environment


Dear John,

I know we haven’t spoken for a while. Not since I broke up with you a few months ago. You remember my Dear John letter? Did you even get it? Very rude of you not to write back. I mean really. Did you have to take breaking-up so seriously? Live with it John. It’s over between the two of us. But I thought we could still be friends… Not that I missed you or anything. Puh-leeze… I need you like I need another 100 years of war.

What have you been up to? No, don’t answer. I don’t really want to hear. I see and hear enough on telly. You are seriously messing up my Lost and Raising The Bar time. Talking about Lost, how’s the election going? That Obama dude is really Raising The Bar isn’t he. The audacity of the man. To actually stand for something. And something good as well. I know, it is just not on in politics. But hey, what can you do?

But I am here to help John. Wait! Really, I have a few tips for you. (Just ask Sarah, I gave her a few tips as well.) Things you can use as you try and scare enough people to vote for you. Trust me, it comes from the deepest part of my heart. You know, that part that belongs to only you. The deepest and darkest part. I give you these tips in the hope that you could use them as you move along in your life outside of politics. I mean as you move along to retirement.

Missus in a bottle...

Missus in a bottle...

1. Having a beer woman on your side gets you no points if you don’t share.

Come on John. Didn’t you learn anything from Barney they Dinosaur?  Remember what he said? “Sharing is a special way of caring?” Not sharing isn’t very nice you know. Do you know that people voted for Bush because they think he is the kinda guy they would like to have a beer with? I know, it shouldn’t really be a criteria for who you want to run the country. But hey, what are you going to do? You get what you voted for. But you can learn from this. These people don’t really care about wars and money and stuff. So don’t worry about trying to figure that one out. If you don’t have it or get it by now you really shouldn’t bother. But dude! You have a babe with over $100 million worth of beers on your side! Not fair for not sharing. Why don’t you just promise a free round for everyone? No! Not a free round of more wars you idiot. A free round of beers! Hell, people are losing their homes and the kids are fighting a stupid war in Iraq – They could do with a drink you know. Come on John, ask Cindy for a few beers to share around. I would take one as well. You know, to drown my sorrows if you win. It might just make me forget.

2. Flip-flops are shoes and not a policy.

Summer is almost over dude. You have to get rid of the flip-flops. Both. Yes, the shoes and the policies. I mean really. The shoes are only good for one season but the policies… They come back to bite you in the ass for years to come. Oh, you can have more than one pair of flip-flop shoes, but you should really try to stick to one set of policies. Treat it like you would treat your wife. Have one and stick to her. Oh wait… Sorry… But on the policy front. Pick a policy and stick to one. I don’t care what it is, just make up your mind. Sooner or later people will start noticing the closer we get to winter. And they will realize you still have your flip-flops on. But then, I guess it is better than thongs. The shoes and the underwear.

3. A chick that smiles at you isn’t always hot or a running mate.

Dude! Nice one! I see you got a chick to run with you. Unfortunately she wasn’t running away with you. Or even away from you. That would have been so much easier. But man, you gotta learn. Even at your old age. Not every girl you meet that smiles at you has got the hots for you. Or should be your running mate. Look she isn’t hot. And I don’t just mean her looks. I mean her baggage. All those rumors up there in Alaska. The firing of the Commissioner. The debt she left behind in that little town. She’s a bit lightweight isn’t she? Or as we would call it in South Africa – wet behind the ears. And she might be foreign to mainland US or far off or spaced out, but it doesn’t give her foreign policy experience. What the hell do you think Putin is going to do with her? Hey, he is second in command over there in Russia you know. Doesn’t quite compare now does she? I hear he loves barracuda for breakfast. Sorry John. You’ve been had. She isn’t hot – no matter which way you look at it. But at least you have something in common I guess. You both love flip-flops.

4. Hugging a man does not make you gay. Just stupid.

Come on John. Be honest with us here. You have a man-crush on him don’t you? I saw that look in your eyes. That big hug with your head resting on his shoulder. A sweet whisper in his hear. A brush of the cheeks. It made you feel all giddy didn’t it? It made you feel all warm inside. But don’t confuse that with love John. It isn’t love. It’s envy. You are just envious that a little man that couldn’t run a baseball team to save his life beat you back then, aren’t you? And that he started a senseless war before you could, aren’t you? And that he became the worse President before you could ruin it, aren’t you? I know John. It is difficult to take. But you don’t have to become him or love him to be your own man. Come on. You are a big boy now. You just look stupid trying to be a Little Dubya II. But you two sure look nice in that hug. Twins almost. I could hardly tell you apart. Almost like your policies. Ever seen the movie Dumb and Dumber, John?

I love your wars big fella

I love your wars big fella

5. John, you are not del.icio.us. DiggIt?

I know you are trying to be all cool and hip. But really, it isn’t working that well. You gotta get with it John. I know you don’t get “the Internets” and all that computer stuff. But you are not helping yourself here. Email has nothing to do with she-males from Taiwan. They are similar in that they can deliver a message. But it is a message we should rather not go into. And MySpace isn’t the Reagan space programme. FaceBook isn’t about you being on the cover of “Guns Daily”. Digg isn’t an oil policy. StumbleUpon isn’t the way to get a foreign policy or any policy for that matter. MicroSoft isn’t something that can be fixed by Viagra. iPod isn’t something used to escape from the Starship Enterprise (that’s fictional by the way). Apple isn’t what the doctor told you to have. HP isn’t a sauce for you meat. Del.icio.us isn’t Sarah Palin’s vetting process. LinkedIn isn’t about your relationship with Dubya. RSS Feed isn’t an official aid policy. TreeHugger isn’t a Gore family member (well, not really). FeedBurner is not about GM crops. Spock does not know Captain Kirk. PayPal is not a donor. And Twitter is not for the birds. But okay, you might be a Twit.

