Friday, March 23, 2007

What Impact Are You Making?

“If I was a student, I would march against myself.”

Dim Lights, Big City

Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
Dim Lights, Big City The Conlin-Beavan family experiment requires that lights be low in their Fifth Avenue apartment.

Published: March 22, 2007

For full article click on the title of this post.

Flight of the Little Girl

GRRRRRrrr - Come here and buy me
picture courtesy: Gallo

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wizardry With Color and Light

Over the course of the next few days I'm going to load up some of the images that didn't make the grade for this exhibition.
May 4th - diarise it - it ought to be an interesting evening. I'm sending 100 invitations out, and spending around R5000.
If you're reading this you'd better be there!

Picture courtesy

Victoria's Secret Stolen

The police said that about 7:30 p.m. two men and a woman wearing a puffy white coat grabbed dozens of undergarments from roll-out drawers on two display tables and stuffed the merchandise into large “booster bags” (shopping bags lined with aluminum foil), which investigators say thwart the sensors in anti-theft systems.
In all, the police said, the take was $6,921 worth of panties and $4,905 in bras.
“That’s a lot of underwear,” said Lt. Edgar Martinez, a spokesman for the Jersey City Police Department.

For full article click on the title of this post

Wednesday Ride

Brilliant cycle Wednesday. Beautiful morning, and was nice to ride with Arien Tortius ( and some other riders who I haven't seen for a while:
Distance: 90km
Average Speed: 29km/h
HR Average: 130 (171 Max)
Have moved 80% of my stuff. Also virtually finished the set-up for the Photo Exhibition, but now this morning the organiser is suddenly resistant to going ahead with it. Bizarre.
Am considering buying and moving into a budget flat when I get back, as I am fed-up with renting and pouring R2000 down someone elses drain.
Having a good day at work today, but very sore from yesterday's exertions.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Top 10 Signs That You Could Be Pregnant

10. Tender, swollen breasts

9. Fatigue

8. Implantation bleeding

7. Nausea or vomiting

6. Increased sensitivity to odors

5. Abdominal bloating

4. Frequent urination

3. A missed period

2. Your basal body temperature stays high

1. The proof: A positive home pregnancy test

Stays with you...

One of the Exhibition pics...


What a topsy turvy day. In the end I achieved a lot. Spent R995 printing out all the pictures for the Exhibition (likely to be 4 May), and then commissioned framing to the value of just under R3000.

Also did a good spin class, very aerobic, with Charl Trichardt (Barendine also there), which was exactly what the doctor ordered.

More flux factors but I guess I may not reveal what they are...

Oh CJ's birthday dinner was really enjoyable. Good food, good conversation, good attitudes all round.

Cricket World Cup: The Odds favor South Africa

The Cricket World Cup in the West Indies has not been without drama and upset. Pakistan, having lost to the West Indies, and cricketing minnows, Ireland, have already fallen out. Their South African coach, Bob Woolmer, died over the weekend, having been discovered unconscious in his hotel room.

Whilst unlikely, there has been some speculation that a cricket-obsessed Pakistani supporter may have poisoned Woolmer. Death threats are common in both India and Pakistan, where cricket is a national passion, and Pakistan’s loss to Ireland might have been considered by some cricket obsessed fans as unforgivable.

Meanwhile, tournament favorites South Africa currently have 2 points; Australia have 4 from their two wins.

In the recent match between World No: 2, Australia, and Holland, Australia’s Hodge and Hogg managed to score a century and take 4 scalps between them. Hodges 7 sixes and eight fours formed part of his brilliant 123 total, although he did not start off smoothly. His partnership with Michael Clarke, was a fourth wicket World Cup equaling Record (at 204).

The Australians managed a total of 358 for five, but were lucky in that ten Doneschate spilled an airborne flick from Ricky Ponting as he was about to throw it in the air in celebration. Gilchrist was also dropped at 34, but caught in the next over. The Australians nevertheless put on an impressive display of skill and power, but this was eclipsed by the World Number 1 cricketing nation.

South Africa’s demonstration against the same team was even better than Australia’s. For starters, the SA vs Holland match was limited to 40 overs, and the South Africans were only 8 runs (221) behind Australia’s leading margin (229)over 50 overs against Holland.

If Hodge’s performance was impressive, South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs was breathtaking. Gibbs scored 6 sixes – a new record for a World Cup cricket match – earning him $1 million (which he will donate to the Habitat for Humanity charity). Speaking to his sport’s journalist father, Gibbs said he was ‘fortunate’ that he was able to connect each ball in the centre of his bat, and that the field was on the small side.

After the fourth ball Gibbs said he considered storming out of the crease to wallop the ball, but then reconsidered. This tactic paid off. He described himself as ‘calm’ when the last ball of the historic over was bowled. Gibbs decided to wait patiently to see where the ball would land, and once it did, the clear eyed batsman dispatched it into the record books. This despite the Dutch bowler’s stated efforts to vary the pace of his bowling attack.

The next milestone on the World Cup calendar is the match between South Africa and Australia. It takes place on Saturday, 25 March. If the match against Holland isn’t enough of a demo of both these formidable team’s power and talent, South Africa will be in action on Tuesday against Scotland. Australia beat Scotland by 203 runs. It will be interesting to see if South Africa wins by a more convincing margin.

What is immediately obvious about both these world class teams is their superior fielding. Jonty Rhodes, who famously sprinted with a ball in hand to demolish wickets and bring about a run out in a World Cup Down Under (against India) has taken upon duties as the Proteas fielding coach, and his influence is obvious, especially in player’s such as Hall and Gibbs.

South Africa’s Shaun Pollock, and Australia’s Glen McGrath are evenly matched up. South Africa’s multitalented Jacques Kallis is on song – with bat and ball. The question is: is Andrew Symonds ready and recovered from a biceps tendon injury? With Shane Warne absent, how can the odds not favor South Africa? Woolmer’s death though, will weigh heavily on the likes of Kallis and Pollock,the two South African stars that Woolmer guided to greatness as young players.

Once again Australia are likely to fill the media with pressurizing substance in the days leading up to Saturday’s clash. It will probably involve the same refrain used in the past: that South Africa are ‘chokers’, but perhaps this time, Australia will choke under simple superiority on the field.

