Sunday, December 27, 2009

PE and the perfect wave

So I think PE is starting to grow on me, i'm starting to quite enjoy the little holidays we have here. They're quiet, i don't think PE will ever be a party town but it's rather relaxing and restful. Sometimes that's all you really need.

I've been here a week this time .. it's generally the normal length we stay - dad owns a flat right on the beach, close enough that i can throw stones into the water and so it's rather idyllic. I wasn't at all enamoured of the place the first time we came (pre the flat), stayed in the holiday inn; was windy and rainy and the city looked like a dump to be frank. Then dad got a job here, bought the flat and really did a good job on decorating the place.

So PE started growing on me then, for almost a year; but then just as I was about to decide I liked the place, I suffered a freak accident on the beach. Now, my family is nuts about the beach - when we come to the coast that's all we really want to do - is swim. In Durban, in the middle of winter, my family will swim. In December when everyone is staying in Umhlanga we still stay in Durban, because the beach is so much better there.

So last April (2008) we were preparing for lunch, and I seeing the waves rolling in, decided to go for a quick swim before we sat down to eat. Less than 5 minutes later I was on the phone to my folks begging them to come quick! Trying to dive under a wave before it could break, i'd dived half a second late. The wave had broken onto me, squarely onto my outstretched arm, and pop; my bum shoulder had been dislocated once again! When I eventually made it out the water (no thanks to the lifeguards) I was taken to hospital to have my shoulder reset for the umpteenth time.

The week following this incident might have been one of the worst of my entire life. Relationship issues combined with my utter helplessness due to the shoulder made me incredibly depressed, reading Fisk's the Great War for Civilization probably didn't help either. The incident and the week gave me even more respect for my quadriplegic friend (she was in a car accident) and almost put me off PE for good.

I was back in PE last December, driving the Garden Route with the folks, I managed to get back in the water, overcoming my fears, but I couldn't quite sum up the courage to face the beach directly in front of the flat where my accident had happened.

Which brings me full circle back to today and this week. A week of utter tranquility and rest. It had a few moments of tension; natural when 5 people who don't normally live together are together pretty much 24/7. But the week was fantastic, morning's started reasonably late, with a swim around 9 or 10. We'd come back and have brunch with eggs, sausages and fruit. The rest of the day would be spent lazing around swopping between Fifa 10, the beach, scrabble, 30 seconds and thunie (an indian card game). And you know what, I loved it; all year i've been on the move all the time, working flat out and partying even harder so this week was fantastic. Even better I was able, with a little teasing and prompting from my brothers to face my fears and swim Pollock beach.

This finally brings me to today, and the perfect wave. We got a superb sessions in after brunch today, the water had finally warmed up (all week had been slightly chilly) and the waves kept rolling in. My brother took a breather at some point saying riding so many waves was tiring him out, whilst my dad commented on how it was almost too easy to ride these waves.

And then it came, the perfect wave, quite possibly the single best wave I have ever had the pleasure and privilege to ride. It reared up, nice and high with a beautiful little head of foam. I hesitated for a moment at the height and then decided to go for it. I caught it just right, head up, arms and face in front of the wave, feeling the incredible rush as the wave carried me forward. Then this beaut that I was riding overtook a smaller wave infront, instead of halting our progress the smaller wave was also seemingly borne along. Instead of being dumped at the end of the ride, the small wave gently cushioned my descent. A fantastic ride, a great way to end an awesome week in PE

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Invictus - the unconquerable

So i'm going to say this upfront, I absolutely loved this movie, I have and will continue to recommend it to anyone and everyone I meet - for me was absolutely fantastic.

The one cool thing about writing about this movie, is that I don't have to worry about a Spoiler Alert; we all know the story, we know it has a happy ending .. some of us might even remember most of the twists and turns - and yet without a doubt the best movie i've seen all year.

I remember the 95 world cup, remember sitting with my dad in the house in Newlands, watching the Boks take on Australia, the roar from the stadium could be heard through the open windows. These are some of my earliest memories (it's actually odd - I don't remember much from my childhood, the first thing I remember is being at the rally in Cape Town after Mandela was released) and so for me, watching this brought all those memories flooding back.

