Bits & Pieces

There are too many things running around my cluttered mind right now, so it’s time to unload, discharge, release, ejaculate, drop and roll them back into the water; it’s time to declutter with a bits and pieces post.
If you want to know more – go explore. I’ll give you the tools.

1. The owner of a small bakery in Dorset which is bucking the economic downturn is called Emma Goss Custard.

2. Well-respected Cape Town blogger publishes invaluable list of local restaurants with awesome winter specials. Go eat, drink, be merry and spend less than you might previously have done.

3. Cornish Liberal-Democrats apologise for calling a rival candidate a “greasy-haired twat” in an election leaflet.
Leader of the Mebyon Kernow party, Dick Cole, is appalled. I have no comment.

4. I downloaded two albums last night: Greatest Hits of Deacon Blue and Eminem’s Relapse. Even my iPod is confused. Some chalk with your cheese, Sir?
There are some handy hints for any unimaginative Cornish LibDems on Relapse, although of course, we already know that LibDem’s can rap anyway. 

5. I would love to repeat Gareth Cliff’s Air France joke from this morning, but as even I thought it was a little near the knuckle, I’d probably better not.

6. Talking of flying, if the UK Government need to know any more bloody details about me ahead of the 2009 Kids in Tow Tour, they can come and bloody measure it themselves. A million forms and documents later and they’re still asking for my daughter’s passport number and whether she has ever “glorified terrorism”. Honestly – does this really look like a terrorist to you?


It drools. It giggles. It says “Taaaaaaah!” loudly. It doesn’t bomb things. Although the nappies can be dangerous.

7. Finally, I can reveal that I have won some rather decent tickets to Brazil vs Egypt in Bloemfontein later this month. Looking forward to it, although I’m told there are some lingering bad feelings towards the English up in the Free State. A 10-hour (each way) road trip just to be abused doesn’t sound like much fun. But it is football and I will be there. With bells on. And blowing a vuvuzela out of my… car.

EDIT: 8. Phone call tells me that I have secured free tickets to both the British & Irish Lions’ games in Cape Town. Game on!

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.

Tony Leon on Concubinegate

Former DA leader Tony Leon spoke out today on the Concubinegate affair (that’s my name for it, anyway), in which current DA leader and Emperor of the Western Cape, Helen Zille had a pop at Jacob Zuma’s habits of sleeping around. Whatever “sleeping around” actually means. Floyd?

It’s an excellent analysis of the situation, drawing on his years as leader of the opposition and utilising common sense and logic instead of the knee-jerk, personal tactics of his successor.

I think Bill Clinton got it right when, in appointing his first administration in 1992, he announced: “I want a cabinet that looks like America.” The fact that the Western Cape provincial government doesn’t look like SA, or on the face of it is overloaded with testosterone, doesn’t mean it won’t deliver or won’t be vigilant on feminist issues. But it handed a sword to the party’s opponents, who were delighted to plunge it in with vigour. And politics is often more about symbols than substance.

And while Leon is somewhat critical of Zille, he balances it out with the facts which we never really got to hear in her defence – that the ANCYL’s response was at worse, offensive and infantile (which we knew) and at best, somewhat hypocritical, given the make-up of some of their Provincial cabinets across the country.

When I led the opposition, I made a book- ful of mistakes when it came to an overheated response or an incautious one-liner. And I know how a single phrase in a letter or speech can be wrenched from context, or can obliterate the most thorough defence.

Zille’s reference to Zuma’s personal history was factually correct but tactically questionable. It struck a discordant note in the upwelling mood music which flowed from the president’s inauguration and the wave of optimism it generated.

It seems almost strange to be citing a voice of reason in this whole sorry affair, where mud-slinging, slanderous comments have been the order of the day. But it’s a lesson to us all that sometimes it’s worth stepping back from the heat of an argument and actually THINKING before speaking, rather than just throwing some stupid statement out into the public domain.

While I can understand the ANC’s glee at the gift of the all-male Western Cape cabinet – and their further delight at Zille’s foolish response to their jibes – the people I don’t understand are the angered DA voters in the Western Cape.

