Evening politics

We spent an evening with Denis Goldberg and Christo Brand yesterday.
Who they? Well, Goldberg was one of the guys sentenced in the Rivonia Trial in 1964 alongside Nelson Mandela and eight others, and Brand was the prison officer charged with looking after Mandela on Robben Island and in Pollsmoor Prison.

Their memories and stories of Apartheid from different sides were compelling, and it was strangely disturbing that Goldberg, as a commander in Umkhonto we Sizwe, would likely have considered Brand a legitimate target for assassination back in the day. But there was none of that last night.

Brand’s memories – while very interesting – were solely of his time Mandela (and if you’re not going to click through on the link above, then I should perhaps mention that they became good friends, despite their circumstances), with limited extra insight into “The Man”.

Thus, Goldberg was the star of the show, telling us of his childhood influences, his communist parents and the freedom fighters in Europe in World War II, of his inception into the MK, detailing the trial and his time in prison. He also accentuated the leadership qualities of Mandela, but reminded us that the ANC’s struggle against Apartheid was a joint effort and that Mandela’s greatest strength was recognising that many people had a part to play.
Despite being 83, he has an incredibly sharp mind and very dry sense of humour. His tales were factual, but obviously deeply personal too. It was a privilege to hear him speak.

When the opportunity for questions came, they were more on the politics of today than back then – he’d spoken of the past. He came down hard on Zuma and his lying and corruption, but reminded us how much the ANC and South Africa had achieved in the last 23 years, “although they could have done better”. He took the fact that the ANC – his ANC – might not get a majority in the 2019 elections as a triumph that the democracy that they had fought for was working. He warned the audience not to moan about the “polarisation and lack of dialogue” in recent global politics, but rather to become active and do something about it.

I wanted to ask lots. Questions about when or if he felt that terrorism was ever justifiable (especially given the events just a couple of hours earlier in London), about whether he felt that children should necessarily follow their parents’ political views (he did), after all, surely:

Thou shalt choose a political party based on their policies, as opposed to just going with who your family’s always supported; they are not a football team. [link]

Questions about whether he saw that the “collaborative leadership” he had described in Mandela’s ANC anywhere else in the world, and who – if anyone – he saw demonstrating good leadership in South Africa.
And then – given that he had declared himself “left of everyone in the room”, and given that we were all still tiptoeing around the eggshells of the thorny Israeli elephant in the room – maybe a slightly tongue in cheek question about what had gone wrong in Venezuela. Why would he continue to follow and promote a system that clearly has failed given every opportunity to succeed in its purest form?
I’m not quite sure how that would have gone down.

There simply wasn’t the time. Next time. Maybe.
But see here, the thing is, Goldberg is 83 and is one of just three of the Rivonia trialists still with us (Ahmed Kathrada (87) and Andrew Mlangeni (91) being the other two). There might not be a next time.

I learned a lot of things last night, but maybe that’s another important lesson to take home: act while you still can.

Photos and the NDCA

I have put a whole four photos up onto Flickr. [Author’s note: Actually, there should be another one. I wonder where it went?] You can see them here. We had some fun once the wind had dropped a bit on Monday evening, although my night shots aren’t really improving much.
Sadly, the wind didn’t drop enough for any Mavic fun.

And talking of the Mavic, there’s not going to be a lot more from me today because I’m spending my spare time filling in a FSS-GEN-FORM 081/14 form for the Namibian Directorate of Civil Aviation in the hope that I can take my little flying friend there next month.

They’ve been super helpful with their communication so far, but blimey, guv – they want quite a lot of information!

Lighter balls

Careful now.

I’m referring to these puppies.

Clean. Odourless. R3.50 per fire. And they will light and stay lit for (a rather exact) 17 minutes. They never fail.

Not a sponsored post. Just a really easy way to light your braai.

