internet


Me 2.0: Count your followers...

Me 2.0: Count your followers...

Social media? Web 2.0? This idea that the web will facilitate communications. Allowing us to share information. Make new connections to each other. Yeah… right…

It started off so well. Finding new ways to connect via the web. Brilliant. Facebook allowed me to stay connected to my friends all over the world. To be connected to them in new and wonderful ways. Have fun via virtual touching. I could even follow their thinking and random ideas on Twitter. I can tell them what I like on Digg. And I can blog to just dump my thoughts and emotions in written space. It was good. Really good. Being connected. Being part of each other.

But it also bugged me a bit…

A few things have developed that makes me think we are moving Web 2.0 to Me 2.0. The Me of self. But only “better”. Being obsessed with ourselves. The individual over the group. The god complex coming out to play in virtual space.

I just see too many people disconnected from all of this. Especially my people from Africa. That’s not new. That’s all “fine”. It’s not as if they were connected before. But what happens now is that those voices are not even drowned out anymore. They are just not present. Because they are not connected to the others who have and who are connected. You live in a shack in the DRC? Tough luck buddy – no squatting in virtual space for you. Kid working the farm in Brazil? Sorry, no ideas for you to plant in our little space my friend. Sweating in the shops in Vietnam? No place for you to raise your fist in anger over here.

Oh get off it. I know the stories they tell can be found somewhere on the web. Mostly through the eyes of some do-gooder who are connected. But the problem actually goes deeper than that. It’s not just about them not being here or them being represented by other voices.

The places where we go – Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Whatever.com, Myopinion.net, Idogood.org – we filter our interactions. We filter it to the bare minimum of our thoughts. The bare minimum of our interactions with the world. We can carve it nicely into little blocks of interactions for every part of our ego. An application for every self-interest. A site for every self-absorbed soul. Your life and meaning in a 140 characters. If you sweat in the factory or you work on the farm or live in the shack – sorry, you take too much space and I only have 140 characters for you. No character, only characters.

And so we filter away to basic interactions. Random thoughts in 140 characters. Fun interactions with friends and followers. A Digg at the other side. And the “people” who make us are left behind somewhere in between the tweets of virtual space. We update our status and forget who defines us. I am because we are.

I am because we are…

It remains true to Web 2.0. It becomes Me 2.0. We becomes me.

We define the “we” as those who can tweet and follow, update statuses and poke us, Digg us a story of fake depth – those who are connected. The new “we”. The real we being replaced by the virtual we. The faces of the masses drowned out by the faceless numbers on the net.

We started off with good intentions. We paved the road to hell ourselves. This new we that we live with. A virtual space made for our ego to be seduced to me-me-me.

I could still live with the potential of all of this. Because we could use this to spread our words. Be the voices of the voiceless and hope someone will listen when we shout into the dark virtual world of Web 2.0. Maybe find an audience and some new ubuntu friends to tackle the problems in the world. Random friends become us. Ubuntu grows to be more people defined by us.

But it didn’t stay that way…

We’ve always had the narcissist hanging around the net. That’s just fine. But what worries me is people turning into narcissists without even knowing. Without even realizing they are selling their souls for a tweet. Without knowing they are feeding the ego through an update of self. Becoming so obsessed with number crunching their followers. Turning into me-me-me. And that’s what worries me. People changing. And taking control without knowing their impact because they don’t see the mirror anymore.

Good people are turning into self absorbed ego-driven maniacs without even knowing what they have become. Because Web 2.0 has become the drug for the ego. Like a true ego addict they don’t even know they are addicted to the self.

Now we have these others taking over and infesting others with their neo-narcissism. The “me” crowd. It’s all about look how big my following is. Look at what I have done. Self promotion through the web. Decent people are being seduced by this idea that they are the centre of the virtual universe. I just published a book. Look everybody! It’s me! I just got a great idea. Look everybody! It’s me! Me-me-me. Goddam bloody me. People are becoming self absorbed by their own cuteness and their own sharp idea and their own bloody ego. And most of the time they don’t even realize it because this Me 2.0 is like a cancer that slowly eats up the real you and it turns you into something you don’t even see. It’s inside and you can’t see it. And you don’t feel it or hear it. But it is written in between your keyboard hits.