Zille’s defence has always been that she didn’t have enough experienced women to appoint to her Provincial cabinet, simply because not enough experienced women were on the DA Provincial lists (something which should surely never have been allowed to happen in the first place). But those lists were freely available to the public in the run up to the election, published in all the newspapers and on the internet. Anyone who had bothered to read the lists would have been aware that this situation was going to arise given the DA’s widely (and rather accurately) predicted ~50% performance in the Provincial elections.
Thus, if you voted DA in the Western Cape and now have a problem with the demographics of the Provincial cabinet – well, it’s actually your fault. Just because you didn’t do your homework in the days before April 22nd is no reason to cry foul now.

So please stop moaning and pretending you wished you’d voted ANC. You’d do well to take a leaf out of Tony’s book and THINK before you speak out (or maybe even before you vote in future).
Otherwise, you really do risk making a fool out of yourself. Or is it too late already?


Cape Town’s first big storm of the year is due this weekend, described on surfers’ website Wavescape as follows:

A moerse storm smacks Cape Town this Saturday with the first of a double frontal burst – the first serious beast of the season… just look at the length of the wind below. Basically it’s a stab wound that bleeds from the ice-shelf right up to your tannie’s koeksusters cooling on her stoep at Stilbaai. It’s the ingrown toenail of a fierce oceanic convulsion, dug out with the scalpel of your childhood veruka, the deepest root canal of all your evils.


Here’s what Eumetsat shows:


Which doesn’t look that bad – yet. Further investigation shows that the pressure will dip as low as 940mb though, which is pretty scary, based on the fact that we’re currently sat at 1011mb and Hurricane Katrina was 920mb when it made landfall. (Although not in Cape Town, obviously.)  

I love this sort of weather, even though we’re going to see winds close on 100kph. I hope to get out and about with the camera, like I did last August, which was spectacular.

So assuming we make it through in one piece, what of next week? Wavescape has that covered:

The storm swell is expected to peak at a very steep, short frequency surge to 20 feet by Saturday evening and into Sunday before it boosts to 25 feet on Sunday afternoon, with Monday huge too, Tuesday cranking as the wind eases. The whole coast between Agulhas and the Wild Coast is absolutely off its face on Monday and Tuesday, and solid grinding South swell lasts along the southern Cape all week.

That’s like… totally gnarly, dude.

Three reasons why we’re all buggered

I had one reason why we (South African residents) were all buggered when I left home this morning. Now I have three. By the end of this post, I may have even more. But I’m not going to change the title, as that would merely serve to confuse readers even further.

1. A letter to The Times:

We must give Jacob Zuma’s new cabinet time to prove themselves. Service delivery is a difficult issue to advise politicians on. For the sake of our country, I hope God will guide them. It’s a great combination.

Nathi Khumalo

Jacob Zuma and God “a great combination”? I’ll say.
Hitler and Santa Claus must be devastated to have finally been usurped from their Greatest Combination of Political Leader and Make Believe Character top spot.

2. I agree with Jessie Duarte*:

Instead of answering legitimate criticism about the composition of her provincial Cabinet, she has chosen to insult and demonise the President of the Republic of South Africa. Instead of focusing on the real issues that face South Africans, Zille is obsessed with her personal campaign against Zuma.

Jessie Duarte, ANC spokesperson

Duarte is right.
Despite all the concerning and hilariously offensive ridiculousness which has followed (overseas readers, you HAVE to read this statement from the ANC Youth League), it was Helen Zille’s unnecessary personal swipe at Jacob Zuma in a letter to the Sowetan newspaper which started the whole issue.
And thus, once again, we’re left asking why Zille is still going after Zuma. We had the DA’s view on this pre-election. And since the ANC failed to win their two-thirds majority (just), we have to assume that their tactics worked (just).
But what is the point of this continued personal campaign? Answers on a postcard, please.

3. But it’s academic anyway: we’re all going to die of swine flu and there’s nothing we can do about it:

The so called “swine flu” does not exist, as scientists claim it has mutated and “evolved”, which implies evolution, and evolution does not exist. Therefore, this must be the will of God, and nothing can stop that.

RS Diaz, New York

Why is it that creationists always seem, somehow… less evolved?

EDIT: Chris Roper’s column
EDIT II: Umkhonto we Sizwe weigh in.
EDIT III: Significantly, the ANC distances itself from the ANCYL’s comments on Zille. Great politics. That’s how you do it, Helen.

* I always said that the day Jessie Duarte and I agreed on something, Hell would freeze over and the camels would come skating home.
    Today is that day. It is noticably colder already.