Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Groot Trek

This website is working again, how amusing.

But I have moved on...

STPC Press Release

It’s that time of year again... time for The Silvery Tay Poetry Competition, which celebrates deplorable verse and is dedicated to the Affectionate Remembrance of William McGonagall, Poet Laureate of the Silvery Tay, also known as Sir William Topaz McGonagall, Knight of the White Elephant of Burma.

Hopefully, Mr James Clarke of the Stoep Talk Organisation (which owns The Star newspaper) will be our celebrity judge again this year. Not only is Mr Clarke an expert of Pomes, he is also venerably fit for duty, being the heroic L*E*A*D*E*R of the Tour De Farce. He looks lovely in Lycra, too, and if you run out and buy a copy of his book Blazing Saddles, you can photostat all the pics and prestik them up on your walls, as I have done.

Click, friend, and enter! (but don’t click today. This link is not working yet. Technicians are attending to a technical thingy and will have it technified before the 1st of November, latest, if they value their lives)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

Putting legs on snakes


There’s engineered cats for allergic pet owners, there’s growing human organs in pigs, for transplants. New cows bred to produce skim milk for making skinny lattes to be sipped by golems draped over chic chairs in Coffee Shops. It’s Oryx and Crake*, for real. Chimerae - released from the realm of myth, now available in a lab near you – initially part goat, part sheep but now part rat or rabbit, part human. Ethical dilemmas (how outmoded, surely. Why don’t they just save some time and have done with the lip service?) notwithstanding, they say Important Medical Breakthroughs are being made with the help of these creatures. I say, screw your important medical and probably largely cosmetic breakthroughs. If you can make coherent communities and social consciences and decent homes and literacy and renewable power and jobs and effective governments and a rethink about the holiness of unlimited human fecundity in your stinking labs, then I’ll be impressed.

We are so enraptured by our fantastical ideals of ‘freedom’ that we kick and scream at the idea that the way forward from here involves a vigorous pruning of many so-called freedoms. We have invented ludicrous rights for ourselves, our civilisation as it is right now is an adolescent, who is sure that it knows everything and has nothing more to learn, will not suffer anyone telling it what to do and is motivated entirely by urges which override even its innate survival mechanisms.

Malcolm Gladwell, commenting on Jared Diamond’s book Collapse, said, “…societies, as often as not, aren’t murdered. They commit suicide: they slit their wrists and then, in the course of many decades, stand by passively and watch themselves bleed to death…”

That’s what we’re doing, only we’re not just an isolated society on Easter Island. We are the whole world and this is the only island we have. Nobody needs to tell us this - we actually know it and we carry on regardless.

*Novel by Margaret Atwood, about what happens when science takes over from where religion left off. Sort of.

Emission omission


Africa Geographic magazine made a valiant attempt at putting all the official climate change info (the basics of it anyway) into one accessible place, being their August 2007 edition.

Then, extraordinarily, they all but cancelled the effort out with advertising. I understand that advertising in magazines is a necessary evil but this is incredibly frustrating – “Flight Centre goes Green”? Please. But the biggest liberty was taken by a double page advertorial about how marvelous and environmentally responsible Sasol is.

We all know about fossil fuels and their dastardliness. There’s a hierarchy of demons here just like anywhere else, and oil only comes third. Second comes coal, and in first place is coal-to-liquids, which is Sasol. In a magazine dedicated entirely to this issue of anthropogenic climate change, I can’t understand why there is not even one little panel of text which zeroes in on coal-to-liquids. I lie. I can understand perfectly.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Know the enemy

Some people have said that we can save the world without economic sacrifice. You have to be either na├»ve or calculating to be able to make that claim with a straight face. Others, like Planktos Inc., go further by saying that we can actually get rich saving the world, and they want to show us how. The Planktos investor schpiel goes: “You should own global-warming stocks... At worst, you'll make a profit. At best, you'll make a profit and help save the world. That sound OK to you?” and “Go Green. Get Rich”, and so on. They are carbon sharks, and their game is indulgences.

Planktos is the company that recently set out on a geoengineering expedition to sprinkle iron hematite dust onto the open ocean not far from the Galapagos, in hopes of causing an algae bloom that will mop up lots of CO2, while also helping to feed the starving plankton which in turn feed the starving fishies. They will spin the escapade like this: We have mopped up lots of CO2, see? We’ll carry on doing it so that you can pay us money and take that flight/buy that SUV with a clear conscience. You emit, we remit.

