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Raison d’etre

Silly Socks on Friday started in Africa in the early 90’s. The blog followed in the early years of the 21st century

We stand for quirks and whimsy, and intend to take serious looks at silliness and silly looks at seriousness.

The rant is a favoured mode when things get my goat.

Our first campaign was a global war against that yoke of uniformity, the neck tie, now largely won. There can be no logical explanation why people continue to tightly tie strips of cloth round their throats and then dangle them on their chests.

Next on our list is a twin campaign to attack the plague of plastic and promote the global revival of hemp

Wear silly socks on Fridays, if you like.

If this tickles your fancy, sign up as a follower and get an e-mail notifying you of new posts.

Please comment on what is written, especially if you disagree. Outrage is a validation of effect!

How do you do, 2022?

It is the time of year one reviews and previews.

The highlight of 2021? – Undoubtedly watching the Boks beat the All Blacks.

From the anthems to the seething happy crowd, to the joy and exhilaration – all amidst a plague! Who would believe it?

I cannot overlook the joy of meeting my grandson! I have already worked out that I will only be 92 when he will be playing in the Rugby World Cup!! Now there is an objective in life! Hope some of my mates will still be around to join me.

Just a mention of the plague, now entering its third year: will it fizzle out once we have all contracted it ? Does not seem likely, with another variant in France being mentioned …

With a growing groundswell of feeling against mandates and restrictions, the politics become decidely difficult for those in office.

But if we keep getting new variants and requiring more jabs and hospital beds and ventilators for the sickest run out… some hard decisions on who gets admitted will arise. I bet the politicos will leave that to the doctors.

Looking ahead my predictions for the near future are:

  • I think the Coalition will survive the Australia election.
  • A Trump will run for President
  • We will have a new King
  • China and Russia will become more menacing
  • EV’s will begin to proliferate
  • Cash will disappear
  • The All Blacks will rise again

Finally, I urge you all to consider carefully before you condemn, do not blindly follow the media mob, hear what the other side has to say.

That is freedom and it is being trampled by the populist views of identity politics. Do not discard institutions to accommodate extreme views.

Become a freedom fighter

Happy new year and may the Covid die!

The mysteries of sex

Hopefully the title has lured your interest and you read on. This is about an older man’s resistance to change and opposition to the incursions of identity politics into history and life as we know it.

Back in the day, say 1960’s and 70’s when Germaine Greer was shaking the tree and ruffling the entrenched privileges of patriarchs, a “trannie” was a transistor radio.

Now  there are arguments between medical philosophers in “The Lancet” about politically correct gender terminology

The streaming company Twitch recently said it would use the term “womxn” in order to be more gender neutral in its language.

“But LGBT communities online called the change transphobic because it suggested trans women were not women.”

I think I grasp most of what the LGBTQ anagram stands for.

A 2011 survey in the US suggested LGBTQ’s make up about 10% of the population. Of course each group are all different with different demands and there are variations within each grouping e.g.: Transgender people may identify as heterosexual (straight), homosexual (gay or lesbian), bisexual, asexual, or otherwise, or may decline to label their sexual orientation. 

This has become quite confusing for some of us. What do we call these people, other than saying ” one of those LGBTQ types... “?

I have a few suggestions which might help:

  • The tensions over who can use which toilet could be eased by renaming public conveniences as urinals and non-urinals and by increasing the number and privacy of toilet cubicles which could be open to anyone.
  • Allow males into breast feeding/ baby care rooms only to change nappies (that will keep them out)
  • Instead of ‘people with vaginas‘,or ‘people who menstruate’ congenitally heterosexual women could be re-labelled as wombmen
  • Trans males who have had surgery to acquire female conformation could be called ginamen
  • Trans females who have had surgery to acquire male conformation could be called cockerelles
  • Female Bisexuals could be callen whimen, males could be bisons
  • Unaltered transgender people could be called cocktoos

I would like the word gay to be returned to its original usage, describing happy, merry and frolicsome behaviour. I get that queer and other labels may be unacceptable, so maybe they could be called otherlovers. In line with that, pansexuals could be called anylovers

No hurt is intended but if it is felt, it certainly couldn’t be more than the hurt felt by the the world of women who have been told they no longer can be called females or ladies and must change their nomenclature.

