claidheamhmor: (Vendetta 2)
Education is failing us here in South Africa.

The most recent stats for last year's matrics (grade 12 school leavers) have been published. 78% of the matrics passed the year. This sounds OK - after all, it's better than previous years - but then you dig a bit deeper.

For example:
  • If you actually count all of the kids starting Grade 1 in 2002 who passed matric in 2013, then the pass rate is only 38%. In other words, on average, only 38% of our youth are successfully completing school.
  • The Grade 9 average maths mark was 14%. Only 3% of Grade 9s got over 50% for maths.
  • Only 3% of matrics got a distinction for maths. Only 40% of them scored over 40% for maths. Only 26% got over 50% (which is the minimum requirement for any science or commerce-based university course). Similar result for science.

In other words, while the overall pass rate sounds good, the vast majority of even those who passed are not actually educated enough for anything but unskilled jobs. Most of those getting into university can't get into the science and commerce courses, and as a result, SA is desperately short of graduates in the science and engineering fields.

Of course, because most matrics are not qualified enough to get decent jobs, unemployment goes up; the unemployment rate for people in the school-leaving age category is around 40%. Without jobs, poverty worsens, there's impact on the economy, and people aren't able to help their own children through school. It's a vicious cycle. :(

School results

Tuesday, 4 December 2012 14:08
claidheamhmor: (Aes Sedai)
It seems that the average maths mark for South Africa's Grade 9 students was 13%. 

That's actually pretty frightening. When you consider that so many issues in the country (like unemployment, productivity, middle class growth, the economy) can only be addressed by a large dose of education, it's shocking. These students are going to be another lost generation - uneducated, and unemployable for anything more than menial labour. And yet the government either doesn't care, or can't be bothered to publicise their educational initiatives.

Hayibo had a cynically amusing take on it.

My tweets

Tuesday, 20 September 2011 12:17
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Tue, 10:55: RT @notvlad: Politicians should wear sponsorship logos like race car drivers, so we know who is funding them. #fb

My tweets

Saturday, 6 August 2011 12:15
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Fri, 18:11: RT @DrTwittenheimer: Everyone knows about the separation of Church and State in the USA, but did you now that they have since reconciled?
  • Fri, 18:14: RT @DrTwittenheimer: I bet I have deleted the words "Shortcut to" more than 10 million times at this point. <- *sigh* Me too...

My tweets

Friday, 29 July 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Thu, 17:03: I believe the Korean War has now officially ended. #fb
  • Fri, 07:01: It's a cold, grey windy day. Dry leaves have blown under the door. I love these kind of days. #fb

My tweets

Tuesday, 12 July 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)

My tweets

Wednesday, 18 May 2011 12:15
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Wed, 10:14: In the queue for voting. It's the longest one I've ever been in. #fb

My tweets

Wednesday, 27 April 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)

My tweets

Monday, 4 April 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)

My tweets

Monday, 14 March 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)

My tweets

Friday, 11 February 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)

My tweets

Sunday, 6 February 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Sat, 18:36: RT @DrTwittenheimer: The camera adds 10 pounds, but cropping and Photoshop take off 20.
  • Sat, 18:36: RT @gussilber: Zuma says if you vote for the ANC, you'll go to heaven. That's the best argument against voting I've ever heard.
  • Sat, 18:47: Computers are like dogs and horses - they can sense fear. #fb

My tweets

Thursday, 14 October 2010 12:18
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Tue, 15:36: RT @gussilber: I love the subtlety of SA politics. Having your bodyguard privileges revoked is a sure sign that you're on your own, pal.
  • Wed, 06:54: First proper rainstorm of the season! Lovely. :) Pity it's timed to coincide with rush hour. :/ #fb
claidheamhmor: (Vendetta 2)
I found this pretty interesting:

238 presidential scholars: Bush worst president of modern era, fifth worst in US history

It's one thing for a coterie of liberals at a late-night Washington soirée to say that George W. Bush was the worst president in their lifetimes.

It's another thing when the same is said by the nation's 238 leading presidential scholars, who have been polled annually for the last 28 years.

President Bush ranked worst among modern presidents -- and the fifth worst in history, according to the poll by the Siena Research Institute. Ranking first? President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who led the country from 1933 until his death in 1945.

President Roosevelt served four terms, the longest of any president in history. US presidents became limited to two terms after US states ratified the 22nd Amendment to the US constitution in 1951.

President Barack Obama, who hasn't yet served a full term, rated 15th.
PDF of Study
2010 Rankings

The PDF is interesting; they describe the rating factors, and list the various presidents on the different factors.

Some interesting ones:
1: F. Roosevelt
2: T. Roosevelt
3: Lincoln
4: Washington
5: Jefferson
11: Kennedy
13: Clinton
15: Obama
18: Reagan
30: Nixon (scored poorly on Integrity, Avoid crucial mistakes)
32: Carter
39: GW Bush (scored poorly on Intelligence, Foreign Policy Accomplishments, Handling of U.S. Economy, Ability to compromise, Communication ability)

The oil leak

Sunday, 13 June 2010 17:13
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
President Obama has a solution to BP's oil leak in the Gulf.

