Post 903

Post 903
(title assigned automatically by an annoyingly slow WordPress (see below) and which I have neither the will nor the imagination to change to anything more interesting)

Stuff I have noted over the last few days:

1. The internet in South Africa has been even worse than usual of late. I blamed my ISP, my ISP blamed Telkom and Telkom blamed Ndujani.
It turns out (following extensive research) that Ndujani is a mongoose god, worshipped by some tribes in the Northern Cape. Any claim that Telkom is merely passing the buck is met with the standard, “Please don’t turn this into a cultural issue, Mr 6000”.
More likely is that one (or more) of their ADSL hamsters which keep the internet working by running around their little wheels in Bloemfontein has died or gone on strike or something. Probably over a cultural issue.

2. The Oscars were on. A celebration of Hollywood excess while everyone else suffers the wrath of the global credit crunch.
More salt with your wound, sir?
I’m not a big fan of the movies, but was pleased to see that Kate Winslet finally won something after so many bare-breasted cinematographic moments. Had to be worth it in the end, hey? (But please don’t stop now – you could win again!)
One thing I found shocking was that, even though winning a little gold man surely marks the pinnacle of any actor’s career, Keith Ledger couldn’t even be bothered to turn up and receive his award for Best Supporting Actor. What a snub. They should have given it to someone else. It’s just plain bad manners.

3. I’m concerned over a tectonic shift in my musical tastes of late. Away from decent Indie and Nu-metal towards irritatingly-catchy Brit-pop, hip-hop, rap and pumpin’ House.
As I write this, I have David Guetta’s Joan of Arc on the iPod. Actually, to give everyone credit, it’s actually David Guetta (featuring Thailand). It remains unclear whether everyone in Thailand (pop. 60.5 million) played their part, but if so, then they probably shouldn’t have bothered.
[Mental note to self: Check up on most ridiculous names of “featured artists” for future blog post]

4. Twitter isn’t actually that good. Either you follow too few people and nothing ever happens, you follow too many and everything happens too quickly or one person (no names, sorry) fills your screen with rubbish for the sake of putting something (usually about cooking) on twitter.
I’m left debating whether the very occasional good bits are worth the very regular daily disappointments. Le jury est out, as the French would say.

5. I saw a “collaborative project” in the Art Spot of the newspaper yesterday:

Trasi Henen curates a collaborative project [see?] called I Forget That You Exist’ at the Cape Town gallery, Blank Projects. Participants were asked to engage with the following Dialectic: Dominant culture is a victim of the Will (after Schopenhauer’s The World as Idea and Representation) and therefore perpetually oscillating between Desire and Ennui. Desire is a state of potentiality.
When the desired destination is reached, is this a tragedy?

Sometimes I forget that you exist is a collaborative research project around desire and the heterotopia. Participants are asked to engage with the above dialectic. The exhibition process is ongoing, and contingent, culminating in a closing event. In the two weeks leading up the exhibition, blank becomes the research studio which opens the project to dialogue and interventions.

Something for everyone to think about there, then.

I was once asked (in a 1992 interview for a place at Wolverhampton Poly, no less) if money spent on the Arts is a waste. I wish I’d seen stuff like this before they asked – it would have made a rather stuttered, awkward answer much simpler. (Because there’s obviously nothing more beneficial that Trasi could be doing for the world).

Cyclists still at it

As yet another cyclist was knocked off his bike in Fish Hoek this weekend:

David Swingler was injured while cycling along Kommetjie Road in Fish Hoek late on Saturday morning.
Police spokesperson Bernadine Steyn said Swingler and a white Toyota Quantum minibus taxi had been travelling in the same direction on the dual-lane road. They tried to change lanes at the same time and Swingler was hit from behind by the taxi.
“The cyclist allegedly wanted to go into the right lane and the taxi into the left lane at the same time,” Steyn said.

Pedal Power Association vice-chair Elton Davids said although the recent spate of accidents involving cyclists had made many others reluctant to venture out, some were “not obeying the rules of the road”.
“They are not making it any easier for themselves,” he said.

And even the dangerously subjective Cape Argus finally admitted that not every cyclist is as pure as the driven snow:

Out on Ou Kaapse Weg, tempers frayed as motorists battled with cyclists for right of way on Saturday.
Motorists told Weekend Argus there had been scores of cyclists on Ou Kaapse Weg, and while most were cycling within the yellow lane, others either tailgated motorists or rode in front of cars.

Dave Bellairs, director of the cycle tour, said they did not condone cyclists disobeying the rules of the road, as they was for their own safety. But he pointed out that the majority of cyclists obeyed the rules of the road.

“Obeying the rules of the road is for the safety of the cyclist and the motorist and it shows mutual respect.”

A motorist said cyclists on Ou Kaapse Weg were riding three abreast. Another said a cyclist tailgated him on the scenic mountain drive.
Photographer Chad Chapman said even though most of the cyclists obeyed the rules, he saw some at the summit picking up speed and sweeping into the traffic lane, cycling in front of cars.