Of course sarcasm doesn’t help other than to perhaps signal discomfort at the disproportionate reactions in social media against those who question the rationale or proposals advanced by identity politicians or proposals that the whole be changed to accomodate tiny minorities.

Another view of Spring 2021

As is my habit I breakfast in the morning sun on the patio. It is fresh and I don’t switch on the radio, as I want to hear the birds.

Next to me is a kumquat tree with bright orange fruit and new season flowers, which have that lovely citruscent. One of the day’s decisions is whether to turn the fruit to marmalade – I think I will.

The lawn is patrolled by spotted doves and magpie larks. The local magpies pass through to ensure their territories are being respected. They viciously attack any magpie intruders.

A pair of magpie larks,called peewees, are frequent visitors. This morning one of them walked past my chair as I read on the patio after breakfast. I glanced at her and she stopped and eyed me over, then as I was not an obvious threat or interest walked under the table.

She emerged on the other side hopped up onto a chair and then onto the table, only 4 feet from me, looking for morsels. She then stopped, looked at me and sounded her ear piercing tweetshriek. Who knows: maybe defiance, or just a joyful greeting?

In the foliage around the bird feeder, where the pyton often hangs out, crested pigeons kerfuffle frequently – their libido goes through the roof in Spring. Rainbow Lorikeets pop in occasionally, but don’t linger.

Less frequently, we are privleged with glimpses of King Parrots and Pale-headed Rosellas and the occasional galah and cockatoo.

In the syringa tree, figbirds and blue eyed honeyeaters search for flowers or berries almost every day. Noisy mynahs squabble and shriek on the move like gangs of unruly children released from class. Their noise is often pierced by the harsher scrapescreech of the noisy friars who pass by.

Finally, there is a sweet pair of Lewin’s Honeyeaters, who bathe in a patio gutter that needs fixing, carelessly splashing and spraying. They chatter happily as they flit through the trees, playing catch.

Life is not too bad, if we stop and listen to the birds.

The spectre of Spring 2021

Foreboding lurks at the back of my mind, almost continuously. It’s not so much the plague, but how people are behaving. Society is being strained at its seams and frayed edges begin to appear.

As you may recall, my world context retains strong ties to Southern Africa and I am a child raised during the Cold War, when the spectre of the time was Communism driven by totalitarians. Then, as now, simple maxims were used to sway the masses. Freedom and equality for all!

Isn’t it ironic that these are the underpinnings of the woke movement, demanding representation and retribution for any cadre with some identifiable characteristic, practice or habit.

The process of promotion of the interests of minority groups has attacked current institutions, individuals and laws on the premise that their existence has been achieved to the disadvantage of minorities who were discriminated against in history.

At the same time, the prevalence of conspiracies and their adherents is challenging democracies’ability to govern and is widely being used as a political tool to fuel fire in followers. The old name for conspiracies was propaganda. Its purpose was to galvanise popular belief, without challenge.

An alarming feature of recent campaigns of identity movements like #metoo and Black Lives Matter is that mere allegations are accepted as facts. Now that’s okay when allegations are admitted, but when they are disputed, there has always been a process to ascertain the most accurate version of the truth.

Corroboration is essential. But nowadays, every accused person is deemed a liar unless they admit their guilt.

Capitalism has created a huge disparity in earnings with the super rich becoming the aristocracy of old.

Marketing and Kardocumentatries, scripted reality shows and social media exaggerate and glorify lifestyles impossible for all but the rich. Tension, envy and outrage brew amongst those who can never indulge in champagne cruises, drive Porsches, wear silk shirts and eat caviar.

Attributions for the London rioters’ behaviour in 2011 included social factors such as racial tension, class tension, economic decline, and the unemployment that decline had brought. Well that is also an accurate picture of what happened in South Africa and eSwatini. Put a lid on a boiling pot and eruptions are certain!

I am trying to say that world wide we are at a stage that reasonable judgment has been suspended and gut feeling is carrying the day. This means that democracy is dead, it cannot be sustained in the face of ever-increasing individual demands for unique treatment. Capitalism in its present form has also failed. The poor are increasing and want more.

The task is to find new inviolate principles by which all agree they can be governed.

Tragically, all we need to do is look at organised religion to see that so many prophets arise to lead that there is continuous alienation and conflict.

