I’ll just go elsewhere, thanks…

My friends sometimes get a bit annoyed with my refusing to acknowledge that Yankeeland has any meaningful contribution to make in International Society. They also wonder why I flat-out refuse to go to that country.

Now since I’m of the opinion that there had in history only been three worthwhile inventions out of America (the Colt 45 ACP, Air Conditioning and Coca Cola) I don’t really have any reason to go there. Most certainly not for the scenery, since I’m fortunate enough to live in South Africa, the most beautiful country on the face of the planet.

Be that as it may, I will also admit that the American’s apparent attitude to tourists makes the idea of going there more frightening than the idea of streaking through Soweto at eleven o’clock on a Friday night…

Via BoingBoing we have a wonderful example of how the USA chooses to treat tourists, by holding an Icelandic woman shackled in isolation for two days, before deporting her, over a ten-year-old visa mistake…

She has blogged about her experience and, reading it, I feel both vindicated about my stance on the Fourth Reich and quite determined to keep avoiding the place for as long I humanly can.

To any Americans reading this, I’m sorry, but it’s impossible not to have a very negative idea of your country when you have little people with big attitudes and way too much power for their little minds to comprehend treat visitors like this.

But I do feel that you might want to consider coming to visit us here in South Africa; it’s a stunningly beautiful place and we actually like tourists over here…

Update: It seems like Turkey is also off of my list of places to go see…

Reflections on the Falls – Day 2

As Themba’s stentorian snores had lulled me to sleep the previous evening, so they not so gradually brought me to a none-too-gentle awakening. Yep. Still here…

With some caffeine fuelled enthusiasm I had decided that a shower was my first order of business. Alas, no, the miniscule alcove had not over-night magically assumed more generous proportions, no. Oh well, at least I got to leave it cleaner than I had entered it.

After dressing I wandered down to breakfast. And a surprisingly good one at that as well. The cynic in me immediately started wondering what the catch was… The place had not so far managed to fill me to the brim with confidence in their ability to play nicely.

Playing tourist time: Victoria Falls. Truly majestic. Or probably would have been if there was anything actually falling… Okay, that’s a bit unfair. The parts of the falls where there was falling water to be had (not an unfair expectation of some place proclaiming to be a waterfall I would have though, myself) was maybe excessively waterfall-y. Rather damp and everything. And quite high, at 100m plus… Okay. Effing high. 33 Storeys is a bit higher than I feel like falling down from. I did pick up on one thing though. Apparently I’m not really afraid of heights.

Then it was time to go back to the hotel for a blessedly cold beer. And the news that the airline’s licence had been suspended. We had to buy a new ticket. And we got to spend another day at Vic Falls. At our own expense. Oh. Joy.

Nothing but to do but continue with out event-packed afternoon. The elephant-back safari. Something I, as someone who had been reared on Kipling, had been quite looking forward to. And we were only half-an-hour late, too. An auspicious start indeed. We arrive in time for refreshments: anything from Lemonade, Sprite or Water. Unless you happen to want water, that is. But the tap’s in the loo if you would like to go get some…

Finally we were deemed ready for our great adventure; after we had been convinced to sign the indemnity form. It was at this point which an alarm started sounding in my head. Any venture requiring new clothes or indemnity forms are suspect by definition, in my opinion.

The real trouble started when one of the smallest elephants were brought closer and I was entreated to mount the bastard thing. All was fine till the denizen from the lowest of the hells started moving and the saddle started slipping to the side. “Now this,” I thought to myself, “is simply not going to end well.” Which I then promptly proved by valiantly holding on to the reigns which in turn was quite sturdily fastened to the saddle; which in turn decided that there was no way in hell that I would be staying on that damned elephant; it quite gracefully turned on the barrel of said elephant.

Themba and I — yes the very same Themba — now both got dumped, quite ungracefully and very damned hard, on the ground. From there we got to experience quite a unique view of elephants. An encounter I would have preferred to forgo and would really not recommend.

20121103-165155.jpg

An earnest attempt now got made, after we had been patched up somewhat and the saddle had been actually cinched, to convince me to re-mount the elephant. Now I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but stupid ain’t really one of them. There was no way, on this green earth, that I was getting back on that damned elephant!

