27 June 2011

The Poor Mouth: Vulture Funds Act made permanent

The Poor Mouth: Vulture Funds Act made permanent: "It seems to have gathered little or no coverage at the time but it very leasing to see that The Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Act 2010 was made permanent last month.

The main effect of the act was to prevent creditors from using British courts to seek harsh payments from some of the poorest and most vulnerable countries for debts that the likes of vulture funds may have bought for a fraction of the cost."

Well, that's at least one good thing that the Tory/LibDem government in the UK have done.

23 June 2011

The origins of Christmas

I once had to mark a university assignment, set by someone else, on the origins of the celebration of Christ’s nativity. So I read all the literature that had been recommended to the students, and tried to follow it up. All I found was speculations and urban legends (which the students swallowed, hook line and sinker).

So I devised my own scenario.

Bishop: These Arians denying the incarnation of Christ are becoming tiresome. The Council of Nicaea didn’t shut them up, and now they’re propagating their nonsense with advertising jingles. Even the emperoro, who subsidised the council, is beginning to waver.

Priest: What say we have a special day to commemorate the Incarnation? I know we do it on 6 January, but the adoptionists have been misinterpreting that. Let’s have one on a different day.

Bishop: Good idea. How about the day that Jesus was born.

All priests: Amen to that.

Bishop: Um, which day WAS Jesus born on?


Bishop: Deacon Dionysius, go and research it, and report back at the next clergy meeting.


Bishop: Well, Deacon, did you find out when Jesus was born?

Deacon: Not exactly, but I did search the scriptures and St Luke say’s he was conceived in the sixth month, six months after his cousin John the Baptist, and it does imply that it could have been the sixth month of the year.

Bishop: Well, that settles it. The first of April, then. Six months from New Year takes us to 1 July, and nine months after that takes us to the first of April.

Priest: Um, Your Eminence, that’s April Fool’s Day.

Another priest: It’s also the middle of Lent.

Deacon: But it was probably the Jewish New Year, not the imperial one.

Bishop: Right let’s hear it then. When is the Jewish New Year?

Deacon: Well, that’s the problem. It’s usually sometime in September but it changes from year to year.

Bishop: When was it last year?

Deacon: On 25 September.

Bishop: Right, that settles it. Six months from then is 25th March, where we can have the Annunciation. Yes, I know it’s Lent, but let people eat fish for a break. Add nine months to that and we’ll have a bash for our Lord’s birthday on 25 December. Oh, and to balance things up we’ll commemorate St John the Baptist’s birthday on 25 June. No, make that 24th, or people will start thinking 25 is a lucky number or something. Any other business? I declare this meeting cl… Oh, by the way: Deacon Dionysius, go and do some proper research and draw up a decent calendar showing when Jesus was born. No hurry, take your time over it and do a good job. We’ve got the thing we need to counter the Arians’ nonsense for now.

Roses are reddish
Violets are blueish
If it weren’t for Christmas
We’d all be Jewish.

Ungrounded speculation?

Of course.

But so is all the other stuff I’ve read about the origins of Christmas.


Note, this was prompted by a discussion on another blog, Winter Soulstice Matariki | Liturgy:

Winter (Summer) Solstice this year is June 22. The Northern Hemisphere Winter Solstice is linked to Christmas and winter has a number of liturgical and folk celebrations. If we want to embody liturgy better into the Southern Hemisphere – how might we celebrate it? Would we link it to the birth of John the Baptist (June 24)? [I'm not sure how we in the Southern Hemisphere can make anything special of a John the Baptist focus]

... and the comments that followed.

21 June 2011

Namibian turning point - forty years ago today

Forty years ago today the World Court announced its judgement that South Africa's rule of Namibia was illegal. It happened, most appropriately, on the Winter Solstice. Until then the nights had been longer than the days and getting longer. But thereafter, though the nights were still longer than the days, they were getting shorter.

It was to be another nineteen long years before the last South African troops crossed the southern border, and Namibia heaved a collective sigh of relief.

The longest night was still the longest night, but for the first time it gave real hope, hope that the dawn was getting ever closer. Nothing changed, yet everything had changed.