The result of Saturday’s encounter will determine not only the group leader, but more than likely, predict the World Cup Champion. My money is on the South Africans.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Tough Game

It was a cold, rugby dominated weekend. The two games I/we cared about - the Cheetah and Sharks games, we both won. Both pretty entertaining.

Cycled 90km on Saturday with Andre and co. Pretty good; went on a route I've never been on before. You think you know your environment so well...

Have arranged with Lynn for a Photo Exhibition in the 1st week of May. Plenty of preparations to make in the meantime. Howz this for a name:

Nick van der Leek

Light Wizard


Light Magic


Magic with light and color

Am moving out of my 'khaya' this week. Will do so in stages. First books, then clothes, then appliances, then furniture. Hopefully be done by Wednesday. Very fortunate that it's a holiday. And a cycling race in Petrusberg.

Had a good chat with Sally on Saturday (Sendingfeitstoer leader). Also convinced her to let San Marie join us. It's gonna be good.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Long Day

It's been a draining, stressful week, what with the return to work after a physically tough weekend.
Today I went cycling:
Time: 1:16
Distance: 37km
Felt very tired and heavy. Could feel the altitiude change.
Tomorrow is a race at Petrusberg.
Btw Fransa got a job working in a hair salon.
Have also asked for and gotten leave so quite happy about that.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Argus Experience

Why a bicycle race is special enough to attract 38 000 competitors

From the humblest of beginnings (the Argus started as a protest ride in aid of cycling paths in Cape Town), today Cape Town’s Pick’nPay Argus Cycle Race is the largest event of its kind in the world. This year it was even larger: a record 38 000 local and international cyclists took part. Unlike the Tour de France, this is a one day, once off event, although it is also the culmination of the Giro del Capo, which means a seamless combination of the last day’s stage of a professional bicycle race, with world class organization on a platter for the gargantuan cycling flocks of cyclists, representing all shapes and abilities.

For 30 years, on the 2nd weekend of every march, cyclists have gathered in the Mother City at around dawn, and cycled the scenic but challenging route around the Cape Peninsula. Seven cyclists (the so-called ‘Magnificent Seven’) have cycled in every tour for the last 30 years. One of them, Stephen Stefano, managed a credible 3:27 this year. Jappie Malan, the oldest rider (at 86 years old), finished in over 7 hours. The youngest rider in this year’s race was just 10 years old.

Even cycling legends Jan Ullrich – who recently announced his retirement – and American Greg Lemond (both Tour winners) and Steven Rooks joined the fun. Miguel Indurain has been here too. About two thirds of all competitors are locals from in and around Cape Town, another third (about 10 000) stream to Cape Town for the weekend from all across South Africa, and around 2000 come from abroad to take part. The Argus has something for everyone: from the most hardcore cyclists, to the up-for-it neighbour who has a rusty bicycle in his garage.

One commentator pointed out that a bicycle shop near Cape Town, in Stellenbosch, received a request just days before Sunday’s 2007 Argus, to do a ‘full service’ on a very sorry, moth eaten bicycle. The shop assistant asked: ‘When last was this bicycle ridden?’ The fellow answered: ‘At last year’s Argus’.

Others, like me, are more serious. 2007 will be my 4th Argus, but only my 2nd on the Chapman’s peak route (Chapman’s Peak Drive was closed due to falling rocks and reconstruction of the roads for a few years). I’m serious because the Argus presents a great opportunity and setting to test and measure myself, and to some extent to compete against other strong riders. After all, even my brother takes part, and plenty of other friends do as well. For us, the challenge is to break the 3 hour barrier. If you can do that, you’re assured of plenty of respect from other cyclists.

Another goal is to work your way up the rankings. When there are as many as 38 000 cyclists, these are sent off in echelons around 200 strong, at 5 minute intervals. They depart just after 6am, and this continues all morning, until around 11am. It’s better to leave early, not only because the weather tends to become worse (hotter, windier and wetter) later in the day, but also to be assured of being with talented riders who know their stuff. If you’re a strong rider in a group way down the seedings, like M, as I was last year, you’ll waste plenty of energy just trying to get around slower, clumsier cyclists. This year I am in C. I managed a 3:18 last year, and so I think this time the 3 hour barrier is in range.

The race begins immediately with a fairly steep climb along the flanks of Table Mountain, away from the city bowl. Once the legs have truly woken up, the road plunges down into a downward curve, the infamous ‘Hospital Bend’. The name conjures up injuries, and every year cyclists come to grief here, in the first 5 kilometres. The corner is really based on the fact that a hospital, Grootte Schuur, is nearby – where Dr. Chris Barnard performed the world’s first heart transplant.

A Nedbank rider clipped an orange cone descending Hospital Bend, swinging it into the road and bringing down a number of riders. 13 had to spend the night in hospital, but were reported to be doing ‘satisfactorily.’ In my group three riders got tangled up in the accordion a few hundreds metres after Hospital Bend. In events of this magnitude, 85 injuries out of a total of 38 000 is negligible.

Having survived possible carnage at Hospital Bend, the road saddles around the knees of Table Mountain, floating around the ivy covered University of Cape Town campus, and then dropping down once again before a turn up steep Edinburgh Drive. It’s a hard climb, and I lost touch with the majority of the C riders on this climb. Edinburgh Drive is an important climb. Climb it too slowly and you risk cycling alone along the fast and windy Blue Route. Cycle it too hard and you’re likely to feel it in the climbs that follow.

I went fairly conservatively, and fortunately formed a team of first three, then seven riders, including one chap who’d already fallen off the B bunch. Now we worked our way across the flat and fast but windswept Blue Route – a smooth highway that drops down from Table Mountain into an area filled with small vineyards and horsefilled paddocks. Ahead was a small peloton that included a local racer (that I considered a benchmark) and I didn’t want to lose touch with him. The Blue Route connects Cape Town with posh and pretty Constantia (where Lady Diana’s brother bought a house), and also the far off False Bay’s warmer beaches: Muizenberg, Fish Hoek and Simonstown. The road through Muizenberg is undulating, but tricky because of manhole covers, narrow twisting roads and traffic islands. All along the route here people are clapping and cheering, some even singing.

It’s once through Fish Hoek that the legs start to do serious work again. As we approached Simonstown (with its penguin colony) we’d reeled in my friend and his group, but the entire D group, who’d started 5 minutes behind us, swarmed around us.
I was actually happy about this, because the cycle out of Simonstown up to Smitswinkel (near Cape Point) is always very tough. It is not only steep, but usually against troublesome winds. With D enveloping us, streaming up the steep road alongside us, it made the climb much easier. My friend sprinted by me in the agonizing final yards of the climb, possibly to signal he wasn’t to be trifled with?