Limping, I made my way to the cooler box, and promptly did my utmost (with eventual success due to Themba’s kind assistance and thorough command of Zulu) to convince one of the rangers that we truly deserved a couple of cold beers.

Nursing a cold beer, a bruised body and my equally bruised ego we find that one of the rangers left to “baby-sit” us is the chief lion trainer for the safari-outfit. Apparently they become unmanageable at two years of age, so the oldest ones he had were all seventeen months old. If you had never seen a seventeen-month-old lion from close up, take my word on this: that’s one big pussy-cat!

Eventually supper-time arrives and I frantically try and find a reason to skip going to “The Boma”. I wasn’t at all too certain that I would survive whatever was in store for us now… In a way what we run into at supper was both better and worse than I had feared… The food was edible. The entertainment was fairly decent. But the “interactive drum experience” (just known as “drumming” to us ignorant South Africans) was a total wash. Well, for me at least. I was sitting at the table in too much pain to go fetch some ice-cream and some over-enthusiastic personification of evil (damn those extroverts!) expected me to be all eager and enthusiastic at the prospect of energetically beating a drum? I was so sore, I couldn’t even lift my beer to my mouth!

Later, with the pain mostly under control due to some decent painkillers (as opposed to my faculties, for much the same reason) I eventually stumbled off to bed; dog-tired and hoping like hell that I would I fall asleep before the painkillers wore off. In fact, I was also so doped up that Themba could have snored all he wanted, he could have started a fire-fight in the room for all I cared, that night I was going to sleep, damn it!

There were some upsides to all of that, fortunately. The day had been so “eventful” that I had little time to reflect on anything. I had been so busy wondering what new “adventure” awaited us, that there had been no time to think about “home”.

Reflections on the Falls – Day 1

“Now, I’ve been to some dodgy places. No, I mean some really dodgy places. But that was behind me, I was convinced of that. I knew that that was history. Which doesn’t explain why I am here. No, it really does not.” These were some of my very first thoughts at seeing the Airport after landing…

It was bad enough when the Airline grounded all flights. Fortunately another Airline decided to honour the tickets. Sort of. After giving us a decent run-around for an hour, we’re informed that, instead of flying into Livingston in Zambia as we were going to, we would now be flying into Vic Falls in Zimbabwe. Ah well, close enough, I suppose. It then got a whole lot worse when the person organising the flight, the one with the transfer vouchers, with the paperwork, the money to pay for the hotel, managed to miss it… Not his fault really, since he would have had ample time to do all he needed had the Airline not decided to lose an engine a while ago, but still; it worried.

Here on the other side another, new, comedy awaited us though. Somewhere, somehow, one of the bags got lost. All got checked in together, and all, but that one, had made it. One managed to “get lost”. But of course it would… It was on Friday. Bag number X000013. It was doomed from the start…

Thistry we wandered to one of the shops. Paying a mil-and-a-half for anything freaks me out just a tad. Maybe a house is still okay, but a bloody ice-cream? Well, to be fair, that translates to just over R333 at the official exchange rate. For a bloody ice-cream? Now, I’ll readily grant that I haven’t bought any ice-cream in a while, but I would have considered R15 to be a tad expensive but understandable: I mean it is an Airport after all. But that’s no excuse for more than a 2222% premium, is it?

We finally got to the hotel, not at all certain of our welcome, since the person who had organised it all is the only one not available to explain to them that it all had, indeed, been organised. Thus it’s just another place, with another adventure awaiting us on this day from the nether realms. I get to share a room with Themba. Themba is okay. I like the dude, I really do. But not enough to share a bed with him okay?

Paying for beer at the local pub proved to be another adventure in itself. One pays in rands for prices quoted in Zim dollars to then get US dollars in change. Most unfortunately they don’t accept coins, ever so sorry. A nice little racket, of course, since it means that everything gets calculated in multiples of R6.77. And then rounded up. As I said, a nice little racket indeed.

Finally it was time for our first “activity”. A sunset cruise. Now it was time to experience the wilds of Africa with man in his natural habitat. On the deck of a barge with a cold beer in his hand. And I certainly experienced lots… Hippos. Crocodiles. Bottom of my beer glass. To be honest I saw way too many of the last for personal comfort; I got too close to the grim reality of it, if you will.

