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

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….

Am I grateful?

Some people will resist the powerful temptation to read another of my almost irresistible musings. I am eternally grateful to those who feed my ego by reading and indicating their appreciation or outrage (comme ci, comme ça, c’est la guerre!)

For some of us, gratitude just doesn’t come easy. It is an emotion, so is frequently at odds with intellect. Beware the emotional vampire!

One of the reasons for resisting gratefulness is genetic make-up, another is brain size or it may be our personality. I suppose we shouldn’t forget nurture either! Some people are taught pride and learn to perceive kindnesses as charity, which is not acceptable to the proud! … and often irritates the charitable, no doubt!

Nevertheless, intellect, being more modern, considered and cautious can coax gratitude out of its shell, to bloom and brighten one’s life and the lives of their nearest and dearest.

Research has shown that making conscious efforts to count one’s blessings is therapeutic: grateful people are indeed less likely to have mental health problems like depression.

Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy — we will always want to have something else or something more (Br. David Steindl-Rast). He also believes that the human response of gratitude is a part of the religious worldview and is essential to all human life.

According to Cicero “Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others.”

I get all this and I dig it. We don’t know how lucky we are!

I wrote this on my birthday a couple of years ago: https://sillysocksonfriday.com/2018/11/09/introibo-ad-altare-dei/

The revolution has started

I am not without hope.

At the very start of the global depression when the outlook for continued prosperity and peace is looking bleak, I believe that there are opportunities for change.

It is opportune that the depression has coincided with a global plague which has enabled most governments to revert to more directive, prophylactic action anticipating the future and persisting in tough policy moves ignoring the squeals of libertarians and the newly empowered.

We are coincidentally where the 3rd Industrial Revolution (3IR) is beginning to have impact. Some even call it the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0).

I have been reading and listening to Jeremy Rifkin on the above. This guy advises the European Union and China on a smart green 3IR economy.

Combined with the communications infrastructure necessary to connect all of humanity to these breakthroughs, the result is the potential for a truly global society.

If you are concerned about what may happen in future and how it can be brought about, watch Rifkin on youtube – I found him rivetting and easy to understand.

 The technological revolution rewrites the material conditions of human existence and can reshape culture. It can play a role as a trigger of a chain of various and unpredictable changes

What distinguishes a technological revolution from a random collection of technology systems and justifies conceptualizing it as a revolution are two basic features:

1. The strong interconnectedness and interdependence of the participating systems in their technologies and markets.

2. The capacity to transform profoundly the rest of the economy (and eventually society).

We could be on the cusp of a new world order.

Dream on, you silly old fart; change is not that easy!

Thoughts in Spring

On my early morning walk with Lulu, I marked the signs of Spring even tho’ its still July. The different Mimosa blooms with soft anisescent, birdsong and aerial acrobatics. Last years’ pukekos chasing each other with high pitch squeals, much as all young children do.

I noticed that one young female (I assume) was not running as fast or squealing as desperately as usual. But as he came closer, the young male chasing seemed a bit nonplussed and not sure what to do … He chickened out, pretending he had seen a morsel and sauntering off in a different direction. To my amusement the little fugitive looked flummoxed and then indignant.

I thought how much like the human species too. How often does it happen that young females lure young males into a chase, squeaking and flapping to gain attention? It frequently achieves results.

But the stratagem carries some risk: some expenditure of reputation is made in this siren behaviour; other females may join in and lure away the intended target, others may be critical about the behaviour indulged in.

 Sometimes the desired male lacks the confidence to make a final commitment, leaving a distinctly discomforted female. Sometimes the wrong males chase, which results in rejections which leaves all discomforted. Sometimes it ends in aggression and tears.

Courtship rituals are delicate and full of subtlety and nuance, which suit the female species. However, males tend to switch to overdrive at the first whiff of powder. The shy sheer away but the bold take some deterring, especially the powerful and arrogant.

Nah! I am not going to go there.

What really is bugging me is that the whole BLM palaver like the #Metoo histrionics, is digging up history to define the rectitude of their causes. Watch for new minorities appearing with a litany of historical grievances: “Participants who identified as LGBTQI+, Māori, Pacific, or having a disability were more likely to report feeling unsafe within their bubbles than other population groups,” from today’s news.

Oh dear, shall we burn a few shops and topple some statues?!

A delayed hue and cry is jumping on someone else’s bandwagon. With greater travesties and global disasters and a burgeoning population, there is not the time nor resources to re-examine historic slights and indignities only raised long after their occurrence.

It is time that the statute of limitations was reinforced, otherwise we will still be dealing with historic complaints 75 years after the fact, like a recent SS guard or executing offenders now for crimes committed last century – or is revenge a dish best eaten (very) cold?

Was that a mockingbird?