Manto died

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:00
claidheamhmor: (Vendetta 2)
So, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, our controversial ex-Minister of Health, died. Rumour goes that her transplanted liver rejected her.

I know it's all politically correct to forgive someone after they've died, but I don't have any sympathy for her. Her HIV/AIDS policies in government led to the premature deaths of possibly hundreds of thousands of people.

The Treatment Action Campaign, the organisation that eventually forced government to supply anti-retrovirals, called on South Africans to forgive Manto in a rather pointed, back-handed way (something I thought was rather clever):
"We hope that the world and the mothers whose children died or were infected by HIV/Aids find it in their hearts to forgive her", and "She was a cadre who contributed to the liberation of South Africa, although her HIV/Aids policies made her an enemy of South Africans."

Gareth Cliff, a local DJ, made a Twitter post that made some people rather unhappy, including the former Deputy Minister of Health, Renier Schoeman, who called on Cliff to apologise for his "viscous" [sic] comments.

While Manto may have done some good things during her tenure, all that is overshadowed by her policies that caused so many deaths.
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
Apparently our esteemed former Minister of Health may be getting a second liver transplant. For those who don't know, Manto had a reputation for heavy drinking, and during her tenure as Health Minister, she and former President Mbeki were instrumental in denying government-supplied antiretroviral drugs to HIV/AIDS patients. Hayibo has this to say:

Dr Johnnie Walker, Dr Jack Daniels on standby for Manto transplant

PRETORIA. South Africa's top surgeons are standing by as speculation mounts that former Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang will require a second liver transplant. According to insiders, liver experts Dr Johnnie Walker and Dr Jack Daniels are ready to lead an all-star team featuring Dr Jameson, Dr Gilbey, and French consultant Dr Vermouth.

Weekend newspapers reported on speculation that Tshabalala-Msimang could need a second transplant because her first liver has been rejected by her body in much the same way as her policies were rejected by modern science.

This morning her aides said they did not want to speculate on her condition, although they did confirm that Tshabalala-Msimang had asked the media to call them "advisors" rather than "aides" because "'aides' sounds too much like 'Aids', and 'Aids' sounds like something that might get someone accused of genocide through negligence".

However, independent sources confirmed this morning that a crack team of surgeons and liver experts had been assembled to perform a second transplant if it was required.

According to Glen Fiddich, spokesman for the Thabo Mbeki African Renaissance Ubuntu Clinic and Sanatorium in Sandton, Tshabalala-Msimang would be operated on by a "dream team" including Dr Johnnie Walker and Dr Jack Daniels leading the likes of Dr Jameson, Dr Gilbey and Dr Vermouth.

"At this point the patient is really on the rocks," explained Fiddich. "But she's more shaken than stirred."

He said that rumours of alcohol abuse should be "taken with a pinch of salt and a dash of lime".

"I don't have Absolut 100 percent proof," he said.

He added that Tshabalala-Msimang had plenty to be grateful for.

"For one thing she can thank her lucky stars that she is not an HIV-positive patient during her own tenure as Health Minister," he said.

"She would have died five years ago and been recorded as another victim of cerebral malaria, poverty, racism, or all three."

He said that Tshabalala-Msimang had been offered an African potato instead of a replacement liver before her first transplant but he confirmed that she had opted for the liver and would probably go the same route this time if a transplant was needed.

Source: Hayibo


Sunday, 15 November 2009 22:45
claidheamhmor: (Cylon Raider)
I've been reading a lot about the proposed US healthcare bill, and the opposition to it. Now, to my mind, general public healthcare is a good thing; can anyone explain reasonably clearly why this proposal has problems? I'd like to know why there is opposition to it.
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
This little poem, by Calvin Trillin and published in The Nation, pretty much sums up what Roman Polanski's supporters are saying:

A youthful error? Yes, perhaps.
But he's been punished for this lapse--
For decades exiled from LA
He knows, as he wakes up each day,
He'll miss the movers and the shakers.
He'll never get to see the Lakers.
For just one old and small mischance,
He has to live in Paris, France.
He's suffered slurs and other stuff.
Has he not suffered quite enough?
How can these people get so riled?
He only raped a single child.

Why make him into some Darth Vader
For sodomizing one eighth grader?
This man is brilliant, that's for sure--
Authentically, a film auteur.
He gets awards that are his due.
He knows important people, too--
Important people just like us.
And we know how to make a fuss.
Celebrities would just be fools
To play by little people's rules.
So Roman's banner we unfurl.
He only raped one little girl.
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
I think our Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, is suffering from some cognitive dissonance.

"I have not abandoned my values. I don't think I've abandoned my moral leadership. I am still a communist, I am still committed to the working class," he said.

"Government at the moment is undertaking a process through Cabinet of looking at a whole range of austerity measures that must be taken and once those are done, they must be announced so that they are able to guide all government institutions and government departments," Nzimande said.

"It is very necessary, I support that to the hilt," he added, just minutes before leaving for the airport in his silver-grey BMW 750i.

Source: News24

I'm glad he understands the concept of communism, austerity, commitment to the working class.