6. Say after me, “P” in POTUS stands for President.

It’s easy, I taught my kids to spell this way. Say after me… P.O.T.U.S. stands for President Of The United States. You knew that’s POTUS stood for that right? No, not POT-ASS. That’s something else. It stands for PRESIDENT of the United States. I know it is a big surprise. But there you have it. I didn’t make the rules. It does not stand for Pandering OR The Ultimate Sell-out. Or even Pathetic Overtures That Ultimately Suck. No-no, John. It actually means you have to have the balls to run this country. You can’t pander just to try and become President. You actually have to stand for something other than just becoming POTUS. Look at what happened the last time you went for the “Don’t-Know” option. Endless wars and an economy that is tanking. And you are owned by China and the Middle-East. Balls please John. Or else you will make the US into Please, Our Time’s Up Sir. How low can you take it John? We are pretty rock-bottom as we speak. And do remember that the POTUS is also FOR the United States. Not for McCain. There is no J or M in POTUS. You should do it for the country and not for yourself. You should want to be President for and of the US and not just to be called President McCain. So don’t just say anything to become President. Rather say something “just” to become President. Hum… that last “just” is like in righteous or truthful. We get it from a little word that might be foreign to you – justice. This isn’t about you wanting to be President. This is about being the President Of The United States. Putting yourself first is not what America needs. Putting America first is what America needs.

7. The comb-over is not even old school.

I know you are trying hard. Hard to be one of the cool boys. But that hair just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work in the same way that you weak attempts at telling us nothing about yourself doesn’t work. No matter which way you comb it. You can brush it to the left or brush it to the right. We still know that it is a comb-over. Like we know you are anti-sex education, anti-choice, anti-peace and anti-everything in line with more of a typical Republican right-winger. It remains a comb-over and it sucked even in the 70s. But I guess it doesn’t suck as much as your policies and the party you stand for. Your comb-over isn’t “old school”. But your politics are old school. Straight from the books back then in the 60s (and even today) – control through fear. Shave your head McCain. It might look a bit cooler. Or hang your head in shame McCain and realize that people have freedom today. Of speech. Of choice. And of self.

8. Only Texans make more sense when speaking louder.

I have seen it before. People from Texas start speaking louder the further they get away from Texas. They have “Texan logic” to back-up their claim that people from a foreign country, like Massachusetts or France, will understand them better if they speak louder. But you are not Texan my friend. You don’t make more sense the louder you speak. You just create more white noise. A lie is a lie no matter how loud you say it. No matter how many times you say it. A lie remains a lie. No. Matter. How. Many. Times. You. Say. It. Take it from me. Slow down, speak softly and tell the truth. Like the fact that your tax proposal will actually increase the taxes I pay. And that you stand for… Hum… What do you stand for again?

9. Kool-Aid can be bad for your health.

I know you used to drink this stuff when you were a kid. But hey, we didn’t know about the problems with smoking or big fat hamburgers back then either. Kool-Aid is bad for you John. You shouldn’t drink it. The Kool-Aid that the economy is just fine. Don’t drink it John. And don’t sell it at your lemonade stand either. Or would that be a soap box? That Kool-Aid that drilling would make you energy independent. Don’t drink it John. Bad for your health. And bad for the health of the economy. That Kool-Aid that Iraq is doing just fine. Don’t drink it John. It’s not Disney you know. It’s Baghdad where the bombs still go off daily. Remember that walk in the market? Did you see they didn’t sell Kool-Aid? It’s because of the 100 troops on the ground, gunships in the air and armored vehicles on the roads that kept you in fresh Kool-Aid. That Kool-Aid should be left alone John. It’s no good for you and no good for America. And no thank, I don’t want any.

10. Please don’t scare the kids.

Last thing John. You really shouldn’t scare the children. You know how easily they scare. How easily they fill up with fear. Not nice John. Not nice at all. You should really let them grow up a bit. Let them decide for themselves. Tell them the truth. Tell them they are old enough to stand on their own two legs. I mean really. They aren’t even kids anymore. They are grown ups. Maybe you should share some truths with them. Tell them that America is a powerful nation. Tell them that America stands for something good. Tell them that not everyone hates America. Tell them that it is better to love as Americans than to hate as a world. Tell them it is better to talk first as America than to bomb first in the name of America. Tell them there are no monsters under their beds. Tell them that you might not know the future but that you stand for more than being anti-everything-Obama-says. Tell them that Obama was right about the withdrawel date in Iraq. Tell them that they will pay more taxes under you than under Obama. Tell them that you made a mistake in your first big decision by nominating Palin as your running mate. Tell them that you voted for the scary monster under the bed 90% of the time while he has been in the office. Tell them that your oil policies won’t get America an inch closer to energy independence. Tell them that you love big oil and anyone else who are willing to fund your run at the White House. Tell them that your senior advisers are all big lobbyist from DC and that they run your campaign. Tell them that you don’t need universal healthcare because you can afford you own private healthcare. Tell them you aren’t one of them because you are rich beyond their wildest dreams. Tell them you don’t worry about them losing their house because you have 7… 10… 12… Who knows and who is counting? Tell them that gas prices will remain high as hell as long as you sit in your big fat SUV with your big fat ego. Tell them that you will strip the forests to make sure that you have more paper to write your memoirs of pain. Tell them that you will continue to torture people in their name. Tell them that you want them to be at war for at least a 100 years and that they will suffer the consequences long after you are gone. Tell them who you are John. Tell them the truth. But then… Maybe not… Because that would be really scary and then they might know real fear.

