You’re looking a bit chunky right now.

There. I said it. Someone had to. Fact is, we’ve all been pussy-footing around you for a few weeks now, wondering how best to let you know that you put on a few extra kilos over the festive season. And that they’re still with you. There. And there. And… eww… there.

I know, when you get to our sort of age – and by “our sort of age”, I mean *ahem* mid-30s – it gets tough to keep the weight off. You can’t go out and have a few beers and a curry without there being ongoing consequences. You know what they say: “a moment on the lips, bloody ages sweating it out on the footy field or you’re going to be a complete lard-arse forever”.
And yes, you young folk (I’m looking at your type, Mr Nash) are sitting there going:

Yes, that’s what will happen to other people, but it won’t happen to me.

Bad news, Dan, cos three guesses what we were thinking when we were your age?
Yes, exactly.

But it’s ok. You can stop crying into your copious &Union beers. It doesn’t have to be that way.
This week, I discovered a brand new weight loss plan and I want to share it with you.

See, when you try to lose weight in your 20s – assuming you do the right sort of stuff – you lose weight. And the same goes for when you try to lose weight in your 30s as well-it just takes more time and effort. But then you hit the anti-plateau. It’s like a plateau, but the other way around. It’s like the inverse of a glass ceiling. You head down nicely over a few weeks towards your ideal weight and all seems to be going well and then you hit it and it doesn’t matter how little you eat, how much exercise you do, you can’t break through.

You are on the anti-plateau. It’s a sad and lonely place. And you’re going nowhere fast.
Sorry for you.

Until now. Because today I can reveal a plan to you that made me break through my anti-plateau – 3.5kgs through it – in just a couple of days. Yes: this is the viral gastroenteritis diet plan. Eat nothing, lie in bed and do no exercise and the weight just falls out er… off.

Using microorganisms to assist with weight loss is nothing new. In the early 1900s, tapeworm pills were all the rage among the rich and famous. If you want to try this (and having seen patients with tapeworms, I wouldn’t) just make sure you know your Taenia saginata from your Taenia solium, because the latter will eat your brain (literally).

Enteric viruses won’t do that to you, although they will colonise your colon and wreck your rectum. Aside from the obvious diarrhoea and vomiting, you will also experience the four secondary symptoms of gastroenteritis, namely sweating, shaking, swearing and farting. And because nothing can go in, pretty soon, everything has come out and your vomiting turns into empty retching, each bout of which is the equivalent of 100 sit-ups.
Rock solid abs in a mere 36 hours. This really is a diet plan full of win.

Even now, several days on from the worst of it, I’m only managing the most meagre of portions. A couple of pieces of toast at breakfast time, a yoghurt for lunch and then nothing much in the evening. Thanks to this, my anti-plateau is somewhere way back in the distance and I’m heading down through lush pastures towards GoalWeightVille.

And all just for the bargain price of a couple of days of abject agony and misery.

Do it. If nothing else, at least it’ll stop us all talking about your MASSIVE saddle bags, fatty.

This year’s holiday

…will probably not be happening due to a lack of money.
BUT! if it were happening, then where might I take the family? Well, “travel specialists” Tourdust.com have come up with a few places that you might want to head off to, if you can get your tongue around their names.

Top of their list is North Wales’ Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which translates as “the church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio’s of the red cave” and which instantly indicates that this is not actually a list of nice places to go which happen to have long names, but rather a list of places which happen to have long names. Anyone who has been to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch will surely agree that the most charming and remarkable thing about it is (unsurprisingly), its name. And after you’ve had you photo taken by the sign at the railway station, you can immediately get back on the train and head for somewhere more pleasant. Like England.

Moving on past Poland’s Szczodrzykowo (“to be fair I could have chosen almost anywhere in Poland for this entry”) and Tápiószentmárton in Hungary we eventually arrive down under in Taumata on New Zealand’s North Island, which doesn’t seem so bad, until you realise that Taumata is short for Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu, a Maori name which amazingly when translated into English is “the church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio’s of the red cave”.

Who knew?

While SA doesn’t make it onto the Tourdust list, we do of course have Tweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein, which doesn’t translate  to anything involving churches, red caves or rapid whirlpools, but rather “The spring at which two buffaloes were shot completely dead with one shot”. Which is very South African, isn’t it?
I’ve done some rudimentary calculations and I think that you’d have to have used at least a .375 H&H or even a 9.3 X 62 and then have got extremely lucky to have shot two buffaloes completely dead with one shot. Any lesser weapon would surely only have yielded a partial kill on one or both animals. Which would have made for a more interesting place name, but isn’t something to really crow about, not like double complete death. With one shot.

Interestingly, right next door to Tweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein is Plekwaarbiltongvandietweebuffelswatmorsdoodgeskietismeteenskootgemaakwasfontein.

Which sounds a much tastier place to head to.

Future criminal?

I was pointed to this article by [someone] on twitter. I can’t remember who.
If it was you, you can claim the credit and I’ll insert your name in between those square parentheses right there.