By contrast, the rather capitalistic millionaire businessman Tokyo Sexwale drives his own personal car.
claidheamhmor: (Stranger in a Strange Land)
I was amused by this - Hayibo makes some fun of the South African refugee in Canada.

Huntley case helps Darfur survivors gain perspective

CAPE TOWN. Survivors of the genocide in Darfur have issued a formal apology for overstating their case, saying they were forced to reassess the extent of their plight once confronted with the terrible story of South African refugee Brandon Huntley. "It's like Jerry Springer," said one, "you only realize how fortune has favoured you when they bring out the seriously dysfunctional at the end of the show."

Sudanese refugee, Abdul Wardi, currently living illegally in Mowbray, Cape Town, said he could only imagine how tough things must have been for Hartley. "He spent a whole winter living in a basement in Ottowa. Could anything be worse?"

Wardi, who walked from Khartoum to Cape Town said Huntley's journey must have been significantly more dangerous than his own. "He made it all the way to Canada, I only made it to South Africa. It's hard to imagine the degree of persecution a man must have suffered for him to be driven that far."

Wardi said it was only after Monday's ruling that he was finally able to understand why repeated appeals to the West from humanitarian groups working in Darfur had fallen on deaf ears.

"They are busy assessing important applications like Huntley's," acknowledged Wardi. "They can only do one thing at a time."

He said he was also able to understand why Huntley had chosen Canada as the place to lodge his appeal for refugee status. "The most famous black person in Canada is Leonard Cohen," he said. "It's all so clear now."

Meanwhile responding to Wardi's comments and the furore that greeted the ruling on Huntley's status a spokesman for the Canadian government, Chalky Canuck, expressed regret.

"It saddens us to hear of a second genocide in Africa so soon after the terrible events in South Africa."

Canuck went on to say he hoped his country's decision to grant refugee status to Huntley would be a small silver lining and a tribute to the millions of white people who had suffered during South Africa's worst ever atrocity."

When it was pointed out to him that raced based persecution in South Africa had ended in 1994 and that the country had never experienced the horrors of a genocide, Canuck said the evidence presented by Huntley's attorney's had shown otherwise.

"The tribunal has ruled," he said. "I am sure history will prove them correct."

Source: Hayibo
claidheamhmor: (Witch King 3)
This really pisses me off:

SA white gets refugee status )

It's really a bit of a cheek. Yes, there is crime in SA, and yes, I'm sure there are racial overtones to many crimes - but such things happen to many people, black, white and in-between. There is not, however, institutionalised support of hate crime in the country, contrary to what the Canadian court thinks. Brandon Huntley, is one of those privileged South Africans (most of whom, as it happens, are white) who have the money and resources to be able to leave South Africa for another country. And now he's a "refugee"!?

Hayibo has an amusing take on it: Canada shocked to learn Hartley wasn't last white in SA

Gender testing

Wednesday, 26 August 2009 11:35
claidheamhmor: (Time enough for love)
The whole drama of the gender testing for Caster Semenya leads to some interesting questions. For example, how exactly should one's sex be determined? Is it by genitalia? Chromosomes? Hormone levels (testosterone, for example)? Psychological gender? What about those who are intersexed, or have chromosomes like XXY or XYY? Where exactly does one draw the line?

And then, when it comes to sports, are sports authorities only worried about males masquerading as females, rather than vice-versa?

claidheamhmor: (Time enough for love)
This article was interesting, in that it shows how constitutional rights can override old, existing laws; especially relevant in this very multicultural society of ours.

'Codify Muslim law'
2009-07-16 13:36
Verashni Pillay

Cape Town - "I think I'm opening the way for many other women out there who are suffering in my position," said Fatima Gabie Hassam, blinking away tears following the Constitutional Court ruling on Wednesday that Muslim widows in polygynous marriages could inherit from their deceased husband's estate.

Hassam, 62, fought a five-year court battle to hang on to her house and inherit some of her husband's estate after he unexpectedly died in 2001.

He died without a will and had just married a second wife without her knowledge and permission, whose minor children would benefit from maintenance claims from the estate.

Hassam was left destitute after 36 years of marriage and hard work at her husband's shop.

Only one spouse

While all 10 children in the marriage received a portion of the estate neither women could inherit as the Intestate Succession Act and the Maintenance of Surviving Spouses Act makes provision for only one spouse.

But the Constitutional Court ruled that the both acts were discriminatory and unfair. It ordered that the word "all spouses" be inserted into the act wherever the word "spouse" appeared.

"It's been a hard road and eventually it's come to an end," Hassam said in Cape Town on Wednesday. "There were lots of stumbling blocks but I was determined to go that route."

She told reporters that older Indian and Coloured women in polygamous marriages often suffered most in polygynous marriages.
Polygany refers specifically to more than one wife in a union while polygamy refers to either multiple husbands or wives.

"The first wives work their whole lives off and the wives who come afterwards get everything - the best cars." The younger woman her husband married had worked as a domestic in his shop. He married her while Hassam went on a trip to Mecca with her wheelchair-bound mother.

Her long battle came to an end, after stays in Valkenberg psychiatric hospital while she battled anxiety. Her tiny home on the Cape Flats could not be transferred to her name as the municipality did not recognise her as her husband's spouse.

