Monday, March 31, 2008

Do we ever enjoy what we have?

I've got a few books on my bedside table, and usually I am a ravenous reader. I haven't even gotten through the first 10 pages of my new Grisham book. Then I went through my little library and started counting how many books I've bought and not even read. Then I went through the magazines. Ja, you read one or two stories, and save the rest for later. The problem is, there is no later. And CD's and so forth. When do we have time to actually enjoy the fruits - so-called - of our labours. My advice: make time. And to help with that, unplug the TV.

Kunstler: Upscale

Things continue to slip, slide, and shift strangely Out There.



Last Wednesday, a bunch of peeved mortgagees protesting government favoritism in the Bear Stearns case entered the lobby of the company's (soon-to-be-former) headquarters building in midtown Manhattan. While it might not seem like much, I view the symbolic "penetration" of this corporate stronghold as the very first sign of a much broader citizen revolt against the extraordinary protections being shown to crapped-out investment banker boyz -- at the expense of millions of equally crapped-out poor shlubs facing the default and re-po of their McDwelling places.

Occupying an office building lobby peacefully in broad daylight is one thing. Wait until summer gets underway and The New York Post gossip page resumes its coverage of hijinks in the Hamptons. The executives of Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan / Chase, and other dealers in fraudulent securities, plus the art world and show biz glitteratti who party together out there, might all find themselves the object of considerable grievance and resentment as the beaching season ramps up, and the limos roll around the charity lobster roasts, and the guests stray down the lawns, chardonays in hand, to plot divorce from their over-leveraged husbands....

God knows what seekers-of-vengence will be creepy-crawling the privet plantings along Gin Lane in the crepuscular gloom, searching for trophy wives to garrote.

Perhaps a bankrupt landscaping contractor from Lake Ronkonkoma, recently stiffed by a hedge fund manager over the installation of a half acre of pachysandra, will be arrested on the Wantagh Highway with blood on his sleeves and a high-C piano wire in his pocket. The non-Hampton precincts of Long Island, which make up more than 90 percent of the fish-shaped appendage to New York State, will be full of angry re-po victims, and the Hamptons lie at the very dead-end tail of the geographical fish. Will the banker boyz attempt to flee by yacht? And where might they escape to? Newport, Rhode Island? Labrador. . . ?

I maintain, of course, that the media (and the public itself) has no idea how quickly things might get weird in this country -- or how weird they might get.

Now bear with me while I shift gears. The past five days I went to a pretty major environmental conference put on by the Aspen Institute in their odd little mountain town -- and nobody needs to tell me how un-correct it was that I flew all the way out to Denver and then drove a rent-a-car the size of a humpback whale deep into the heart of the Rocky Mountains to attend this thing. (I assure you, I wasn't paid to go.) The Institute grounds -- which looked like the set of a 1950s Raymond Massey movie about the future -- were thick with many eminentissimos of Climate Change (minus Al Gore) and activists in "green" politics, more generally. The latest frightful measurements of retreating glaciers, vanishing species, and creeping deserts were proffered and everybody was suitably impressed by the acceleration of scary conditions facing the human race.

Being such a formal conference, though, with the putative mission to advance understanding and set agendas-for-action, a great effort was made through the medium of panel discussions to set forth various "initiatives" to deal with all the scariness, especially by enlisting the agencies of the US Government -- and most especially with the prospect of a new administration sweeping out the detritus of Bush-dom next January.

I confess I found most of these well-intentioned proposals utterly implausible, along with their trains of hopes, wishes, and fantasies. The main conceit is that we can keep all the normal operations of the American Dream humming by some "non-carbon" related energy source -- in other words, run WalMart without oil, methane gas, or coal -- and that all the forces of government and capital can be marshaled to make that happen. The secondary conceit is that they would accomplish these things in an orderly process, harnessing "new technology," as though it were a higher sort of school science fair.