 

There you go my boy! Ten easy tips even you can understand. I hope you have a fun time. Just look in the mirror and repeat after me John… “I must be better and more honest than what I really am. The truth will set me free. And I’ll just sit down and cry if that doesn’t work”. Repeat a thousand time and take an Aspirin.

John, John… John. What are we going to do with you? Or rather, where are you going to take us John? I’ve been there and it is not pretty. A country filled with hate and fear. We don’t need that John. We need love and hope. Give it to us or please leave the room.

Remember John, if you want to play this game of hate and fear then we’ll play the same right back at you! No more Mr Nice guy. You must be confusing me with some liberal. I am not. I am African.

Worst wishes, no love and hope to never see you again,

Angry African (on the Loose)

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The more things change the more they stay the same. And that is no difference when looking at the news…

1. Canada loses shelf… not self

Well it seems as if the head of steam being built up here in the US is at last hitting Canada. Yes, the hot air created by the Republicans at the convention seems to contribute to climate change for their neighbors up north. Can’t be any other reason now can it? Republicans don’t believe in global warming so it must be the hot heads down in St Paul who did this. Or windbags. Poor old Canada. They have so little going for them when it comes to history and now they just lost an ancient ice shelf that is almost the size of Manhattan. Luckily Canada isn’t as populated as that little island off the east coast. They suspect only one person died but the nation is in mourning because about 7,286 moose died. That is the same ratio of moose per person in Canada. The Canadian authorities are still counting all Canadians to try and confirm the death of the unlucky fellow. One person is counting every Canadian and is expected to be done by early Saturday. All Canadians was asked to stand in a straight line but there was a delay because the counting guy had to go to a blubber fest first. He’ll start counting on Friday evening.

2. “Uncertainty looms in Sudan”

That is the actual headline of the report – “Uncertainty looms in Sudan”. WTF? What was there before? Hope? Love? Peace? Stability? Democracy? Ubuntu? Change? Certainty? I think not. Can “uncertainty” be a weather pattern? The Sudan version of a monsoon? It comes in and destroys everything in its path. Or maybe “Uncertainty” is some god we never heard of. You know, like Apollo or Zeus or Atlas. Wonder what “Uncertainty” does? Squash all sense of justice in his path and murder the innocent for breakfast. Sound about right. Also known by another name. President Omar “The Bastard” al-Bashir. No. Sorry. “Uncertainty” would be a step up for most Sudanese. At the moment they only have “Genocide”.

3. Obelix with no Astrix?

The great Obelisk of Axum returned home at last. Okay. It’s been there for a while already. About 3 years. It was unveiled this week. Come on people, it’s African time. You know. “Just now” means anything between within the next two hours and 2 decades. But we should be happy the Axum Obelisk is back. Now if we can only find the great Astrix of Governance somewhere…

4. From Palin to Pale-One

You thought Palin was more than just a pretty face? Think again. The McCain campaign now says that she won’t be talking to the media on foreign or domestic policy. Apparently “the American people don’t care whether Sarah Palin can answer specific questions about foreign and domestic policy… the American people will learn all they need to know” (and all they deserve to know) from Palin’s scripted speeches and choreographed appearances on the campaign trail and in campaign ads. Talk about Hollywood moments and acting like a celebrity. Mr McLame and Pale-one, this is called acting and not leadership. Maybe scared that she can’t hold her own? Here is your problem. She might be able to pull the wool over the eyes of (some of) the average American voters out there but you might have a bit of a problem if she travels outside these US borders. Haha! Actually, I wouldn’t mind being a fly on the wall. Putin will have her for lunch. Oh man you are in so much trouble with this one. Not quite the PTA now is it?

5. Let’s be honest… hum, maybe not

Citibank used to have a nice little racket going. And hardly anyone noticed. What they did was to remove the positive balances on the credit card accounts of their poorest and “deadest” clients. Yes, they targeted the vulnerable (poor) and really vulnerable (dead). But those damn pesky little whistle blowers. Someone thought that stealing money from their clients might be going too far. And that damn liberal State Attorney of California agreed. And won! Yes, poor Citibank lost settled the case and paid all the money back. And a bit of a fine to top it off. The clincher? An executive trying to justify their decision really went all out with the “feel sorry for me” line. With difficulty. He said, “Stealing from our customers is a business decision, not a legal decision.” The same executive later said that the sweep program could not be stopped because it would reduce the executive bonus pool. I don’t think he gets the humanity part that well. Maybe he was taking a bit off the top because he is missing a bit on top. For some or other reason I don’t feel that sorry for Citibank.

