Why has no one asked the obvious question?

The world news this week has been dominated by the shootings at Virginia Tech. I know most of you have now stopped reading already. You’re thinking (as you click onto something infinitely more exciting): “What can this intelligent, good-looking, informed and amusing writer tell us that we haven’t already heard?”
Well, only that everyone has missed the single most important question about this whole incident, that’s what.

Of course, “tragic” though they are, these sort of shootings are manna from heaven for the rolling news channels. Reporters are live from here, there, everywhere.
Every word of every press conference is replayed time and time again. Everything is analysed by so-called experts. Were there warning signs? Could this have been prevented? Was George W Bush to blame? What brand of soap did the killer use?
Thus far, I think it’s more than fair to say that the picture painted by the media and the authorities shows that Cho Seung-hui was an obviously disturbed individual.
I could have told them that three years ago – because no-one has asked the blindingly obvious question:

Why would any sane and rational person choose to study English in the USA?

Let’s be frank, that’s like studying capitalism in North Korea: “Sorry Mr Jong-il, how did you say the free market economy worked again?”.
The Americans have done more to bastardise the English language than any other nation.
Except maybe the Australians.
If they’re not talking about “Toe-May-Toes” and “sidewalks”, then it’s that dreadful ESPN football commentary where new words are invented at a rate of about three per sentence, leaving the typical English football fan who’s been following the beautiful game all his life, completely bewildered as to exactly what just happened.

A zip-two shutout for Meelan saw Bayern bested and team Italy elevated to four-left status at soccer’s Euro Tournament Wednesday. A Clarence Seedorf 40-yard speed-play upfielded for Filippo Inzaghi to put through the scorebag with a score-shot – equalling jubilation in the Meelan locker-room. Dida’s blanking left Bayern facing a negative score-stat scenario and brought Meelan to a 8-4-5 close-out on the road. Dida performed big when Bayern’s offensive hitman van Bommel had a net-shot opportunity late in the third quarter.

Hmm. I seem to have strayed from the point somewhat. How unusual.

I guess what I’m saying is that with everyone asking the same questions repeatedly, there’s not real opportunity for objective insight to events such as those at Virginia Tech.


Producers at BBC News 24, Fox, Sky News et al may wish to know that I am available to provide exclusive expert analysis on anything you care to throw at me, from school shootings through to the Iranian nuclear standoff (I can even pronounce Ahmadinejad correctly). My fees are very reasonable.

A fishy business

Well, the penguins (see below) are gone, but their memory (and the mess around the pool) still lingers on. Nicole has developed an unusual taste for pilchards. Some husbands might be worried about this unusual craving having some “hidden meaning”, but not me. Why? Because the pilchards are being fed to Alex.
“The omega oils will do him good!” she exclaims.
“In what way?” I counter, ever eager to have my thirst for scientific proof of everything sated.
It’s usually at about this time that she smiles pseudo-knowingly and then ignores me completely until I forget to ask again.

I’ve no doubt that she’s right though. Dolphins and seals always seem to look healthy and indeed, Alex has already gained a wonderfully waterproof oily layer over his skin, which not only keeps him warm in the water, but also makes him extremely difficult to handle in the bathtub.
The only drawback is the smell. The boy, rapidly approaching his first birthday, has not yet completely mastered basic table manners. Why, only yesterday, he used his dessert knife to butter a roll.
OK, I jest (he’d never do that), but feeding him is an understandably messy business at the moment. And that pilchardy smell does end to stick around somewhat: hands, clothes, hair, walls, high chair, floor, cutlery, ceiling – you can imagine, I’m sure. One finds oneself just catching a brief whiff when one least expects it – in the car halfway to work, for example. And if you can smell it, surely so can other people. Hmm.

Still, as long as it’s more healthy than his diet over the weekend, I suppose we should be thankful. Two birthday parties and his first experience of chocolate cake – scary stuff. But then I guess no-one wants to eat carrots at a birthday party. And they shouldn’t be forced to either. Although, of course, we tried. Anyway, pictures from the Easter weekend and this weekend’s RSS feed.
Alternatively, get your computer to do it for you; such are the wonders of modern technology…

Sorry – did you just smell something fishy? Or was it just me?