Schemes like this are what all globally committed commercial greeners are wearing this season. Planktos has a PR blog, where you can read about all sorts of green sexiness, like the wonders of biodiesel and how the Holy See is now carbon neutral thanks to them.

Entities like Planktos have cut straight into a rich seam of pale green mainstream and the public is lapping it up, but it doesn’t help in any real way. It only helps to confuse people and encourage extra consumption. On the oxymoronic subject of ‘eco-consumerism’, from an article by George Monbiot:
“There is an inherent conflict between the aspirational lifestyle journalism which makes readers feel better about themselves and sells country kitchens and the central demand of environmentalism: that we should consume less.”

Other suggestions for geoengineering include artificially dimming the atmosphere by creating particulate (or mechanical) shields, to mimic the effects of things like volcanic eruptions which temporarily prevent some solar energy from reaching earth’s surface and cause cooling. Even if these hypothetical fixes were in fact more than just the scientific equivalent of throwing custard pies at the sky and yelling, “Ha! Take THAT, atmosphere!”, the thing is that unless emissions are drastically cut anyway then the more emissions build up the more “shields” we will have to create…

There can be no business as usual without serious consequences for life as we know it. That’s not the so-called good life as we privileged few know it, that’s the actual livingness of life for thousands of species including us (also including Bigosaurus full-tilt-growth-is-god-almighty Moneyrex, as immune as it thinks it is). Unless we do some joined up thinking immediately and get ready to take the economic sacrifices on the chin, then decades from now hindsight will miserably tell us that the only way we could have mitigated the effects of our greenhouse emissions would have been to have drastically cut the emissions themselves at whatever material costs, while we still had time to do so. Pity we can’t just catch a wake up right now, today, this minute. One very far off future day, of course, when we’re a puzzling layer in some future civilisation’s fossil record, it won’t matter at all.

Gavin Schmidt has a good analogy for all this:

“Think of the climate as a small boat on a rather choppy ocean. Under normal circumstances the boat will rock to and fro, and there is a finite risk that the boat could be overturned by a rogue wave. But now one of the passengers has decided to stand up and is deliberately rocking the boat ever more violently. Someone suggests that this is likely to increase the chances of the boat capsizing. Another passenger then proposes that with his knowledge of chaotic dynamics he can counterbalance the first passenger and indeed, counter the natural rocking caused by the waves. But to do so he needs a huge array of sensors and enormous computational resources to be ready to react efficiently but still wouldn't be able to guarantee absolute stability, and indeed, since the system is untested it might make things worse.

So is the answer to a known and increasing human influence on climate an ever more elaborate system to control the climate? Or should the person rocking the boat just sit down?”


George Monbiot on Eco Junk: http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2007/07/24/eco-junk/


Gavin Schmidt bio
http://www.giss.nasa.gov/~gavin/
Planktos Inc
http://planktos.com/
Planktos Blog
http://www.planktos.blogspot.com/

The original Fe experiment: http://www.rsnz.org/education/alpha/alpha106/alpha-106.htm
(Well, does it work or doesn’t it? Help or harm? No-one seems to have an answer. I have looked and looked, and there are as many fors as there are againsts)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Don't tell him (edited)

I’m a bit brain dead at the moment. I feel as though someone has injected formaldehyde into my head. Maybe the posting of those Black Eyed Peas lyrics a couple of posts ago has started to kick in. As someone said (Nietzsche? And if, as I found out the other day, you pronounce ‘segues’ as ‘seg-ways’, then how on earth do you properly pronounce ‘Nietzsche’? Have I even spelled it right? And is it ‘spelt’ or is it ‘spelled’?), “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. When you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”
If it’s temporary, then I don’t know how long it will last but I have to post something in the meantime because I owe it to my six readers. That’s you guys. If it’s permanent, well then, hello wondrous oblivion, where have you been all this time?


So, what to post? People often post pictures of their pets, or of their new cellphone, or of their car. Hmm. I’ve already posted pics of my pets. I know - I’ll post Ray Hartley’s cat pet pic(
http://blogs.thetimes.co.za/hartley/). The caption is, “Someone should tell him”:



But I don't think they should, because he looks very contented.