Web 2.0. It was a great development. Getting us connected in new and innovative ways. But it has changed the me into Me 2.0. Where we can drive our own image online and become even more self centred than before. What was hidden because of public “frowning” before is now let loose on the web because the ego goes unchecked. We’ve always lived this dangerous life where we think we know better and are better. It was checked by society. Now there is no one to check it because we can hide our faces behind our screens. The saddest part of it all is that we don’t even notice it. We don’t even know it. And we will fight this idea because it can’t be me right?

I mean really. Do you bloody well think you are God because you have followers? Do you expect these followers to become your diciples? Bow down before the might virtual God.

This is what I fear. That something that started as a new way to connect us actually tears us apart without us even knowing or taking notice because we are too absorbed in our own little virtual world where we are God. Something that makes information democratic becomes just another way for the individual ego to replace the ubuntu. You see it in little ways as peoples “updates” move from conversations to self promotion and ego boosting random self-perceived “wisdoms”. We don’t use Twitter to share random thoughts with our friends and converse with other. We now use it to create followers by the thousands so they can hear our wonderful stories and so that they can feel the glow of our 140 character Bible.

It’s in the nature of people I guess. We create something we think could be good. We start off doing good. And then we get seduced by the power it gives to our ego. We create something good but we don’t know how to control it. Actually, we don’t know how to control ourselves. It’s not in our nature to control ourselves. Even when we think we do and can. We are so easily duped by our own ego. We don’t even know it or see it. And we become like the people we despise. Those people who only think about themselves. Those same people who say they do it for “the people”. We become them. We just don’t see it. But it is hidden in those Tweets. In those updates. In those… hitting of the keyboard sending our ego into virtual space. Like a drug for the self-centered soul.

Me is the new religion of the internet.

Web 2.0 is turning us into Me 2.0.

It’s not social media. It’s self media 1.0.

Don’t update your status. Update your life. Don’t tweet the ego…

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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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Here we go again…

1. The world growing bigger?

The only problem is that not everything else is expanding with it. I know it is disturbing. But don’t worry. We are. Humans. And other planets. And animals. At least until we slaughter them and turn them into burgers and steaks. Even our measurements are expanding. And no, I don’t mean our waistlines. Okay. Not only our waistlines. Also our waste-lines. No idea what that means, but it sounded good when I wrote it. Anyway… I thought the world must be growing while our food and drinks stay the same size. Why? Because everything is getting smaller. Bought a salad the other day and realized that it is smaller than what I remembered from the last time I bought a salad. But then I had a closer look. Damnit. Can you believe it. Even salads are being reduced in size. No – not because of obesity. Rather because of profits. With “raw” materials and overheads going up they had to cut cost somewhere. Why not start with the portions they sell? No problem. Right? Well, I don’t have a problem with it. But it would have been nice of them to tell me. I felt a bit cheated. Dirty. And looking at the smaller packet made me feel all grown up and bigger than what I feel really comfortable with. I felt a bit like Alice for a minute. But, as you might know, I am not a big salad eater. So it didn’t faze me. But I lost it when I realized that they are doing it to beer! Bloody hell people! That’s a line you should never, ever cross. Do what you want with us, but leave our beer alone. You thought President Bush got all pissed at Iraq trying to kill his daddy. Don’t mess with an African and his beer. But they did. Selling us 14 ounce beers but passing it off as a 16 ounce beer! Sacrilege! But the trend continues. Cars are getting smaller. Which is a good thing. My ego can fit into a Mini. But those guys with the big trucks and girls with the big SUV’s. Not sure if their ego can fit into a Ford Focus. I mean really, they only just manage to squeeze into a Hummer. Yeah. The world is shrinking. No, you aren’t getting fat. It’s the clothes shrinking… We’ll all look like Lance Armstrong soon. Tights everywhere. Okay, maybe with two… hum… you know. Oh, I was lying about the salad. It is shrinking, but I am African. We don’t do salad. A good salad is anything not meaty – like chicken.