The road from Smitswinkel takes us incredibly quickly under a long, elegant avenue of Blue Gums. Then we swing left with the crushed white ocean spray licking our spokes and handlebars. This is Misty Cliffs, where the ocean roars in from the Antarctic, and the cyclists gradually fizzle into a blur of superspeed. On the edge of Misty Cliffs is Kommetjie, where the road lifts impatiently once again , and the wind tugs. This is where the legs remember the strain of Edinburgh Drive and Smitswinkel. Meanwhile, the arduous Chapman’s Peak looms ahead. The cliffs rise sheer out of the icy sea. We cycle along gentle, silky smooth roads between verdant vineyards and with some effort I manage to reel in my friend just before Chapman’s Peak. And then it is the work of getting over and around these cliffs, to Hout Bay.

Chapman’s Peak has windy, winding, slow climbing roads cut into cliffs suspended near vertically above the plunging sea below. Once over the top, the road swoops down and loops left and right. It’s easy to come unstuck here too, but the road is wide enough to offer a few opportunities for corrections and second chances.

Going down along the dunes in Hout Bay’s Princess Avenue I waved to my aunt, in a red blouse, and then a turn, and a tough, short climb with shops on either side. It’s a nasty appetizer for an even harder climb. Suikerbossie (literally: small sugar bush) is the nemesis of many a cyclist on the Argus. On its own it’s still a fairly steep hill. After so many sets of steep climbs though, and with less than 20km to go, Suikerbossie is excruciatingly hard. The muscles want to cramp. It’s hot. And the continuous climbing doesn’t end. The road presents an illusion that it carries on forever. It ascends steeply in a straight line, and then bends a little, suggesting a climb that just keeps on going. But Suikerbossie was good for me. I climbed away from my friend at the bottom of Suikerbossie, who until then appeared very intent on being motivated just to beat me, and managed to grab 3 vital water sachets. I’d perspired profusely and drained both water bottles, so the extra water was a lucky bonus.

At the top of Suikerbossie are 4 lanes for free falling, very fast riding, towards Camps Bay. That’s what we did, with a tandem taking the lead. In Camps Bay I waved at a friend and then noticed the magic hour had passed. We whisked through Clifton, and then the last tight turn before building up towards the finish line at Green Point Stadium. I crossed the line in 3:08. My brother did a 3:03. Another friend, who works for Standard Bank, did an excellent 2:48.

I’ll be back next year, like thousands of others, to see if I can do better. Meanwhile, like the countless people cycling in superman and batman suits, I want to come back once I’ve done myself proud, and ride it just to soak up the goodwill, the fun, and the enjoyment of this cycling feast. And I wonder when we’ll see Lance at the Argus?

For more information visit:

The Road to Sub 3

It's been an awesome weekend. Left Cape Town at 4:30am and arrived in Bloem just before 2pm. At one time I was driving 170km/h but I think just outside Colesberg I got scanned at 140km/h despite being flash-warned by an oncoming motorist (there was a second copper hiding behind another bush).

Was a busy, fun packed weekend. Had a braai at my cousin in Blouberg (near to where the picture below was taken), visited my aunt and had a lekker breakfast at Vida e Caffe, one of the coolest hangouts in Cape Town (or so I'm told).

I did a good Argus too. The weather was perfect.

Time: 3:08

Distance: 109km
Average speed: 34.5km/h (1:44 per km)

Energy: 3570

Average Heart Rate: 162 (Max: 175)

Climbing: almost 1000m total.

Alex did a 2:48

Hannes: 2:51

Coen: 2:53

CJ: 3:03

Ettiene: 3:09/10

Carol: 3:57

Am happy with how I rode. On very modest amounts of training (around 6:40 per week for 4-5 weeks) I felt like I climbed well, and also rode tactically well. I also beat Ettiene who has beaten me in every Free State race so far, and he's a climber. I pulled away from him at the bottom of Suikerbossie.

Also lots of background noise to this trip. A close ex friend who has gotten someone pregnant, turned down R2m + offers for property, engagements etc. Will elaborate where possible when I have some more time.

I Can See Clearly Now

After tattooing my arm and calf, I asked these two (at the Argus Expo) to pose for a quick pic.

And God said:

Let there be light...

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Do computers change how we think (compute)? And should we change how computers think?

The short answer is that using computers has revolutionized almost every aspect of how human beings function on a daily basis. There are so many ways to approach this subject, from the impact of computers on our language, to our thinking, and even changing our eating and sleeping habits.

Have you ever tried to do something on a computer and it simply wouldn’t (listen). You’re insisting that it does something your way, and it keeps insisting that it can’t, or that there’s an ERROR. It’s at times like these that you wish your computer could either read your mind, or you could just say: Look, I’m trying to do this one simple thing. Can you just go ahead and do it so I don’t have to do it manually. Is an ‘automatic’ computer possible, or put in another way: if computers could talk, what would they say?

Alan Turing defined what has been widely accepted as an ‘intelligent computer’: the computer is supposed to engage a person via an email conversation but here’s the catch – without revealing its identity as a machine. Without a few fundamental changes to how we program and code and even think about computers (and ourselves), that goal appears to be some way off yet.

I read an article (from the Boston Globe) on this subject, and specifically Artificial Intelligence. The writer quoted Shakespeare: ‘What a piece of work is a man…How infinite in faculty…’ As marvelous as computers are, they lack some of the skills we take for granted: imagination, intuition and of course, emotional response.

So in an effort to decide how to make computers more like us (rather than the other way round) let’s start with something simple. Vocabulary. Here are some common words that come to us out of our everyday use of computers:

- users
- delete
- filter
- shortcut
- log on
- connect
- password
- paste
- cancel
- escape

This lexicon may not seem exceptional at first, until we consider some of their functional consequences. A user, for example, in the ordinary way we’d think of the word, is someone who manipulates or piggybacks on someone else. It has a negative connotation. No such connations in computer speak. A user is simply what you are. And often, as someone on a network, you use (and are required to use) resources such as bandwidth, memory, network printers etc. In this sense, being a consumer of resources is seen as both a mixture of ordinary functionality and identity. Just this has some extraordinary implications when we think of what is going on in the world: take climate change. The last thing the world really wants (and I mean the world as the recipient of human action, not the world as ‘ours’) is ‘another’ user. So to blatantly identify oneself as a ‘user’ is quite ignorant, and even insulting from a particular point of view. The same applies to our consumption of fossil fuels. The last thing we want are more users. So to tag oneself in this way is in a sense interesting, and in another sense disconnected from some obvious realities.