I hoped that the plague would give rise to strong, credible leadership but fear there are too many critics, not enough followers.

So, sadly it seems that fragmentation will continue until another global catastrophe arises to force us together, maybe a world war – any bets on how soon and who will oppose the Chicomms?

A day in the life of Sam

It takes a long time to get to the other side of the country.

To be sure, there are adventures to be had, mortal dangers to avoid and many different, friendly and unfriendly people to meet on the way. The variety of the different kinds of food would be a wonderful experience, if you are brave enough to taste them.

Sam woke up one morning with a tingling in his foot. He had been born with only one foot – that was the one that was tingling! He reckoned that the tingling must mean something. Then he had the brainwave! It means I need to travel. Where should I go? Just look North and step forth as they say in the classics!

So that is what he did. He hoisted all his worldly possessions on his back, checked where the sun was to find North and slipped silently on his way. No goodbyes or explanations to any of the others, who still slept – this was his own adventure!

He made good progress, crossing a patch of forest, but it was hot! Sam realised that moving during the day was not as wise as doing it in the cool of night. As he was thinking about perhaps holing up for the rest of the day, he was knocked over by a mighty blow!

Looking up he saw the face of a great furry monster looming over him. He quickly dived into his house and sealed the entrance with his foot. Nothing happened for a moment, although he thought he could hear heavy breathing.

All of a sudden, his foot was tickled and he began to giggle, even though there was something very big and dangerous out there…

The cat pulled a face and said Yuchh! and spat out the taste of the slimy snail foot and stalked away, sure that he would never taste a snail’s foot again.

Phew ! said Sam after a while, that was a lucky escape! He stretched out of his shell, tested the grass with his tongue (it tasted a bit different to the lettuce he was used to) and looked about to see if it was safe to go on. Which it was, so he slipped along for a while, up and down over grass blades, until he got to a flat hard desert like surface.

Far on the other side he could see some green, so he set off. It was very hot and he began to feel sorry that he had left home and his family and friends. There was no one to talk to and… suddenly there was a loud squeewitt!! and a shadow fell over him. It was a Magpie Lark who thought Sam could be lunch; but Sam was fast. He slipped into his shell and gripped the ground tightly with his muscular foot. Tap! tap! peck, peck! on his shell, but it was too hard for the bird, which flew off with a disgusted Sqweewitt!

And that was enough adventure for Sam. He turned away and sprint-slipped back the way he came. He got back home as the sun was going down.

All the other snails who lived under the same pot as he did said Where have you been? You were gone when we woke up and we searched and searched but couldn’t find you…

The other side of the world Sam said, don’t go there and fell asleep.

The Shadow of the Cross

For a lapsed Catholic, I spend a lot of time thinking about religion. Even more so as I have been asked to stand as a Godparent for my grandson. Now that is awkward, as my belief in God is constrained.

I believe God is the manifestation of our need for God and has been substantiated by many accounts and in many forms. However, I have no faith in the reliability of man’s accounts of God.

Quite rightly for Christians, Good Friday is a sombre day for repentance and spiritual contemplation. In Catholic churches, icons are covered, the altar is bare and bells are replaced by wooden clappers. It is probably the most meaningful of Christian holy days as it has not been commercialised, other than supermarkets touting fish as good for Lent!

The ritual of Stations of the Cross is observed on Good Friday, visualising the indignities and agonies Jesus suffered before and during his crucifixion. It engenders powerful feelings which are probably confirmatory of beliefs.

Rituals reinforce beliefs and involvement demonstrates piety. The Way of the Cross engenders religious ecstasies in some cultures, where devotees flay themselves and carry heavy crosses wearing thorny crowns.

The last days of Jesus provided most of the symbols, rituals and beliefs that base the Christian faith, enshrining sacrifice and matyrdom and ensuring that Jesus is remembered whenever Christians eat and drink.

Notwithstanding the earthquake and the tearing of the veil in the Temple when he died and the mysterious disappearance of his body, Jesus’ divinity was rejected by most of the Jews.

Nevertheless, the testimony of his disciples and Jesus’ return founded a religion which has the greatest following in the world.

I remain unconvinced but cannot deny that I am aware of the shadow of the cross.