6000 Recommends

24 hours in Noordoewer

We’re going to Namibia next month. Not very far into Namibia, but certainly across the border. Normally, that would be the end of the tale, save for some photographs and a blog post or two when I got back, but there’s more to this story than that. We’re on a tour there and I thought it started on this date, whereas it actually starts on that date (which is a whole day later than the aforementioned this date).
Thing is, the beagle sitter is booked, we’ve taken the time off work, we have accommodation there.

So, why not make the best of the error and have an extra [movie trailer voiceover voice]:

24 Hours In Noordoewer

It would be silly not to make the best of those 24 hours, so I had a look at how one can pass the time in Noordoewer, population 219.
I’ll be honest – I was impressed. The Southern Namibian Tourist Board have certainly worked hard to make this the town in Southern Namibia to visit. There’s so much to do!

What To Do In Noordoewer

Watch the planes at Noordoewer International Airport
It’s a little known fact that approximately 50% of commercial flights worldwide include Noordoewer International Airport (NRX) as either a departure, an arrival or a stopover point. This makes it arguably one of the best airports in the world for planespotters, with flight action almost 24 hours a day (closed Tuesdays).

Ride the rollercoasters at Sammyland Theme Park
The Sammyland Theme Park covers almost 3,000 hectares and is based loosely around Namibia’s favourite cartoon character, Sammy the Sand Dune. Here you can ride the largest rollercoaster in the Southern Hemisphere, The Desert Destroyer. Pulling 8G at the base of its record 370m vertical drop, it has been responsible for the deaths of at least 12 people through cerebral haemorrhage each year since the park opened in 2009.

Go underground at the Caves of Noordoewer
First documented in 1791 by colonial explorer Anton von Arschganstracht, this sandstone cavern system extends at least 131km into the earth – we say ‘at least’, because there are still some tunnels yet to be explored. However, thanks to the lackadaisical attitude of our guides, modern day visitors can still become the first to discover new parts of this astounding natural phenomenon. Bring food and water. And candles.

Learn about whaling in Noordoewer at the Noordoewer Whaling Museum
In the mid 1830s, during the infamous Noordoewer Mielie Famine, mielie farming settlers in the area were forced to look for other means to support themselves as their harvest failed for the third time due to Mielie Blight disease, caused by the fungus we all now know as Pythorans mielicidous. Many simply grew wheat and potatoes instead, but a small number turned to whaling as an alternative means of subsistence. However, given that Noordoewer is over 100km from the nearest ocean, perhaps understandably, this ambitious endeavour quickly failed. Consequently, the Whaling Museum is very small.

Gamble your life away at the Noordhoek Casino and Revue Bar
The most popular nightspot on the famous Noordoewer Strip, the Noordhoek Casino and Revue Bar has over 10,000 square metres of floorspace – all covered courtesy of Noordoewer Carpeting Company: Carpeting Noordoewer since 1982™ – allowing patrons to enjoy Blackjack, Poker, Slot Machines, Roulette and hourly shows in one of the restaurants or clubs on site. The dress code is smart, unless you’re one of the performers, in which case dress code is minimal, if you know what we mean! Wahey!

Eat at the Noordoewer Wimpy
A fast food restaurant located in the Engen Service Station at the south end of the town.

Climb (or ride up) Noordoewer Mountain
Africa’s highest peak at 5,896m, geologists believe that this imposing giant has stood guard over Noordoewer for over 100 million years. Some energetic visitors do take on the climb – indeed it is the most summitted peak in Namibia – however, most people choose to take the cable car from the town centre (Metro Stop C7, Red Line). The journey takes a little more than 22 hours each way, so bring snacks and a sleeping bag.

And finally:
See the mad, flappy ears at the Noordoewer Beagle Racing Track
Beagle racing is as synonymous with Nambia as microwave production or frisbees, so this is ‘a must do’ if you happen to be in town for the weekly Saturday night beagle meet. Beagles from all over the region come to compete in this single 50m dash along a sawdust and mud track, and the enthusiastic hounds chase a vienna sausage on a string pulled by a local orphan. Please note that betting on dog racing is illegal in Namibia, but because of a convenient loophole, betting on dog and orphan racing is perfectly legitimate.