Here's what I wrote in my diary at the time, for what it's worth. Perhaps I should explain, by way of background, that I was at the time a self-supporting priest in the Anglican Church in Windhoek and worked at the Windhoek Advertiser as a proof reader, and that Deve de Beer (who also worked for the Anglican Church) and I were stringers for the Argus Africa News Service, which fed most of the evening newspapers in South Africa.

Monday 21 June 1971

I took Musrum up to Woodway to have its silencer fixed, and then Dave took me to work. I sent off stories to the Argus Africa News Service about the World Court verdict due to be given today. There was a surface calm, and apparent indifference, but people in high places appear to be worried. Die Suidwester had an editorial asking people to keep calm, and not to take hasty decisions, and Dirk
Mudge, the acting administrator, also made a plea for calm.

At lunch time I went to the court, and saw Chris Nicholson there. He said he had heard on the radio that the World Court had decided by 13 votes to 2 that South Africa had no right to be in South West, and thought it would be interesting to see who the 2 were. It would be a guide to the impartiality of the court. If they were British and French, it would show that national self-interest dominated the proceedings, rather than a real concern for justice.

We carried the story on the front page of the Advertiser, and Cowley wrote an editorial about Bantustan presidents or leaders going overseas to do a power of good to the homelands policy. Jimmy [Jimmy Simpson, the subesitor]was bitter about the World Court, and said it looked like his fishing would be over. When I asked him why, he said, "Well, with the United Nations taking over". I don't see why the United Nations will prohibit Jimmy from fishing, but he seemed convinced they will.

After work I went to the diocesan office and Dave was there; I went out to see Clemens Kapuuo, but was told he had gone to town, and on the way saw Johan Penderis walking back from rugby practice, and gave him a lift. I went out again later to try to find Clemens Kapuuo, calling at the diocesan office again. Abraham Hangula was there, and he asked what the verdict was and when I told him he beamed and shouted "Alleluia!" and then said "If the South African government leaves, then we can really preach the gospel."

I gave Dina a lift to Katutura, and ran out of petrol. I asked her what she thought about the World Court decision, and she said she didn't think. But she asked all sorts of questions, like what would South Africa do, what would happen if they pulled out, and would they really pull out. When I got to Clemens Kapuuo's shop there was a group of men standing outside, Mbuende among them. Mbuende introduced me to the others, who were Herero councillors from Aminuis. One of them burst out "We are so glad about the World Court decision that our country is ours", and there were great smiles all round. Mbuende said that Kapuuo was not at home, but had gone to Omaruru. I asked if any of the councillors was prepared to make a statement, but they all wanted to wait until Clemens came back.

I then asked him about a Mr Meroro, the chairman of Swapo, who had recently issued a press statement denying that he had said what the SABC had said he had said. Mbuende took me to see him - his shop was nearby - and he said he would not like to make any comment until he had spoken to his vice president in Walvis Bay. But he would say that he was very pleased with the decision. He seems quite a pleasant bloke - though
not a leader like Clemens Kapuuo. I took Mbuende back to the diocesan office to see the bishop, and arranged what was to happen about the Herero church conference, but the bishop and Dave had gone to see pastor Reeh. We spoke to Clive Whitford who said we could quote him as saying he was "overjoyed" by the World Court decision. He said I should attribute it to "a white professional man" and not to a "teacher", since he and Chris Roering were the only teachers (white) in town who could possibly make such a remark.

I took Mbuende back to Katutura, and started writing stories for the Argus Africa News Service, which we went to put in the telegram box at the post office, and returned to listen to Vorster's speech on the radio at 8:00, which was predictable enough. It was funny to hear a man who bends the law to suit his own purposes complaining that others were doing this. The fact that it was the British and French judges who dissented might lend credence to this, because it was their national self-interest that was at stake.