2. Getting ready to be arrested

I am off to China this weekend. But I’ll tell you about that later. Once I am back. Still waiting for my visa, but hopefully that will be sorted today. There is a reason why I use the name Angry African you know… Anyway. I have been talking to my IT guy about staying connected while I am over there. Apparently it won’t be a good idea to blog from there. Not only do they sometimes “relieve” you of the burden carrying your laptop around, but don’t like bloggers speaking out that much. Not much at all. You see, China, Burma, Iran and Egypt heads the list of countries arresting people because they blog about their political views. I am safe then I guess. I don’t do political views… What I write is nothing but an impartial view of the world and what is happening around us. So I should be safe. But many bloggers are not. 334 got arrested in Burma alone. But thanks to their “somewhat” restrictive government, these could not be verified. When you drop of the face of the earth… 

3. No workers, no problem

Biofuels are held up as either the answer to all our problems or the next disaster to hit us. I don’t have much of a view on this one. I think biofuels could be part of the solution (not the solution), but the current approach sucks. Using corn and sugar just don’t make sense. it pushes food prices right up and we cut down forests meant to protect us from emissions. Sounds like stupid economics to me. And Brazil has a huge problem. They are cutting down the Amazon rainforest faster than you can say “Hummer”. I mean really. 1,123 square kilometers were cut down in April alone… So Unica, the Brazilian ethanol lobby decided to go on the charm offensive. They invited a few journalist around to show them all the good stuff they are doing. Apart from the cutting down of trees that they forgot to mention, most of their ideas are just fine. Like going all mechanical in the cutting of the cane. Less pollution because they don’t have to burn them anymore. But there was something else that caught my eye. The reporter only mentions it as a “by the way”. But it struck me that Unico might still need some more PR training. Unico said that companies are going all mechanical on us because it addresses two challenges. One, the pollution. Check. Secondly, it will get rid of the cane-cutters and therefore also get rid of any labor problems and labor critics. Hum. Maybe you shouldn’t have mentioned that one. Keep spinning the “we chop down trees to be green” line. It’s not only more believable, it also makes the “little people” go away.

4. The two stooges

Tweedledum and Tweedledee are meeting as we speak. I mean Mbeki and Mugabe are meeting. In Zimbabwe. Not sure why. Maybe to discuss the weather. Or the latest fashion. Or what curtains to pick for their new houses. Or fining new and more spouses. Bloody idiots. Look. I have supported Mbeki through thick and thin. Defended him wherever I could. I even defended his initial position on HIV/Aids in South Africa. And justified his initial approach to the Zimbabwean crisis. But it has gone too far. People are dying in South Africa because of his idiotic HIV/Aids policies and lack of action. And people are dying in Zimbabwe because of a tyrant that has gone bonkers. Mbeki and his “quiet diplomacy” just sounds like “staying quiet”. Sorry you two idiots. Time’s up. You are not welcome anymore. Just take your stuff and go sit in the corner. And be quiet. We have a name for people like you. It starts with an “m”. “Moer-something” in Afrikaans and “Mother-something” in English. Just go. Don’t hang your curtains. Hang your heads in shame. Or just hang your heads.