Hey, I have a job as well! Imagine that. Someone actually pays me to have an opinion. Anyway… Thought I should give you a peek at the type of stuff I write for work. This will go on our work blog in the next few days. It’s been edited. You’ll see that! A bit different from my usual style and topic. But it gives you an insight into some of my other work-related thoughts.

Build it (green) and they will buy?

Everything seems to be turning green. And there is nothing wrong with that – companies creating new, innovative products and services that are good for them and good for the environment. But consumers haven’t completely bought into this yet. A number of green products aren’t flying off the shelves the way companies anticipated. Why is it that the green revolution has taken companies by storm, but not consumers? With the environment at the forefront of consumer concerns, it makes one wonder, why consumers aren’t dropping the bad stuff and buying the good stuff. We build it, but they just won’t come.

Why?

Some products are a big hit with consumers – the Prius and CFL light bulbs are taking off in a big way. So why aren’t they buying green shoes, food, computers, etc.?

There are many reasons why people buy certain products and not others – price, functionality, “coolness,” brand loyalty, etc. One often overlooked factor is: how do the environmental aspects of the product help the consumer?

Let’s first look at why the Prius and the CFL light bulb are so popular. They allow consumers to feel better about themselves when they use these products. A person starts their Prius and immediately feels “greener” than their neighbor with the gas-guzzling SUV. They feel better and more environmentally responsible with every mile they drive. It is the action of driving that makes them “green.” The same goes for a CLF light bulb. They feel better about themselves each and every time they turn on the lights. The simple action of switching on the light enables them to feel like an environmental “activist” – that they are making a difference.

You said you wanted a green car...

You said you wanted a green car...

The environmental benefit doesn’t come from the company making the Prius or the CFL light bulb. The “goodness” comes from the consumer using the product instead of an alternative product. A Prius isn’t a car – it is an environmental tool for the consumer. The CFL light bulb doesn’t just provide light – it provides the consumer with an opportunity to make a difference through the simple action of flipping the switch.

The success of these “green” products lies in enabling the consumer to take action. The act of making a difference through using these products makes them successful. So many green failures can be traced back to lacking this fundamental element – allowing consumers to feel “green” each time they use a product. When all the “goodness” is in the making of the product and not in the using of the product, no other action is expected from the consumer. The only action the consumer needs to take is buying the product. But the act of buying is not perceived as an act of environmental activism. This doesn’t allow the consumer to feel that they are taking environmental action.

Buying a green product, that’s green qualities are all in the production phase, leaves the consumer with a very basic question: what about me?

You want to sell a green product? Then let your consumer be part of the “greenness.” Give them something that they can do apart from just buying the product. Give them a way to take action. Let it be easy – like starting a Prius or flipping a light switch. Give consumers simple actions that make them feel like they are making a difference each and every time they use your product. Let them be part of the change.

________________________

More green stuff from me:

Can I interest you in a green Blow Up Doll?

Okay, so I don’t really want you to buy a blowup doll. Not even a green one. But it seems as if we think consumers will buy anything green – or rather that a green product will have an edge over competing not-so-green products. Consumers might be more interested in the environmental factors of a…

How friendly is eco-friendly?

Every single day we are bombarded by someone telling us to be more eco-friendly in our lives – and the choices we make. But can we really be eco-friendly? …

What’s the emissions of your local warlord’s car – and do you care?

Man, these umlungu’s over here really like their big cars. Okay, not all of them. And I have more of a problem with those who don’t drive big cars than those who do. They are all up in arms about the impact on global climate and the emissions by these big trucks – bakkies back…

It’s not always greener on the other side

Everything is green nowadays. It’s the talk of the town. Newspapers are full of the latest green apocalypse heading our way. Bloggers blog green left, right and center – with fonts and pictures to match. Activist are up in arms about green washing and washing our greens. Governments want to govern what green means. The…

We eat meat – get used to it

Being green or protecting wildlife means almost nothing outside US and Europe. There are bigger issues facing people in places like Burundi, Guyana, Yemen and North Korea. They continue to struggle to survive each day. The cheapest bidder always wins when you live off less than $1 a day. And you don’t know if there…

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The news isn’t getting any better is it? Time to have a closer look. I must apologize first though. I do get a bit worked up today. So please excuse the anger. But some of this stuff just isn’t funny anymore. Don’t worry though, some of it is still pretty funny. Hey remember, no news is good news. So some news is slightly crap news. I’ll start with the crap news first.

Same old, same old...

Same old, same old...