Memory is not what I thought it was

“Many people believe that memory works like a recording device. Memory works a little bit more like a Wikipedia page: you can go in there and change it, but so can other people”

So says Elizabeth Loftus an American cognitive psychologist and expert on human memory*. And she walks her talk with an impressive array of research.

She was consulted by Harvey Weinstein who asked her: ‘How can something that seems so consensual be turned into something so wrong?’

Memories are reconstructions; they are not literal representations of what actually happened … (memory) is highly malleable and open to suggestion.

She has also shown that false memories can be embedded by leading questions and psychotherapy.

In a 2013 TED talk entirled “How reliable is your memory” she reported that one project had identified some 300 people who were convicted of things they didn’t do, based on DNA analysis. Three quarters of the cases were due to faulty eyewitness memory.

The implications for eyewitness based testimony and the validity of repressed memories are huge. It means that single witness evidence should not be regarded as sufficient evidence of truth, unless there is other direct evidence to support it.

In the US, some states refuse to prosecute cases based on recovered memory testimony and some insurers decline cover to therapists on recoved memory malpractice suits.*

Testimony from Professor Lucas in the two headline inquiries in Australia into rapes by a Minister or in a Minister’s office may well be enlightening.

But sadly, the outcomes of those inquiries have already been decided, without the need to hear evidence.

In my view, the sooner we get rid of juries, eyewitness evidence and judges the better: we need to promote universal surveillance, compulsory truth serums and lie detection and use a computer to evaluate the evidence.

*Wikipedia – Elizabeth Loftus

Against all odds

For purely practical reasons I am not a punter and if I do gamble I fully prepare to lose my money – I rarely win. If I do I get so exhilarated I blow the winnings on the next bet. I tend to bet on my gut feel; ’tis my Irish ancestors….

Just an aside before the main tale. For obvious reasons, I rarely go to the horse races: I usually can’t afford it and if I have some spare cash, I lose it quickly. Added to this is the fact that at the time I served on the bench as a magistrate in the city courts. As Dick Francis so well describes, racecourses attract shady characters with whom I should not socialise.

But the elements conspired against me. A friend had been given some complimentary tickets to the members’ enclosure. Now, this is quite swanky and has a fine view of the track, the parade ring and the spectators, as well as a well stocked bar. Rugby season was over, so what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?

To cut a long story short, a man who I didn’t send to jail but fined heavily for repeated drunk driving gave me a tip, which I put a small bet on, not really trusting the source.

It cruised in at 10-1, so drinks were on me.

I should have sent him to jail. At a subsequent meeting he again gave me another tip and I bet half my salary – the bloody horse is still running….!

Anyway, what I meant to tell you about was an amazing stroke of luck in the middle of the Botswana desert. A group of us were on a fishing trip, travelling in two utes (Australian for bakkies) when I noticed a single wheel overtake us – it was ours!

We had sheared a half shaft. Fortunately we had an engineer with us. Engineers never travel without their tools, but no-one carries spare half shafts.

Unfortunately we were 170 kilometres from Gaborone and 120 from Palapye in the semi-desert of Botswana. There was little traffic.

Our engineer went off to Palapye in our other vehicle; we expected him back in 6 to 7 hours. We were not unduly worried about being stranded in the Botswana semi-desert.

Our supplies were ample: a case of tinned peaches, a case of bully beef and eight crates of beer. We lay down in the shade to snooze (to avoid the temptation of starting on the beer…)

To our surprise, after less than an hour, we were roused by a beep beep beeep!

This is the part that is hard to believe.

About 20 minutes down the road, Peter, our engineer saw a cluster of houses just off the road and a tree with an engine suspended on a chain from a branch.

He stopped and inquired. When showed the broken half shaft, the man said “No problem” and led the way to an Isuzu bakkie, smashed up front. In 20 minutes they had stripped an identical half shaft, paid the man R200 and driven back to us.

It fitted perfectly! We went on to have a wonderful fishing trip.

Once back home the vehicle owner decided to order a spare half shaft, in case of another problem (he was an engineer..) There were none to be had in the Western Transvaal, nor Johannesburg ! Eventually, after a few weeks, a spare was sent from Cape Town!

Now what are the odds one could be found in the bush on the edge of the Kalahari desert?