5. McCain inspiring old white men in Europe

I don’t think so. Okay, maybe he does if you include the arms dealers. But other than that, McCain inspires people outside the US about as much as Osama Bin Laden inspires tolerance. yes, there might be one or two out there who would fall for them. But they are loonies and at the fringe. But Obama. Now that is another story. He isn’t even President (yet) and he is already inspiring people across the world. telling them to break out of their racial stereotype and that anything is possible. That you can do it – no matter where you come from. France is going through some tough times right now. Race is at the forefront of so many debates. And they have violence on the streets of Paris. Because people feel hopeless. That in the land of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. Well educated blacks have to compete with 15-year old white kids for a job at McDonald’s. Nothing wrong with working at McDonald’s. But when the color of your skin stoops you from aiming higher, then you have a problem. But all of a sudden Obama is making people talk about race in France. And what it means. And how it can be overcome. And how it can inspire people to continue to fight the good fight for equality. Real equality. Not just a French word. That is inspiring. That is Obama. McSame? Well, apparently the old people in France likes his comb-over. It is so provincial.

See ya later.

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Here we go again…

1. They virtually found Bin Laden

It’s been going on for months. Hunting down the Recruiters. Those terrorists who prey on the young and vulnerable. These terrorists are smart. They play the game the way the kids do. It starts with a chat. And it moves on to training at a special place – behind the guarded gates. Well, we now know the terrorists are hiding just behind those gates. If only we knew how to get in. You never know. Bin Laden might be hiding behind those walls. Who knows. Who knows. Problem is that the gates are difficult to get past. Not only is it heavily guarded, but it is virtually coded. What? I am talking about the government agency IARPA hunting down terrorists in the virtual gaming world. IARPA is not a character name, but out there to find new and innovative ways to hunt down terrorists. Cool idea. Really. No, really. I think they should try every angle to find those bastards. You never know, we might at last find out where Bin Laden has been hiding… Problem is that it seems as if they are struggling just as much to find virtual terrorists than real ones. So far they have only managed to hunt down a few kids who fit the profile. Wonder if they have thought of having a virtual “Gitmo” as well? Hey, torture is allowed in the virtual world. No need for a memo there.

2. The dark side of Global Warming

A lot have been said about Global Warming. The debate is raging on and on and on. Every scientist forms a new group with a new theory. Some deny it and other tell us about the new apocalypse. It’s become part of our cultural debate. Day in and day out. Households are torn. Father deny it’s getting hotter – it’s just the central heating that needs to be turned down. Daughters cry and accuse their parents of killing this little world they hoped to inherit. Friends are arguing in the ballparks (is Manny getting thinner because of the sauna affect?) and debating in the bars. Yes. It’s Global Warming – the OJ trail of nature. But we might just have reached tipping point. Where all those SUV and pick-up driving deniers of Global Warming might have met their maker. They are turning to the pro side now. Urging government to do something before this world of ours goes up in a ball of smoke. And who should we thank? Beer! Yes, good old beer. It seems as if Global Warming will hit that one place that really hurt – the beer belly. Beer experts (not the “expert” drinking type) are saying that those precious crops are in danger of getting hit by the hotter weather. So we won’t even be able to have a cold one when the frying starts. (Damn. Damn you all.) Now that is something that will get everyone hot under the collar.

3. Are you just happy to see me?

Is that a _______ in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? In Frisco – city of fun – it got a whole new meaning this week. San Francisco voted a while back that they wanted to ban all handguns in the city. I think they thought they were already a barrel of fun and didn’t need anything more to prove that they are men. I don’t know if it was because I visited them earlier in the week, but the “will of the people” of San Francisco was overturned this week. The ban on handguns got overturned – thank you NRA. Now the place where men are well… pretty much anything they want to be, can carry their concealed weapons again. And we can again ask them – is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? Actually, I don’t know if it needs to be concealed or whether it means they can just let it all hang out. It is Frisco after all. Back to “if you’ve got it – flaunt it” I guess.