After the speech Meroro phoned, and said I should ring the acting president of Swapo at Walvis Bay, Nathaniel Mahuiriri, and he would give me a statement, and how he did. They seemed to be having a party at his house to celebrate the decision, and he asked loudly in Herero what they all thought of the judgement, and everyone clapped. He said he regarded the judgement of the World Court as the judgement of God, and that they did not hate whites, the whites must stay, but there must be no more
apartheid, no more homelands, only one homeland for all, one nation, one Namibia. He went on for half an hour, cataloguing his objections to the contract labour system, saying Vorster's speech on the radio was hypocritical, and when I asked him what he thought of Clemens Kapuuo, he said Swapo respected him as an honest man who spoke for his people; unlike Ushona Shiimi who was a stooge, a puppet, a tape recorder, who repeated what he was told to say.

That, I thought, was true, but nobody in their right mind could take Ushona Shiimi seriously, or think he spoke on behalf of anyone but the South African government. I have not met a single Ambo who does not think Ushona Shiimi is a big joke. After the call ended, I wrote out his statement, or the relevant bits of it, and Dave wrote a description of Windhoek at lunch time, and then we dumped those in the telegram box too, and then went off to have a drink at the Berg Hotel to celebrate, and went home to bed.

17 June 2011

The stonecutter - book review

The StonecutterThe Stonecutter by Camilla Läckberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first thjing I noticed about this book was the sticker placed on the cover, presumabl;y by the booksellers, saying "If you like Jo Nesbo you'll love this." And the books by Jo Nesbo have stickers saying "The next Stieg L:arsson". I'm not sure what these cvomparisons are supposed to achieve, except that Jo Nesbo's writing has recently come to look like a rather ineffectual attempt to imitate Stieg Larsson. But Lackberg has so far not tried to imitate either. Other than being crime fiction, and thus in the same broad genre, Lackberg is Lackberg, and there is little resemblance to Nesbo.

But the claim made me think of the differences between male and female crime writers, and this one is obviously written from a feminine perspective. For the first hundred pages or so I thought the protagonist was post-natal depression. And it got me thinking about differences between male and female crime writers.

One of the most notable ones is that the detective heroes of the male writers tend to be heavy drinkers, if not actual alcoholics, and are divorced or about to be. Alan Banks, Kurt Wasllander, Harry Hole and several other fictional detectives invented by male writers seem to fall into this category. Even Morse, though though unmarried, was unlucky in love, and tended to booze a lot. But the fictional detectives of female crime writers, though they may have faults, seem to be able to stay off the booze and avoid divorce -- Rex Wexford, Lindley, Adam Dalgleish and, in this book, Patrik Hedstrom.

In this book the murder of a child baffles the police, and when it is followed by apparently similar non-fatal attacks on young children the police find that find most of their suspects appear to have alibis for one or more of the attacks. In addition, many of the families involved in the investigation have secrets that they want to keep hidden. There is a kind of parallel story set in the past, which show that the roots of the crimes lie in an earlier generation, and in the upbringing of chiuldren in the past. Some of the police officers involved in the investigation have difficulties in bringing up their own children.

So the book turns out to be more than a simple whodunit, but is also an exploration of the ways in which dysfunctional families can produce criminals.If you love this book, you might not necessarily like Jo Nesbo.

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15 June 2011

The generation gap

The other day I was at a seminar on The Mission-shaped Church, and I became aware of the generation gap.

There were a couple of questions that baffled me.

One was quite amusing, or rather the response was. A couple of people from Malawi spoke about Africa having an oral culture rather than a written one, and so in their church, where the Bible was regarded as important, they had difficulty in getting people to read the Bible. A young guy, who is well-known for his enthusiasm for electronic technology, and who blogs and tweets and does all that good stuff, asked one of the speakers, "What is the literacy rate in Malawi?" The response came quick as a flash, "You can look it up on Google."

I don't think the speaker knew the questioner, but many in the audience did, and knew of his fondness for computer communications, so there was much laughter. The speaker went on to explain that he didn't go around with statistics at his fingertips.

I was puzzled by the relevance of the question to what the speakers had been saying.

And the same questioner asked a question of another speaker at the same meeting. Just "Why?"

And I didn't understand why he asked the question.