Delete means to erase, but it has more significance, because it removes, it obliterates information so that it no longer exists. The point is that when you erase, say, on paper, the thing erased still has some traces of itself. When you delete from a computer, no trace remains. This makes real war games on computers a frightening prospect, because potentially when an enemy is wiped out, even on paper, even the record of existence disappears. I mean, if you delete something, who wants a record of something that doesn’t exist.

Filter. This means to sort through details,and on the face of it it may seem pretty harmless. But imagine you’re dealing with people who filter a lot of information as a job. Perhaps they’re in human resources or something. And then they filter you. Perhaps one detail about your life doesn’t quite fit the profile, and then you get filtered out. Computers work that way, why shouldn’t the people who use them? And we do. When we go shopping, we’ll pass the products we’re about to buy through our own filters, be they prices, quality, image whatever. Filters are useful, but we run the risk of becoming too automated as human beings.

Other word acquire interesting new meanings, which collude to create a world within our world. It’s a world, from a certain point of view, without consequences. We can log on, or connect, paste or cancel, and while these may seem harmless, and mostly appear harmless in Computer World, well, sometimes they can do a tremendous amount of harm. While much of the time the ‘connections’ we make on computers aren’t important, sometimes they are ‘good’ and sometimes they are ‘harmful’ or ‘dangerous’. We may allow other software to intrude into our world, we may unwittingly allow viruses into our systems, when we chose whether or not to cancel we hold the fate of our time and resources in our hands. And it may be easy at times to cancel in the real world. Cancel a date, cancel a booking, cancel an appointment. In the computer world it may be fairly harmless to cancel the changing or saving of a file. We do it so often that the word ‘cancel’ may seem eventually to be almost benign. But of course, it has consequences.

It is no coincidence that obesity happens to coincide, not absolutely, but to a large extent with especially people who have access to computers, and especially the internet. In our generation we have the peculiar statistic that more people in the world are obese than those starving of hunger. Well, who are these people? They’re burger munching, keyboard tapping, mouse clicking computer addicts. Many of them are, simply because a computer allows you do a lot, without doing anything. So if this is an obvious symptom, where does it all start.

Human beings are visually stimulated. That’s why most of us aren’t entertained by walks through a botanical garden, or a night at the opera. Music matters of course, but what matters more than anything is pictures. Is it any wonder that Microsoft call their Operating Systems: Windows. And Vista. Because if there is anything that excites a computer user, whether a gamer, or someone in an office, it’s a nice easy to use display. Those icons are what make it work. Those icons are what make it interesting. Appearances make the world go round: magazine covers sell magazines, first attractive and then intelligent actors sell us on movies.

By clicking on an icon, we link to whatever it we want to link to. It’s called a shortcut. And probably, many of us use shortcuts a great deal on computers. We don’t think anything of it. I know a programmer who uses shortcuts in her programming all the time. It makes her job easier. But she says she finds herself searching for shortcuts in everyday life too. A shortcut has something of that significance of the Rabbit and the Tortoise. It may seem easy at first, and probably it is, but somewhere along the line, especially getting into the habit of employing short cuts (where in driving, working whatever), a short cut is not only not going to pay off, it is going to get you into trouble.

Much of the world today is based on efficiency, and efficiencies are designed over shortcuts. Does any thought go into critical outcomes that are unknown? The quickest and easiest design is preferred, until it’s discovered why, for example, for hundreds of years, houses were not built within a certain range of a river.

Computers are filled with iterative processes that are based on either something being:
1 or 0.
That may seem logical.
Then, built over this assumption are these:
If X, then Y.
Once again. This may appear to be the most logical place to start, but for every choice there are many implications. I won’t explore more than a couple here.

In the world, few things are either a 1 or a 0. If 1 is for Body, and 0 is for Mind, what represents the Spirit? If 1 is War, and 0 is Peace, what is crime? If Day is 1 and 0 is Night, what is twilight, dawn, a solar eclipse etc. If 1 is Male, and 0 is Female, what is someone with combined genitalia, or a transvestite? The point is, using a 1 and a 0 to code may be effective, but it doesn’t quite translate (compute) for the simple reason that there are exceptions. There is a higher order in the universe than a dichotomy. It’s a trinity. It may appear to be a strange analogy, but what we’re dealing with are the most basic paradigms of a computer. Either it fires or it doesn’t. Either it’s on or it’s off. And based on this, sure, one can program subtleties, and help the computer to feel it’s way, but it’s DNA is still structured around a dual process. Yes or no, on or off, save or delete.

We do tend to think in the same way, with our stereotypes and labeling. After all, people write computer code, and computers are built by people, for people. So there’s something of Alice and Looking Glass in there. When we look at computers, we’re seeing a mech version of our own logical processes. They may be logical, they may not be simple, but perhaps they are too simplistic.

Perhaps in future, computer code will go beyond 1’s and 0’s. DNA may consist of two strands, but these strands are bonded together by the enzymes and proteins within the helix. Thus there are not really two structures involved, but three. Thus the third dimension for computer code perhaps be represented by simply pressing the space bar. Something has happened, but what it is is unknown, but not necessarily unknowable.
If we can fully associate ourselves with machines, and machines can be intelligent enough to maneuver through grey areas (such as voice recognition), perhaps we can begin to look at the world in a new way. Perhaps then for the first time we can remain aware of our connections, without there necessarily being overt evidence to prove it. If computers could be taught this skill, this insight, of knowing how all things are connected, perhaps we can begin to engineer the systems required to harmonize ourselves with the other forces at work in the world.

The Rain Came Too Late

Devastating drought not restricted to the Free State

Last month Bloemfontein recorded around 7mm of rain. The average figure over 30 years is 111mm. In January, the figures were in similar proportions. But when the country saw a cold front move across the subcontinent over the weekend, not only bringing rain but the relief of the first cool temperatures in weeks, it was already too late. Bloemfontein only had 7mm (March’s average is 72mm). John Purchase, General Manager of Grain South Africa, says 30% of the maize crop – at least – is already written-off.