4. McCain and Jeffrey Dahmer

These so-called Conservatives just don’t know about being subtle do they? And one of the speakers, David Bellavia, said, “Rest assured that people like Senator McCain will be the goal and the men that my two young boys will emulate an admire. You can have your Tiger Woods. We have Senator McCain.” Now where do I even start with this? Was he trying to be funny? About the best golfer in the world? You want to tell me there wasn’t a racial tone in this? That people should support Phil Michelson and not the black dude that is beating his ass week in and week out? Okay – let’s play the race game. “Rest assured that people like Senator Obama will be the goal and the men that my two young girls will emulate an admire. You can have your Jeffrey Dahmer (or any other bad white dude). We have Senator Obama.” Puh-lease. Stop the racial slurs – you are not even being subtle. You are just being stupid. Next thing is you will start calling the Vietnamese gooks. Oh, sorry – you did.

5. RIP Robert Mugabe… or maybe not

Bob, Bob, Bob. What the hell are we going to do with you? I mean really. This is not even funny anymore. You control the newspapers. You control the television. You control the radio. You control the farms. You control the army. You control the police. You control the economy. Oh, sorry – you don’t control the economy. Not at 100,000% inflation. (Not a joke.) But you control everything in Zimbabwe except the economy and your wife’s shopping at Harrod’s. You even control the judicial system and the elections. You set up the Zim election body and filled it with your guys. And then you somehow still manage to lose the election! How the bloody hell did you get that right? I mean come on. You are giving tyrants across the world a bad name. At least you are standing up and refusing to even give us the official results a week after all the other results are in – even after it was posted outside the poll stations. And arrested your own puppets who ran the elections – demanding a recount. I guess your education system is failing faster than the economy. Your own puppets can’t even add enough votes for you to win. And it looks like you are staging a coup against the government of Zimbabwe. Wait a minute. You are the government of Zimbabwe. Sorry Bob. It is getting a bit much now. Just get the hell out of there for us to start looking after your people. It is obvious you can’t hear their crying and dying. Bye-bye Bob. The sooner the better.

That’s it folks. See ya all next week for more news. Maybe…

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Another week. And another week of weak news. Let’s have a look at some of the highlights.

1. Yoo-hoo, wake up and smell the torture

Sorry to start on such a downer. But let’s get the bad news out the way first. We now know the author of the “torture” memo. John Yoo. No, not John Woo. He makes torture movies – completely different thing. Some of his movies can be used to torture us if we paid the bucks to watch it, but the outcome is generally much less dramatic than the ending… Anyway… John Yoo, author of such brilliant lines that said interrogators could legally use a number of unspecified techniques as long as they did not violate his definition of torture, which was “intense pain or suffering of the kind that is equivalent to the pain that would be associated with serious injury so severe that death, organ failure or permanent damage resulting in a loss of significant body functions will likely result.” Poetry. Isn’t it… Anyway… To torture or not to torture, that is not the question. My two sets of questions to Mr Yoo and to President Bush: (i) Mr Yoo-hoo, so it’s okay to torture in “Gitmo” and not elsewhere? But you didn’t give the opinion on whether it is acceptable to torture in places like Iraq? You assume it isn’t, but you never gave a legal opinion on that. Also, Mr Yoo, leaving your legal counsel aside, do you think it is morally acceptable? Before your answer, isn’t the law our societal way to define what is morally acceptable or not? Mr Yoo, Yoo-hoo, wake up and smell the torture. I hope you like the blood on your hands. My second set of questions – to President Bush. (ii) President Bush, you think this is morally acceptable? I know you think it is legally acceptable, but is it morally acceptable? If not, then what do we do? And the same as what I ask Mr Yoo – should the legal system not reflect what society wants as boundaries of morality? Also, I am sure you did not make a decision to allow torture lightly, but can you explain to me the answer you gave at a G8 meeting in 2004 (transcript) to these questions?

Question: “Mr. President, the Justice Department issued and advisory opinion last year declaring that, as commander in chief, you have the authority to order any kind of interrogation techniques that are necessary to pursue the war on terror. Were you aware of this advisory opinion? Do you agree with it? And did you issue any such authorization at any time?”

President Bush: “The authorization I issued was that anything we did would conform to U.S. law and would be consistent with international treaty obligations. That’s the message I gave our people.”

