The world has ended.

Or so it would seem if you were to tune into Cape Talk today. Whities from all races – anxious not to miss the ‘soccer’ bandwagon – have tuned into the Confederations Cup and are upset by several issues:

1. The rules of the game,
2. The way the black people in the crowd booed the white bloke playing for SA and
3. The noise of the trumpets – called ‘vuvuzelas’.

Of course the ball is round, not like a proper ball, which is oval. And the goal posts stop at the crossbar instead of making a giant H shape. Weird. And the players don’t use their hands. And they’re allowed to pass forward. Weirder.

The white bloke playing for SA is Matthew Booth. ‘BOOOOOOOTH!’ shout his adoring fans when he has the ball, prompting desperately misconstrued allegations of racism from the uneducated paler quarter of Cape Town.

Finally, the vuvuzela issue. ‘We don’t do that at rugby, so it can’t be right!’
Oh please.
The vuvuzela is to SA football what the braai is to the Afrikaner. And you are ruining your desperate attempts to be trendy by watching football by trying to change it. Ain’t happening. The vuvuzela will be the trademark of the 2010 World Cup.

Here’s a newsflash! Just because you weren’t watching doesn’t mean that football didn’t exist. In fact, it was getting along quite happily before you turned up and started moaning.

Want to stop the irritating noise that’s spoiling it for everybody? THEN STOP WHINING!

The importance of twitter explained

A common complaint of Twitter users is the assumptions made about Twitter and Twitter users by non-Twitter users.

Twitter does have many different uses depending on what you want to get out of it, whether it is organising get-togethers, discussing or seeking solutions to technical problems, sharing photos and news stories in real time, promoting your blog (apparently, anyway) or business. It isn’t just a little chat service for nerds and geeks. Although, of course, it can do that too if you want it to.

So, before you step forward and slate what you don’t know or don’t understand, try looking at it using Brian Micklethwait’s criteria:

I’ve said it many times before, but it will bear constant repetition. When some new technique of communication is invented or stumbled upon, you should not judge its impact by picking ten uses of it at random, averaging them all out, and saying: Well that’s a load of trivial crap, isn’t it?!? How will “I am just about to make another slice of toast” change the world? The question to ask is: Of all the thousands of uses already being made of this thing, which one is the most significant? And then: Well, is that very significant? If yes, at all, then forget about the toast nonsense.

And the other thing to point out is that, even if you don’t care about some stranger being about to make some toast, there may well be some other strangers out there who do. For them, such twitterings may be very significant. What if the person about to toast suffers from suicidal depression, and his mere willingness to attempt any household task however trivial is a source of rejoicing to all his friends?

But there will always be the haters: those who can’t or don’t want to understand. Simon Heffer of the Telegraph, for example:

One very good reason why I would not join Facebook or Twitter is that I cannot imagine there is a soul anywhere on earth that I am not in touch with in any case who could care less what I am doing at any moment of the day. I cannot believe that anyone should want to spectate the ordinariness of my existence, for I certainly have no wish to spectate anyone else’s.

But then again, Simon Heffer is described in this month’s British GQ as “a pasty faced Billy Bunter figure with a penchant for college ties”.
David Cameron wrote of him, thus: 

“The attitude that he personifies – hatred of the modern world – is not just part of the problem. It is the problem.”

Of course, the simple rule for Simon and his type is: If you don’t like it, don’t do it. And stop whining. Yes, you’re going to hear about it in the newspapers and on the TV, but if it really bothers you that much, then skip those stories and read about the war in Afghanistan or the latest goings-on in the World T20.

Or do you really consider yourself so very important that just because you don’t get it, the rest of us aren’t allowed to either?

Shamans salute dead whales


Sadly, yes.

Yesterday, as a full moon rose over the Cape peninsular, about 120 people gathered at Kommetjie’s Long Beach to honour the whales who were shot there last weekend.
Oblivious to all of this, two whales basked off-shore within sight of the onlookers. Incense smoked and burning candles were arranged in the shape of a fish on the small promenade overlooking the beach,
Local sangoma and shamanic healer Devi Hill banged a Native American drum and chanted a bit as fellow spiritual healer Shelley Ruth Wyndham called on mankind to respect planet Earth.
“We humans are disrupting systems which have taken millions of years to develop,” she said.
She led the small crowd down to the sea where the whales were shot, and the chanting resumed. “We are one, we are one, we are one! Wake up! Wake up! Rise with the rising sun!”
Then night fell.