Unfortunately, this is not where the problem ends. In the past provinces that experienced a tough season could borrow from neighboring regions, and redistribute winter feed and otherwise help each other. This year the drought and heat has affected all provinces in the country. Farmers both in the Free State and other regions do not expect to have any winter feed to tide their animals over through another dry season.

As a result of this, and the oil price, we’ll see maize prices soar. The price of Maize powder has already increased 28.34% for the year ending in December. Eggs prices have also increased almost 20%, and frozen chickens (whole), have increased more than 27%.*
When one looks at a graph of the maize price, the recent rise is shockingly sudden and sharp, creating an ever rising Everest at the end of a series of small frolicking foothills.

We can also expect the largest petrol price hike we have ever seen next month. It is rumored to be something like 80c, although by the end of March, this figure could be even more. This is due to both higher oil prices, and a weakening currency. Higher oil prices are said to be the result of ‘unexpectedly low inventories’. It is incredible that these, being as vital as they are, can be underestimated. Recent information has demonstrated that the world’s largest (and one of the oldest) giant oil fields, Ghawar, is depleting at around 8% per year. This suggests that in 10 years or less this super giant field will be dry and useless.

If you, like me, have sometimes wondered why or how on Earth it is that we’re seeing such extraordinary summer temperatures (and the average is set to continue to rise by at least 2 degrees Celsius), the answer is no mystery at all. Each time you drive your car, you’re a contributor. And there are hundreds of millions like you. The world’s weather, the oil price, food prices, and what we’ll pay to drive around in our cars, all these are connected. In fact, what we’re dealing with is a very simple symptom. Both food and oil is the same stuff: fuel. Converted solar energy. The difference is that today we have breached the carrying capacity of this planet. That simply means, there is not enough energy for everyone. Not enough energy for everyone to move around the way they’d like to (flying and driving all over the world). And not enough food, although this is really dependent on weather and transport costs. As we’re seeing, both of these are no longer favorable, and it’s getting worse.

It’s interesting that as climate change is beginning to manifest, the reason behind it (our massive use of oil, and the conversion of it into air pollution), and its costs, are becoming poignantly clear too. It is likely to remain the enduring irony of our time. But it is likely that in the future, we will not have the luxury of ironic movies, or books. We’ll have to make do without our staple of daily entertainment. In the New World, soaps and silly sitcoms will no longer be watchable simply because of the austerity going on in the world around us. We’ll have to get used to living with far less than we’re used to now.

- Meanwhile the UK has just emerged from its second warmest winter on record.

*Prices quoted from an article by Cecile Nel, in Sake24, ‘Kos-prysbult le voor’


I measured my OwnIndex last night.

Predicated Max(Hr): 183 (up from 182 a few weeks ago)
Index: 59 (up from 58)

Good to see tangible signs of improvement, but then I do feel stronger and faster on the bike. Just want to mfeel lighter ;-)

Cycled this morning: 37km in about 1hr 14min (30km/h exactly.

Have stacks of work though, so will be a relief to be out of here some time tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I Believe...

“Religious behavior may be a misfiring, an unfortunate byproduct of an underlying psychological propensity which in other circumstances is, or once was, useful,” Dawkins wrote. He is joined by two other best-selling authors — Sam Harris, who wrote “The End of Faith,” and Daniel Dennett, a philosopher at Tufts University who wrote “Breaking the Spell.”

The three men differ in their personal styles and whether they are engaged in a battle against religiosity, but their names are often mentioned together. They have been portrayed as an unholy trinity of neo-atheists, promoting their secular world view with a fervor that seems almost evangelical.

- from a New York Times article: Darwin's God, by Robin Marantz Heinig

Dependence Syndrome: A Good Thing?

For the full article click on the title of this post to hyperlink to NYTimes article.

Published: March 6, 2007
The domestic scenes that would slowly suffocate the marriage were not scenes at all, in the usual sense, but silences, imagined slights, private fears that went unspoken. She would ask him to do the dishes after dinner and feel a shudder when he put off the chore, as if it were a rejection.

Or she would dress up to go out, and then struggle against a growing dread as the moments passed and he did not comment on how good she looked.

“I never once said anything, but I had this need for approval, this terrible dependence that he had no way to understand,” Ronni Weinstein, 61, a therapist living near Chicago, said about her former husband. Indeed, she added, she has since learned that her dependent urges might have been used to bind the marriage rather than undermine it.
“That’s what healthy couples learn to do,” she said, “to voluntarily depend on one another and decide who is doing what for the relationship.”

Neediness has a familiar face: the close friend who is continually asking for reassurance, for advice, for help with the wireless connection. The accomplished adult who lurches from one relationship to another, playing geisha for each new partner. The abused spouse who is afraid to walk out.

Yet only in recent years have researchers begun to realize that while in some guises dependence can undermine mental health, in others it can provide valuable social support.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Iran Attack Plans

Click on the title of this post to link to the article.

Also visit:

Anyone realise that Iran is between two US occupied territories:
Iraq and Afganistan.

Read the post below to see why an invasion of Iran will happen this year.

Downward Spiral

My intepretation is that the bump in the middle of the year that separates the two lines is due to the impact of Haradh III coming on stream. So that tells us that, given some extra production capacity, Saudi Aramco immediately threw it into the production mix. And the effect of that? It lifted the plummeting production curve up by 300kbpd, but did nothing to change the gradient of the plummet. That suggests that the Saudis had nothing else to throw at the problem.

It also suggests that last year's underlying Type II decline rate, before megaprojects like Haradh III, was 14%.
Overall, I feel this data is clear enough that I'm willing to go out on a limb and conclude the following:

Saudi Arabian oil production is now in decline.
The decline rate during the first year is very high (8%), akin to decline rates in other places developed with modern horizontal drilling techniques such as the North Sea.
Declines are rather unlikely to be arrested, and may well accelerate.
Matt Simmons appears to be right in
Twilight in the Desert, but the warning did not come until after declines had actually begun.
[Update: Steve Andrews of ASPO-USA correctly points out to me in email that Matt Simmons began warnings about Saudi Arabia as early as December 2003, significantly before the publication of the hardback version of the book in mid 2005. I relied on an over-hasty check of Amazon which has the paperback publication date - mea culpa.]
I suggest that this is likely to place severe political strains on Saudi Arabia within a year or two at most.
The graphic and above article is from Click on the title to link directly to the webposting and comments.

