A leap year

2020 is a year that leapt into the future at a time when the future was rushing towards us. The pandemic caused everyone to take a leap into the unknown to avoid terrible consequences.

Bureaucracy has been disemboweled, opposition politics have waned, instant communications have proved their worth, snap decision-making and civic obedience have became the norm.

All of a sudden, many employers have discovered they don’t need offices and they can trust employees. Teachers have enabled remote learning in numbers. The hidden dangers of cheap, off shore manufacture have been uncovered.

What are the implications?

The cruise liner industry will need to re-tool: perhaps they could be used as prisons like the sheer hulks of old. The universal basic income has suddenly attained reality. The economic imperialism of China has been unmasked.

First world countries are going to have to learn how to manufacture without cheap labour, third world countries will have to learn to establish their own industries without First World money..

The possibility of direct communication and mandating of representatives could eradicate the roadblocks and pork barrels of party combinations

Hopefully, the opportunity is taken to accelerate the new clean, renewable energy options and eliminate fossil fuel machinery, promote secure digital transactions with blockchain and return our elderly to our homes.

The industrial revolution we are experiencing will flower out of the Covid recession. Many people will lose jobs and have to transition to new careers.

We have a golden opportunity to strengthen the fabric of our society.

Those people expectorated from their careers by the new technological advances can stay at home and look after their elders and keep a closer eye on their children, instead of placing them in homes and child care.

The death traps we have designed to contain our inconvenient elderly relatives should be abolished. Attention also needs to be paid on the effects on our children of child care from babyhood.

Forward looking government will happily pay in-home carers instead of fund old age homes and child care centres.

So we have a real chance to re-build our environment and our families – let’s not misstep the leap.

Do white lives matter?

Have you heard of Senekal in the Orange Free State?

A young farm manager in the district was beaten to death and his body was hoisted on a pole in his fields by his murderers, who were stock thieves.

“… he was tortured to death. All his bones were broken. He was cremated. He was not even buried”

Over a thousand local farmers, gathered outside the Magistrates Court where the alleged murderers were to appear after arrest. The intent was to register strong protest, but things got out of hand. A Police official was manhandled, shots were fired and a Police vehicle was toppled and torched. Ho hum …. just another of many similar incidents in the world today..?

One slightly different aspect was that the farmers were all white people and the alleged criminals, Police and other officials were nearly all black people.

Many white farmers have been murdered in South Africa leading to claims that it is a politically targeted genocide. This is a topic kept burning and aggravated by the white right wing.

For years white farmers have said that they are under siege, being killed on their properties – seemingly without much state intervention.

The government’s response has been that crime finds its way into everyone’s home (which is true). And that they are doing what they can to fight it ( but farmers keep getting murdered).

Statistics suggest that the majority of victims of crime are black. Black people are the majority and are disproportionately exposed to some of the factors that fuel crime – inequality, poverty and unemployment [1]. Unemployment is estimated to be over 42% (Bloomberg).

Most large farms in South Africa are owned by white farmers. They often have large homesteads and numerous employees. The homesteads are remote and the trappings of apparent wealth must be tempting to the destitute, desperate and criminal.

South Africa is a tale of two countries and it does not take much for problems to become tribalised. It is a sign of the tensions that are always simmering just beneath the surface.[2]

After all, apartheid was the crucible where identity politics activism gained legitimacy and momentum.

Is this gruesome murder not another George Floyd type moment? A minority group claiming prolonged targeting and victimisation by an oppressive majority.

Will we see the BLM and Antifa activists come out to join the next protest – maybe they will mimic Seattle and take over the city centre of Bloemfontein?

Somehow I doubt it – in the twisted rationale of the Identity politics creed, white is wrong and black is always the victim….

So real outrage notwithstanding, the fact that it is expressed solely by whites undermines the legitimacy of the protest and presents a threat to the delicate balance in race relations and government’s ability to balance conflicting demands.

Alarmingly, these protestors expressing their genuine outrage and fears are likely to be leveraged by those on both extremes of the political spectrum seeking confrontation, which will serve their political interests.

Sadly it is not the virtuous outrage and exercise of democratic protest that will be seen, but the similarities to white lynch mobs of the Deep South US in the last century and the armed anti BLM protestors more recently…

The South African Police have never been known for their skill and subtlety in controlling mass demonstrations as Sharpeville and Marikana amply demonstrate.

We must brace ourselves for tragedy.

If the next protest included black farmers and black employees it would not be discounted as a protest of a previously privileged class bewailing discomforts long suffered by most of the rest of the population.

It is past time that all South Africans realised that they are a community, not parts of a community, each with different views of history.

Instead of looking back in anger, look forward with resolve.

I’ll say it again! All lives matter!


[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54441374

[2] Ibid

Bubbles and veg

 I will confess it now – I am beginning to feel guilty about eating meat. My daughter has become a vegetarian over the last few years, for taste not ideological reasons. My guilt arises from ideological, specifically environmental reasons. I still love eating meat except for the inner organs like liver and tripe.