Question: “Have you seen the memos?”

President Bush: “I can’t remember if I’ve seen the memo or not, but I gave those instructions.”

A decision on whether torture is allowed or not and you didn’t read the memo? A memo that would tell you that you can or can not allow someone to e tortured and you can’t remember if you read it? I am sure that most people would remember if they read a memo that just said that they can torture people. I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Even if you didn’t read the memo – did you know about the content of the memo and what it meant or did you give an order based on a memo you did not read or know the substance of?

Yoo-hoo. Wake up and smell the torture.

2. Law and behold – not

This one makes my head hurt a bit. Mike Jerkoff – sorry, I mean Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security Secretary – is acting slightly insecure by waiving more laws than at any other stage since they started building the fence. 36 of them. Good logic. Let’s break a few laws to keep them. Laws being waived include National Park Service Organic Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Antiquities Act, and the Native American Graves Protection Act. Ouch. Stuff the water, vegetation, graves and wildlife. Just to make it easier to build a fence and keep people off the grass. I know how he feels though. I have so much red tape to go through to keep the bloody neighbour’s dog from sh*tting in my yard. But he reminded us that we should, of course, obey the law at all times. Just not him. But here is the clincher. He also stated that we need to remember that people who are here illegally should comply to the law. Huh? Duh! So, let me get this straight… He is breaking the law to ensure no one is breaking the law and him breaking the law won’t really stop people from breaking the law and he is breaking the law to stop people who have broken the law and we must not break the law he is breaking and we must remember to not break the law if we break the law. I wish we had a law for logic. But I guess that one is broken too…

3. Mac eating his pork

Mac is the man. He is against pork. Oh, yes he is. And he don’t lie mista. He railed against earmarks and “pork barrel projects” on Fox and Friends as “an egregious process.” “It’s symptom of the problems in Washington that people exercise their political clout to get things done that they otherwise wouldn’t,” said McCain. That’s our man – protecting the taxpayers money. Thanks Mac, I might not need that $300 at all if you carry on the way you do. Just wait a stinking minute there Mac. Where did you make the speech again? Cecil Field hey? Is that burning pork chops I smell? Between 2001 and 2005 Cecil Field got almost $10 million dollars in earmarked funds – a pork-proud venue. Hey, you weren’t responsible right? Of course you aren’t. But it is odd that you voted for those Defense Appropriation Conference Reports that contained those earmarks in 2004 and 2005. I just hope that you show a little bit more insight (or foresight) if you become President. The last thing I would want you to do is step into a place and opening your mouth without knowing what is actually going on in that place. Can you say Iraq?

4. Money for the greasemonkey

Not all greenies are goodies. Or bright. Mr Dave Dick-son, sorry David Richardson, got arrested in California for trying to steal used cooking grease from a Burger King restaurant. He got caught while trying to pump it into his tanker truck – caught greasy-handed. Okay, maybe someone should tell the dude that Burger King would be more than happy to give it away for free if you just ask. No wait. They make my Whopper with that stuff – don’t they? But you could ask you know. You never know, they might give it away instead of trying to flush it down the toilet or dump it in the flowerbeds outside Whole Foods. Oh, he should also remember that although cooking grease is a green biodiesel, the future is all algae. But I guess McDonald’s were closed. What? You didn’t think they used real beef did you?

5. Angry African on the Loose makes Top 10 Bloggers List!

Yes, can you believe it. I made it at last! I am now officially one of the Top 10 Bloggers in the world! The world baby! Some of the reviews said, “Angry African on the Loose is the leading voice of the Socialist Conservatives on the web today”, “Angry’s story on the quantum dynamics of Africanism is already a classic, and “Angry African is what every white guy in France wishes he could be”. The International Institute of Anarchists and the Socialist Society of Conservatives both gave good old me the top honor in this years BuggerAll Awards. Yes. I won bugger all – nada, nothing, zilch, zero. But I wish I could do what some guys on Facebook did. Rate themselves! Yes, application builders on Facebook found a new way to ensure they get positive reviews for their applications. They just did it themselves. Pure genius. Or maybe not. The people all came from the same company – Slide. And the “independent users” had names like Adora Slidesix, Adora Slideeight, Adora Slideeleven… Really people. Just let it slide. This isn’t rocket science you know. This isn’t even physical ed. This is what happened to the kids from “Leave no child behind”.