De La Rey

The Afrikaner Flame Flares Up
How a simple song has divided and conquered South Africa

‘A handful of us against an army of them’

It is the biggest selling South African album ever, and it is still causing a national sensation. The first time I heard Bok van Blerk’s song was in a church. My Afrikaans girlfriend had been nagging me for weeks to go to church. I don’t remember too much of the sermon, but I do remember Van Blerk’s song, De La Rey. It is about a legendary Boer General who fought overwhelming numbers of better equipped British troops during the Anglo Boer War more than a century ago. The words of the song by Bok van Blerk become supremely relevant for two reasons:

1) The Afrikaner (and I think white people here in general) have suffered incredible odds for as long as they have been in Africa, and there is a tremendous heroism in having survived what we have that the song identifies and recognizes
2) This line: ‘De La Rey De La Rey, sal jy die Boere kom lei? De La Rey De La Rey’ translates powerfully and meaningfully in the modern era in South Africa, even the world. It means: General de La Rey, will you come and lead us?

Even as I write this a swarm of energy burns along my spine, and I know everyone in that all white congregation that day felt the same way. Well, they should, since it’s a song about the Boer, the Afrikaner. Why then does it fan the flame inside me? After all, I am not even an Afrikaner.

His Story

By all accounts I should be. Most people in Bloemfontein, where I live, are Afrikaners, and the vast majority of white people with Dutch surnames (or at least, non-British) in South Africa are Afrikaans speaking. I’m an unusual South African in that I have a Dutch heritage, on my father’s side, and a British and Afrikaans heritage on my mother’s. Most of my forbears were here before the War, and we certainly came far too late to have any claim to that other Afrikaans tradition, the Great Trek.
Although my father spoke Dutch as an infant, he made the unusual transition from Dutch to English, simply because he was sent to a local English school in the predominantly Afrikaans city of Bloemfontein. My grandmother (on my mother’s side) married an Englishman, and thus my mother tongue remains English to this day.


I went to a school in the bad old Apartheid days. It was an all white school, but nevertheless segregated along language/cultural lines: one third of all students were English, and two third Afrikaans. We had our own classes, and for the most part the big Afrikaners played tough games like rugby while the English kids (who were usually smaller and more timid) played hockey and soccer. So, despite me being a van der Leek, I had my lessons in English. During history classes at one time, we learnt of the Boer War, and my classmates and I considered ourselves Boers, because a hundred years ago the British were certainly not our friends, and the country didn’t belong to them. South Africa was merely the outskirts of the British Empire, like plenty of other colonies at the time. I sympathized with the terrible suffering the Boer woman went through in British concentration camps, and I hated the British for their scorched Earth policy. Of course, the Boer’s did not only have to deal with attacks from the British, but also from staggering hordes of Xhosa and Zulu impi’s, armed with spears and shields. But van Blerk’s song is about the Boer General fighting the British. In a time when your weapon was a musket that took more than a minute to load, and often did not work, the odds were very much against the Boers.
And yet, as farmers and frontiersmen they became intimate with their land, becoming keen and strong and for a time very successful guerillas in the field of battle.

Dutchmen vs Rooinek

If I considered myself a Boer (in the context of the War) the Afrikaners I went to school with didn’t think of me in the same way. They would call my friends rooinek (red neck), when they heard us speaking English, and when they heard my surname, they would ask me why I didn’t speak Afrikaans. Meanwhile, the English kids called the Afrikaners Dutchmen, which left me uncomfortably out of place, but in a sense, gave me a perpetually unbiased white man’s vista. Sometimes kids would come up to me and ask: “Which sport is the toughest: rugby or soccer?” There was always a lot more imbedded in that question than the question itself.


It took me a number of years to become fluent at Afrikaans, and of course it helped having an Afrikaans girlfriend. So why does this Afrikaans song, for Afrikaans people, strike a chord in the hearts of so many here? Why has the impact been assessed as far afield as the New York Times? Well, because this song is not ironic, or funny or even clever. For starters, it is a damn good song. It also has a simple militancy about it, which infects those who hear it. For the first time in many years, the Afrikaner and other white people are recognizing themselves as a group once again. And the song is about standing up. It’s about resistance. It’s about a heritage of both those things, and until now, we’d all but forgotten about it.

‘With the cliffs of the mountains against our backs
They think they can run us down’

While the country has been given over to Affirmative Action, the spoils carved up and sold out to Black Empowerment and all the rest that this entails, the original custodians of the country, the once powerful but now meek – those who have not yet been murdered – have been quietly smouldering on the back burner. You might not think that white South Africans have a place in a country called South Africa, until you see how these people respond to this song. If you weren’t sure how white South Africans felt about their place in their country, watch them get fired up by this song. And indeed, one of the lines in the song (translated) goes:
‘But the flame and the fire that once burned
now burns deep, deep inside me’.

I was at a braai recently when the song was played again and again and again. My girlfriend’s brother, a big Afrikaans guy, and an excellent rugby player in his day, called me over and put his arm around my shoulder. A few of us, drunk on beer, with the coals throwing off swirling smoke around our faces, sang, shouted the words of the song.
I don’t think it’s appropriate to go to the songwriters or even Bok van Blerk (real name Louis Pepler, a 28 year old from Pretoria) to ask them why they wrote the song, or what they were trying to say. Because it is a very simple song, telling a very simple story. I do think it is appropriate that people notice what the song does to them personally. We can try to explain that.

‘Because my wife and my child are forced into prison to die’

Leadership Vacuum

My personal experience is that the song strikes plenty of chords. It is about the suffering and the struggle of white people merely to get on with their lives in Africa. It is about the very real need we have for a leader, for ourselves as a group, but even for our country. The white nation went into mourning when our cricket captain, Hansie Cronje died in an aeroplane crash. We have no powerful political or religious leaders that are worth listening to. We feel that loss. Crime whips and wounds and devastates the collective white community on a daily basis. And how do the people here respond to all this? Hundreds of thousands, millions, have already left their country because of the interminable, unbearable pressure. And I too, am thinking of moving to Perth, Australia, in the next two years. I have already spent 2 years in Britain and 4 years in South Korea. The constant crime means we don’t feel safe in our homes, and each day, the newspapers have more news that pushes us down.