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mocking bird.”[1]

What happens when a society starts to loathe itself   with a quasi-religious fervour? … when its citizens…. Feel obliged to get down on their knees in a gesture of supplication to persons unspecified… nothing less than a cultural revolution … ritual denunciations of anyone expressing the slightest disagreement with the ever changing orthodoxies of the identity politics creed …[2]

… we see the obsessive desecration and destruction of monuments and symbols of an irredeemably tainted past and an absoloute intolerance of dissent

…The goal … is not to bring to an end to relations of dominance and subjugation between the races … but to establish a reversed racial moral hierarchy,

… everything has to be subsumed to the narrative of privilege and oppression[3]

This narrative sanctifies the disorder and mayhem perpetrated in its name.

In an attempt to mollify riotous mobs we admit that we are guilty of the newly identified wrongs of economies and society of yesteryear, when slaves were the prime commerce of African potentates and provided much of the labour in the development of new colonies.

We genuflect to demonstrate our solidarity with the outraged people who proclaim their continued oppression and victimisation by white society.

What shallow intellect we have to think that bending the knee will suffice?

There will soon need to be appeasement in more substantial form and accommodation of those who claim unfair discrimination by the colour of their skin, or their gender, or their sexual preference, minority ethnicity, physical disparity or whatever has a rhetoric of historical disadvantage.

In the meantime we dig up the corpses of the past, denigrate them and cast their gravestones into the sea

This blackmail of liberal conscience will continue until Western society disintegrates and follows the path of Africa once liberated from oppression and subjugation. Arabs and Africans who initiated slavery and still practice female subjugation and genital mutilation applaud. Chinese communists who practice ethnic cleansing and brutal suppression of dissent actively support this mindless mob.

It could not have happened at a worse time as the democracies face the most serious challenge since the high noon of totalitarianism in the 1930’s with the rise of the Chinese Communist Party regime as a potentially dominant global regime, intent on leveraging modern technology to create a perfect totalitarianism beyond even George Orwell’s nightmares within its own society, and to extend its power and influence to the wider world[4]

George Floyd, whose brutal arrest was manipulated for mayhem, by media hungry for news, was not a mockingbird. He became a lever by which to manipulate the sympathies of an overfed, restless middle class eager to embrace something that gives them a change from from the broken liberal democracy and economic models we have.

Change is gonna come, but I will fight it if it means we must kneel to those that want to break and take.

… you can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation,
Handful of Senators don’t pass legislation,
And marches alone can’t bring integration,

When human respect is disintegratin’,
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Eve of Destruction PF Sloan 1964… it made my Mum cry 50 years ago

Play song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfZVu0alU0I


[1] Harper Lee To kill a mockingbird Lippincott 1960

[2] Greg Sheridan Weekend Australian 11 July 2020

[3] Peter Baldwin Weekend Australian 11 July 2020

[4] Ibid

Nothing but the truth

…so help me, God!

Presumably that is tacked on because God sees and knows everything. That puts Her/Him in a pretty powerful position. As we will recall from the repeated advice in our schooldays: Knowledge is strength!

I had a sort of epiphany just as I cycled across the creek on my early morning ride. That is how we know about right or wrong, because God can see everything and is not fooled by our rationalised, exculpatory bullshit.

What is more, he keeps the score, so he can direct traffic at the end of the line: for every one going up 40 go down, even more if you are fat and rich (remember the eye of the needle?)

But I digress. I think that the Man (dated I know, but it includes the Woman) should be entitled to the truth. We should have to answer the Police truthfully, we should not be able to hide from inquiry and the Man should be able to track our movements, hear everything we say and see everything we do.

I do not say all this should be public knowledge; what I mean is that properly constituted authority should have access to that information for the purpose of effective government.

That means that the Man could have the same power as God as far as knowledge of the Truth is concerned.

So if we have a chip that enables us to be tracked wherever we go, all our conversations and movements are recorded and truth serum is administered when we are being questioned by authorities, we will be unable to deny any wrongs or rights that we have done.

Sadly, Satan clearly demonstrated the fallibility of those who aspire to be too much like God and he was an Archangel! We are too frail, corruptible and weak to be able to handle the truth.

But it is getting worse… can anyone actually tell us the real truth about coronavirus statistics and impact?

Passion

I hope that this title got your attention. Getting sneaky is how we get buy!

This is about resurgence of my passion.

My pre-passion mulling over period came to an abrupt end when I buttered my toast this morning. I was smiling in anticipation of a great gobbet of our New Zealand made lemon curd on top. Never smile at a crocodile, it will get there first! The cupboard was bare! I had to make do with Anchovette fish paste.

This obviously called for immediate action to avoid any further disappointment.

We are blessed in Queensland by an abundance of passion fruit; so many that even friends and neighbours are full up. So I have essayed into beneficiation – Clem Sunter’s answer to South Africa’s reliance on primary industry; Australia should consider it.

I sprang into action: to Google for a recipe and the cupboard and fridge for ingredients.