Andrew Donaldson, Sunday Times

I can’t stand the shallowness of people who attend these kind of events. Hundreds of people are dying each week in SA of malnutrition, HIV, violent crime and other stuff that isn’t included in those three categories that I just mentioned and yet they organise a memorial serivce for some dead whales? Please.
Now I like whales as much as the next man (and I’m assuming he’s not Norwegian or Japanese), but holy crap, these people have got their priorities seriously screwed. And look at the idiots that are doing it. Why have the candles in the shape of a fish? Whales aren’t fish. They’re mammals. Genetically, whales have more in common with Oprah Winfrey than they do with fish, so why not have an outline of a popular American talk-show host on the Prom instead?

And why bang a Native American drum, Devi? What’s wrong with the good old African drum, happily banged for years and years here in Africa? Or were you just showing off amongst your hippie friends? I recognise that “Native American” is a bit of a trump card when it comes to all things spiritual, but rejecting your local heritage is unforgivable.
And Shelley Ruth Wyndham’s rantings are nothing short of idiotic, too. What “systems” (which have taken millions of years to develop) were at play when those stupid animals chose to crash into the beach at Kommetjie? Cos SatNav certainly wasn’t one of them.
And how exactly did we “disrupt” those “systems” by shooting the whales? What were they planning on doing if we’d left them there? Growing legs and sneaking off into Noordhoek to do the Pub Quiz at the Toad in the Village? Leaping up in the dead of night when no-one was looking and opening a successful five-star hotel and spa complex in Misty Cliffs? Or just lying there and suffering unbearable agony until they eventually died?
I know which one my money is on.

Seriously Shelley, stop moaning and get proactive. If humans really are doing so much damage to the planet, then why don’t you do Earth a favour and pop off to join the choir invisible? Every little helps. Can you imagine how much CO2 is chucked out by that incense and those aforementioned inappropriately-shaped candle designs? Or how many small wading birds were unable to get their supper because they were scared off by your fellow idiots’ daft chanting? Talk about disrupting nature.
We aren’t one, Shelley. You and I have as much in common as Jacob Zuma and ‘Dotty’, an eight-week-old Dalmatian puppy living in Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex; as chalk and cheese; as Castle and decent beer. So please don’t think that I am one with you or your foolish friends. Frankly, the thought repulses me.

I really hope that this is the last we hear of those sodding creatures. Yes, it was sad that they crashed into a beach and died. But the incessant whining, accusations and recriminations around the subject are – frankly – beginning to get right on my tits. And this stupid ceremony – as misguided as the whales were a week earlier – really tops it all off. What a waste of time, effort, money and human spirit.
What is this going to do? Is it going to stop whales beaching themselves here or anywhere else again? Is it going to stop them swimming straight back into shore once they are dragged back out to sea? Fools.
If you must do something with your Saturday evening, then make it worthwhile. Make it meaningful. Make it beneficial. Don’t make an arse of yourself by banging a trendy drum and singing on a beach. Because, believe me, crying over dead whales while ankle-deep in ice-cold sea water makes you look like complete idiots.

Linky goodness: Ben Trovato on the Kommetjie Whale Slaughter.  

Note: A whole range of interesting swearwords (across three different languages) were removed from this post before publication, in case my Mum reads it.
This is in keeping with the 6000 miles… terms and conditions as described here.

Eating on the run

This post dedicated to Nix-Grim, who can (hopefully) now relax for at least a couple of weeks.

One of the benefit [sic] of our current Medical Aid is the Discovery HealthyFood™ programme, whereby members can get up to 25% off healthy foodstuffs bought at Pick n Pay supermarkets. I feel better because I’m healthier and saving money, Discovery feel better because I’m healthier and claiming less money from them and Pick n Pay feel better because I go there to buy my fruit and veg with 25% off and take the opportunity stock up on curry and chocolate while I’m at it.
So everyone’s happy.

As part of the enrollment for this ground-breaking new initiative, I was forced requested to fill in a Personal Health Review which covered everything from Smoking (I don’t), through Drinking (I do) and Stress (I am) to Physical activity (chance would be a fine thing). Prospective answers for each question were given from a drop-down menu, like this example from the stress section:


Do I eat on the run? Well, not if I can help it, but sometimes it’s either that or nothing. So never is right out, but I certainly don’t do it daily either.
Which leaves me with “a few times a week” or “1-3 times a year”. Because let’s be clear, there can be no middle ground in the eating on the run scenario. Either you are a serial on the run eater*, eating on the run a few times a week or you eat on the run 1-3 times a year. Not four, not five: one to three.
That’s why, the first time you eat on the run each year (probably mid January, I’m guessing), you have to make the big decision – are you going to do it again a few times that week or are you going to limit yourself to next eating on the run only in July and then again once more in September? That’s a big ask, believe me.

