How to prevent HIV/AIDS

Here in SA, we have big problems with HIV/AIDS.  These problems are not helped in any way by our esteemed Health Minister, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and her wacky dietary suggestions which she claims will prevent and/or cure the infection, nor by her involvement with the Rath Foundation, who claim that vitamins (which they will helpfully sell you) can stop progression of HIV into AIDS.  

And who could forget the comments allegedly made by our President-in-waiting, Jacob Zuma during his rape trial that he took a shower after sex with an HIV-positive individual in order to prevent his contracting the virus? Ah… Happy days!

With these figures in authority, it’s sadly perhaps understandable that there is some confusion amongst the masses over HIV and AIDS in general. And that was illustrated by Papi Molimoeng’s letter published in The Times today:

Government should focus on jobs

The government wants us to believe that there is nothing that can be done to minimise the spread of the HIV-Aids pandemic.
Like any virus, the best way of stopping the virus is to encourage prevention.
If more people had jobs they would not be exposed to poverty.
As a result, they get bored and become infected with the virus. The health department and the government needs to make sure research scientists do their jobs, and stop pointing fingers.

I read the letter. Then I read it again. And I too became confused.

Fortunately, working as a research scientist, I rarely find myself bored. Not only will this please Papi, it seems that it will also stop me getting AIDS. Whoopie.
In fact, after having digested what (I think) Papi is trying to say, I am definitely going to encourage the prevention of me getting bored. I will also undertake not to point fingers. Unless I’m trying to indicate directions to a lost motorist or similar. It’s for my own good, after all.

And if all that doesn’t work, I’ll try eating beetroot and garlic in the shower. Messy, but worth it.

Missing “home”…

If there is one thing I miss about living in the UK more than any other, it is the music. While SA has it’s fair share of decent bands and artists (and I’ve mentioned them more than once or twice on here), the music scene just doesn’t compare to the UK. I love to find new bands by chance and then follow them up and listen to see if what I heard was a one off or a representative sample of their work. I can’t do that here.

Feeling particularly musically needy today, I did a bit of an update on a few of my favourite bands. This evening, having got my free download of The Escapist by The Streets, I flicked onto the Radio One homepage and took the opportunity to listen live to Zane Lowe‘s show for a short while. Not because I’m a huge fan of Zane Lowe, but because that was who was on when I was listening so it would have been difficult to listen live to anyone else. He was playing a song called CCTV by The Last Republic. A song which sums up exactly what I mean when I say that I’m missing out. Awesome stuff.

You won’t find TLR on iTunes. However, having looked them up on MySpace – and in one of those ironic moments that show that if there is a higher power, then he’s busy sticking his middle finger up at me – if you’re in Cardiff this evening, you will find them at Cardiff Barfly, supporting Saffa band, The Parlotones.

The only other bit of UK/SA news today was England winning the fourth test at The Oval. Have you noticed that I only mention the cricket when England win? This has had the effect of passively convincing all my american readers that England are the best cricket team in the world.

Which they are, obviously.

One World, One Dream

Yesterday, I watched the Olympic Games opening ceremony along with 2,999,999,999 others. Not all in my lounge, obviously; that would have been a squash and a squeeze.
Anyway, it was fairly impressive stuff. Lots of flashy lights, a myriad of people running about in unison, a few people in weird costumes, some people attached to wires which made it look a bit like they were flying if you ignored the wires and so on. Oh, and some fireworks.


Attention!

So obviously very different from every other opening ceremony for a big sporting event. Right.

What was different about Beijing 2008’s opening night was the fact that it cost (according to the SABC’s coverage, anyway) about $75m (US) to stage. Which made me wonder how exactly it adhered to the One World, One Dream motto of this particular Olympiad. Kevin Mitchell sums it up nicely:

This opening of the 29th Olympic Games was an orchestrated marriage of superstition and military precision on a scale only a one-party state could deliver with such confidence. It was a show not so much riveting because of its artistic merit (which was considerable) but the self-conscious reaching for grandeur that has become the Olympic movement’s parodic symbol of excess.

And the official Beijing 2008 site states:

“One World One Dream” fully reflects the essence and the universal values of the Olympic spirit – Unity, Friendship, Progress, Harmony, Participation and Dream. It expresses the common wishes of people all over the world, inspired by the Olympic ideals, to strive for a bright future of Mankind.

