Banner-tastic

I’m well used to people looking at me, shaking their heads, a pitying look in their eyes, telling me:
“You need help. Seriously.”
But as I go back to chatting to my tuberculosis bacteria, singing the Cookie Jar song and chasing lesbian mice around the lab (long story), I have to think that they don’t know what they’re on about. It would be hard to find a more balanced, more mentally stable microbiologist than myself. (Believe me, I’ve worked with a lot of microbiologists – they’re an odd breed).

When it came to updating my banner though, I was forced to admit that these people were right. I don’t have access to Photoshop and even if I did, I would have no idea how to use it. So even for the (apparently) relatively easy task of adding a Sheffield United badge and a picture of our dear Table Mountain onto each end of the title bar above, I had to turn to someone much more experienced (with Photoshop, not with microbiologists) (probably anyway).
Step forward Cloudgazer (presumably not his real name) (probably anyway).
I have no idea what he did, how he did it or how long it took him to do, but my banner is now a little more interesting than before. And a lot more interesting than what you’re reading now.

Anyway. The upshot of having a slightly more detailed banner is that now I think that this site is completely lovely. Since everything from last year disappeared in a cloud of 123-reg.co.uk incompetence, it’s nice to be up and running again.

Guess who’s found a cure for AIDS now!

There is a terrible disease sweeping across Africa. OK – there are several of them, but this one is really nasty. The symptoms include false hope, political gain and setting HIV/AIDS programmes back immeasurably.
We’ve mentioned South Africa’s own dear Health Minister – Manto Tshabalala-Msimang – on this site on more than one occasion, including her support for the Germanic conman Mattias Rath and her advice that a diet of garlic, african potato, turnips, lemon juice and olive oil can cure HIV. (Incidentally, even dear Manto is unwell). We even chatted briefly about the Deputy President of the ANC and his belief that taking a shower after having sex with an HIV positive individual will prevent you being infected with the virus.
Thank heavens that these individuals aren’t in positions of power and responsibility, hey?
Hmm.

Anyway – it’s all over now. Step forward Yahya Jammeh (ja, ja…) – who “just happens” to be President of The Gambia. He’s sorted all our problems out by discovering that a herbal remedy and a good dose of prayer will rid your body of HIV. And yes, that includes removing its intergrated nucleic acid from every last one of your cells. Incredible. He treats people on Thursdays and claims he can cure them in 3 days. Which should make for a pretty good Saturday night out, assuming all goes well. Sky News interviewed him while he was actually doing the biz – a superb demonstration of multitasking and altogether fascinating stuff.

The thing is, I can see you laughing at these stories in your comfortable Western homes and offices. What you need to realise is the terrible truth is that people believe these claims, they stop taking their ARVs and then they die.
I don’t know. I don’t have the answers. The answers to curing HIV or the answers to the dubious methods of African politics.


Frankly, I’m just shocked that “Uncle Bob” Mugabe hasn’t got in on the act yet…

The Lowdown

Just a quick update on the news from ballacorkish.net and from South Africa.


Let’s get the dull bit over first.
Great news! My new RSS feed is up and running. This one is via Feedburner, so it should be universally acceptable. To subscribe, just click this little icon: Click me for updates! and we’ll tell you each time the site is updated.
It really couldn’t be simpler. (Unless of course the icon clicked itself.)

I’ve also spent a lot of time streamlining the page, so it should load more quickly than before and it’s also properly coded for the first time in years. The other pages on the site (pictures, Nix’s page and Alex’s page) will be returning soon. We’ll let you know.Meanwhile, in South Africa, it’s summer. You can tell this by just looking at the beautiful weather during this football match in Johannesburg on Wednesday evening. You know that I don’t put YouTube clips on here unless they’re really worth it. Don’t miss this – it’s amazing. Finally, the most unjust criticism of the new Faithless album To All New Arrivals, which I think is just lovely, came from my wife, who I think is just lovely too. She described it as:

“Good, but a bit Faithlessy.”

Proof, if any were needed, that you really can’t win when it comes to women.

Worshipping at the altar of Ben

I’ve made a start on Ben Trovato’s latest compilation, Hits and Missives. Of course, it’s typically brilliant.
Interestingly, if you want the book, I’ve just noticed that according to that link, shopping with Exclusive Books “is 100% safe”.
Bit of a bold statement, isn’t it? One wonders exactly what that covers…?
Credit card fraud? Probably.
Loss of product during delivery? Probably.
Being gunned down by armed robbers who burst into your home while you were deciding between the latest Jeffrey Archer and Hannibal Rising? Perhaps not.
A little clarification wouldn’t go amiss.

Anyway, I digress. Often.
I enjoy Trovato’s no nonsense approach to topics and his irreverent sense of humour. Take the subject of his latest column in the Cape Times for Valentine’s week: wife beating.

Entry-level wife-beaters need to remember that spousal abuse is no longer the brutal sport it was when our parents were young. The application of minimal force through the use of smart slaps has become the feng shui of home-based violence.
The Japanese even have a name for it – they call it karate, the way of the empty hand – although they practice something else when it comes to killing whales.

Of course, ballacorkish.net would like to point out that any form of violence against women is entirely unjustifiable. Unless they really asked for it. (This category would include talking during the football or not having a suitably chilled beer ready for you upon your arrival home from work.)* But whatever your views on this tricky subject, I strongly suggest that you make time and effort to read more of Ben Trovato’s work. The man is clearly a genius.

The other things that was going to go into this post were the first photos of the work that began late last year on the Green Point Stadium for the 2010 World Cup.
However, they’re not in here because precisely bugger all has happened yet.
Maybe next time… (Ja right…)

* Yes, I’m joking…

Laufstrupp’s there again – and that’s his hat trick!

I had a little time to myself this weekend, which allowed me to “relax” with FIFA 07 and a cosy warm Playstation while the cold front did its worst outside.
I say “relax”, because there really is very little pleasure in watching in vain as your Hull City side succumb to yet another defeat against some 3rd division Danish nobodies.
It did remind me just how much things have changed over the past few years though. In November 2003, I was sat in the Green Ridges house, playing FIFA 04 (presumably) while it rained outside, watching in vain as my Grimsby Town side succumbed to yet another defeat against some 3rd division Danish nobodies.

The difference, of course, aside from a few miles of Lincolnshire coastline is that back in 2003, I wasn’t able to look forward to the imminent return home of my wife and child as Norgaard-Olaf Laufstrupp headed the third past the hapless collection of pixels representing my goalkeeper.
And I miss those days, sipping chilled Cotes du Rhone from a tumbler and listening to Royksopp on the CD player in the corner. But I’m very happy to be where I am now too. I guess that “where is home?” corner has been turned and the question answered. Importing a few old chums, a bit of family, some decent football teams and real ale would obviously help, but life here is generally pretty good.

Of course, life changes. Some would say not always for the better either. But I would have to disagree. I’m with the woman of my dreams, I have the world’s cutest son and the new Precision Passing feature using the R2 button has allowed Hull to look almost professional from time to time. Add to that a superb range of reasonably priced local Merlot and you have the perfect recipe to while away your weekend with only a couple of sore thumbs and a hangover to worry about.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that it’s the little things that matter in this world.
Well, those and the big things, obviously.
Sort them out and use the R2 button more often and you’ll have a great time. I promise.