How to win friends and influence people

You may recall me mentioning my being interviewed by a journalist. That article has now been published (I made Page 7, just next to the advert for Harris’ Patented Haemorrhoid Preparation), although it’s sadly not available online anywhere just yet.
One of the comments on my last post was from June who read the article in Emigrate SA and asks if I can direct her to Expat clubs and societies in Cape Town.
This request – as well-meaning as I’m sure it is – opens up a huge can of worms.

I certainly did mention that there are a lot of Brits out here – there are. What I didn’t say was that I spent a lot of time with them – I don’t. I’m well aware that June’s situation is probably different from mine, but for me, it was rather refreshing (although certainly difficult at the same time) to get away from the British way of life and to give new things a try. (Of course I couldn’t have managed without this place!)
I recognise that’s not the way everyone wants to go, though. I actually don’t know of any specific British Expat societies in Cape Town – perhaps my readership can help me out here?
It’s always a good plan to try and meet some locals – however, that brings up another notorious obstacle: The Cape Town Clique.
I know that cliques exist everywhere, in every city all over the world, but that’s a girlie thing – it’s genetic, I swear. Here though, it also goes for the blokes as well. Yikes. I’ve never quite worked it out, but I guess that it’s got a lot to do with the way the populations were kept apart during Apartheid. This created a bit of a white enclave in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town and that small-town mentality has never really gone away. It’s all about what school you went to, where you play golf and who you know from “Varsity”. And we all know that most guys are pretty backward at coming forward when meeting other guys , which just exacerbates the problem. Before we go any further and I alienate all those friends I have made (heaven forbid that I should upset [name] again *grin*), let me tell you guys that you are obviously the exception that proves the rule. That said, I have had to pretend to have gone to one of eight different schools, depending on who I’m out with that night.

The point I’m trying to make is that you do have to work very hard to make new friends in Cape Town. And for me, that’s even more reason to make the effort to break the barriers and not stick to “your own kind”. After all, that’s what caused this problem in the first place, right?

In other news, I love medical science (although as a career choice, it could pay more, please).
Great news from friends on IVF yesterday (go guys!) and very promising signs from this little fellow too.

We’re holding thumbs for you both.

Crikey! I’m back!

So what happened?
Well, that’s the confusing thing really – nothing. Life just raced past and I never found a moment to update. I’ve been gone so long that they’ve started work on the ARS and Alex has started walking.
Sorry, regular readers: you must both have been at a complete loss for entertainment and information.

First things first: it appears that my March 12th post was taken rather too seriously by some people. Please remember that the views on 6000 miles don’t neccessarily reflect those of anyone. Including the author. You’ll be suitably informed of any post on here that you are expected to take seriously.
In fact, in order to prove that I love attending kids’ birthday parties, I’m going to be going to a kid’s birthday party this weekend and another next weekend. Thanks [name].

One weekend that was devoid of birthday parties was the one we spent at Caronne and Haydn’s place in Simonstown. I’ve finally got around to uploading the pictures from a really cool break.
For those readers who don’t know about Simonstown, it is famed for its colony of wild African Penguins. Alex had never seen a penguin before – he was fascinated. In fact, he loved them so much that we took a couple home for him to play with. Just don’t tell the Table Mountain National Park authorities, please – they just don’t want to understand.
We’re thinking of taking them back anyway. It’s costing us a fortune in fish and the pool is getting cloudy from all their excrement. Also, the neighbours have begun complaining about the smell and to be honest, I don’t blame them.
I thought the damn things would double up as some sort of intruder deterrant, but all they seem to do is swim, eat and crap everywhere. Talking of which – thanks to Ant for the heads-up on this (coincidentally, I’d just read about it in one of those “pointless facts” books I’m so addicted to). Figure 1 is particularly special and definitely worth a look. Genius.


That said, it does make one wonder why some seemingly more important scientific projects looking into HIV, malaria and TB struggle for funding while Prof Meyer-Rochow is looking into the rectal pressure of the Chinstrap Penguin. Apparently: “Anyone who has then watched a penguin fire a “shot” from its rear end must have wondered about the pressure it generates.
Yeah right, Prof. Try investigating that on Boulders Beach and you’d be in a lot of trouble. Molesting a penguin carries a pretty heavy sentence here in SA. Right – I’m off – for the moment.

Want to know when I’ve updated again? Subscribe to my RSS feed.

I know I haven’t been writing much

It’s all these bloody birthday parties I’ve been going to. *shrug*

More tomorrow, I promise. (Writing that is, not birthday parties…)