© Southern Namibian Tourist Board

Suddenly, I’m wishing that I’d messed up by far more than just a day, although obviously I would probably give the beagle racing a miss.

Noordoewer, hey? What a place. Who knew?

They’re onto us

Aw, crap.

Time to come clean. They’re onto us. To be fair, we had a good run; in fact, I was amazed that we managed to get away with it for so long, but the inevitable end was… well… inevitable.

An admission: My MSc project, allegedly on Multilocus Sequence Typing of Streptococcus agalactiae, was actually just a cover for my research into putting brain-eating nanobots into vaccines.

Oh dear, I seem to have accidentally wiped the name of the website out.

Of course, even if you have a basket full of brain-eating nanobots and several litres of vaccines, you can’t just lob the two together and hope for the best. Our Illuminati Overlords would never allow that. Usually, you’d start a major project like this with some small scale testing, but nanobots are pretty small anyway, so we had to start with large scale testing and then work our way down. First, we began piping beagles into homes via the water reticulation system in Singapore (who could forget the Singapore Mass Beagle Outbreak back in 1999?).
The unqualified (and unexpected) success of that part of the project allowed us to go smaller, and yes, as you’ve probably already guessed, it was our laboratory that was behind all those acorns people discovered in their Starbucks coffee in Florida in 2001.

From there, it was an easy step to putting brain-eating nanobots in vaccines. Well, you would, wouldn’t you? Beagles in your tap water, acorns in your coffee, brain-eating nanobots in your vaccines. It’s the obvious and natural progression of things.

Sadly, we weren’t counting on the amazing detective powers of one particular keyboard warrior fighting against our imposition of a New World Order. He’s got us banged to rights and no mistake. Jim Stone – who has been a constant thorn in our side since I first heard his name earlier this morning – has also told you (often using occasional BOLD TYPE and capital letters) about how Zika virus was dropped from helicopters, how UFOs ABDUCTED flight MH370, how the recent mix-up at the Oscars was due to a Wiccan spell DESIGNED TO ATTACK DONALD TRUMP, that Antarctica is being evacuated (presumably not a hugely lengthy process) so that aliens can land there, and that Nelson Mandela DIED IN PRISON, there was a $250 banknote and COWS HAD (or is it didn’t have?) HORNS in his (Stone’s) other life.

On that last one: yes, really – and it includes the brilliant opening line “When I was a kid I lived in a semi rural area and had a lot of exposure to cows.” (And then the murders began?)

Anyway, I think you can now see that the brain-eating nanobots in vaccines exposé is just one of many blows that Jim has stuck against the clandestine establishment which tells you what to think via popular blogs and the like. It’s just that this one was personal for me because I worked so hard on it. (I had tried to get in on the jet fuel and steel beams experiments, but George Bush only wanted psychologically malleable engineers.)

Anyway, the discovery of the whole brain-eating nanobots in vaccines thing has all come too little, too late. Everyone is already full of vaccines and brain-eating nanobots, just like Singapore was full of beagles 18 years ago, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.
On the plus side, poliomyelitis is now almost a thing of the past and childhood mortality due to infectious diseases has halved over the last 25 years. Still, this has to weighed up against the MASSIVE increase in deaths due to people’s brains being eaten by brain-eating nanobots.
So, you know, some you win, some you lose.

My thanks to Jim for keeping us honest, and my apologies if you or someone you love has been affected by a brain-eating nanobot. Or an acorn in your beverage while holidaying in Miami.

I obviously can’t give you any details about the project that I’ve been assigned to down here in Cape Town, but it’s got nothing to do with putting microchips in Gatsbys. Absolutely nothing.
So much so that you should probably forget that I even mentioned it.

Which I didn’t. Right?