While I’m all for the Olympics and their ideals – though I recognise that they are very rarely seen outside the couple of weeks of competition every four years – I would imagine that a large chunk of the world’s population would probably have different universal values. Like Food, Shelter, Housing and Safety, for example. Ironically, I would also guess that most of this group were the ones who weren’t able to watch yesterday.
This “Other World” doesn’t fit for the Beijing Olympics though; it’s ugly and awkward to deal with while they’re splashing out millions on fancy fireworks and Sarah Brightman. And so, like so much else, it is being swept under the carpet and conveniently ignored for the next two weeks.

Sick of poor decisions

“Where are you?” queried the emails.
“What’s going on?”
“What must we do?”

Such is the awesome and addictive power of 6000 miles…that when I was struck down – pretty heavily struck down, too – by a particularly nasty illness this last week, desperation set in for some readers.

But it’s ok. I’m back. And I’ve got lots that I want to write about. Although I haven’t been able to get near a computer to actually document my thoughts, I’ve been having plenty of them. Some of the more interesting ones were sadly only accessible while my temperature was in the low 40’s.
Thus, I can only remember odd bits of them. Bits that involve parrots.
I told you they were odd.

While I was away on my journey to Virusville,  South Africa beat England in a unusually interesting Test match in Birmingham. Through glazed eyes (via the disappointingly weak interweb surfing capabilities of my aging cellphone), I read and agreed with Brian Micklethwait’s take on Michael Vaughan’s resignation as England captain following that game.

How thin are the threads that these things hang by!  In England’s second innings the day before yesterday, Vaughan was looking good, until he got himself out with a silly shot.  And yesterday, South Africa’s captain Smith would have been given out, caught off the glove off Panesar, if “Hotspot” the latest analytical gizmo – it shows where balls strike by photoing heat rather than light), had been helping the umpires instead of only helping the commentators to make idiots of the umpires.  Smith was then on about 70.  He went on to make 150 not out and win the game for his team.  England might well have won if that decision gone their way, and if England had won, Vaughan would not now be stepping down.  He might have made some runs in the final test against South Africa, and gone on to lead England in the Ashes next summer. As it is…

Yet another dodgy decision with massive implications. And yes, I know that referees and umpires are only human and these things happen, but with professional sport being what it is these days, isn’t it time that the technology which is available is applied so that careers aren’t ended and millions of pounds aren’t lost simply because of the actions of of an inept official?

So now we have a South African with a South African name captaining the England cricket team and a South African with an English name captaining the South African cricket team. And, if the papers are to be believed, they hate each other. Ooh – the drama.


A couple of tossers with a coin

I like this photo from the BBC News website. Pietersen looks like he’s missing a pint pot and is looking in completely the wrong direction. Smith looks like he’s missing a brain and is looking directly at the money.
Which sums them both up nicely, I think.

EDIT: more (slightly surprising) opinion and a nice pic of Newlands here.

Live fast, die young…

… but do it right. That’s the message I’m getting.

I noticed the somewhat unsympathetic response to the news that “troubled” singer Amy Winehouse spent a night in hospital following an “adverse reaction to medication” on a local forum and I couldn’t help but compare it with the reaction to news of the death of Heath “Keith” Ledger early in the year.
Of course, as I noted, Keith has been in the news again recently with the release of his final film, The Dark Knight, over which gushing and enthusiastic noises are being made by those who know about such things.

I have to believe that if 24-year old Amy popped her clogs tomorrow, the general reaction would probably not be one of sympathy, surprise, shock and sorrow like we saw and heard ad nauseum for 28-year-old Ledger.
Why? Because we (the public) are apparently fed up of hearing about Amy’s much publicised problems, while Ledger had the grief athletes eating out of his hand by OD’ing completely out of the blue (I hesitate to use the phrase “quick and clean”, because according to some reports he had lost control of his bowels when he was found).

Thankfully, I’m already too old to fall into the latter category of the “Live Fast, Die Young” club. But the message is clear and simple – if you are a celebrity contemplating suicide as a career move; if you want to be remembered just for the good things you did in life and to have the ugly bits forgotten, don’t bother us with your troubles before you top yourself. Just do it.