Can you write me off too, please?

Great news! (if you’re Cuban, that is.)

According to this morning’s Cape Times, the South African government has written off a 12-year-old debt owed to it by Cuba for export insurance relating to diesel engines, pesticides, Joost van der Westhuizen promotional mechandise and biltong.  
Very generous. Very, very generous in fact, when you hear that the debt totalled R926,8million. Now although the current exchange rates mean that that princely sum would only buy you a prawn mayo sandwich in London, it’s still a whole lotta Rands.

Government communications head Themba Maseko told a media briefing following Wednesday’s regular Cabinet meeting:

Given the assessment of Cuba’s debt position, government is of the view that Cuba was not in a position to meet its obligations in the foreseeable future.

I’ll bet that little gem of an announcement was slipped in right at the end of the briefing, following 4 hours waffling about exciting social grant allocation, fishing subsidies, landfill waste statistics and annual concrete price fluctuations. “Oh – and for those of you still here and still awake, we also voted to write off a billion Rands worth of debt to the Castro brothers. Thank you all very much, see you next week.”

At this point, I’d like to introduce you all to my bond. My mortgage. The money I borrowed from the bank to pay for my house. Now, to coin an official government phrase, “Given the assessment of my debt position, I am of the view that I am not in a position to meet my obligations in the forseeable future.”
This, by inference and extrapolation, together with a good dollop of subjectivity and bias, therefore means that my bank can write off all that I owe it and I can celebrate with a few mojitos and a fat cigar. Right?

Wrong. Despite the fact that I could be doing better things with my cash than throwing it into the ever-deepening pit of excessive interest payments, a pit which now dwarfs Kimberley’s Big Hole (and here I refer to the city in the Northern Cape, not the lass on Sea Point Main Road) – I still have to pay it back. Life is just so unfair.

Seriously though, what could South Africa have done with that billion Rand? Well, maybe the answers are right in front of us on the same Cape Times website:
Prevent deaths through water-borne disease in Soweto?
Fight the scourge of alcohol abuse and tik which is ruining students futures?
Reducing child mortality rates, which are still on the rise?

Look, I know Cuba has problems too. But I pay tax in SA. For SA.

Phone envy

Readers,

As I write this, I find that I am in the most unusual of situations. One that is new to me. One that I have never before experienced.  A difficult, delicate, unfortunate situation. But worst of all – an embarrassing situation.

Not the acute embarrassment that one feels when one exits the public toilets in Canal Walk trailing a long and dubiously stained tail of 1-ply from the back of one’s trousers. Or so I’d imagine anyway. No, that’s bad (like I say, so I’d imagine), but this is worse. It’s chronically embarrassing. This is the ongoing dull ache of a pulled muscle compared to the immediate but short-lived pain of a kicked shin.

I can hardly bring myself to admit this in such a public forum, but… but…

My wife has a better mobile phone than me.

Yes. I know. (Sorry, can someone help that poor man who’s fainted at the back, please?)

Compare and contrast my previously snazzy, but now aging W900i with her sparkling new and annoyingly-awesome K850i. It’s sickening. And the worst bit is that I was the one who advised her to rid herself of her cumbersome and error-prone Nokia N70 and equip herself with some K850i loveliness.
And who’s laughing now, huh? Well, actually, she is. Repeatedly.
Each time she innocently asks “have you seen what else it can do?” and demonstrates the latest dazzlingly brilliant feature she has discovered to our friends, she may as well be saying, “I’ll do the braai’ing tonight dear – remember you couldn’t get the fire lit last time, you snivellingly miserable excuse for a man!”

But enough is enough is enough (I can’t go on, I can’t go on, no more no…)
So – I’m ready to fight back. June is upgrade time and I have been browsing the Sony Ericsson site:


Sony Ericsson site screenshot

I can’t help thinking that they’ve missed a trick on there though. Where’s the checkbox for I want to: Have a better phone than my wife? Surely that is more important than all those other choices? After all, at the end of the day, the modern mobile phone must do everything, but more significantly, must have at least one more feature than whatever your missus is using.

I have found some very eligible young hardware which which to reclaim my rightful, alpha-male place on the mobile throne, chez 6000. Step forward Ms C902 and your roommate and “special friend”, Miss G900. Baby, I don’t claim to be an expert on mobile telecommunications devices, but I know what I like and I like what I see. Nice buttons, sweetie. So – do you girls come here often?*

Only problem being that they probably won’t be available in South Africa until 2012.