The reason then, that I loved this movie so much, is perhaps not its cinematic brilliance, but rather the way it tugged at my heartstrings, made me remember why I'm a fiercely patriotic Saffer. That my country and it's people, went through hell and back and emerged on the other side as a viable nation. It's difficult to explain in a few written words why I scorn those who emigrate, why I truly believe this is one of the best places on earth to live; but try I must.

That we as a nation have moved from this terrorist Mandela, to Tata Madiba - the father of the nation. From an all white Springbok team, to Bryan Habana as the darling of the Loftus faithful. Where Makhaya Ntini's 100th test match is greeted with acclaim by all - this journey of self-discovery shows me why our nation will succeed.

And that for me is the message of this movie, the key takeaway for every South African; that as Mandela famously said "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond all measure"; that's what I took away a stirring message for us all.

Apart from the relentless positivity the movie inspired in me ( I hope and pray that Bafana take some inspiration from it as well) I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mandela is a fan of Invictus. It's been my favourite poem ever since Timothy Mcveigh (the Oklahoma City bomber), used it as his last statement. It's one of only 2 poems I ever memorised (sonnet 114 - "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day" being the other) and thus the poem being sung was pretty awesome as well.

Apologies for the disjointed thought flows; I blame rustiness and summer vacations. So go out, watch the movie and be inspired. And let me know what you think!

PS: I forgot to mention, that Invictus made me tear up! It's been a while, the last one was Veer-Zara

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blogger letters - a joy deferred

So I finally received my letter from Azra, this being the third iteration of the letter from her side due to some misunderstandings and confusion about postal addresses ... and it rocked!

To start with, it had a seal .. plus Azra's slightly untidy scrawl (I kid, the address was neatly written, the letter itself not). Plus all the pent-up excitement, that had been building for weeks. I remember sending my letter almost 2 months ago; and in the interim Azra and I have sent innumerable messages trying to get the post through, which by the way is why normal people don't write letters anymore; even fast mail takes a good few days.

And then there was the letter itself, a solid 4 pages long and with my initials embossed onto the first page. Folded up, inside the envelope it possessed an unusual, heft; which I later discovered was a good luck coin glued to the final page.

Much of the content of the letter is private; suffice to say that it included a few heartfelt confessions plus some rather risque pics.

The joy is in the reading, the dwelling upon ideas, imagination free to wonder, without having to confine yourself to 140 characters. Simply letting the words, scatter themselves across the page; meandering without the pressing urgency to make a point that so much of the written word is now reduced to."Be top-down, be punchier" is the constant refrain; thus the joy of a delightful wordy meander is magnified.

The story of how life happens, without waiting for your plans to bear fruition, to just live in the moment; to quote John Lennon "Life is what happens, while you are busy making other plans"; was the theme of the letter. Sauntering on with exquisite verbosity, Azra spoke of peregrination, wandering from one place to another, every new destination a place for an exciting sojourn.

Without a doubt, her letter, is for me an excuse to rub the dust from my eyes, and get on with living!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Why hippies make me want to vomit (... and why GM crops will save the world)

So having been labelled a hippy before, I know this is a massive generalisation ... but to be frank most hippies and in particular 1 hippy make me want to vomit.

It's terrible I know, we should respect and understanding for people's positions, thoughts and way of thinking about things, but really .. this level of idiocy and stupidity is more than even my iron cast stomach can handle.

When you consistently talk about GM crops with an authoritative tone of voice, but actually know close to nothing, it's actually kind of revolting. Comments like "GM crops only have 10% of the nutritional value of organics" are not only wrong but so clearly wrong it boggles the mind that they could be even considered plausible.

Sure, I get the whole "we should go back to nature vibe" (said in your best stoner drawl) but to be honest, organic food can not feed the planet. Actually it could, if we got rid of all our livestock, but the plausibility of that scenario is even more far-fetched. So sure, let's get back on our moral high horses and talk about how Gaia knows best and continue to let millions of Africans starve and die because we refuse to utilise drought resistant high-yield crops.