1. Mr McCain, act your age – or maybe not

It’s becoming a bit tedious. Every week I tell myself that I will leave McCane alone. His an old man after all. And I am not being nice. My mom won’t be impressed. You know, she always said I should show respect to old people. And I really want to. But then he does it again. Or maybe I should say, “Oops he did it again”. Yes, McCane has scrapped right through the bottom of the barrel and is now digging up old cat crap from the garden soil below. He is reaching a new low. Even for a Republican. Okay, maybe I am wrong. You can’t really reach a new low as a Republican. Or at least not this type of Republican. They boldly go where no one has gone before. Anyway, let’s get back to the Mac. McCane decided to take Obama on by focusing on the issues. Not. No, he decided to tell us nothing of his own policies or why he might be a good President and instead compared Obama to Britney and then said Obama is playing the race card. Sigh. (I wish my wife would allow me to swear in my blog. McCain deserves one.) Come now Mista McCane, what the hell do you stand for apart from anything anti-Obama? The USA actually needs someone to stand for something and not just against everything. Look what happened the last time you picked a President that stood for nothing but anti-everything. You are living in that world right now. Who are you McCane? Who are you when you look in the mirror apart from an angry old man with no life or policies? If Obama is Britney, are you the wino old hag who hangs around Britney trying to catch a bit of her “shine”? Get a life of your own please. And saying Obama is playing the race card… Have you actually been on the “internets” as your buddy calls it? Have you seen and heard the things people are saying of Obama? Have you not heard how that stupid blond woman called Ann Coulter play “funny” with Obama’s names? Have you seen the original racist comments that Rooster99 left on this blog? Obama playing the race card… Bah! Wake up and smell the roses. Grow up and act your age. No wait. Please don’t. We don’t need another President asleep behind the wheel. I guess the next thing you should start bitching about is that Obama is playing the intelligence card and walking the leadership path. That is so unfair hey? Ek is gatvol van MyPyn se wyn.

2. UK decides not to prosecute corruption

Imagine if this happened in South Africa. Or anywhere in Africa… The anti-fraud agency starts to investigate allegation that the largest national arms manufacturer and dealer offered bribes to a potential buyer. A bribe to get the buyer to buy some weapons. Maybe even a few weapons of mass destruction? And the buyer? A Middle Eastern buyer. With a really bad human rights record. And then the agency drops the investigation. Why? Because the buyer blackmailed the investigators by saying that they won’t give any anti-terrorism support or intelligence info in the fight against terrorism. What would you expect the agency and your government to do? Don’t answer – let’s first look at what the UK did. The UK government actually supported the investigators decision not to probe a bit deeper into the bribery case. Even though they already had good evidence. And they are so happy the agency dropped the case. The reason? National security. Bull. Let any African government do this and guess what – everyone will be all over them and throw their toys. They will talk about the corruption by African governments. And say it is just “the way these Africans are”. Well, stuff you. Go put it where the sun don’t shine. You Mr Brown and gang, the bribes are on your hands and for the whole world to see. The blood of those who die because of these weapons? One your hands. National security? Guess what. Did you know that Osama bin Laden comes from that country involved in this corrupt arms deal, terrorism threat and blackmail case? To the UK – you just lost your right to bitch about corruption anywhere else in the world. Especially in Africa. Go clean your own house first.

Oh, in a new development… This same UK arms manufacturer (BAE) was just caught in another case. One that involves their links to a Zimbabwean arms trader. A Zimbabwean arms dealer with strong ties to Robert Mugabe. Sweeping that one under the carpet as well now shall we? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Right? No reason to investigate this one if you didn’t want to look at the Saudi one. “Nothing to see here folks. Please move on.” Spineless bigots. Murdering bastards. What a pair they make. The UK and Zimbabwe caught necking behind the barn. Brown and Mugabe seen doing some heavy petting in the hay. Blood on your hands you stupid gutless Pom.

3. UK crime levels fall

I know I joked about it in my Next Week’s News Today II, but it is actually true. Crime rates are falling in the UK. It has done so by 10% over the last year. I stand by my original assessment that the economic crunch is behind it all. There is just nothing to steal anymore. I just wonder if the nanny state UK government will provide the criminals with some economic “stimulant” package as well. I mean really. It’s bad if the mob can’t even squeeze anything out of the dry UK well anymore. See? Crime doesn’t pay. Not now. At least they will have the dole to fall back on.

4. Scientific proof that Conservatives are sick

A new study from the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque!) has just linked religion with diseases. Basically, the study “proves” that there is a link between the number of religions and the “control” of diseases. Apparently, society organizes itself in religious groups to limit the spread infectious diseases and other health risks. That’s a bit of a bummer. It makes the US a pretty sick society. I mean really, the Christian churches over here are worse than Trotskyists – they split into two separate groups every time two Christian conservatives/evangelicals get together in a room. Aah, now I get the whole anti-science thing amongst some of the more fundamentalist Christian groups in the US. You see, some science actually focus on healing people. Get rid of diseases. So the basic fibre of religion will fall apart. The healthier we are the more secular we will become. I hope Hagee and Bush don’t read this. Or maybe they knew about this all along. You know – denying evolution and denying global warming. Very Christian of them.