Forty or fifty years ago, when I was at meetings like that, I often asked questions that old fogeys didn't understand. That was the generation gap. And now, suddenly, without being aware of crossing it, I'm on the other side of the gap.

So that got me thinking about the generation gap.

And I "googled it".

Well, not quite. I did a search in my diary for the word "generation" within three words of "gap" to see what I had said about it in the past, and if I could see when and where I had crossed it.

But sticking with last Saturday, for the moment, I wrote
As we were leaving I talked a bit to Annemie Bosch, and she said that though progress was slow, the Dutch Reformed Church was beginning to reinvent itself. And I thought that perhaps it was succeding in doing so, with all these hippie-like dominees in their casual clothes at the meeting today, so different from the formal
besuited dominees I had known in the past, among whom I felt out of place. Things have changed a lot. But then I realise that my picture and experience of dominees, like Tom Carpenter of Melmoth, who was concerned about petty morality and strained at gnats like fishing on Sundays, but swallowed camels like racism and apartheid, is way out of date. They've come a long way since then, but then it was a long time ago - 30 years, a whole generation. And it is now nearly 20 years since David Bosch died, and Annemie continued to be a warm and cheerful motherly figure...
What a drag it is getting old, as the Rolling Stones used to sing in my youth.

More than 40 years ago, on 5 December 1968, to be precise, I went to supper with some friends, John and Shirley Davies, in Parktown, Johannesburg. John was the Anglican chaplain at nearby Wits University. About 3 weeks earlier I had stopped being a full-time student for the last time. The Davies's three children were Mary (10), Mark (8) and Elizabeth (6). This is what I wrote:

We had supper then, chicken salad with Mackeson Porter, Mark pulled a wishbone with me, and won, and asked me to choose the pieces, and won again. I said he had already won in pulling it. Mary explained that one could win twice. John spoke of a conference on the generation gap, Shirley said cynically, "I suppose all the speakers are over fifty." We had a bit of an argument as to what constitutes the generation gap. I said it was people between 40 and 65 who, as a group, were most conservative. Shirley said I only said that because of where I am. Then she asked Mary what she thought. Mary said, "Nothing." "What do you think about anything?" I asked her.
"Nothing," she said.
Mary is now a grandmother.

Nearly four years later I was a hanger on a student conference, a conference of the Anglican Students Federation being held at KwaNzimela, in Zululand. I'd been deported from Namibia, and was hanging around waiting to be banned, staying with Rich and Phyllis Kraft. Rich was Director of Christian Education in the Anglican diocese of Zululand, and had arranged community development training and experience for the students. So on 6-July 1972 I wrote
In the morning I took some of the students to Nkwenkwe. Among them was Simon Shikangala, who comes from Ovamboland. Daphne Mahlangu and Mary Theyise said that Simon would not teach them any Kwanyama songs, so I said I would teach them a Herero one, and taught them Matutjandangi. I took photos of the work projects when I got back to KwaNzimela, and in the afternoon went to fetch more poles, and in the evening went to fetch the students from Nkwenkwe, with Fr Sibiya. They were an all-black group, as it is a reserve area. They had done guite a lot of work. The girls had hoed in the orchard, and the boys had put new doors into one of the buildings. Patrick Lebethe, one of the city kids from Joburg, had asked Father Sibiya
how the people came to live so far from civilisation, and Fr Sibiya said "You've come to civilise them, haven't you?" On the way back we sang Herero songs all the way, and Zulu choruses that Mary had taught us the other night.

Back at KwaNzimela Phyllis said I had been very subdued since coming back from Johannesburg, and said I could stay with them as long as I liked, if I was certain I was going to be banned. She said on previous occasions when I had visited them, I had been creative and looking forward to doing new things, and now I wasn't doing things like that any more, but just content to be sent to Nkwenkwe, and to fetch poles and things. It's true, one can't plan for the future when one will in all probability be banned. In a way banning will come as a kind of liberation, because it will take away the uncertainty of not knowing what can be planned for.

I had accepted Rich Kraft's invitation to stay and help with the ASF conference readily, mainly because they were friends and I enjoyed their company, which I would not be able to do after I was banned. It would also extend the limited time of freedom remaining to me, as the SB probably did not know I was there. I was sure that my banning order had been signed on the same day as Dave's, and I wanted to enjoy what little freedom remained to me. I also enjoyed the company of the students.