‘As the enemy overruns us again, we are forced to take a stand’

But while I am here, in my country, the country that I and my family was born and raised, I welcome people like myself taking a stand against the forces that seem to be forever pushing us. For me it is not about yearning for Apartheid, it is not about racism, but pushing back against the constant slights and terrible blows that keep reigning down on us. I don’t mind standing by the Afrikaner. When I was in Scotland, I felt a similar desire to be Scottish, and to subscribe to many things Scottish. You don’t have to be of a particular nationality to be inspired, but I suppose it helps. De La Rey is about the sharing of real suffering, and the conviction, the rallying call to stand up against it. How the Afrikaners will stand, is another question altogether. I personally hope that there will be some kind of asserting of personal standards, or even a revolution, if only a cultural one.
In a country where the vice president sings songs about ‘Bring me my machine gun’ outside a court (on first rape, them corruption charges), where ‘farm murder’ literally means farmer’s (the same Boers a hundred years later, still fighting for their lives) are targeted and butchered, it does seem necessary that someone takes a stand. Perhaps it is enough that all the song ever achieves is that white South Africans literally stand up, together, and make their presence felt and heard in this country. De La Rey is a cry that belongs to all people at one time or another, but right now, it’s the Afrikaner that deserves recognition and respect. At the very least, we owe them our admiration, not for their sins, but for their fire.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Image courtesy

Couch Potato

Image courtesy

Cycle to the Potato Festival at Petrusberg:

Time: 1:50:46 (1:27 per kilometre)
Distance: 75.8km
HR: 160 bpm (ave) 175 (max)
Average Speed: 41.1km/h
Energy: 2044

Cycled back after a swim and some time to relax on the lawn:
Time: 2:06 (1:41 per kilometre)
Distance: 74.5km
HR: 150bpm (ave) 169 (max)
Average Speed: 35.5km/h
Energy: 2082 (was much hotter on the way back)

Total time: 3:57
Distance: 150.3km
Average speed: 37.5km/h
Energy: 4126

Didn't really ride very well going out...or didn't really manage to catch the slip on a few occasions. Fell out of two bunches, road was bumpy and the strong right to left gusts meant it was hard to shelter behind the guys if there were more than 6 riding abreast. But I broke a third bunch apart into a nice mechanical wing, and we worked nicely together. Wilba coming through didn't help as I kept pursuing him and he kept riding gutter, which meant I got weakened and thrown off a few times.
Andre rode well, and finished ahead of me, which he seemed really proud about. Funny guy. Will have to kick his butt next time.

Felt strong on the 2nd 80km, so much so that I pulled away on the last 3 km, and then rode a bit harder since I'd run out of water. We were a nice group: Jacques Greef (who won the event), Coen, Philip (who I gave R20 to for food), and Hannes, who rode with me on the last stretch on the first 80km.

We were all pretty wasted when we'd finished, partly because of the extreme heat.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Out and Back

Watched Rocky Balboa last night. A story about the common man, for the common man, but I suppose if you;re not a common sort of person it has a humanity we all ought to have in common. The fire in the belly - that sort of thing. Quite enjoyed it.

Feeling quite gloomy today. Sort've tired.

Tomorrow is a cycle race to the Aartapelfees (Potato Festival) at Petrusburg). 80km out, then the ride back - total of 160km. Ought to be tough.

But as Rocky says, nothing hits you harder than life. You just need to keep moving forward.

The Naked Truth

When flicks clothe and embellish the orginal, it spoils the underlying ethos

If Robert McKee had presented the Oscar for best director, upon finding out that Martin Scorcese had won it, he probably would have punched him over the head with the golden statuette and then, Scorcese's bleeding corpse at his feet, launch into a vitriol about the poor man, using words like "sloppy" and "self-indulgent." He'd focus either on how good writing is ruined in the movies, or why bad writing manages to make a movie in the first place.But let's face it, would the world know much about Idi Amin (or even be thinking about him), if it wasn't for flicks like "Last King of Scotland"? Even fairly mediocre films like "Troy" make us want to dig up history/story books and revisit what really happened. But MacKee's argument is this: "The one responsibility of the writer is to tell the truth. In a world populated with lies, we don’t need writers adding to them."*

I'd soften that a little and suggest that there are plenty of delusions and deceptions circulating, perhaps many of them unintentional, some of them possibly benign. This is the result of writers and other commentators finding their truth off second hand arguments, without going to the trouble to find a firsthand experience of the "truth," or exploring the issue firsthand in the real world.The bottom line for this approach is succinctly summarized in a recent article (The plot should thicken*) on McKee, by the writer who posits: "good storytelling is worth agonising can make a difference [because]... it resonates in the hearts and souls of human beings in a way that profoundly affects them."Have you ever walked out of a movie, almost in tears, having come face to face with an incontrovertible reality (truth) that is either, beautiful, or tragic, or awesome, or a mystical combination of these?For writers who feel their work is subpar, here's a tip. Order McKee's book "Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting," off

McKee is one of the most respected commentators (for film) in the business.Have you never watched a movie though, and subsequently find out that half of it turns out to be bogus depictions of what really happened. Or worse, you read a really great story, and then go to watch the movie and you find the movie has been turned into a cheeseburger (with emphasis on extra cheese).Some directors (epecially when they are the writers too), do a credible job. Think of the movie version of "The Hours." Very artistic, very close to the book, but also entirely appropriate to the silver screen. But then what about "The Prince of Tides"?

Book and film are very different. What about the Harry Potter films? Now there's a tough one. Where the films went strictly according to the books they were based on, they were sometimes overly long, and arduous, sometimes even dull. "A Beautiful Mind" is a beautiful movie. It's intelligent, the actors and acting is top notch, and it's a heartwarming story that both inspires and enlightens. It's based on a true story, written by Akiva Goldsmith. I went out and bought the book, and was astonished to find that the book was several degrees better than the film. I'd give the film a very high rating, 9 out of 10, and the book is even better; a phenomenally good read. Part of the reason is because it is the true story of the exceptionally talented genius, John Nash, and also because it is such an incredible story. Goldsmith renders a complex story -- something like a deep and intricate algorithm -- with wit, intelligence and a skillfulness that is breathtaking. In the book are also photographs of the real John Nash, and after a while I found myself resenting Ron Howard's interpretation. Not because his movie is bad, but because it appears to be so false. For example, Nash never saw three apparitions following him around (as depicted in the film). Howard has simplified reality into a sort of candy box style. Yes, it's easy to understand and simple enough to consume, but it's not really factually correct. The only aspect that is correct is the broad theme of a woman who supports her husband despite his insanity, and his ability, through his own brilliance, to "solve the problem" of his schizoid disconnect with reality.After reading the book I found a Web site, and even e-mailed John Nash, since he was (at the time) still haunting the grounds at Princeton University. I don't recall receiving a reply.