That’s all folks. See ya next week. Maybe.

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Give us a bit of water and some sand and we will build the Empire State building. It amazes me how innovative people in Africa can be. Natural born entrepreneurs. I know we have loads of issues and problems – and our own baggage to carry as well. But some of the things we do when we get our hands on something new is just “awesome”. (I have been in the US for too long! Picked that one up from my daughter…) The way people in Africa use mobile phones and the Internet in Africa is way beyond what any of us (or foreigners) predicted or dreamed of.

I know. I said that we in Africa are staying disconnected from the world. But that is just part of the story. Yes, we struggle to stay connected but don’t give us half a chance or we will rule the world. Once we get off World of Warcraft or Facebook. Boy are you lucky we don’t use that too often. Imagine people who like being connected to each other having the opportunity to do social networking while in different places! World here we come! I wonder if we will ever get off the Internet and still live and interact with each other if we were given that opportunity? Thank god for staying disconnected – it allows us to stay connected.

But I have two other stories about us and our version of web 2.0 to tell you about. The first one starts in Zimbabwe…

Yes. Zimbabwe. The country that is going through hell at the moment. And it has been going on for the last few years. But give someone a mobile phone and see us fly. OneWord Africa (one of my favourite sites – hidden agenda, I worked with them for a while a few years back. Hi Patricia!) reported on how people are using mobile phones to go hi-tech in campaigning for the upcoming election. It is not that easy to campaign in Zimbabwe at the moment. Crazy Uncle Bob isn’t what he used to be. Democracy isn’t what it used to be in Zimbabwe. He isn’t allowing much freedom for people to campaign for anyone other than him. And he instigates violence and riots against the opposition. So what are people to do?

Well. He made the mistake of allowing people to have mobile phone. And when you have some water and sand… We campaign. The people in Zimbabwe text each other left, right and centre to get the message across. But not just personal messages. No way. They do it African style. In a way to make sure people know where it comes from and who they all support. A group with no place to meet – but a group none the less. They text a message that identifies them as a supporter of a specific party or person. A simple “Vote for Simba” to highlight support for Makoni and a longer “Have you not suffered enough? Morgan is the solution” for Tsvangirai’s faithful. Simple, but beautiful and genius. Bob – you control the radio, television and newspapers, but you can’t control the keypads.

But they don’t stop there. No way. They go further. Ring-tones. Here it is more about opposition to Crazy Uncle Bob than support for an individual. The opposition play a local song, which asks in Shona: “How long will you vote for ZANU-PF?“. Pure genius. People phone you and others hear. One snag. Run when the phone rings and you are close to the police! Pure genius for keeping democracy alive though. I almost gave up hope on Zimbabwe, but the people proved me wrong again. And I like being wrong in cases like this.

My other story comes from one that was told to me by Martin Feinstein a few years back. He used to run Proudly South African, but now runs Enablis that tries to help entrepreneurs use the Internet to enhance their business – and support them financially and with management support. (I can’t vouch for them. They have good methodology, but I don’t know how effective they are. Just haven’t been keeping an eye on them. So this is not a plug for them.) He was telling me about this guy in Soweto who found a brilliant business idea – a pure win-win (almost). And all he needed was a computer and a shipping container for an office and storage. His plan? So simple. He used to go to one of the markets every single day to buy his stuff. And there were hundred, if not thousands, of women selling their goods. But they closed every single Monday to go to the wholesaler to buy their stuff they sell. They all got into the taxi’s and travelled into the city to buy their goods.