My own opinion is that these birds have the scale issue wrong. The exigencies of the Long Emergency imply that virtually everything organized at the grand scale will tend to wobble and fail as the problems of energy scarcity and climate change converge. Institutions from the federal government to WalMart to the University of Arizona will face increasing impotence, incompetence, and bankruptcy. Vesting our hopes in propping up activities run at that scale is bound to be disappointing, to say the least, and the precursor to social upheaval to go a bit further. There's probably a lot we can do at the finer and more modest scale, but that is not the scale that conferences like this focus on-- in particular because so many of the participants are current or former high-up government wonks themselves. Anyway, the scale of global distress tends, by plain inference, to invoke the wish for global "solutions," however detached from reality they may be.

At the center of all this conferencing was the movement's lead eco-guru, Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), located just up Highway 82 from Aspen. Lovins's long-running emblematic project with that outfit is something they call the "hyper-car," a car that gets such supernaturally great mileage that it will save the human race's threatened Happy Motoring program from extinction. The hyper-car program, which RMI still trumpets to this day, has, of course, the unintended consequence of promoting future car dependency -- which is about the last thing that America needs -- but that hasn't prevented RMI from pushing it.

Beyond that, Lovins's RMI program-for-America resembles an actuarial exercise in "carbon credits" and other statistics-based fantasies aimed at inducing theoretically rational behavior among the WalMart executives (and "greening" up WalMart has been another of RMI's consulting projects -- I'm not kidding).

Here lies my third dissent from what I heard at the conference: since America is bankrupting itself so comprehensively at every level, the wished-for "funding" for the green rescue program will not be there in any case. Capital, as represented by Wall Street, is itself flying to pieces this year as its stock-in-trade of paper certificates loses legitimacy in the face of the overwhelming fact that the society behind that paper will be decreasingly capable of producing surplus wealth -- which is what capital is. The unwind of "positions" now underway among the big bankz is the process of previously anticipated capital accumulation vanishing down a black hole. It will be gone forever.

This is the year we find that out. Bear Stearns was not the only sick puppy in the kennel. When another one wobbles and crashes, will the Federal Reserve step in again and accept its worthless CDO paper as collateral on another $30 billion loan, and another, and another, and so on? And will the individual mortgage default homeowner shlubs just watch all this go down on CNBC without any action beyond "penetrating" the lobby of a Manhattan skyscraper? I don't think so.

What goes down in the Hamptons will go down in Aspen, too.

From http://www.kunstler.com/

If he loses where will he go?

Is Bob in Malaysia? See, if he loses the election people are going to want his head. It's quite ironic isn't it. One man keeping an entire country under his thumb. Well, once they wrest power back, almost the entire country are going to want him under their big toe. Bob, I suggest you get a head start...

KAK DVD Alert: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Maybe I was just having an off day, but I feel sooooo sorry for you if you were unlucky enough to have gone to the cinema to watch this. It is 160 minutes long, in other words 20 minutes under 3 hours. I watched about 10 minutes, grew bored, left it running, went to my office for about half an hour, came back, turned it on. After 5 minutes I started surfing to other channels. When I was about to go to bed I saw it was STILL running. I thought: great, maybe I'll be able to see the end, the gunfight. It was just sooo boring. I didn't bother to watch the end. I was expecting a cowboy movie, but you just see a lot of snow and men in top hats, and steam trains. Booooorrrrringgg.

IMDB gives it a 7.8/10. I give it a U (Unwatchable).

The Most Beautiful Woman In The World (and she's flat-chested)


For a slideshow of the Miss World contestants (in bikinis) go here.




And she really doesn't have the best teeth in the business. So what makes her so beautiful? Her sweetness. Her femininity. Her quiet strength. And the way she speaks with that gorgeous, cheeky mouth.

Me TV


It's very unlikely that too many people were even up at 7:10am on Sunday. Thank goodness for that. Although I thought the piece was produced well, my stomach turned when I saw the chubby, gleaming headed, nasal sounding me. It's easy to criticise, isn't it, from the comfort of your own home. I've seen people watching Miss Universe or some or other beauty pageant, and grandly go: "She's hot. She's not." Well, betcha they're a damn sight prettier than you on TV.