5. China and US sync laptops

China. What can I say. Loved it over there. Just don’t take your laptop with when you go and visit. They don’t like free information that much. Like to control it a bit. Can’t get access to all the sites on the internet. Including this one. (Wonder if they lifted the “ban” on this one when they relaxed their control a bit this week?) Anyway. They like control. And they have a bit of a habit of taking laptops at airports. You know – to check for “information”. And good luck if you can get it back. They go a bit further though. They check what you do and download your information, contacts and everything they can get their hands on. It helps that they control the networks you have to use. They are checking for anything that can “threaten” China. I call it no freedom and control freaks. So no surprise that American politicians are a bit unhappy about that. America is build on the foundations of freedom. Free expression and information are the cornerstones of this great country. I was even happier to see that it was a Republican being pissed at the Chinese for doing this. Senator Sam Brownback from Kansas was really pissed at the Chinese and their attempts to get every single piece of information they could get their hands on. Good on you Senator Brownback. Freedom of expression and information should always be protected. It’s the American way. But… Hang on a minute… What do we have here? It can’t be. The US doing the same? Yes! You see, first it was invasion of privacy with the “Patriot” Act. Like the Chinese, they will track your info like a true Chinese autocrat. And now it seems they are taking another leaf from the little red Chinese book of control. They are ready to take your laptop at the airport. And do pretty much what ever the hell they want to do with it. And they go a step further. They’ll take your iPod as well. Not to control your music as if it is some 50’s rock ‘n roll clampdown. No, just to check what info you have on there. (I would be so embarrassed by my playlist.) So there you go. Information control. China and the US dancing to the same tune. And I bet it ain’t to the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. Closer to the Grateful Dead I guess. George W Bush and Hu Jintao, both President and Commander in Chief of the two most powerful nations in the world, dancing the slow dance of control. It’ll make Mao so proud. He didn’t even have to invade the US for the Red Revolution to take over. First they took over the economy and now exported they own special brand of information control and freedom suppression. Tangle or tango anyone. Any wise words of wisdom now Senator Brownback?

________________________

That’s it folks. More pissed than usual. But can’t help it – they keep on feeding me crap.

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Today started off like any other Friday. On the train to work, iPod playing and already in a weekend state of mind. Almost like having Georgia on your mind, but with more fun and no threat of the death penalty. Anyway… I was getting ready to get off at my stop when I noticed her.

She was right in front of me. I didn’t take much notice at first. I was adjusting my iPod earpieces. And then I saw it. The tag of her jersey was showing. It was on the outside of her jersey. It took me a while to figure out whether she had her jersey on inside out or whether it was just a fashion statement. I couldn’t see her face and had no idea how old she was. And I have seen some funny fashion statements in my time. I lived through the 80’s people. Wearing clothes inside out as a fashion statement would not surprise me one bit. But now I was in a bit of a dilemma. Do I tell her or not?

I should do it. Just tell her. If I am wrong – no problem. I will be slightly embarrassed, but she would be fine. I might even bring a smile to her face. You know – she would be thinking, “What a dork. He just isn’t in with the latest style.” I can live with that. And if I was right? I would save her from embarrassment. She might be slightly embarrassed and pissed at me, but at least she will be okay when she walks around town later in the day. She might actually thank me silently later on when she sits down and have a tall skinny non-fat strawberry mocha frappuccino with no whipped cream at 200 degrees and room on top. And a block of ice and one Splenda. Whateva! (And I snap my finger and whip my hair around while saying that.)

I was still thinking through my options when I saw it. I froze completely. Just stopped dead in my tracks. I panicked completely. I have heard of this, but have never actually seen one. The nightmare no woman wants to face. And no man wants to be responsible for. The horror. The horror.

A skirt was tucked into her knickers…

Her whole backside was showing. Or all that I could see from my quick glance was her complete left buttock and about half of her right cheek. And the little red hearts on her white undies. Not that I noticed. But she was completely unaware that she was caught in the pantie-butt-tuck. One thought flashed through my mind. And right after that I thought – what now? What the hell was I supposed to do now?

Do I go up to her and tell her? How? Do I just tap her on the shoulder like a friendly stranger and flash her my winning smile? Do I walk past her and look back nonchalant and tell her in my normal voice as if nothing happened? Or do I whisper in her hear like an old friend? And then what? What do I tell her? That her skirt is tucked into the top of her pantie? That her butt cheeks are showing? Or at least one of them is in full view? I had no problem telling her. I was just stumped about how I approach the subject and what I had to say.

So I just stood there. My brain frozen. I knew I had to say something. But this was a first for me. Something I was completely unprepared for. And she disappeared into the crowd while I stood there like a stupid ass. No pun intended.

No, really. I was a stupid ass. I should have reacted quicker. But I really wasn’t ready for this. Next time I will be. Please God don’t let there be a next one though. Because I still don’t know how I will approach her and what I will say.

Excuse me, mam?

Excuse me, mam?

I eventually started walking again jumped into the shop to buy some… hum… cigarettes… I mean… nice healthy water. To calm my nerves. But at least the “water” wasn’t in a plastic container. That’s just so environmentally unfriendly. But let’s just say that it could be true. Except that I think that water is for meant for coffee and plants. And maybe to make putu. And sometimes for a shower. But that’s about it. Anyway…. I digress.

I was standing in the line waiting for my turn to hand over the ransom pay. Just minding my own business. I looked over to the magazine rack and my eyes started to wondered to the top rack. The adult section. I really didn’t mean to look at them. It was merely for “research” purposes. I swear. Ek belowe. And then I looked a little bit closer at the cover of one of the magazines. It was a Playboy cover. And the woman on the cover had the oddest pose.

She was bending over like she was carrying an imaginary backpack, her legs were slightly apart but straight as if she just wet her pants, her ass pointing up like a Dodgem car, her hands hanging down towards the floor neanderthal style, and she had that weird look like she was slightly constipated (or just wet her pants) but was trying to hide it from the camera – you know, that smirky smile. But it wasn’t her look that made me laugh. It was her total pose. It looked as if she was about to pick up something really heavy. My immediate thought was “she better be careful as she might hurt her back picking something up that way”. She should really use her legs more and not use her back when lifting heavy objects.