One reason for being subdued, as Phyllis Kraft had noticed, was that I had said goodbye to many friends - the Schmidts (a family I knew in Windhoek, who had returned to America) possibly for ever, the Morrows had gone back to Windhoek, and if I were banned, I might never see Dave de Beer, who had been banned while I was staying with in in Johannesburg a week earlier) again. Running errands for the ASF conference made me feel useful, and it was living for the day. When the conference was over, however, it would be yet another parting, and if I were banned to the Melmoth district, I'd just be a drag and a sponger, a burden on all. A local farmer did offer me a job on his farm maintaining the tractors, but I was strictly an amateur mechanic, and was not confident that I could do it.

Since Nkwenkwe was in a black reserve, white students would need permits to go there, it was one of the projects that only black students could work on, so they were the ones I got to know best. Patrick Lebethe, who had grown up in Soweto, amused me with his city slicker attitude. When we turned off the Eshowe-Melmoth road at the top of top of the hill, and went down over dirt tracks into the valley, he asked "Where do these people go to the shops?" and we said at the shop up at the turn off, where there was a small general dealer. He was astounded. "How do they get there?" he asked. "They walk." we said. I loved them. They were lovely kids. I called them "kids" because that was was how Larry Weeks, the American student who had visited us in Windhoek, talked. But there was also a generation gap. It was only four years since I had been a student, but we were a different generation. I was a student of the sixties, these were the students of the seventies. They seemed to have a stronger faith, a stronger commitment to Christ -- not divided into pietists and activists, like so many in the sixties, but holding both commitment to Christ and social concern together in a holistic way. That was to be shattered by the rocky rioter teargas show in Soweto four years later, and by the subversion of Inkatha by the National Party in the 1980s. I wonder how these kids made it through those times.

And now, of course, those "kids" will all be old farts like me.

And then, 25 years later, on 14 September 1997, I wrote
The papers were full of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings about the death of Steve Biko. It's hard to think that it was 20 years ago, and the SB men applying for amnesty are all old men. It makes me feel old too. Apartheid, and the struggle against it, dominated and gave meaning to our lives, and a new generation knows so little of it. It is a real generation gap.
And then, less than three years ago, we were visiting some friends who had retired to a dacha in the Drakensberg, Martin and Wendy Goulding. And they had other friends staying with them, Erich and Glenda Dokoupil. It was 1 September 2008, the first day of spring, and the september was all in bloom (in the northern hemisphere those bushes were called "may", because that's when they bloom there, but in South Africa they bloom in September).
We had dinner, and sat around the table talking about all kinds of subjects. I supose if I were like Dr Boswell I would record all the conversation, as he did with Samuel Johnson, but I can't remember all of it. At one point Wendy mentioned that we were living in a more visual culture, with films showing blood and gore and murder. In classical plays someone would come on stage with a message that someone had been killed, but now the death would be shown in graphic detail, and this must influence the minds of people, especially impressionable children, and their dreams. I said that was one of the reasons no one in our family went to see the film of "Lord of the rings" because it would interfere with the pictures in our heads when we read the book. Glenda said she had seen the film and not read the book, and didn't think much of it anyway.

We discussed the generation gap, and the changes that had taken place in our lifetime, but I said there was a bigger gap between us and our parents than between us and the younger generation. I remember seeing my father in a business suit, wearing a hat, and discussing business with simmilarly attired gents. We had a photo of them at a building site, possibly the still for Gilbeys gin, built at Isando in about 1952. I hated the idea of dressing like that, and wanted nothing to do with "business". But we dressed in much the same way as the kids of today. Perhaps our generation had started that dress revolution, and it has been accepted by subsequent generations. I mentioned old Deacon Petros Nghandi in Namibia, who had been born in about the 1870s, and came down to Windhoek from Ovamboland for a synod, and had never tasted ice cream, and when he was born there were no aeroplanes, yet he was looking at "Scope" magazine with pictures of men landing on the moon. That generation of people who had been born in the late 19th century had seen more changes than any other before or since. In our day people fly in the same airliners that they did when our children were born. Most airlines still use Boeing 747s which have seen few design changes since 1970, and though there is a new double-decker Airbus that carries more passengers, it doesn't look much different, and there are still fewer of them. There were far more design changes in aircraft in the preceding 30 years, in our lifetime. Yet our parents, born before air travel was anything but
a hobby for the very rich, had lived to see and fly in the same jumbo jets that our children had known all their lives. The only things that had changed from the 1970s was the electronics, with more sophisticated radar, GPS navigation and things like that.