"My water has been cut off more than five times because it's in his name," she said.

While Muslim customary law is still not recognised, Hassam's lawyer Igshaan Higgins said this latest victory would speed up the process.

'Codify Muslim law'

"Hopefully this case will act as kind of a springboard to wake the legislature up to the fact that they're going to need to have Muslim personal law codified to prevent a situation like this from transpiring in the future," he told News24.

The Intestate Succession Act previously only recognised widows married in civil ceremonies, monogamous Muslim marriages and polygynous cultural marriages.

The Women's Legal Centre's Hoodah Abrahams-Fayker said legislation relating to Muslim marriages has been on the cards for more than a decade. "Legislation urgently needs to be passed in order to be on par with the Constitution to ensure the Muslim community’s human rights," she said.

Meanwhile Hassam joyfully embraced her lawyer thanking him for his largely pro bono work. She also credited the Women's Legal Centre for their help and support.

"I couldn't have had better lawyers," she said.

Higgins emphasised that the ruling was a victory for all South Africans. "Especially to marginalised or vulnerable groups - it shows that the constitution can provide for everybody."

Hassam's legal team would now begin negotiating with the executor of her husband's estate to claim her inheritance and - hopefully - her house.

Source: News24

Crime stats

Monday, 6 July 2009 12:16
claidheamhmor: (Tartan)
After the recent articles saying that the UK has a higher violent crime rate than any other country in Europe, and higher than even South Africa (it was ranked UK, then Austria, then South Africa), Hayibo came out with this:

'Britain more violent than SA' stat vindicates burning of dockets

JOHANNESBURG. South African police authorities say recent claims that Britain is a more violent society than South Africa are evidence that the new official policy of burning dockets is working. "All the teens carry knives in the UK," said a spokesman. "Thank God our teens only carry assault rifles." He said that incidents of fatal stabbings with AK-47s were exceptionally rare.

"Some of the more conscientious officers at our stations have been expressing concern about burning the dockets," explained South African Police Service spokesman Whatmeworry Ndebele.

"We told them to shut up and keep pouring the paraffin or we'd send them to London to get knifed."

He added that it had also been easy to keep the SAPS's conscientious, competent and non-corrupt officers in line as there were only nine of them, and they could easily by monitored by colleagues.

"This report from the UK proves that we are winning the war on crime," said Ndebele. "Or at least the war on dockets."

Asked how it was possible that Britain was more violent than South Africa given the latter's staggering murder- and rape rates, Ndebele explained that murder and rape were not considered violent crimes in South Africa.

"Yes, the UK has 900 murders a year while we have about 19,000.

"And yes, the UK has 50,000 rapes a year while we have 600,000.

"But if you read our operating manual you will discover that so-called "murder" is in fact considered an interpersonal disturbance featuring a non-planned assisted cardiac arrest.

"It's really more a medical accident than a violent crime. Malpractice by laypeople, if you will.

"And rape, well, if you're asking us to classify rape as violent crime then you're also asking us to consider women to be people, and that's a bit of a stretch."

He said that every morning he thanked God that he lived in South Africa with its extremely low rates of assault-rifle stabbing-related crime, and that he was proud to be able to walk down any street in the country knowing that his Kevlar body armour would probably stop most of what was being fired at him, as long as they aimed at his chest and not his head.

Meanwhile British police have conceded that the new statistics have come as a shock and that they will have to start emulating their South African counterparts by burning dockets if they are to improve their country's reputation.

However, they asked the British public to remember that the numbers had been affected by the different definitions of "violent crime" in Britain and South Africa.

They pointed out that the Labour Party under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had reclassified flying the Union Jack as criminal assault, while anyone eating pork products in front of any religion at all, including Jedis, and using the word "patriotism" in any context other than sneering self-loathing, was liable to be charged with assault with intent to do grievous multicultural harm.

Source: Hayibo

The scary thing is that it almost doesn't sound like satire at all...
claidheamhmor: (Default)
This article on the question of legalising prostitution in South Africa was interesting, especially with reference to the moral views of the head of the National Prosecuting Authority possibly overriding rational decisions.

Sex workers slam Mpshe )

Now, from my point of view, I would welcome the legalisation of sex work. It would make things safer for sex workers (due to regulations, medical tests, etc.), reduce the effect of organised crime in the industry (pimps), and it would widen the tax base to include people who are not currently paying taxes. I think adults should have the right to sell their services, sexual or otherwise, if that's what they want.

What do you think?
claidheamhmor: (Time enough for love)
This article on the question of legalising prostitution in South Africa was interesting, especially with reference to the moral views of the head of the National Prosecuting Authority possibly overriding rational decisions.

Sex workers slam Mpshe )

Now, from my point of view, I would welcome the legalisation of sex work. It would make things safer for sex workers (due to regulations, medical tests, etc.), reduce the effect of organised crime in the industry (pimps), and it would widen the tax base to include people who are not currently paying taxes. I think adults should have the right to sell their services, sexual or otherwise, if that's what they want.

[Poll #1403353]

What do you think?
claidheamhmor: (Witch King EE)
This humorous spoof from The Onion back when Dubya took office in 2001 looks strangely prophetic. Truly, Bush was misunderestimated.

Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over'
January 17, 2001 | Issue 37•01

"My fellow Americans," Bush said, "at long last, we have reached the end of the dark period in American history that will come to be known as the Clinton Era, eight long years characterized by unprecedented economic expansion, a sharp decrease in crime, and sustained peace overseas. The time has come to put all of that behind us."

Bush swore to do "everything in [his] power" to undo the damage wrought by Clinton's two terms in office, including selling off the national parks to developers, going into massive debt to develop expensive and impractical weapons technologies, and passing sweeping budget cuts that drive the mentally ill out of hospitals and onto the street.

During the 40-minute speech, Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years.

"You better believe we're going to mix it up with somebody at some point during my administration," said Bush, who plans a 250 percent boost in military spending. "Unlike my predecessor, I am fully committed to putting soldiers in battle situations. Otherwise, what is the point of even having a military?"

On the economic side, Bush vowed to bring back economic stagnation by implementing substantial tax cuts, which would lead to a recession, which would necessitate a tax hike, which would lead to a drop in consumer spending, which would lead to layoffs, which would deepen the recession even further.

Wall Street responded strongly to the Bush speech, with the Dow Jones industrial fluctuating wildly before closing at an 18-month low. The NASDAQ composite index, rattled by a gloomy outlook for tech stocks in 2001, also fell sharply, losing 4.4 percent of its total value between 3 p.m. and the closing bell.

Asked for comment about the cooling technology sector, Bush said: "That's hardly my area of expertise."

Turning to the subject of the environment, Bush said he will do whatever it takes to undo the tremendous damage not done by the Clinton Administration to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He assured citizens that he will follow through on his campaign promise to open the 1.5 million acre refuge's coastal plain to oil drilling. As a sign of his commitment to bringing about a change in the environment, he pointed to his choice of Gale Norton for Secretary of the Interior. Norton, Bush noted, has "extensive experience" fighting environmental causes, working as a lobbyist for lead-paint manufacturers and as an attorney for loggers and miners, in addition to suing the EPA to overturn clean-air standards.

Bush had equally high praise for Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft, whom he praised as "a tireless champion in the battle to protect a woman's right to give birth."

"Soon, with John Ashcroft's help, we will move out of the Dark Ages and into a more enlightened time when a woman will be free to think long and hard before trying to fight her way past throngs of protesters blocking her entrance to an abortion clinic," Bush said. "We as a nation can look forward to lots and lots of babies."

Continued Bush: "John Ashcroft will be invaluable in healing the terrible wedge President Clinton drove between church and state."

The speech was met with overwhelming approval from Republican leaders.

"Finally, the horrific misrule of the Democrats has been brought to a close," House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert (R-IL) told reporters. "Under Bush, we can all look forward to military aggression, deregulation of dangerous, greedy industries, and the defunding of vital domestic social-service programs upon which millions depend. Mercifully, we can now say goodbye to the awful nightmare that was Clinton's America."

"For years, I tirelessly preached the message that Clinton must be stopped," conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh said. "And yet, in 1996, the American public failed to heed my urgent warnings, re-electing Clinton despite the fact that the nation was prosperous and at peace under his regime. But now, thank God, that's all done with. Once again, we will enjoy mounting debt, jingoism, nuclear paranoia, mass deficit, and a massive military build-up."

An overwhelming 49.9 percent of Americans responded enthusiastically to the Bush speech.

"After eight years of relatively sane fiscal policy under the Democrats, we have reached a point where, just a few weeks ago, President Clinton said that the national debt could be paid off by as early as 2012," Rahway, NJ, machinist and father of three Bud Crandall said. "That's not the kind of world I want my children to grow up in."

"You have no idea what it's like to be black and enfranchised," said Marlon Hastings, one of thousands of Miami-Dade County residents whose votes were not counted in the 2000 presidential election. "George W. Bush understands the pain of enfranchisement, and ever since Election Day, he has fought tirelessly to make sure it never happens to my people again."

Bush concluded his speech on a note of healing and redemption.

"We as a people must stand united, banding together to tear this nation in two," Bush said. "Much work lies ahead of us: The gap between the rich and the poor may be wide, be there's much more widening left to do. We must squander our nation's hard-won budget surplus on tax breaks for the wealthiest 15 percent. And, on the foreign front, we must find an enemy and defeat it."

"The insanity is over," Bush said. "After a long, dark night of peace and stability, the sun is finally rising again over America. We look forward to a bright new dawn not seen since the glory days of my dad."

Source: The Onion
claidheamhmor: (Default)
This was a pretty amusingly awesome article:

Obama's Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy
Andy Borowitz
Posted November 18, 2008 | 12:47 PM (EST)

In the first two weeks since the election, President-elect Barack Obama has broken with a tradition established over the past eight years through his controversial use of complete sentences, political observers say.

Millions of Americans who watched Mr. Obama's appearance on CBS's 60 Minutes on Sunday witnessed the president-elect's unorthodox verbal tick, which had Mr. Obama employing grammatically correct sentences virtually every time he opened his mouth.

But Mr. Obama's decision to use complete sentences in his public pronouncements carries with it certain risks, since after the last eight years many Americans may find his odd speaking style jarring.