Suddenly the mass fainting episodes at schools in KZN are explained. This isn’t a case of witchcraft, nor pollution, nor drugs. This is  an example of what happens when you foolishly take the 1-3 times a year option and then use up all your eating on the run opportunities by the first week in February. You go hungry and you faint.

Safer then, to do as I did, risk the wrath of your Medical Aid and tell them you eat on the run most days. Of course, in doing this, I suggest that I lead a high-stress lifestyle which puts me at greater risk of all sorts of nasty disorders and they told me that they’re pretty unhappy with me because of that.
A heated argument ensued over the phone, with Discovery threatening to increase my monthly premiums unless I cut back and only ate on the run 1-3 times a year. In the end, blood pressure sky-high and anxiety levels through the roof after a full-on 20 minute row with the dear Boitshepo in the Johannesburg call centre, I gave in and promised to eat on the run less often.
(She was ever so forceful.)

I put the phone down and had to have 4 beers and slab of chocolate to get over the stress of the whole situation.

* Note that this is different from eating cereal on the run.

More on those whales

Well, this looks like one of those stories that – much like the whales – isn’t going to go away until a digger picks it up and dumps it on a truck bound for the local landfill site. 

The outcry over what was and what wasn’t done to help the beached creatures, together with the hysteria over what might have caused them to run aground in the first place is amusing, to say the least. And while the experts have stepped back and refused to speculate as to what might have been the reason for the beachings, the Kommetjie eco-massive know exactly what happened.

Is it possible they are telling us that the toxin levels in the water are too high?
By diane on 2009/05/31 03:12:18 PM

It’s possible, Diane, but unlikely. It’s true that whales don’t like toxins, but they like sand even less. Once they ended up on the beach, they were in a bit of a quandary. Sand or toxins, toxins or sand? Whales are notoriously indecisive and it was probably this inability to reach a decision that meant that they dried out to the consistency of Pick n Pay biltong while still considering their limited options.

Harrold has other ideas:

Their primary means of communicating, navigating, locating food, and remaining healthy is through the use of sounds. Their sound frequencies are as necessary to them as breathing is to us. It is their lifeline…

No, Harrold. Breathing is as necessary to them as breathing is to us. That is their lifeline.

So if you want to know what is causing the whales to beach themselves you need to look at who has been making a noise in the ocean lately…
By Harrold on 2009/06/01 02:49:00 PM

Well, according to you, Harrold, it’s the whales. So they only have themselves to blame then. Daft bastards.

Hi i arrived at Kommetjie beach at 10am and at 1pm when i left after watching how it was going to be for the whales, the helpers and the people watching. why did the Navy which is 2 mins away come and help with tugsm divers and support to help the helpers already there. it does not makes sense for the whales to not get the helped that we could of given them, 2009 this is not 1909, if it were people to be helped there would be many heli and boats. come of people. and the amount of people that were just watching and getting in the way, why didnt you get you feet wet????
By karen on 2009/05/30 07:30:35 PM

Now, I can sense that Karen is a bit upset. (It’s a gift I have). However, I do have to take her to task over a couple of her comments. I’ll let her appalling punctuation slide, just this once. 

The Navy is not two minutes away. Except by jet. 
And if the Navy had turned up in a jet, Harrold would have been even more annoyed by the whole noise thing.

Also, I have been in innumerable situations where there have been many hundreds of people lying on beaches in the Western Cape – Camps Bay in early January springs immediately to mind. There were people drying out in the sun all over the sand and at no time did “many heli and boats” come to help them. In fact, I’d venture that if “helpful” people had tried to roll them into the water, they would have swum straight back onto the beach. Much like the whales. Then the authorities would have shot them and taken them off to a landfill site. (That last bit might not be quite right).

Talking of “getting in the way”, Karen – it sounds like you were one of the people who were on the beach against the wishes of the authorities. Authorities who had a plethora of rubber ducks and whale stretchers, but couldn’t get near enough the whales to actually use them. Just saying.

P.S. Technical question:
These “whale stretchers” that everyone is going on about – how does stretching a beached whale help? And what qualifications do you need to be a professional whale stretcher? It sounds like a great job.