Well, there are my reminiscences about the times when I used the term "generation gap". And if you did not enjoy my tale, as Tom Lehrer said (anyone remember him?) you've yourselves to blame if it's too long: you should never have let me begin.

09 June 2011

Whodunit or chicklit? I can't decide

Cold to the TouchCold to the Touch by Frances Fyfield

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read this book. I find it difficult to say much more about it. It's crime fiction of a sort. The protagonist is a middle-aged courtesan who plays amateur detective, but Miss Marples or Hercule Poirot she is not. There's a murder, but it's not a murder mystery in the sense that the author leaves clues lying around for the reader to pick up. The protagonist solves the crimes by her brilliant intuition by a process that is opaque to the reader, and left me feeling "So that's whodunit. So what?"

I wonder if this is really an example of the genre known as "chicklit". When I look at Good Reads's "compare books" function I can see that I score pretty low on appreciation of chicklit. So I think I'll steer clear of Fyfield in future, unless I'm really desperate.

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08 June 2011

The link between abortion and assisted suicide

This blog post on abortion and assisted suicide set me thinking about the ways in which society likes to kill people, and the moment we get rid of one means, we tend to introduce others.

Ordered Liberty: The link between abortion and assisted suicide:
prudential problems are only secondary objections in regard to the practice of assisted suicide. The primary problem is that it still involves the deliberate, intentional killing of an innocent human being. To kill an innocent, even to prevent suffering, is to violate a moral law deeply ingrained in our nature. To create a system where such killing is protected and celebrated is a distortion of proper human community, and like ripples in a pond, that distortion with flow outward to have effects which none of us can fully anticipate.

(Hat-tip to A conservative blog for peace)

And it turned my thoughts to capital punishment, which some people would like to see return to the statute book, though I haven't seen as many bumper stickers in favour of it as there were ten years ago.

It was the mention in the Ordered Liberty post of taking the life of an innocent human being. Of course in the case of captial punishment there has been due legal process, and the executee has had his or her day and say in court.

As the song puts it:

I learned that murderers die for their crimes
Even if we make a mistake sometimes.

And it occurred to me that capital punishment might be acceptable if it were reintroduced with one proviso: if it should ever be shown that a person put to death by order of a court was actually innocent of the capital crime they were charged with, then the judge and the prosecutor (if the prosecutor demanded the death penalty) should, within three months, suffer the same fate as the vindicated accused, with no appeal, no reprieve, no remission. They could, however, the option of going to a thanatorium and being assisted in suicide earlier, if they chose to do so -- at their own expense, of course.

05 June 2011

I never drove white voters away: Malema

The Yanks have Sarah Palin; we have Julius Malema. I don't know which is worse. I know that there are political loose cannons in every country, but, as someone once said, the trouble with political jokes is that they get elected.

I never drove white voters away: Malema: City Press: Politics: News:
Malema told delegates that it was not true that he drove whites away from the ANC, saying only that white voters never voted for the governing party even during former president Nelson Mandela’s leadership.

“They (whites) never voted for Mandela in 1994 and they never voted for (president) Thabo Mbeki,” he said.

Malema said whites had not voted for Mandela even when he was involved in reconciliation.

I've got news for you, my china.

I'm white, and I voted for Mandela in 1994.

I voted for Mbeki in 1999, though not in 2004.

In 2004 and 2009 I voted for Patricia de Lille and the ID, because I thought voices like Patricia de Lille's needed to be heard in parliament.