According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota, some Americans might find it "alienating" to have a president who speaks English as if it were his first language.

"Every time Obama opens his mouth, his subjects and verbs are in agreement," says Mr. Logsdon. "If he keeps it up, he is running the risk of sounding like an elitist."

The historian said that if Mr. Obama insists on using complete sentences in his speeches, the public may find itself saying, "Okay, subject, predicate, subject predicate -- we get it, stop showing off."

The president-elect's stubborn insistence on using complete sentences has already attracted a rebuke from one of his harshest critics, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

"Talking with complete sentences there and also too talking in a way that ordinary Americans like Joe the Plumber and Tito the Builder can't really do there, I think needing to do that isn't tapping into what Americans are needing also," she said.

Andy Borowitz is a comedian and writer whose work appears in The New Yorker and The New York Times, and at his award-winning humor site,

Source: The Huffington Post
claidheamhmor: (Time enough for love)
I find it interesting to see articles like Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage, essentially saying that the involvement of Mormonism was one of the major factors in California's Proposition 8 (restricting marriage to a man and a woman only) being passed.

What disappointed me was to see that Alan Ashton, one of the co-founders of WordPerfect Corporation, had donated $1m to support Proposition 8. I used to work for the WordPerfect distributor in South Africa, and the reason that distributor was chosen was because of their non-racial policies during the time of apartheid. It was sad to see someone who had obviously been pro-human rights aligning himself on the side of bigotry.

Then I was pleased to see someone else who'd also donated $1m: philanthropist Bruce Bastian, the other co-founder of WordPerfect Corporation. He, however, donated his money to oppose Proposition 8.

I wonder which way Pete Peterson would have gone. Pete owned the 1% of WordPerfect that Ashton and Bastian didn't, and was the guy involved in the day-to-day running of the company. He seemed like a nice guy; I had an email conversation with him once on how WordPerfect had failed.

Incidentally, I still miss WordPerfect; in the DOS days it was king of the hill, and the later Windows versions are still far better than MS Word at handling huge documents or documents requiring precise layout.
claidheamhmor: (Stranger in a Strange Land)
Some amusing pictures...

I saw this one on a community signboard in Randburg last week...

And this is apparently the full cover of the latest issue of Nature magazine. Notice any odd similarities?
claidheamhmor: (Vendetta 2)
Yay! President Motlanthe shuffled the cabinet a bit, and put Minister of Health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang somewhere where she hopefully won't be in a position to let more people die due to her policies. What's awesome is that the new Minister of Health is my mother's cousin, Barbara Hogan (who I've sadly never met). Barbara was given a serenade by the Treatment Action Campaign, anti-AIDS organisation that had to go to court to force government to supply AIDS drugs to people.

In other news, Hayibo ([ profile] hayibofeed) has an article on ex-president Mbeki's plans:

Mbeki axed, can now elope to Jamaica with Mugabe )

It doesn't seem so far-fetched, does it? Look at articles like Mugabe devasted by Mbeki's recall, which says:
"Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has described as "devastating" the removal from office of his South African counterpart Thabo Mbeki, who is seen as a key ally of the of ageing authoritarian Mugabe in the last eight years."

SA politics

Thursday, 25 September 2008 09:19
claidheamhmor: (Vendetta 2)
I'm so pissed off.

I don't really mind Thabo Mbeki being forced to resign the presidency. I'm not sure I like the way it was done, and I do think that the court ruling on Jacob Zuma was used as a lever to get Mbeki out, but Mbeki's policies on AIDS, crime, and energy have caused untold harm.

The bright spot seemed to be that we'd be losing some of our more incompetent cabinet ministers, like Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, the Minister of Health whose denialism on AIDS and favouring of non-medically tested remedies has probably resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths; Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, the Minister of MisCommunications who appears to have been a lackey of Telkom, the telecoms monopoly; and Alec Irwin, one of the people responsible for the energy crisis.

Several ministers resigned, either from a sense of ethics or because they sympathised with Mbeki. However, Manto and Poison Ivy didn't resign from the cabinet, no doubt knowing that they wouldn't be reselected for cabinet posts when the new president (most likely Kgalema Motlanthe) replaces resignations. Worse, Poison Ivy is currently Acting President!

I can only hope that after next year's elections, those incompetents will be dumped.
claidheamhmor: (Adamson)
For those non-South Africans who seem to think the South African accent is nice, here's Whackhead's guide on how to speak English wiff a Souf African eksent.

Online dating:
I love reading the dating profiles linked to local news sites. This one, FireLilly84, seems somewhat strange. To start with, she seems to not be very discriminating about what she's looking for - it appears that she's looking for a breathing male. But then, in her narrative description, she has this:
Why should you get to know FireLilly84?
I am a confident, assertive girl looking for the same thing in a man. I'm looking to meet my match in all respects - someone who can stimulate me at every level. I have ten toes on my right foot.
OK, then. I always wanted a girl with ten toes on one foot...

The AAD2008 airshow was held down in Cape Town over this last weekend; too far for me to go, sadly. I hope they move it back to Pretoria soon. Anyway, this marvellous little vehicle was on display there: A Smart car with a gun-mount. Ideal for traffic, I say.