End of the day arrived, and we promptly moved on to Supper-time at “The Makuwa-Kuwa”. Which is great; that is, unless you feel at all uncomfortable at the idea of paying $25 US for a fairly common South African Cabernet. R100 I would’ve been able to justify to myself, but paying nearly R200 for a R50 bottle of wine was a lot, if you’ll excuse the pun, harder to swallow. Being forced to be honest, though, I would admit to the food being very, very, good. Deciding to simply avoid the wine, I’m starting to feel a bit better about this venture. Until, that is…

I went off to bed quite looking forward to a well-earned night’s rest after quite an eventful day. Fortunately it had taken only a modicum of brute force to separate the beds so I wouldn’t find myself sleeping close enough to Themba so that I would end up feeling obliged to make him an offer of marriage. Unfortunately, though, it soon became evident that Themba snores for the First Team.

Great. Just effing great…

Oh, really?

Yay, I’m a gazillionaire! Also known as “Now exactly how stupid do they think people really are”?

I mean, really!


FROM THE DESK OF THE PROMOTIONS LOTTERY MANAGER,
PROTEA WINNERS ORGANIZATION LOTTERY SOUTH AFRICA,
13,LAKE VIEW DRIVE,AUCKLAND PARK
P.O.BOX 296, AUCKLAND PARK,
JOHANNESBURY,
SOUTH AFRICA.

Your kind Attention:

FINAL NOTICE OF AWARD NOTIFICATION

We are pleased to inform you of the announcement today the 4th of September 2006,of winners of the PROTEA WINNERS ORGANIZATION LOTTERY, held on 12th August 2006 as part of our promotional draws. Participants were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from 2,500,000 email addresses of individuals and companies from Africa, America, Asia, Australia,Canada,Europe, Middle East,and New Zealand as part of our electronic business Promotions lottery Program. You qualified for the draw as a result of you visiting Various websites we are running the e-business promotions lottery for.

You/Your Company, attached to ticket number 139-3201-6409,with serial number 570-10 drew the lucky numbers 1,8,14,20,31,46,72,and consequently won in the Second Category.

You have therefore been approved for a lump sum pay out of US$3,000,000.00 in cash,which is the winning payout for Second category winners.This is from the total prize money of S$21,000,000.00 shared among the Seven international winners in the Second category.

CONGRATULATIONS!

Your fund is now deposited with the Maco Finance and Security Company insured in your name. Due to the mix up of some numbers and names, we award strictly from public notice until your claim has been processed and your money remitted to your account.

This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming or unscrupulous acts by participants of this program. We hope with a part of your prize, you will participate in our up coming mid year (2007) high stakes US$1.3 billion International Lottery. To begin your claim, please contact your claim agent immediately:

DR EVANS DINGA
FOREIGN SERVICE MANAGER,
TEL: 00-27-73-093-9070
EMAIL: evans_dinga@hotmail.com

Kindly contact your claims officer and provide him with the following informations,

  1. The Refrence Number:
  2. The Batch Number:
  3. The Ticket Number:
  4. The serial Number:
  5. The lucky Number:

FULL NAMES:
MAILING ADDRESS:
SEX:
AGE/DATE OF BIRTH:
MARITAL STATUS:
OCCUPATION:
TEL/FAX NUMBER:
AMOUNT WON:
STATE/COUNTRY:
COMPANY NAME:

If you do not contact your claims agent within 14 working days of this notification, your winning prize money would be revoked.

NOTE: In order to avoid unnecessary delays and complications, please remember to quote your reference and batch numbers. Winners are advised to keep their winning details/ information from the public to avoid fraudulent claims. (IMPORTANT) pending the transfer/claim

REFERENCE NUMBER: KFQ-XV69-013b-9
BATCH NUMBER: 57-488-BBN

Congratulations once again from all our staff and thank you promotions program.