I didn't vote in the local government elections last month. I don't get to vote for the mayor of Cape Town, and I didn't even know who the candidates were in our ward. But the main reason was not ideological. I happened to be away on holiday (and you can see our best holiday pics here -- I think they're quite cool, even though I say so myself).

And more and more I'm seeing the truth of what G.K. Chesterton wrote:

When the business man rebukes the idealism of his office-boy, it is commonly in some such speech as this: "Ah, yes, when one is young, one has these ideals in the abstract and these castles in the air; but in middle age they all break up like clouds, and one comes down to a belief in practical politics, to using the machinery one has and getting on with the world as it is." Thus, at least, venerable and philanthropic old men now in their honoured graves used to talk to me when I was a boy.

But since then I have grown up and have discovered that these philanthropic old men were telling lies. What has really happened is exactly the opposite of what they said would happen. They said that I should lose my ideals and begin to believe in the methods of practical politicians. Now, I have not lost my ideals in the least; my faith in fundamentals is exactly what it always was. What I have lost is my old childlike faith in practical politics. I am still as much concerned as ever about the Battle of Armageddon; but I am not so much concerned about the General Election. As a babe I leapt up on my mother's knee at the mere mention of it. No; the vision is always solid and reliable. The vision is always a fact. It is the reality that is often a fraud. As much as I ever did, more than I ever did, I believe in Liberalism. But there was a rosy time of innocence when I believed in Liberals.

Or, as Jeremy Taylor used to sing:

One fine day I'll make my way to 10 Downing Street
"Good day," I'll say, "I've come a long way excuse my naked feet.
But I lack, you see, the energy to buy a pair of shoes
I lose my zest to look my best when I read the daily news,
'cause it appears you've got an atom bomb
that'll blow us all to hell and gone
I've I've gotta die then why should I
give a damn if my boots aren't on."

And the death of Albertina Sisulu last week rubs it in.

It's not the atom bomb that threatens us now, but when I read the daily news it's all about a bottomless sea of greed and mediocrity.

Politicians of Albertina Sisulu's generation stood for something and they fought for something, and one could admire them.

If we had a General Election today I wouldn't know who to vote for.

As someone else said, How do politicians resemble a bunch of bananas?

The answer: They're all yellow, they hang together, and there's not a straght one among them.

Actually there's one guy left I might be prepared to take seriously.

That's Zwelinzima Vavi, the trade union leader.

In today's paper he was quoted as saying

You cannot tell the workers and the poor that your real ambition is accumulation and more and more (of an) expensive bourgeois lifestyle and opulence; you have to talk their language even though everything you are is about accumulation and self-centredness. Tenderpreneurs present themselves as mMessiahs to advance their narrow economic agenda.

At least he sees the problem, or part of it.

Trouble is, as long as the tripartite alliance lasts, there's no chance of voting for him.

01 June 2011

I write like WHO?

I think I've tried this before, but the previous time I tried it with text from my journal. This time I thought I would try it with some text from a novel.

I write like
George Orwell

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

That was with fairly straightforward text.

With more action oriented text, it said I wrote like Harry Harrison (who's he?) or James Joyce.

Well, let's try with another sample, also action oriented. Again it says that I wrote like James Joyce. Well, I suppose it's at least consistent.

Third time lucky. A bit more pedestrian this time, the opening paragraphs, setting the scene. So what does it say?

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

OK, scratch George Orwell and Harry Harrison, james Joyce it is. Stay us wherefore in our search for tighteousness, O Sustainer!

That, in case anyone didn't recognize it, is a quote from Finnegan's wake

Still, I'm not sure it's a compliment. I ploughed my way through Ulysses a couple of years ago, and one of my English profs told an honours student not to read it, as it would blunt his critical faculties. But the English department thought that English literature began and ended with D.H. Lawrence, with just one exception, one of their own number, Cake Manson, who was indubitably the greatest playwright since Shakespeare. Even Harry Harrison was easier to find with a Google search than Cake Manson.

Perhaps I should send my unpublished novel to Joyce's publishers, and see if they are impressed.


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