Category Archives: Politics

Apollo 11: war & jingoism

I’ve found the whole nostalgia trip about Apollo 11 as a ‘shining example of man’s ingenuity and determination to reach space’ quite nauseating. What a load of bullshit.

We got there first!

The only reason a man ever walked on the moon was because of the Cold War. It was the Cold War that drove the US and Russia to launch space programmes. It was the Cold War that drove technological advancement. Like two kids trying to prove they were right by showing who had the biggest and fanciest toys.

Mine is bigger than yours
Mine is bigger than yours

A very hot war

Unfortunately they liked to test these toys out in proxy wars that decimated Africa and South East Asia, causing untold suffering and horror. “Cold” War was a complete misnomer if you were from Angola, and the hangover effects of those wars still reverberate through our continent today.

Let's race
Let’s race

Not so noble

Yes, Apollo 11 was an amazing feat of science and engineering, but it was motivated by arrogance, war and nuclear fear, not some rosy Gene Roddenberry ideal of brave exploration.

That’s why the US hasn’t reached Mars or done anything cosmically significant in over 40 years – there’s nobody to race there.

Politics for Dummies

I’ve received different versions of this via email many times, but I think this one is the best. I wish I knew who originally wrote it. The French one is my favourite.

DEMOCRATIC

You have two cows.
Your neighbour has none.
You feel guilty for being successful.

REPUBLICAN

You have two cows.
Your neighbour has none.
So?

SOCIALIST

You have two cows.
The government takes one and gives it to your neighbour.
You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.

COMMUNIST

You have two cows.
The government seizes both and provides you with milk.
You wait in line for hours to get it.
It is expensive and sour.

CAPITALISM, AMERICAN-STYLE

You have two cows.
You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.

BUREAUCRACY, AMERICAN-STYLE

You have two cows.
Under the new farm programme the government pays you to shoot one, milk the other, and then pours the milk down the drain.

AMERICAN CORPORATION

You have two cows.
You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one.
You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses.
Your stock goes up.

FRENCH CORPORATION

You have two cows.
You go on strike because you want three cows.
You go to lunch and drink wine.
Life is good.

JAPANESE CORPORATION

You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.
They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains.
Most are at the top of their class at cow school.

GERMAN CORPORATION

You have two cows.
You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour.
Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.

ITALIAN CORPORATION

You have two cows but you don’t know where they are.
While ambling around, you see a beautiful woman.
You break for lunch.
Life is good.

RUSSIAN CORPORATION

You have two cows.
You have some vodka.
You count them and learn you have five cows.
You have some more vodka.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.

TALIBAN CORPORATION

You have all the cows in Afghanistan, which are two.
You don’t milk them because you cannot touch any creature’s private parts.
You get a $40 million grant from the US government to find alternatives to milk production but use the money to buy weapons.

IRAQI CORPORATION

You have two cows.
They go into hiding.
They send radio tapes of their mooing.

POLISH CORPORATION

You have two bulls.
Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.

BELGIAN CORPORATION

You have one cow.
The cow is schizophrenic.
Sometimes the cow thinks he’s French, other times he’s Flemish
The Flemish cow won’t share with the French cow.
The French cow wants control of the Flemish cow’s milk.
The cow asks permission to be cut in half.
The cow dies happy.

FLORIDA CORPORATION

You have a black cow and a brown cow.
Everyone votes for the best looking one.
Some of the people who actually like the brown one best accidentally vote for the black one.
Some people vote for both.
Some people vote for neither.
Some people can’t figure out how to vote at all.
Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which one you think is the best-looking cow.

CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

You have millions of cows.
They make real California cheese.
Only five speak English.
Most are illegal.
Arnold likes the ones with the big udders.

Censor this, Miss.

After reading this story about a kid who started a library in his locker because certain books were banned at his private school, I was reminded of a certain drama teacher I had at the private high school I attended for two (miserable) years.

Rape? That doesn’t happen to people like us.

She brought a play that was performed at the Grahamstown Festival down to Cape Town for us. It was a modern South African version of the decline of the Roman Empire. Halfway through, the headmistress stepped onto the stage and said the performance was being cancelled.

Apparently the implied rape scene, where a wealthy white landowner forces himself on one of his workers, was just too much for our esteemed headmistress’ sensibilities. This was despite sexual violence and the injustices of the past being major issues at the time (1995).

The next week, it was announced that the very popular drama teacher had resigned to ‘pursue other interests’.

Detention

I wrote a letter to a friend about how unjust I thought the whole situation was. Unfortunately one of the teachers found it and I was hauled up in front of a committee – the deputy headmistress, the guidance counsellor and some other educational sycophant.

They focussed on the fact that I had insulted the headmistress, which by proxy meant I had disrespected the school. A ‘very serious offense’ (sic) as the letter to my parents said.

Freedom

Happily, my father was so furious with me for causing trouble that he decided to remove me from the school.

In all fairness, I was a rebellious shit-stirrer. And not always for noble reasons. I gave teachers lip, smoked on school property, swore too much, skipped class, hung around with unsavoury boys after school and never wore my blazer in public. I also liked asking questions about evolution during Divinity.

Ultimately, I despised the disingenuous liberalism of what was really an incredibly elitist and sheltered institution. It produced a lot of well-educated and knowledgeable people, but no amount of knowledge can give you the tools for an open mind.

How Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sparked my freedom-loving spirit

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was my favourite show as a kid. Then it became Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. I still remember the day they changed Ninja to Hero and the reason given – “The word ‘Ninja’ implies violence and children shouldn’t be exposed to violence.”

WTF? First of all, these guys are mutant turtles. Secondly, they use dangerous Ninjitsu weapons to beat the shit out of bad guys. But the word Ninja is ‘too violent’? This was the same time that Nelson Mandela was released from prison, and my political awareness and ideas on civil freedom were starting to take hold. Outraged, I vowed to defy the nanny-state censorship with every fibre of my 8-year-old being.

Every time the show came on, my little brother (I enlisted him) and I would defiantly sing along to the theme tune inserting the word Ninja loudly over the word Hero. I even wrote an essay on it. Bless my teacher Mrs Barlow for encouraging me with an A+. Isn’t it odd, the things that inspire us?

TMNT