I don’t have a new cellphone, sorry. Here are two pics of my car though, one with the paint (
http://paquarium.blogspot.com/2007/06/dear-diary.html ) and one with the snow. For such a young and innocent little car, it’s seen some life eh?


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lark and Stardust


If a meteorite had landed on that pub, at the gig I was at somewhere in Pretoria a couple of months ago, I would not have cared or even noticed. For two whole hours and a bit I didn’t have a single thought about carbon sharks, nuclear waste, marketing or any other type of rape, pillage and plunder. Lark, live, did it. They’re great on CD too, but this band is at its best live. Having somehow survived Oppikoppi, they’ll be back in GP at Carfax on the 24th of this month. My elder daughter is their Number One Fan, so luckily I’ll be able to take her with me as a buffer, or a Buffy, ‘cos Carfax isn’t exactly home away from home for me. I get psychedelic when I can’t quite identify the species around the watering hole, so psychedelic that I start identifying with unidentifiables and then all hell breaks loose because I get sudden urges to do things like start wearing black lipstick or death-metal hoodies, or pierce my eyebrow, or say “dude”. It’s alarming and just won’t do anymore. I’ll be forty in less than half a year and I really don’t want to do any more metamorphasising. I know this is heresy but I think comfort zones are a good thing and I want to be a proper old lady like my gran one day, with sensible shoes, silver hair in a bun and a mauve twinset.
The Radium’s got Soaks and Estate Agents and Okes and things, no alarms and no surprises you know? Nothing to aspire to. Very comfy. The worst that can happen at the Radium is that I’ll sing. But Carfax? Elder daughter’s a drummer, see, so if anything sidles up persuasively in a death-metal hoody (or whatever they wear there) and says, “Dude…”, then she can fend it off. She’s taller than me, which helps, and her drumsticks can double as stakes. Ha ha.
Lark is demanding and very loud and schitzophrenic, and brilliant. Lark is not warm and fuzzy (although a quarter of it is actually Fuzzy, on bass, sometimes double bass nogal), not comfortable, and doesn’t invite you to put your feet up and have coffee. It might be a portal of some sort, it sounds like a hall of mirror doors, and the diva from The 5th Element lives behind one of them.

Stardust the movie is coming soon to a theatre near you, but read the book first if you can. The blurb says something about it being a fairytale for grownups, and I suppose maybe it is but I resent that description although my brain’s too tired at the moment to explain why. Some of the main bookshops have it in stock, and all of the comic shops do, so it’s pretty easy to get hold of. There are Big Names in the movie, does that mean it’ll be a good movie though? It’s bound to piss a few rabid fans off as these things do, but on the whole I’m almost prepared to bet the farm that it’ll be a great escape.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Read it and weep


Having failed so miserably at getting down to the Cape Town Book Fair in order to flock about the shins of the most important literary figure to emerge from Kenilworth or the world in the last four hundred years or ever, I feel as though I may not have tried hard enough. My little stack of dogeared copies of The De Villiers Code and Texas glowers at me from the bookshelf, unautographed and reproachful. Indelibly marked by this account of abuse at the distracted hands of Spud’s minions, my mind is all but gone with grief. Read it, and weep with me. The light shineth in the darkness, brothers and sisters, and the darkness comprehendeth it not. Must Mr Eaton cut off his ear, I ask you? What will it take???

http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=312087&area=/columnist__tom_eaton/

The Loony Bin

US Patent 5827173 is a “Prenatal audio communication device”. The mind boggles, and one fears for any prenate unfortunate enough to be enwombed by a woman who would even consider using such a thing:

“A prenatal audio communication device has a receiving chamber which accepts sound waves for transmission through a flexible tube to a megaphone secured against the abdomen of a pregnant woman so as to transfer sound waves from an external source with which the chamber is juxtaposed to a position proximate the ears of the baby in the womb. Means is connected to the megaphone for encircling the pregnant woman and securing the megaphone outlet port against her abdomen. Preferably, the inlet port has a perimeter contoured to be snugly juxtaposed about the mouth of a typical adult. A curved lip extends along the inlet port perimeter to form a continuous seal between the chamber and the face of the user, to increase the comfort level of the user when the chamber is pressed against the face and to make a single chamber more universally usable with a variety of sound wave source shapes and sizes. Preferably, the securing means is an at least partially elastically stretchable strap which connects to D-ring type members disposed on opposite sides of the megaphone.”