I guess my brothers and most of my African friends will stop reading this in disgust….

One Wednesday MC offered to make lunch for me – I rarely refuse such offers and sat down to a vegetarian meal, feeling slightly challenged. To give me a little impetus in order to meet this challenge without flinching, I cracked a bottle of bubbly after a pre-prandial lager.

With wide-eyes and a faint air of forlorn hope, she presented a very daunting veggie looking meal – I felt my teeth growing longer by the minute!

Couscous with spiced eggplant and lemony yoghurthow greenie, hippy can you get? I girded my loins with a second glass of fizz and tried to smile as I had my first tentative nibble …. Sapristi!! It was bloody marvellous!!

I finished all there was and licked my plate clean.

Somewhere in my post prandial euphoria I was dared to eat one vegetarian meal a week. I accepted with the boast that I would cook the next one and the Wednesday Lunch Club came into being. We present a meal alternately.

Herself declined to be drawn in – she has had some experience of my culinary skills. Some of my faithful blog followers may recall this culinary foray: https://sillysocksonfriday.com/2017/02/17/fishcakes/

I have not been known to avoid any opportunity to indulge my self – so my vegetarian offering was a seafood paella, cooked on the braai. If I say so myself it was pretty toothsome – my guest agreed, although this may have something to do with the bottle of her fav strawberry fizz.

Week 3 was cunningly designed by MC to indulge my longstanding craving for a burger: Lentil-Chickpea Veggie Burgers with Avocado Green Harissa

Bubbles were now mandatory and afternoon appointments were cancelled.

On Week 4, I indulged a hankering to try a platter of Tomato slices with Mozzarella Cheese and a Balsamic Vinegar dressing. Not bad …

If my brothers are still reading their eyes will be bulging.

MC was feeling the pressure, so she tried to sway me by unorthodox tactics in week 5. Veggie Wraps: Pumpkin, rocket, beetroot, capsicum, feta (plus marinated beef strips for some). One has to keep an eye on these vegetarians – they will go to extraordinary lengths to further their cause. We committed to become purists – no meat henceforth. Sheer love kept me from declining the offering, which was yummy.

I felt that a strong response was called for in week 6 and I was feeling nostalgic, so went for a double whammy: Pasta salad with peanut butter sauce  followed by  tapioca pudding with coconut and mango. (I couldn’t source sago – beloved frogs eggs of childhood). MC was highly complimentary

Week 7 was different: Miso soup, Edamame, Okonomiyaki (vegetable pancake) with Soba noodle salad and light cheesecake topped with fresh strawberries. Ah so desu ka! Domo arigato! おいしい Well done MC!

Week 8 was today and I fretted all week. Fortunately, Herself was in charge of the Commissariat and found all the ingredients for Green pesto minestrone soup followed by gingered Junket (more nostalgia). Declared to be even better than my last effort.

I freely confess that I have enjoyed every one of these meals and I now spend more time reading vegetarian recipes than following Donald Trump in the news!!

Wednesday has become a gleaming beacon day – the food and the company are excellent. Time with my daughter is gold.

I urge you all to consider vegetarianism … in moderation, perhaps.

Should you care for the recipes I am quite happy to include them in my next publication which will be an omnibus of short stories, rants, poems and recipes from sillysocksonfriday – I bet you can’t wait, y’all!

The Social Dilemma

 Be afraid, be very afraid!

I suspect some of you think I am a bit of a drama queen or a wolf-crier. Maybe both – but I urge you to watch The Social Dilemma, it is currently on Netflix.

Especially if you have children.

This documentary presents the views of a number of people who were intricately involved in designing Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest and other mainstream social media.

Reviewers have said this film is the “single most lucid, succinct, and profoundly terrifying analysis of social media ever created”

“(it) carefully details the skyrocketing levels of depression among children and teenagers; the flat-earthers and white supremacists; the genocide in Myanmar; the Covid misinformation; [and] the imperilling of objective truth and social disintegration”.

Harvard University professor Shoshana Zuboff speaks quite clearly about the profit -making orientation of digital companies like Google and Amazon (which) represent a new form of capitalist accumulation that she calls “surveillance capitalism

 Surveillance Capitalism “unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioural data [which] are declared as a proprietary behavioural surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence’, and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon, and later.”

These new capitalist products “are traded in a new kind of marketplace – behavioural futures markets.

Through the lens of surveillance capitalism’s economic and social imperatives, she lists many issues that plague contemporary society including:

  • the assault on privacy and the so-called ‘privacy paradox’,
  • behavioral targeting
  • fake news
  • ubiquitous tracking
  • legislative and regulatory failure
  • algorithmic governance
  • social media addiction
  •  abrogation of human rights
  • democratic destabilization, and more are reinterpreted and explained

As I said: be afraid….