But anyway, having young children and being of a scientific disposition, I was immediately intrigued by the

…recently-completed study that followed the lives of 1,000 people in New Zealand found that children as young as three who were impulsive, easily-frustrated, restless and unable to think about the long term were far more likely to have criminal records, drug and alcohol addictions, and other health and financial problems.

because those are the kind of things that you obviously want your kids to avoid if possible.

It was only when I started reading the article further that I realised it probably (probably) wasn’t completely genuine:

Here are a few tests you can perform on your child to see if he or she is going to be a bad guy.

  • Age 3: Give your child a long book to read, like Gravity’s Rainbow or Finnegan’s Wake, to test his attention span. Can he finish it in one sitting? If not, he’s probably six or seven months away from meth addiction. Cut your losses and sell him.
  • Age 4: Test your child’s skills at thinking about the long term by asking her to come up with a 10-year financial plan for the family. If she can’t properly account for the family budget, her own education, and your retirement, she’s going to be an alcoholic.
  • Age 5: See if your son is easily frustrated by pretending he doesn’t exist for a week or more. Months, even! Does he get angry? Sad? If so, he’s probably going to become a murderer. Yikes!
  • Age 6: Can your daughter control her impulses? Test this by giving her a gun. Does she do something stupid, like shoot your spouse? She is probably already a bank robber. Call the police immediately and disarm her.
  • Age 7: At this point you should just be drug-testing your child every eight hours.

Which made me laugh.

It is, however, inspired by genuine research conducted by Duke University in North Carolina, USA, indicating that kids who are not taught good self control will make poor decisions through adolescence and will not amount to much, except perhaps in the murky depths of the criminal underworld.

Duke University are also conducting studies on the role of forests on the defaecation habits of ursines and investigating the chosen faiths of major religious figures residing in the Vatican.

Best Safety Video Ever

They play this video on the big screens before games at the Cape Town stadium. Fortunately, I managed not to have to ask the man in yellow anything last night.

There was a giant octopus around, but apparently he became distracted by happy hour on cocktails at the Radisson on the way up from Granger Bay.

Thanks @futurecapetown

Arr (my eyes) Jim Lad

I guess that in 2011, few people would have thought that pirates still roamed the seven seas. Piracy was something from 300 years ago,with Captain Blackbeard and Long John Silver. Yet we have well documented cases all around the dodgy bit up the east coast of Africa.
And sometimes beyond Durban as well.

Equally, we’re still some distance (the other way) from laser weapons as well. We’ve had Star Trek for a number of years, but I was recently told that in fact, it wasn’t real and all those people were just actors. One would imagine that being an actor was quite a hazardless, risk-free occupation, unless you ended up cast as “Expendable red-shirted member of the away party”.
And so many of them did – at least one per episode.


Well, now in 2011, those worlds of  the past and future have collided as Captain Kirk has just hijacked a oil tanker off the coast of Somalia British scientists have developed a laser weapon to combat pirates.

Already, you’re imagining photon torpedoes and shields to maximum on board the USS Enterprise, which is transporting cars from Japan to Europe under a Panamanian flag and with a Filipino crew (wearing red shirts and looking nervous). Then the Somalian (Romulan/Klingon) skiff decloaks off the port bow and is shot by a massive laser, instantly exploding into a million pieces.
But that’s where the good stuff ends, I’m afraid – in your imagination. Because this laser weapon just dazzles the pirates:

Bryan Hore, the head of BAE Systems new antipiracy arm, said: “We have started to look at the piracy issue over the past 18 months due to the increasing threats to vessels around the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

The laser provides a secondary capability: over larger distances as it can act like a warning.

Pirates approaching a vessel rely on the element of surprise, so by detecting those vessels and directing a laser onto them more than a kilometre away, it provides a clear signal to them. As the pirates come closer to about 400 or 500 metres of the ship, the power of the laser can be increased so that it affects their concentration and distracts them.”

Is this really going to work, Bryan? You’re going stick a massive laser gun on top of an oil tanker and then expect the pirates to be distracted and lose their concentration?

“Ahmed, let us attack the… let us… wait a minute… why are we here again?”
“Idiot, Mahir! We are here to… to… no, it’s gone…  Sarmad – what are we doing here?”
“I have absolutely no idea, mate. Clueless. Cigarette?”

And then – what about your worst case scenario – where the pirates (presumably wearing sunglasses) storm the ship, then use the laser on approaching navy vessels?

“Captain Sir, the hijacked vessel is within radar range and oh – did I mention that it was my sister’s birthday yesterday?”
“Idiot, Ensign! We’re not here to discuss your sister’s birthday. We’re here to… to… no, it’s gone…”

And so on.

Obviously, there’s a lot of time and money and thought gone into this laser weapon idea – which was probably sparked by an inadvertent shot in the eye during a powerpoint presentation at BAE – but personally, I just don’t see it working.