Now Baby Boomers men will understand that the challenge before me was of some magnitude. Particularly we who originated in the Dark Continent were not equipped with culinary skills of any sort. The more progressives had mastered making a cup of tea and operating a toaster quite successfully.

In my retirement I have taken steps to avoid stagnation by writing blathering blogs and amazing autobiographies. But now I have experienced… YES, I will confess – a new passion which has brightened my life appreciably.

I am talking about the kitchen arts: those that our wives and daughters absorbed from an early age from their mothers and grandmothers. Whereas when Mum was cooking, boys’ focus was who got to lick the bowl and the biggest slice; girls noted utensils and spoon sizes, pot size and the advantages of butter and how to whisk eggs… the list is long.

So, Dear Readers (those who are still with me), you may agree that the challenge facing me to ensure never having to endure another disappointment in much anticipated indulgence, was great. It may even have daunted some.

By googling “passion fruit curd” I was blessed with about 4,230,000 articles… I read the first three and being health conscious, I chose the one with only 1/4 cup of sugar.

The recipe required in addition:

4 egg yolks

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter

juice of 2 lemons

1/2 cup of passion fruit pulp

What could be easier than that?

Huh! Have you ever tried to separate egg yolks from the limpid, runny stuff, without getting egg shell in the mix? … and pips out of lemon juice after it has been added to the sugar?

What’s a double boiler?

What if you have no unsalted butter AND no whisk, which you discover only after you have started mixing the stuff …

In my passion, I took the bit between my teeth and combined pulp and sugar and warmed it over a bowl in a pot of boiling water (ingenious, I know).

I managed to separate most of the yolks and whipped them with the lemon juice (only a few pips remained) and I mixed it with the passion fruit, then added the cubes of butter slowly, while whisking the mix until they melted…To demonstrate my nonchalance at my new found prowess, I made a cup of tea and sterilized an old coffee jar at the same time. Multi- tasking I believe it is called.

A prime aspect of this curdling process is whisking, which is required to be continuous. Imagine my horror when someone knocked on the front door! I had to remove the pot from the flame, attend the inquiry (can I clean your gutters ?) and dash back to resume my whisking.

New-fangled culinary technology does not faze me – I even managed to take the temperature of the cooking curd as I whisked.

Once it reached 160 deg F, I whipped it off the stove and jarred it! I tell you now whisking for about 20 minutes requires perseverance and some endurance.

But I did it … and I got to lick the bowl and the spoon.

I am passionate about cooking …

Beware! Beware! 
His flashing eyes, his floating hair! 
Weave a circle round him thrice, 
And close your eyes with holy dread 
For he on honey-dew hath fed, 
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
*

*Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The poisons we love

Imagine if chocolate was found to be the cause of a major proliferation of diabetes in children. smarties

Revolting image – sorry! (It will probably kill me too! I love Smarties…).

Would we stop eating chocolate …?

So, what’s my point? Well, it’s the poison we all have built into every aspect of our lives, surrounding us and almost indispensable! I am talking about plasticplastic in all of usPlastic affects human health. Toxic chemicals leach out of plastic and are found in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us. Exposure to them is linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments.

It doesn’t decompose, it breaks down until we can’t see it and has entered every water system in the world.  Plastic soup anyone?

It is simple. The continued production of plastic must be prohibited – like dangerous drugs are. But plastic is so useful and efficient! Can you imagine your kitchen without Tupperware type containers? Or your house or your car …?

But plastic is very new technology. Its not even a hundred years old. Our parents and grandparents did without it. It’s certainly not essential, it’s useful …. and we are lazy, spoilt and indisciplined. We continually deny what we know is bad for us, because it makes our life easier, more fashionable, funky (think tattoos and body piercing).

I mean dogs lick cane toads for the buzz, for heaven’s sake, why can’t we be stoopid like them?

Plastic producers made plastic functional, fashionable and pervasive. It can’t be their fault – they were doing us all a favour, producing such cheap and useful stuff. But now that they know… it is all different.

In a 2014 Florida USA Court judgment, a tobacco producer was ordered to pay damages of $23 BILLION to a chain smoker’s widow. Think of the damages payable by plastic producers for all the harm caused to the population of the world by pollution and carcinogens in their products!

So next election, vote for the party that produces the best plans to:

  • educate our children about the fact that plastic is poisonous
  • ban the production of plastic
  • generate programs to eradicate or recycle plastic into less harmful products
  • funds research which enables widespread bio-degradation of plastic.

Yeah! I know this is a daydream and if the billions wiser than me can’t see it happening, it is not likely to happen…

plastic scavengeBut how would one dispose of these formerly loved poison lumps? Dump them in the bin, to be a treasure discovered by some Third World scavenger? (Yeah, refuse is exported to people rich, poor countries.)

 

Or chuck them in the river when no-one’s looking?

plastic wave

 

                                                              Apply your mind to save your future!