearing you

"Unfortunately the rest of the world only hears of our actions through the words of the media". Posted Anonymously


How should a modern nation present its point of view to a foreign population? Propaganda (I love Google) , long the favorite tool of every petty dictator, is seen to be of very limited use in the media savvy world of today and is thought to be almost guaranteed to be counterproductive. Why do I see so much of it (seemingly all anti-American)?

The question I have is when did America, the inventors of media savvy and the leaders in globalization (everything from food to sneakers to media) become the one nations that cannot seem to get its message across? When did the belief that America can only speak through its actions due to a biased media become accepted? (I've seen it from more then one pundit).

This is complete balderdash. Americans, more than anyone in the world, have the opportunity to speak to me and my fellow South Africans everyday. You have for some reason chosen not too. Is it because, as another commentator stated:

If people don't understand why getting rid of Saddam and liberating Iraq was necessary to make the world safer, there's no point in trying to convince them


Iraq has been liberated. A new democracy is being shaped. There will be some pretty rough patches ahead I'm sure, but compared with what has been accomplished it is all downhill. This should be a huge victory for America and everyone that has supported you. Why does the world still see it as defeat for America? Self promotion is a skill honed to perfection by America. Where is that skill today?

Republican Americans have been worried that Bush has dropped the ball over Iraq. That he has been quite in the face of relentless propaganda from his opponents. In response Bush has launched a series of talks to rally the American people. Where is that concern for world opinion? Strong you might be, an island you are not. (My mother thinks I'm crazy for supporting you, damit. If you cant convince her your in trouble plain and simple.)

The UN, as blunt a tool as it has become, has been all but abandoned by America. When did an institution you controlled with such deft touches become the playground for everyone who happens to see some small advantage in thumbing their nose at you.

Steven den Beste has a series of posts on media bias. The partisan world media is a problem. It represents a layer between the American government and the rest of the world and if it is relied upon to carry the message the message will not get to the rest of the world the way in which it was intended.

America needs a platform from which to address the world. I see two platforms that it readily has at its disposal. One is the UN, as flawed as it is. Why are the "cheese eating surrender monkeys" running circles around you there? Fix the problem, don't blame the helpless bureaucrats that pretend to run it. The second is your state department. Are they too busy fingerprinting and background checking every visa applicant to do their work of advancing American foreign policy abroad?

There is a problem with American foreign policy. Not the policy itself, but the perception of that policy. Stop blaming the world for not understanding you and fix it.

Welcome to South Africa

Welcome to all the USS Clueless readers. Since you've come all this way to the African part of the blogosphere, why don't you go check out some of the great blogs in our little corner of the web. Just give the Southern African blog ring a whirl.




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