So, South Africa's President, Thabo Mbeki, has resigned. I'm no fan of his - his denialist AIDS policies, ineffectual policy on Zimbabwe, uncaring attitude to domestic issues, tolerance of incompetence, and behind-the-scenes guiding hand have annoyed me. That said, I am uncomfortable with him essentially being removed from office so abruptly. It seems like he's taken it with grace though; I expect he's still be used acting as a roving African diplomat (hey, that's mainly what he's been doing anyway).

On the plus side, there's a good chance certain Cabinet members will leave too - in particular, those incompetents who have done so much damage to South Africa in the fields of telecommunications, health, and energy.
claidheamhmor: (Stranger in a Strange Land)
From PoliticalQuiz, nicked from several people:

The Quiz

The following are your scores. They are based on a gradual range of 0 to 12. For instance, a Conservative/Progressive score of 3 and 0 will both yield a result of social conservative, yet 0 would be an extreme conservative and 3 a moderate conservative

Conservative/Progressive score: 10
You are a social progressive. You generally consider yourself a humanist first. You probably think that religion and patriotism go too far in society. You probably consider yourself to be a citizen of Earth first rather than a citizen of your country.

Capitalist Purist/Social Capitalist score: 9
You're a Social Capitalist, you think that, left to its own, Capitalism leaves a lot of people behind. You think that Health Care should be free to all, that the minimum wage should be raised, and that the government should provide jobs to all that are capable of having them. You likely hated the Bush tax cuts, and believe that the middle class has gotten poorer, and the rich have gotten richer over the past several years. The far extreme of social capitalism is socialism.

Libertarian/Authoritarian score: 3
You are libertarian. You think that the government is making way too many unnecessary laws that are taking away our innate rights. You believe that the government's job is primarily to protect people from harming other people, but after that they should mind their own business, and if we give the government too much power in controlling our lives, it can lead to fascism.

Pacifist/Militarist score: 1
You're a Pacifist. You are angered that the United States thinks it should dominate the world through its military force. You think that the only time war is necessary is when we are in direct danger of being attacked. You also believe the US spends way too much of its money on defense, as we can practically cut it in half and still easily defend ourselves, and use that money to fix all our economic problems.

Overall, you would most likely fit into the category of Democrat.

Not much of a surprise there, methinks. I've certainly changed over the years though.
claidheamhmor: (Stranger in a Strange Land)
John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his VP candidate seems inspired. She's managed to pull in the conservative Christian voters with her "God says shoot 'em and drill it" attitude, and being relatively young and pretty has managed to completely divert people from realising that McCain himself is more boring than unsweetened oats porridge.

Personally, I think she's pretty much the antithesis of everything I believe in, so I'm not keen on her. She's ignorant (but not stupid), devious, and inexperienced. If I were American, I'd be really nervous about having her so close to running the country.

Obama would have been better able to counter her with Hillary Clinton - but he chose first and if he'd picked Clinton, McCain would have picked someone other than Palin, and would now be hammering on the inexperience of the Democrat team.

Anyway, one thing about Palin that isn't bad is her interesting choice of children's names...and here's the
Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator

I got:

Claymore, if you were born to Sarah Palin, your name would be:

Can Lightning Palin
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
I surmise from a blog entry by Michael Goldfarb on The McCain Report that John McCain apparently disapproves of D&D players:

It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman's memory of war from the comfort of mom's basement, but most Americans have the humility and gratitude to respect and learn from the memories of men who suffered on behalf of others.

claidheamhmor: (Cylon Raider)
I've generally had good experiences with government departments, but after today, my vote for most incompetent department is the Department of Transport, specifically the licensing department.

I've been trying to change titleholder on my car's registration, and find out what the cost of a personalised registration number is. After some searching, I found the government department web page listing contact details for the various licensing department offices in the Johannesburg area. I called at least 8 different offices, some with up to 4 separate numbers, and only one was answered (and they couldn't help me).

Yesterday I drove over to the big Sandton/Marlboro office...and the gates were closed. Turned out they had a big union 4 different major offices were closed for the day. Nice customer service there. I went through today, and there was no parking, the information desk was clueless, and the staff slow. I gave up after an hour. Tomorrow I'll try again at the Johannesburg city office.

The Department of Transport could learn a lot from Home Affairs.
claidheamhmor: (Time enough for love)
Those who read science fiction will probably have read some of Orson Scott Card's books. I've read a few, but wasn't way keen on any apart from "A Planet Called Treason".

In his spare time, he's a conservative writer who writes a lot on Mormon topics. Here's his latest offering, on the topic of gay marriage:

State job is not to redefine marriage )

Card is definitely more than a little nutty. There are so many instances of faulty thinking, poor logic, and a desire to control the private practises of others that I hardly know where to start in commenting on it. Look at some of these excerpts, for example:

There is no branch of government with the authority to redefine marriage. Marriage is older than government. Its meaning is universal: It is the permanent or semipermanent bond between a man and a woman, establishing responsibilities between the couple and any children that ensue.

Now bear in mind that Card is a very active member of the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which until 1890 practised polygamous marriages, until forced to stop by a law redefining marriage. Is anyone seeing the irony here?