By the by, GM crops, would alleviate the need for herbicides and pesticides by allowing for disease resistant crops. And yes, Monsanto is an evil corporation, but their crops and their innovations will help mankind. And yes, terminator genes (so that you need to buy new seed every year) is not ideal, but is the only way to allow people to invest the necessary resources to allow for innovation. It's the same like saying that big pharma shouldn't be allowed to make money; all it betrays is a lack of understanding and gross naivety.

Honestly I think it's the idioticy that irritates me the most. The lack of understanding that conceptually there's very little difference between GM crops and selective breeding, which is something mankind has been doing with both livestock and crops for over 2 millenia (not 1oo years as our hippy friend would have you believe)

So i'm really sorry that my first blog in months is little more than a rant about stupid people, but that's the way it is. I'm sorry, people that dumb are little more than a waste of Oxygen

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Work, life and the elections

This post is dedicated to all of you who have yelled, urged and cajoled me into blogging again. 

So the main reason I haven't blogged in a while, 3 odd months, is that my working life is insane .. my average day is 12hours whilst a rough one is around 19 hours. When late nights are followed by early morning for more than a few days, the ability to do much more than sleep when going home becomes severely compromised. It's all in the fabulous life of a management consultant!

To be honest with myself though, I haven't had much that really stirred my emotions enough, for me to make the time to blog. Today however, is different; the elections yesterday really stirred my soul.

Those of you who know me well, know that at heart I am an ANC man, that I believe that the party that brought us liberation will and should continue to rule in the public good, until as Mr Zuma says "Jesus Christ comes". But, simultaneously I am a firm supporter of COPE; because as a South African citizen, I believe that a 2/3 party system is a fundamental underpinning to a healthy multi-party democracy. I do believe that everyone in life needs a little pressure to be put onto them; that in the absence of a threat to the ANC's majority; the drive to ensure delivery will continue to be missing.

In this regard I must agree with the noted political analyst Adam Habib, that whilst the DA remains rooted in minority politics, that is attempting to scare-monger the white, coloured and indian populations, they can not emerge as a viable alternative to the ANC. That whilst slogans such as Stop Zuma, do indeed effectively mobilise their support base; they can never win the hearts and minds of the people. "A better life for all", not only explains the aspirations of the party it is infact a highly effective manifesto conveying all the multi-layered discussions around access to housing, electricity, water and social grants. It is therefore that I voted as the slogan so aptly puts it, "for Hope". Knowing full well that the possibility of COPE winning this election was non-existent that even the odds of becoming the official opposition were slim; but rather voting for the promise of a real viable alternative to the ANC in the 2014 elections and beyond. That COPE's policies often closely correlate with those of the ANC's does not disturb me in the least, for I continue to believe that these represent the most effective policies for this nation. The important thing is thus not to focus on the similarites but rather the differences in policies - for that is the key; not the parts of policy that everyone is in consensus upon. We all agree for the need for freedom of speech; yet no-one complains about this common position... Moving along swiftly and before this post becomes too much a analysis of the 3 main parties, I need to touch upon the mass hysteria that seems to be sweeping the country vis a vis the ANC's 2/3 majority.

There are 3 key elements that we need to all remember before we decide that Mr Zuma and the ANC's massive election victory, which is likely to have a 2/3 majority, means the end of this country as a functioning state:
1) The ANC has had a 2/3 majority for the last 5 years, the only major constitutional amendment during this time was the floor-crossing legislation. Remember if you will that this amendment was carried out on the request of the DA to allow for the dissolution of the DA/NNP alliance; remember also that this particular amendment was done with the support of 90% of parliament. Evidently the opposition parties aren't too worried about the sanctity of the constitution when the changes are beneficial towards them. Whilst the ANC may have the power to change the constitution, they are also the governing party and realise that any changes would likely lead to massive investor panic; and would thus have a major negative impact on the ANC's goal of "A better life for all".
2) The key possible constitutional amendments that people panic about are actually not possible with a 2/3 majority. They actually require a 3/4 (or 75% majority for those whose maths skills are decaying) majority to effect. This majority is required for changes to for example abrogate freedom of speech or change the term of office of the president.
3) Whilst the ANC if frequently portrayed as a monolithic organisation, remember that the people sitting in parliament are exactly that people. People not faceless drones, people who fought and suffered for the liberation of this country. People who saw their comrades laying down their lives for the freedom's that we now enjoy. Thus, I do not fear; even for a moment that they will now abrogate their duty to defend our democracy and our fledgling nation.