I imagine thousands of people did exactly what I did, and probably overwhelmed his inbox. But I have seen people on film and TV, e-mailed them, and received replies. Now that's reality.The movie mentions nothing of Nash's problems with his own son (who also suffered from a mental disorder), or his homosexuality, or his athletism (he was built like an Olympian). As far as I can recall (from reading the book), his wife left him for a period, and they were then later reunited, which makes that amazing gesture (his wife decides to not commit him to a sanitarium but to care for him herself instead) in the movie seem quaint and fanciful, and pretty damn unlikely. If the sentence above bothers you, because it is a bit vague and unsure of itself, then the movie ought to bother you too.

I'd like to make specific references to the book but I have lent it out so many times that I don't have it with me anymore, and whoever does have it has probably decided not to return it.Another excellent movie based on a real person is "Shine," about the talented Australian pianist David Helfgott. Once again, if you find it hard to forgive me for not being accurate, you ought to be very upset at how Helfgott has been rendered. First of all, Helfgott is bald. He doesn't look at all like the charming and funny actor that represents him. Secondly, his wife, who seems sweet and genuine in the movie, in reality, is despised by Helfgott's family as a gold digger who basically uses him -- he is apparently a zombie unable to make sense of the world -- to perform at concerts and she pockets all the proceeds.

When I was in South Korea he performed there. I wanted to attend a concert, until someone said to me, "He is very overrated. Technically he's actually not very good, he's just a celebrity because of the movie." Apparently he makes plenty of errors in a performance. I'm sorry I missed him play though. I'm no aficionado, but I would have liked to have seen and heard the real person for myself. The other thing was the photo of Helfgott that I saw on the Internet depicted a rather sorry looking fellow. He had none of the triumph or charisma of his movie double. At least the movie "Shine" does capture the essence of being pushed to breaking point, of raw talent becoming ruined and shipwrecked, but finally resurrected once again in time (which also happens in "A Beautiful Mind").

Isak Dineson's book, "Out of Africa," is about the life of the Danish aristocrat Karen Blixen in Kenya (around Ngong). Much of what happens in the movie corresponds to the book, and I think Meryl Streep does an awesome job of representing Karen Blixen. But Robert Redford looks nothing like Denis Finch Hutton. Finch Hutton is very tall and very very bald.

The worst (best?) example of fiction being far worse than the real thing, is Luc Besson's movie, "The Messenger," based on Joan of Arc. He casts ex-model Milla Jovovich in the role of Jeanne. Before this film emerged, in fact, well before, I studied real court documents that included actual words Jeanne was said to have spoken. There's an incredible amount of data and dialogue -- lots of Jeanne's own words about herself, her beliefs, and her motivations -- from her year long trial in 1429-30. (In fact, they are the world's oldest complete trial documents), including doodles that suggest what Jeanne looked like. Interestingly, in all the information that we have on Jeanne (and there is a fantastic amount with far more specifics than we have for Jesus) nowhere is any mention made of Jeanne's appearance. Nothing about her hair or eye color, or her beauty. It is amazing to me that such a powerful woman in history, a girl really, who led armies into battle, and basically brought the country of France into existence through her courage, passion and inspiration, was admired for qualities that had nothing to do with her appearance. What a difference to the world of today!The film, when compared to the literature we have on Jeanne, is awful, especially the numerous appearances of Dustin Hoffman as the "Devil."

There are many others movies, and most are fascinating real life stories. Julia Roberts doesn't really resemble Erin Brokovitch (but, does it matter?) -- she does a damn good job showing off her boobs) and Keira Knightley only has short hair and an English accent in common with recently deceased Domino Harvey.Movies about reality do at least bring the tips of the iceberg of human experience into our quadrants of the universe. It's up to us -- as writers -- to find the truth behind the pictures, and explore and uncover the meaning their lives may hold for us. The good news is, there’s often a lot of meaning to be found, but good writers need to allocate additional space to agony, and the gnashing of teeth to do credit to the stories that are out there.
View : 3 , 0
Dona, 2007/03/02 07:58
What I recall from McKee's 3-day course in New York many years ago is that the closer to excellence in the original genre, the harder it is to make a good movie from the material. That's why McKee uses Casablanca as a excellent example of scriptwriting. It was written as a movie script. Please note there were never documents of passage required as the script suggests. That was not fact, but a plot device. It's doesn't make the movie less true. Enjoyed your article!

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Comment: Hang homosexuals where you find them

By Nitwit

Of all the articles on homosexuality, yours has to be the best. You did your homework, provided a solid argument and for once, I don’t mind someone quoting the Bible.

Homosexuals have a right to life just like any other person.

Comment: The worst job in the world By Sue Richardson

Tragically so true and well said, Nick.

Wasn’t education one of those privileges which people fought so hard to attain the rights to acquire? Pity nobody told the spoilt and over-privileged offspring of the "now haves" how vital it is.

The "have nots" are still desperate - yet cannot access the knowledge they yearn for because of disruptive kids with skewed values.

This is the true tragedy of our criminal oriented society - passionate teachers who cannot teach and spoilt brats who think they know it all.

The Hell with the USA (response to Iran is Iraq)
View : 16 , 1
Clayton Hallmark, 2007/02/24 05:09

So they, Iran, have it (oil) and it is up to us, the US, to just take it, steal it.This is the oldest story in the history of war. You are honest in showing that US foreign policy is war for oil, but it is dishonest to steal, even for the blessed, sainted United States.Frankly, I am against stealing and for the punishment of theives, even my own country, the USofA.

This nation needs to learn a lesson in Iraq: It needs to lose the Iraq war. I would do anything in my power to see that happen.Then it needs to learn to live within its means and to depart from the law of the jungle and at least become a civilized member of the family of nations.

I for one have many, many values that I place above my country. When it's wrong, the Hell with it!