The laws concerning marriage did not create marriage, they merely attempted to solve problems in such areas as inheritance, property, paternity, divorce, adoption and so on.

Well, duh. So, should there not be laws that solve these same problems in the case of gay relationships?

There were a whole bunch of comments on his article at Speaker-For-Himself. I especially liked this one:
As someone said, I think in some ways these closet cases are actually reasoning pretty rationally, they just start from false premises. The reasoning seems to go something like this:
  • I am a normal heterosexual guy

  • I constantly crave cock and only have sex with my wife due to social pressure

  • Without that social pressure, all us normal heterosexual men would ditch our wives and head straight for the gay bathhouses

  • Therefore, strong social (and legal) pressure is necessary for the human race to keep reproducing
You can see how it makes sense to them.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:01 AM on July 30
claidheamhmor: (Stranger in a Strange Land)

Happy 90th birthday to Madiba, elder statesman extraordinaire!

"During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."
claidheamhmor: (Cylon Raider)
According to this article, "South Africa" welcomes the decision of the UN to not impose sanctions against Zimbabwe.

No, Ronnie Mamoepa, ordinary South Africans are deeply embarrassed by the loving behaviour shown by President Thabo Mbeki towards dictator Robert Mugabe. We're ashamed of our leaders. Fellow Africans in Zimbabwe have been denied their right to democracy, and to everything that goes with it, and I don't see why there shouldn't be an arms embargo, and sanctions against Zimbabwean ZANU-PF leaders.

What sort of "dialogue" can there be with a dictator who has stated he will never step down if the opposition party is democratically elected, and continues to arrange and facilitate the death an oppression of other political parties and ordinary citizens?

SA welcomes UN sanction vote
12/07/2008 09:47 - (SA)

Johannesburg - South Africa welcomed the decision of the United Nations Security Council not to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe, foreign affairs said on Saturday.

Spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said SA voted against the draft resolution on Friday, in accordance with the African Union Summit of head of states and government decision to "encourage President Robert Mugabe and the leader of the MDC to honour their commitment to initiate dialogue with view to promote peace, stability, democracy and reconciliation of the Zimbabwean people".

He said South Africa was facilitating talks between Zanu-PF, the MDC of Morgan Tsvangarai and MDC of Arthur Mutambara, in Pretoria.

"It is our considered view that imposing sanctions would indeed have impacted negatively on the current process among the Zimbabwean political parties. In addition both SADC and AU have not called for sanctions," he said.

The AU summit in Egypt had appealed to states and all parties concern to refrain from any action that could negatively impact on the climate for dialogue.

The UN Security Council wanted to impose sanction against Zimbabwe including a travel ban and asset freeze on President Robert Mugabe and other individuals.

Russia and China vetoed proposed sanctions on Zimbabwe's leaders, rejecting US efforts to step up punitive measures against President Robert Mugabe's authoritarian regime after a widely discredited presidential election.

Mamoepa said the role of the international community at this juncture should be to encourage the Zimbabwean political parties to deepen and consolidate the current dialogue process, as facilitated by SADC.

Source: News24

Zimbabwean insanity

Thursday, 15 May 2008 15:30
claidheamhmor: (Witch King 3)
Here's some pictorial evidence of how bad things are in Zimbabwe.

Cut for images )

Bob and Thabo

Monday, 14 April 2008 13:32
claidheamhmor: (Stranger in a Strange Land)
I know Thabo Mbeki and Mad Bob Mugabe are big mates, but given Mad Bob's public stance on homosexuality, I hadn't realised they were that close... :)

claidheamhmor: (Stranger in a Strange Land)
[ profile] nimnod had a really nice commentary on Barack Obama's moving speech on racism, relating it to some of the understanding of race issues we have in South Africa. I highly recommend giving it a read.
claidheamhmor: (Witch King EE)
So there's been a lot of drama lately about our power shortages, load-shedding, and so forth. This week seems to be better, though that may be because the mines are at 90% power (not a good thing). Everyone's becoming more energy-conscious, and we're learning to survive without electricity.

It's certainly annoying, I must say, and government and Eskom have a bunch of people that really should be fired for their part in this debacle. It is somewhat ironic, though, that some of our power problems are due to the economic growth in the country outstripping government planning, and also because of a roll-out of electricity to places that never had it, like the old black townships. Twenty years ago, I could drive past the township of Alexandra at night, and it was a black pit choked with the smoke from coal and wood fires. Now, drive past it at night, and you see streetlights and homes with electricity.

We're doing our bit at home. I manually switch the geyser (that's a water heater, for you non-South Africans) off during the night, and we're trying to cut back on use of the aircon. I've also taken to hibernating my PC when I'm not using it.

On a related note, this article posted by [ profile] erudito was pretty interesting: The Top Ten Things Environmentalists Need to Learn. In some ways, it looks like the chickens planted by the environmentalists in the 70s and 80s are coming home to roost. They campaigned against nuclear power; now we don't have many nuclear power stations, but we do have power problems worldwide, as well as coal and oil supply issues, and extensive pollution issues. Nice one, guys.


claidheamhmor: (Default)

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