Monday, January 19, 2009

We Love You Bono

So I was watching the Obama Lovefest (otherwise knows as the Inaugural Concert) last night which was pretty fun. The whole production was really pretty slick and the degree to which they took the inclusiveness thing was on the verge of being excessive.

Firstly, every prominent African-American (read Black) actor was out, starting with Denzel Washington and Jamie Foxx to Samuel Jackson, even Queen Latifah came in for some fairer sex relief. To top that though, they were even inclusive towards Hispanics and Indians with George Lopez and Kal Pen (Kumar from Harold and Kumar fame) on stage too.

Just about then though, my dad commented along the lines that the jingoistic Americanism was starting to grate; that every time he heard those lines about freedom all he could think about were the Palestinians. Right then and there though, Bono came along to save my evening.

Singing "Pride", the song about Martin Luther King Jr (Google the lyrics) he spoke to the world. As Bono sang the chorus "in the name of love" he stopped for some trademark preaching that warmed my heart. "This is not just an American dream, but also an Irish dream, a European dream, an African dream, an Israeli dream". My heart felt like it was going to break, here was Bono, the rockstar crusader for the people of the world, ignoring the Palestinians. He waited a few second as if wondering 'Just how much trouble am I going to get into for this' and then yelled "and a Palestinian dream". It was amazing, the crowd went wild as he said Palestinian cheering for a good minute as Bono bellowed "Let Freedom Reign".

Thanks Bono, for saving my night

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Why No Tears for Israel?

So lets start by forgetting about Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people; their illegal occupation of Palestinian land. Lets for moment ignore the dozens of UN resolutions that Israel is in violation of; the ones that started being issued in 1948; those in 1967; or those in 1976; lets even forget about the ones that continue to be issued. Lets rather focus on today, on this current massacre of the Palestinian people.

First though lets give you a quick lesson in checking your facts before opening your mouth. To start with, the first Qassam rocket was launched in April 2001, thats 7 years not 8 .. count them. Secondly up until mid-2006 rockets were only launched in retaliation for continuing Israeli attacks on Palestinian's. Then you ask why Hamas continues to fire rockets considering Israel evacuated Gaza in 2005.

Well possibly, just maybe, it's because Israel imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza, allowing only a tiny fraction of the necessary goods through.. just maybe? So, if they can't get at the supplies they need to build their schools and hospitals; because the Israeli army prevents it; what exactly are they supposed to do? Well, you might be asking, why is this blockade in place; it's surely to prevent those bloodthirsty terrorists from attacking Israel. Surprisingly not; the blockade according to the Israeli government is "to prevent Hamas from governing Gaza effectively and in this way turn the people against Hamas". Wait, I must be missing something here, Hamas won the election, which was overseen by Israel; after Israel allowed it to contest the election. Then unhappy with the way the people voted, they tried to punish them? No, I must be misunderstanding this, there's no way a civilised, democratic nation like Israel would ever do that!

To quote Mark Steel, in the Independent ".. must have one of those conditions, called something like 'Visual Carnage Responsibility Back to Front Upside Down Massacre Disorder'". This is so, because like Condoleezza Rice after having seen 300 Gazan's dead, you ".. condemn the attacks on Israel and hold Hamas responsible". I'd love to quote his whole article verbatim actually, because it just so throughly illustrates the complete and utter ridiculousness of holding the victims responsible for the crime (read it at:

I do sort of understand where you're coming from though, it's akin to condemning the rape victim for wearing a mini-skirt. Ah well, what would we know; it's not like we've ever had to rape someone.  

On and on, I go; it's becoming a bit repetitive isn't it, all these factual errors in your argument, i'd be slightly ashamed by now. Ah.. where was I; right, Israel only attacks military targets not civilians. Sure, I suppose if you're a little squint a mosque might look like a missile launcher. You, know with that whole minaret thing on top, much the same way a synagogue would look like.. oh I don't know a massive bunker? And of course, it's Hamas's fault that in one of the most densely populated area's in the world (about 4000 people per square kilometer) they couldn't find space to conveniently situate all their facilities out of town. Plus, obviously when other people want to blow you up, you should of course try and stand out in the open, away from other people; it's only good manners don't you know?