And the magazine next to it had a woman pushing her… hum… front view towards the camera. Like she was going to wring-dry her top. Really. I didn’t see anymore covers as I had to look away. People were going to notice. Especially with me laughing out loud standing in a queue looking at porno magazine covers.

It made me think. What’s up with the porno pose? This can’t be nice for her or for the sad little man who gets some sort of satisfaction when he buys the magazine. or rather when he reads the magazine. You must be really odd to get any satisfaction from the act of buying only. Would that be seen as soliciting? Anyway… I am sure that he buys it for the great articles on cars/environment/economy/whatever. I mean really. It isn’t even remotely sexy or attractive. Even if you objectify women. Someone really needs to get a life.

So it leaves me with two questions.

Tell me. What should a man say to a woman if she is caught in a pantie-butt-tuck. I need to know that.

And also. What’s up with the porno pose? I just don’t get it.

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Well, 4th of July just passed. And the celebrations could be seen all around us. Flags flying, parades everywhere and fireworks to scare the cats – and kids. And it made me wonder – what does it mean to be a patriot?

We were sitting outside having a barbeque. American style. Burgers and all. Pretty American on 4th of July. Just us South Africans and an Aussie friend. Anyway… Our backyard neighbors were having their own party. Big family gathering. Even bigger griller. And meat to feed an army. At least a few divisions. And it went on and on. The crowd kept on growing and the noise kept on rising. We didn’t have a problem with it. They were having fun. Good clean fun. (And we loved the fireworks later in the evening – all courtesy of our partying neighbors.) And then we noticed the balloons.

Big balloons. All in the American colors. Red, white and blue. Stars and stripes everywhere. Almost every chair had a few of them tied to the back. Flying in the wind. This new type of flag. My wife and myself looked at each other and laughed. A very typical thing for us – we know each other way too well already! We said it at almost the same time, “I bet you those balloons were made in China!”

She won the right to blog on the “Made in China” joke. I really can’t say no to her. But it made me think of China. Again. And on the meaning of being proud of your country. Being a patriot.

And no. It wasn’t the “Free Tibet” flags that was made in China that made me think of China. It was my recent chats with a few Chinese in China that made me realize they are very proud of their country. Well, most of them anyway. Wherever I went they told me so. How they love their country and how proud they are of how China is developing. And, of course, the Beijing Olympics. For them the Olympics was about the Chinese people and not the Chinese government. A chance for us to meet China and the Chinese people. For them it was about them and their country. And not their government. I know, the Chinese government really secured the Olympics – not the people. But it still made sense. I know how it felt.

I have always loved my country. And my people. But I wasn’t always that proud of my government. The Apartheid government was not a regime to be proud of. Trust me. They weren’t. But I always loved my country. The mountains, the rivers, everything. And I really loved my people. It was an easy call. I loved my country. I loved my people. And I still saw myself as a patriot. I would defend my country and my people. But not my government. They were corrupt. In every sense of the word. If they asked me to go to war I would say no. If they asked me to vote in their rigged elections I wouldn’t. I would not listen to them and I would not support them in anything. But I would defend my country and my people. In my way. By protesting against the Apartheid regime. By speaking out when ever I got the chance. I would defy them. And challenge them. Because I was a patriot.

Over here in America people are asking the patriotism question. Again. And I am not just talking about Obama. Whether him wearing a flag or not makes him more or less patriotic. Like everyone wears that each day. Go do a Google search on the Mac and see how many times he wears one. Being a vet does not give you a free pass. Or at least I don’t think so. But this isn’t about Obama. Maybe only in an indirect way. The questions about him being American and being a patriot triggered some initial thoughts. But it isn’t about him. No, it’s about people who are claiming to be more patriotic than the next.

Supporting the war. That makes you a patriot. Being against gay marriages. That makes you a patriot. Not criticising President Bush. That makes you a patriot. Saying it is okay to hold people without trail and (maybe) torturing them. That makes you a patriot. Being in favour of subsidies for big oil but against universal health care. That makes you a patriot. Being Republican. Being conservative and against liberals. Listening to Rush and Bill. Watching Fox. Pro-flag. Anti-protests. And so on. And so on. It all makes you a patriot.

Or does it?

Were you a patriot if you supported the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII? Or were you a patriot when you tried to speak out against it? Were you a patriot when you supported segregation? Or were you a patriot when you acted against it? Were you a patriot when you lynched blacks and burned crosses and churches all over? Or were you a patriot when you marched against it? Were you a patriot when you supported a war to get rid of weapons of mass destruction? Or were you a patriot when you protested against a war with little evidence to support the claims of the President? Are you a patriot when you support a war no matter what the reasons? Or are you a patriot when you believe you can support the soldiers and still not agree with the war? Are you a patriot when you say other Americans are not American enough because they do not agree with everything you do or say? Or are you a patriot when you say that being an American means celebrating and loving diversity of all kinds – religion, color, languages, political thoughts, food and even stupid bloody movies?

You decide. I am not here to tell you what patriotism means in America. I can only tell you what it means for me as a South African. It means loving my country. Believing in my people. Caring for those around me. Looking after our land and the animals who live there. And speaking out when my government is unjust. Or just plain wrong. They are not my country. They are not my people. They do not stand for what my country stand for. Or at least not what the majority of us want our country to stand for. They are our government. They come and go. The people, the land and the spirit that make us never die. The meaning of being South African never come and go. It is more than the sum of us. It is that intangible meaning of us.