Hmm…I feel the need for a trip back home coming on…

* 6000 has been out of the dating game for some time.

Tourists not eaten by sharks

Three tourists who drowned when the shark-cage diving boat they were on capsized off Gansbaai were not eaten by sharks, much to the disappointment of the South African media. This unfortunate lack of an incident turned this potentially sensational and tourism-damaging crowd-puller into no more than a run-of-the-mill tragic accident story

Chairperson of the Great White Shark Protection Foundation, Mariette Hopley, said the shark-cage diving boat had anchored just before a freak wave capsized the boat around 10:00 on Sunday.

One of the people swept off the boat was caught underneath the boat and had to be retrieved by divers. The divers took the man to the mainland where paramedics managed to get a faint pulse, but were unable to revive him. He was certified dead.
The other two men were found drowned at sea and their bodies were retrieved.

A spokesperson for the South African Independent Press Association* stated:

This is a terrible and upsetting incident for all concerned – especially our photographers, who have really missed out on this one. Here is a story which could have boosted website hits, viewer and reader numbers across our country’s media and due to a complete lack of shark activity, we’ve just got a few drownings.
And this in the self-proclaimed “Great White Capital of The World”
How are we supposed to sell that? It’s a disaster.

It’s sad that firstly I feel so ambivalent about these 3 tourists dying; secondly, I’m more concerned about the potential damage it may do to the country’s tourism than what it means to their friends and families; and thirdly that I have so little trust in the South African press.

Maybe I’m more South African than I thought.

Too many times I have seen speculation reported as fact and actually quite dull news stories blown out of all proportion in order to sell newspapers or gain a few extra website visitors. Because of course, thanks to that wonderful thing called human nature, the gorier the story (especially when you can get pictures too), the more people want to read it. We humans are nice like that. And the press know it and they use it.

So forgive my cynicism when it comes to those reporters rushing to sleepy Gansbaai yesterday lunchtime, but I really don’t believe that they got what they were hoping for.

Ag, shame.

* An organisation which I just made up

New Toy

Harold, the desktop PC on which I churn out all the stuff you so eagerly tune in to read on 6000 miles… has been playing up of late. Waiting for him to perform simple tasks – such as opening an email – was like waiting for Mad Bob to release some election results: frustratingly slow, but for some reason seemingly acceptable to Thabo Mbeki*. 
The usual poking about through the Windows XP System Tools, defragging and tidying up revealed a frightening fact. Harold is full. Brimming. Chock-a-block with data.

When I put Harold together, it was on a shoestring budget. The bare minimum of everything that I needed and the money saved put towards extra RAM. You can never have enough RAM, as every welshman I’ve ever known has been at pains to point out.
Since Norman (Harold’s predeccessor) was nearly 6 years old when his hard drive caught fire (yes – really), he was rather basic by today’s standards. And back then, 20GB of hard drive seemed (and was) plenty. So when I upgraded Norman to Harold, 80GB seemed like a figure I would never reach. Silly me.

But that’s where this sexy bit of kit comes in.

Iomega
Iomega 500GB USB Hard Drive. See how she reflects.

I am going to call her Edith. The photo really doesn’t do her justice. Stats here.
And bought on offer in beautiful cheap, local South African Rands from Digital Planet.
I don’t think I’ve ever possessed hardware that looks this gorgeous. And although it seems almost sacrilegious to sully her with data, it didn’t take me long to realise that the quicker I fill her up, the quicker I can move onto playing with her big sister. 
At this point, I think that it’s important to note that I never used this logic with my girlfriends.
Well, not often, anyway.

She’s shining her blue light at me. I think I have to go and stroke her a little now.

at least, he never called me to protest anyway

“My most important reader is me”

Why do we blog?

It’s a question that many inferior bloggers attempt (and fail) to answer on an all too regular basis (along with an annoying tendency to use the word “musing” far too often).

Brian Micklethwait* knows why he blogs:

… every so often I have to remind you people that my most important reader is me, in a few months or years time … This will warm the cockles of my faltering heart, the way me burbling on about the Cold War ending, and what a Good Thing that is, never could. Oooh. I see that in April 2008, I was of the opinion that the Cold War ending was Good. Well, twiddledidee.

Brian’s music storage challenges continue in his brilliantly and descriptively entitled Exciting Posting About Shelves, but aside from showing off his new CD rack, he also hits the nail right on the head as to one reason why I’m writing what I’m writing.

Well, twiddledidee.

* certainly not an inferior blogger.