Second RSS Awards

And the Platinum Pustule for Really Stupid Song goes to The Black Eyed Peas.

Reputed to be “one of the most popular hit singles in history”, the song is called My Humps. It’s also probably one of the most complained-about songs in history so unfortunately we’re not breaking any new ground here. Most recently parodied by Alanis Morrissette as an April fool joke, you can find her version plus the original on any one of a dozen video hosting sites, if you feel like clubbing some brain cells to death.

I can barely bring myself to put these lyrics in here, partly because they make my mind so numb I can hardly remember how to copypaste, and partly because they might act like google fly paper and then, well, there goes the neighbourhood. A sample, nevertheless:

My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump,
My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump.
My lovely lady lumps (lumps)
My lovely lady lumps (lumps)
My lovely lady lumps (lumps)
my lovin' got you
She's got me spendin'.
(Oh) Spendin' all your money on me and spending time on me.
She's got me spendin'.
(Oh) Spendin' all your money on me, up on me, on me.

…and so on.

I wish they’d invent a pill for radio intolerance, because it puts a person at a terrible disadvantage. I think if I could hum along to songs about girls who feel wretched about cheatin’ on their guy and feel they may as well be puttin’ a gun to his head but they really just can’t help it, I could quite enjoy life. That’s Rihanna, and she takes runner up for her song “Unfaithful”.

LyricBlokka TM, get it now at these fine stores. I’d be in there like a shot.

Nominations for the next Awards welcome. To qualify, songs must have actual lyrics but needn’t be current hits.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

SNAFU

Our Christian churches, perhaps in some sort of partnership with our media, are having a bumper year, with key questions flitting clunkily about like flower fairies with little lead boots on. There was the tricky: “Does Satan really exist?” and there were also some questions which had wafty answers like, and I quote but I can’t remember who: “Well, you know, the bible doesn’t prohibit actual gayness, rather just the practice of it.”
Then of course, there were the reams of questions surrounding Our Lady of the Blinding Ray in Benoni.

But our rainbow of Christianity isn’t yet as plump with permitted political colourants, flavourants and emulsifiers as it is in other places - Utah for instance - so by contrast our theological angst is quite quaint. Here’s an example of what they’ve had on their minds over there:

“Utah County Republicans ended their convention on Saturday by debating Satan's influence on illegal immigrants…

Don Larsen, chairman of legislative District 65 for the Utah County Republican Party, had submitted a resolution warning that Satan's minions want to eliminate national borders and do away with sovereignty.

In a speech at the convention, Larsen told those gathered that illegal immigrants "hate American people …are determined to destroy Christian America, and there is nothing they won't do." He also said that illegal aliens were in control of the media, and working with Democrats. At the end of his speech, Larsen began to cry, saying illegal immigrants were trying to bring about the destruction of the U.S. "by self invasion."

http://www.heraldextra.com/content/view/220065/4/

Quinquereme of Rubber Duck

A few years ago, a ship accidentally tipped into the ocean its cargo of little rubber ducks and frogs, originally destined for bathtubs across America. It was reported in newspapers that flotillas of the toys had been seen cheerfully navigating the high seas and making the most of their serendipitous liberation, some putting to shore along the way and others pressing on. I think about them often, and wonder: are some of them still out there, startling brawny oil rig men or being spat out by disgusted whales? What would a sunbleached, travel-weary but still valiantly bobbing rubber bath toy have to say, if it were interviewed?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Mundus vult decipi (?)

The terribly wicked and utterly delightful Mr. Eaton points his singular sword at the “mawble-and-porms-brigade”:

“If only they knew how they looked, how the fantasy is exploded every time the true, representative driver of the SUV goes out on her errands: the tiny Stepford wife, ring-encrusted fingers spread desperately around the gigantic tiller, stringy tanning-bed-purple arms fighting the power-steering, her dulled eyes half-closed in that permanent expression of moronic disdain the rich reserve for when they are forced to mingle with the less rich.”

You strike an SUV, you strike a rock