I am a patriotic South African when I disagree with my government when they are wrong. I am a patriot when I speak out against stupid decisions made by my government. I was a patriot when I protested against the government during Apartheid. I am a patriot when I speak out and protest against my government when I believe they are not being true to what we want our country to stand for – freedom, tolerance, equality and celebrating our diversity. And all the other good stuff.

And don’t confuse the patriotism bit with loving it or being proud of it. I love my children. But I am not proud of them when they do something wrong. I still love them. I still care for them. Deeply and without question. No less than before. But I also know I have to remind them of the rules. Our rules. Rules of respect, love and hard work. It does not make me less of a dad just because they need to know when I am disappointed with them. I tell them. But I also tell them I love them no less. I love them. I care for them. But I can’t always be proud of them. But I can be even more proud of them when they make right what they did wrong. That makes me love them even more. When they hold up their hands and say, “Yeah, I was wrong. Sorry dad.”

But driving a car made in Japan? Wearing clothes made in India? Eating food grown in Mexico? Drinking coffee grown in Ethiopia? Buying gas imported from Saudi Arabia? Reading books written by an Englishman? Watching a French movie? Having balloons made in China?

I don’t know. I like it when I see something made in South Africa. But I don’t buy it just because it is made in South Africa. I buy it (or not) because of many reasons – price, quality, taste, smell, functionality etc. Whatever. I buy it when I can. But I won’t buy a SUV just because it was made in South Africa. I’ll buy the less thirsty car made wherever.

A patriot. What is it? You decide. Because you make it. You build your country with every decision you make. The easy decisions and the difficult ones. They all count. There is no end. You build it every day. America is different from what it was a 100 years ago. Every single day you are still working on it. Keeping the good bits alive. And turning it into something new and making it relevant for society today. No end game. It’s not a game. It a journey. With no end destination. And every step counts. Every person count.

Every American count. Every American equals one brick. And you decide how strong you want this structure called America to be. You place your brick. You make it strong or you make it weak. It isn’t easy. And it has never been easy to build this great nation. It wasn’t easy to fight the British for independence. It wasn’t easy to free the slaves. It wasn’t easy to give women voting rights. It wasn’t easy to fight in WWII. It wasn’t easy to end segregation. It wasn’t easy to pull out of Vietnam. But it was the right thing to do.

Are you a patriot? Just wait before you answer. First ask yourself what does it mean to be a patriot? Define it. Look around and ask if this is what your fellow countrymen mean by it? Do you agree with it? What is your America? Happy you got all the info you need? Good. Now answer it. Are you a patriot?

Just don’t forget to look in the mirror when you answer.

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I am getting a bit sick and tired of hearing about bottled water. You know, the “big issue” of how bad bottled water is. Worse than cigarettes. And alcohol. And drugs. And anything else you can think of. The new evil. It makes you want to go and hug Exxon. Really. Come on. It’s bloody bottled water people.

Almost every mayor of across the US is telling their constituents how bad it is. That it litters the city. That it is just sooo bad. That you should drink from the tap. Hum. Well now. Why don’t you first stop the killing in the cities before you start bitching about the litter. Why don’t you start recylding plastic instead recyling old crappy politics? Get your house in order before you start bitching about a bloody plastic bottle. Really. If a plastic bottle is the worse of your worries…

And these “activists” go on and on about the water scarcity. Hum. Duh. You grow industry and populations and the water levels drop. Not difficult math you know. You know how much bottled water takes out of the ground? Around 0.002%. Doesn’t seem logical to me to start there if you are concerned about water scarcity. Maybe you should start with where the big water “eaters” are. And where do you think this is? Farming. Yes, farming. Up to 80% of water goes into farming. Yes, they need to use the water to produce the crops. But they are also some of the most inefficient users. Just spraying it all over the place. And don’t think of the farmer in the movies. No! Most farming is done by large commercial farms owned by large multinationals. They don’t give a damn about the water. Or the land. or the people. Just about the profits.

Oh yes. They tell me all about the leaching of the plastic bottle. And that I should drink tap. You know what is in that tap? Iron levels too high. Lead in the pipes. Pharmaceutical waste. Chlorine to kill the bugs. Etc. Etc. etc. Damned if I don’t and damned if I do. By the way – stupid. I drink the bottle when I am on the road. Not while at home. You gonna bring me a personal tap with when I travel? And want a refill? Don’t give me the fountain crap. You know where that mouth has been that just drank from it? Huhu. Don’t think so baby.

It’s just stupid. This bottled water attack. Does it make sense? Most likely if you want to save money. But don’t think it will make you save the earth because plastic bottles just don’t have enough of an impact. Less than 0.05% of the waste in landfills.

But it’s easy. An easy target. Easy to go after the bottle of water. Because you hold it in your hand and make an easy connection. So you drop the bottle of water and reach for a… Coke. And up goes obesity levels. Stupid campaign. Stupid idea. Campaigning in the MTV era… Just grab any campaign and let’s see who will fall for it. I think the bottled water campaign is like the Backstreet Boys – empty, little substance, no real impact, but easy to sell because it looks good. “As long as you love me”. Bah!

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