Sincerely,
MRS STEPHANIE NKOSI.
Lottery Co-ordinator

PROTEA WINNERS ORGANIZATION LOTTERY SOUTH AFRICA


Here are a couple of clues, idiots:

  1. It’s Johannesburg, not Johannesbury,
  2. The National Lottery in South Africa is managed by “Uthingo Management (Pty) Ltd
  3. All potential notifications will come from “nationallottery.co.za” addresses (most certainly not from “hotmail.com”
  4. These guys are quite professional, and it is unlikely they will ask for “the following informations“…
  5. Contact numbers for the National Lottery are widely available
  6. Now bugger off and go bother some Yankees…

How in hell…

To be found on Flickr deviantArt is a vector image — think Adobe Illustrator, the Corel Draw of the new millennium and what Inkscape aspires to be once it’s done — of an image that could very easily be thought to be a art-studio photo.

Could be thought to be, that is, if the artist hadn’t left a series of images on deviantART from various stages in the making of the image.

If that doesn’t impress you I don’t think much ever will. I find that sad. But for myself I am extremely glad that I can still find in me that sense of wonder… Or, more accurately I suppose, that sense of How the hell…

Honour?

Like many, I suppose, I have been keeping an eye on the story of Mukhtar Mai while quietly seething with rage.

It’s a agonisingly repulsive story, with many an attempted corruption of Justice, with the victim being hounded as if she was the perpetrator of the crime, which more-and-more seems like an attempt to cover up the sodomising of her brother more than any other purported reason.

It is with this in mind, then, that I read this story of another case with a dreadfully similar feel. From the article:

Human rights group say hundreds of women are raped or killed every year in so-called “honour” attacks.

Honour? Do these cretins actually know what honour means? And, just in case any of them ever read this, here is a clue: It is not abusing those weaker than yourself!

I wouldn’t have thought that such a difficult concept, but here’s dictionary.com’s definition:

(noun)

  1. the state of being honored [syn: honor, laurels] [ant: dishonor]
  2. a tangible symbol signifying approval or distinction; “an award for bravery” [syn: award, accolade, honor, laurels]
  3. the quality of being honorable and having a good name; “a man of honor” [syn: honor] [ant: dishonor]
  4. a woman’s virtue or chastity [syn: honor, purity]

(verb)

  1. bestow honor or rewards upon; “Today we honor our soldiers”; “The scout was rewarded for courageus action” [syn: honor, reward] [ant: dishonor]
  2. show respect towards; “honor your parents!” [syn: respect, honor, abide by, observe] [ant: disrespect]
  3. accept as pay; “we honor checks and drafts” [syn: honor] [ant: dishonor]

Nope, sorry. Didn’t see anything about gang-rapes in there… Quite the opposite in fact.

Telling proof that not all males are men

Welcome to the new dark ages. We hope you’ll enjoy your stay.

I am aghast.

There was a time in the history of Europe, where religious fanatics from the Catholic Church was the scourge of the populace, hunting down accused — and anyone else they could beat into admitting to being — witches.

Fortunately, we no longer live in the dark ages, religious persecution is frowned upon and no one needs to fear for their lives merely for not agreeing with doctrine or dogma.

It would appear, though, that someone neglected informing this contemptible dastard!

Update

Just Lovely

Once more the utter incompetence of the South African government just astounds me.

A premise:

You have some of the most dangerous criminals in the world nicely incarcerated for life, since as a country you have abolished the death penalty. Society is safe from them, the citizens can sleep at night, safe from harm.

What would one do, in that case?

Quite simple, actually. One would apparently “lose” the relevant documentation that keeps them safely locked away…

From the article:

Umesh Raga of the Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons Legal Services unit, this week said, “Prima facie, in the absence of that evidence, it appears that those prisoners may have to be acquitted.”

This was confirmed by Judge Hannes Fagan, head of the Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons, who said, “If the records cannot be found, the state will then have to try to reconstitute the record.

But if that is not possible, the prisoner might well be entitled to be released.”

Well done, arseholes!

Please note, I’m not blaming the judicial system at all: If evidence cannot be found it is just that the prisoner be released. And it is certainly not the prisoner’s duty to supply the government with evidence to keep him locked up either.

I am, however, blaming the executive branch of government. They are supposed to be on top of this type of thing. Be aware, as little as you bastards probably care, that I, for one, will blame each and every transgression by the released criminals squarely on you.

I spit on thee, scurvy knave!