Meanwhile, in Milnerton:

Oh Lordie…
This morning, at half past dark, coming down the R27 to work, the fog/mist was so thick that in places visibility was down to 50m.
Bad.
At Woodbridge Island, scene of Saturday’s unfortunate death, it was especially heavy, and just past that, what do i see…?
Some **** on a bicycle, black shorts on, dark top, dark helmet, dark backpack, a rear light consisting of about 2 LEDs, and NO front light.
Now, one would have assumed that given the blanket coverage in all the Cape papers and other media, this two-wheeled tit would have ‘caught a wake up’.

Obviously not.

Live by the sword… die by the sword. But is this message finally beginning to get through their thick helmets?

EDIT: Please see Ordinary Life’s comment below with links to (allegedly – I haven’t read them yet) sensible posts about cyclists taking responsibility for their safety on the roads.

Less about weddings…

…more about prevention.

On the day that reality TV “star” Jade Goody married her boyfriend, who was (actually – checking the time) is being allowed to have the night off from his curfew as part of his sentence for assaulting a teenager with a golf club*, I’m left wondering what has gone wrong with the world.

Sky News has had the wedding as their top story for the past three days and even previously sensible newspaper’s columns have fallen over themselves fawning over Goody’s behaviour since she found out that she is dying of cancer.

The wedding is being conducted in the shadow of a funeral. The funeral is forthcoming, and it will be the bride’s. That fact feels crass and cruel to state outright, so accustomed are we to the comforting fictions that habitually weave themselves around terminal cancer.
It is a bitter reflection on reality that it has taken the very worst of times to make us glimpse the best in Jade Goody, but she finally has our respect now.

Not mine, I’m afraid. I haven’t followed this story from the beginning – I’m happy to admit that. But as Jade Goody’s biggest (pay)day draws to a close, I can’t help but think that there has been precious little actually said about how such a fate could be prevented. Not her wedding – although that might not be such a bad idea – I mean her imminent demise from cervical cancer.

Apparently, looking around the internet, her plight has “raised awareness of the disease amongst young women”. Good. But where – as the newspapers, magazines, international television crews et al. for some reason gathered in Hertfordshire or Essex (the Independent gets very confused) for the wedding of a dying racist and a violent criminal – was the message that cervical cancer can be prevented.

That message could have been plastered all over every TV screen in Essex (and beyond), be on every front page tomorrow and on every coffee table in Essex (again) by the end of the week. Instead, we get tightly closed hotel gates and the obnoxious Max Clifford. I think I count that as a missed opportunity. 

* nice guy.

Keep dreaming, Helen!

Incoming on twitter:

@JacquesR Zille calls on JZ to step down: http://tr.im/gAkc.
The comments after the article are scary (besides mine, of course).

And yes, she did:

Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille has called on her ANC counterpart Jacob Zuma to step down as his party’s presidential candidate in the coming elections.
“Put your ambitions aside and act in the interests of the country and the constitution by publicly stepping down,” she said in an open letter to Zuma on Thursday.

Zille then went on to call on pigs to fly, bears to defaecate away from areas containing large numbers of trees and the Pope to tell us the truth: that the whole “God” thing is made up. Just what she is trying to achieve with this is beyond me. 
More seriously, her hint at legal action should JZ become President concerns me. I don’t see that that course of action would help at all. It would surely destabilise and further divide the country at a time when what the people need is more stability and unity in politics. But going through the courts seems to be how the DA is working just recently – perhaps because they realise that those are the only battles they stand a chance of winning. 

And yes, the comments after the article are a bit scary, but assuming that the things people say after an emotive political story on the Times website are representative of the views of your average South African is like assuming that what’s written in the Daily Mail is how all British people think. It’s just silly people saying silly things.

Spot the difference

This one will test you. Two stories, remarkably similar, but… not.

A driver found guilty of killing another motorist as she used her mobile phone to send a string of text messages and make calls has been jailed.

Phillipa Curtis, from Suffolk, crashed into Victoria McBryde’s parked car at 70mph on the A40 near Wheatley – Ms McBryde was fatally injured.

The 21-year-old was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving at Oxford Crown Court at an earlier hearing. She was jailed for 21 months and given a three-year driving ban.
[link]

Meanwhile:

The sentencing of a Labour peer who sent and received text messages while driving on the M1 where he was involved in a fatal crash has been adjourned.

Lord Ahmed, 51, of Rotherham, was driving his Jaguar when he collided with another car on Christmas Day 2007. The driver of the vehicle, Martyn Gombar, 28, was killed.

Lord Ahmed was never charged over the crash but admitted one charge of dangerous driving in connection with sending and receiving the text messages while driving.
[link]

The lesser charge of dangerous driving carries a maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment as opposed to that of causing death by dangerous driving, which can carry up to 14 years.

The lesson here? Don’t send text messages while driving your car. But if you do, then make sure you are a Labour peer and not a waitress.