What was the next one, ah.. the ceasefire; well I suppose it would have helped if Israel had kept to that I guess. But, when Hamas parliamentarians are out in the open, it's a superb time to assassinate them and we shouldn't really blame Israel for that. So yes, definitely, killing more than 20 Palestinians, isn't breaking the ceasefire; and thus Hamas's decision not to continue with the true is completely unjustifiable. To think that they would have the nerve to fire rockets at Israel, well I never; its unbelievable.

Onto Gilad Shalit; that one person has had so much attention lavished upon him is simply put, surprising. To think that Hamas could demand the release of 440 prisoners (women and children) in return for his release; who do they think he is, a pop star? Wait, how many prisoners, 440.. just how many prisoners does Israel actually hold? Over 5500 prisoners, one wonders how they were arrested, they surely couldn't have been abducted in cross-border raids similar to they way Mr Shalit was abducted. That's unconscionable; there is surely no ways Israel could ever be that hypocritical. And there is absolutely no ways, that Israel would use collective punishment (a war crime) on Gaza by blowing up a power station and two bridges, because Israel is a civilised nation.

Well yes, and here I must say I truly agree with you; war certainly is horrible. It's just a whole lot less terrible when you're not the one dying like the Isreali's. Sure Palestinian's are dead, but they don't count do they; they're not actually people. As Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said "There was no such thing as Palestinians, they never existed". Or that notable, revered Zionist, Chaim Weizmann "the indigenous population was akin to the rocks of Judea, as obstacles to be cleared from a difficult path". How could anyone possibly compare rocks to Israeli's, non-people to people; its completely ludicrous. And to think some people would have us equating the lives of rocks with those of people, why we'd then have over 500 Israeli's dead not just 4!

Moving along swiftly, all this stuff about ethnic cleansing and genocide is so tiresome don't you think? "Terroristic", tsk tsk, not actually a word I don't think; nonetheless they "claim they own everything", how dreadful. However if I do remember correctly, the Israeli government called Hamas "the democratically elected government"; ah.. never you mind, they're allowed to change their minds aren't they? "Trained and supported by Al Qaeda (forgive me for correcting your spelling) and Iran". Now would you believe that, those Al Qaeda terrorists, who hate Shia's and keep bombing them in Iraq managed to put aside their animosity and collaborate with Shia Iran to support Hamas. How could we not have seen this one coming? And of course millions of Israeli's are from that violently anti-semetic country, the United States, so of course I sympathise with you. One just wonders though, why do more and more Jews leave their anti-semetic countries to come and live in Israel where those Hamas terrorists can blow them up at any time?

So back to where we started, tears for Israel. Well this may come as somewhat as a surprise to the 700 000 (not millions fortunately) Israeli's living in the southern parts of Occupied Palestine but, the Israeli Ministry of Defense says "Qassams are more a psychological than physical threat". Small comfort I'm sure, from the 1000 odd rockets launched at Israel which killed 4 people. Sure it might take 250 homemade rockets to kill someone, but as Israeli spokesman have said "they're fired with the intention of killing people". The fact that Israel has fired 1000's of rockets in the last week, killing more than 500 Palestinians, sorry killing 500 Rocks; is really neither here nor there. Unfortunately for the rocks of Gaza, those non-people, they don't have the luxury of seeking refuge in bomb shelters; but then again that's for people isn't it?

So no, unfortunately not; 500 dead Palestinian Rocks are not enough; to satisfy Israel's desire for blood. Unfortunately not, for those about to die; for their children; their loved ones; those who will be left behind. Unfortunately for Israel, Golda Meir was wrong. The Palestinians are people, and they will not be forgotten by the world. To quote that winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the former Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu "Injustice and oppression will never prevail. Those who are powerful have to remember the litmus test that God gives to the powerful: what is your treatment of the poor, the hungry, the voiceless?"

I fortunately do not suffer from your condition; which prevents you from seeing who are the oppressed and who are the oppressors. I will save my tears, for the true victims of Israel's crimes.