And what a loss for their business. No discount because they bought little amounts at a time. Loss of business for the day they were closed. And money for their travels. And the wholesale had to deal with so many people at the same time. His idea? Why not get them to place their order with him and he logs it into the computer and sends one order (with separate packaging) to the wholesaler. The wholesaler then delivers because it is a huge order and gives him 15% discount for the large order. That is his cut – the 15%. The women didn’t pay anything more than the usual and actually saved because they didn’t have to pay the taxi. And they were open on Monday’s for an extra day of business. Genius isn’t it? Everyone won. Okay – the taxi guys lost out, but less sympathy there with their driving skills… The plan was not rocket science, but still genius by the guy to see the opportunity. (Sorry – never got his name.) And what did he want from Martin and them? Just help to get a container and a computer. Less than $2,000 and bam you have a highly profitable business. I love that story – it tells us so much about the entrepreneurs hiding away all over Africa.

Okay, so it is not the typical web 2.0. But we are not “typical” in Africa either. We take technology and turn it into something that helps us make our society better – and ourselves better. The fastest growing mobile phone users in the world? USA? UK? Maybe India or China? Try Africa. We have few landlines. No problem – we’ll go wireless. Yes, we are disconnected from the world. But we are so connected between the ears.

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Africa is full of entrepreneurs. We see that everywhere – people selling fruit and veg next to the road in South Africa, arts and craft in Zimbabwe, clothes and material in Mali, road mechanics in Zambia. In a continent where people struggle to find a regular job as defined by the world bank and mates, Africans have always been able to create their own little business. Informal yes, but it is in many countries the backbone of the economy.

And man can they create something from nothing. Have you seen some of the cars riding those rough roads? Held together by sticky-tape and bubblegum. But they go like hell. And if it breaks down? No problem, we’ll just knock a new wheel together from what was left over from the last car we reconditioned – and the same goes for the engine. I was eight when I helped put together my first tractor. Okay, I just held the spanner when they told me to hold and lifted when they said to lift. But the guy who taught me had no training whatsoever – nada. He taught himself. And we ‘merged’ two broken tractors into one working one. It all comes down to logic – and we make that work for us.

We started doing the same with computers. Easy – just like an engine. We take a bit from this one and some from that one, and a few broken computers magically turns into one operating the way we want it. Yes, it might not comply to the standards set by the European Commission, but what does? It’s not whether it complies. It’s whether it works for us. We make it work for us. Hey, no one is rushing out to give us stuff we can afford and use.

And I know, we create a lot of rubbish that way. It’s not always the safest things to weld an exhaust pipe to a car next to the road. At least not when your are welding that close to a leaky engine. But we take our chances and make it work. We argue that luck favours the brave. And the same for computers. Yes, we create loads of rubbish and maybe it isn’t the safest of environments. But we don’t have another choice. Who will give us new ones? And where will we create our businesses from the new ones? We’ll stay disconnected if we didn’t have this ability to make something from nothing. Or at least what other people see as useless and of no value – ‘nothing’. So it doesn’t help the poor when Nigeria starts banning unserviceable computers. What they define as unserviceable is bread and butter connectivity tomorrow. At least when we get our hands on it.

But there might be something more sinister behind all this. It seems as if the world now wants to keep computers out of our hands. Letting Africans have computers is a bad thing you see. Apparently world internet security will be at risk if we get our hands on enough computers. We will be corrupted by the power it will give us. Connectivity. A whole wide world to take from and take over. It didn’t cross their mind that maybe we will do what we always do. Make things work for us and create a little something for our effort. Like mobile phones. First they told us we won’t know what to do with it and we can’t afford it. And when we got our hand on it? We created a whole new world of opportunities. Bring on those computers. Yes, we’ll take over the world. But not the way you think. We’ll take it over through our ingenuity and tenacity. Creating new opportunities to create a better society. Hey, give us a few wires and a broken screen and we’ll build a bush wide web and stay connected.

That’s me, disconnecting for now.

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