So it's a good thing to see yourself on the box, or in the box. I think I need to start disciplining the way I speak, because I just mumble along with very little extra effort. It sounds terrible! And since I'm not really going to do anything about my bald pate, what I can do is re-develop the bronzed adonis body I was once blessed with (or something like that).

But something has got to change, and I'm thinking it has to be me.

Right, and that said I am now going to turn off my computer, pack away my papers, grab my keys and jump into the pool. At least 1km coming up...

[Incidentally my Horton Hears a Who story has had over 1000 hits on Ohmynews, pushing it to the top 7 most popular story for the week].

‘Wonder’ suit makes King’s Park debut (SPEEDO LZR VIDEO)



A trick up the sleeve: Australia’s Libby Trickett (formerly Lenton), wearing the LZR, this week became the first woman to dip below 53 seconds in the 100m freestyle
Phelps could beat Spitz’s record
It’s not about the suit [really?]. That’s the view of South Africa’s national swimming coach, Dirk Lange, on the avalanche of world records achieved in Speedo’s controversial new LZR swimsuit.
Of 17 world records in Europe and Australia in the past six weeks, 16 were achieved in the gear.
But, says Lange, world records are the staple diet in Olympic year.
If South Africans are going to star in Beijing in August, they’ll have to do well at the national championships, which double as Olympic trials, in Durban from Tuesday to Sunday.
“I believe if the South African swimmers are not arriving now then it will be difficult to come up with good performances in Beijing,” says Lange, who was at the European Championships last week. “If you’re too far away now it will be difficult to catch up.

Read the rest of David Isaacson's Sunday Times article.

Just the Trickett: Libby breaks the speed barrier

NVDL: Roxanne will be competing in Durban as well, and immediately after flying to Cape Town for a shoot with SA Sports Illustrated.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Ideal Woman (PHOTOGRAPHY)






Beautiful, charismatic, strong, intelligent and funny. And damn sexy.

SABC 2, 7-8am

I will be on TV briefly On Sunday morning, giving my opinion on the Horton movie.

Horton story at number 8 (OHMYNEWS)


To read this well researched article, go here.

Vasbyt

You know you're suffering from acute sleep deprivation when getting up, and getting dressed in the morning is as difficult and mentally exhausting as a Trigonometry Exam. This morning was the second morning in a row that I left home chronically sleep deprived, and as it would turn out, I'd pay a fairly hefty price later in the day.

A, H and me left Houghton at about 5:30am and headed towards Bronkhorstspruit - that's the Pretoria side of Johannesburg. These guys both work at high levels at Standard Bank so we talked [in confidence] a bit about Billiton firing the bank for a comment someone made. We had an idea to better deal with load shedding - have an sms system in place that alerts particular regions (it just so happens that networks are based on regional infrastructure too) - via sms - that they are about to exceed their capacity. People in that area can then respond immediately to this direct communication.

Anyhoo, A and H went off to do their 146km race just before 7am. I did the 107km |(which, unless my HR is faulty, turned out to be just under 104km).
On the very first hill I felt cold and tight and stiff, and the guys pulled away right away. A group of us chased them, but they slowly drifted away. Then at about 20km or so, if not sooner, two teams - guys in orange and guys in red, white and black - all with deep rims, all in good shape - cruised by us at high speed. I jumped on, and so did another guy in a white Eskom shirt. We motored. For a short while we all took turns working together - this is the beauty of cycling. It looked and felt like a team time trial, and those rims all parting the wind like blades.

Riding in this group I realised how hard the first bunch were going - the bunch that pulled away on the first climb. We sucked in the ladies bunch, and kept right on going. I think we only caught the bunch we'd lost in the 1st kim at 50km - this was with very strong riders.

I was feeling good at this point, and it felt especially good to be the first rider to connect with the bunch. The guys made a few stabs, but in the end I put in the last effort. And as I say, at that point I was sitting pretty.

When I reached 60km I said to the Eskom dude that I was fast approaching my endurance limit - that in the next few km I'd have to start gritting my teeth. Even I didn't have any idea how true that was. If you'd been watching from above in a helicopter it must have looked quite interesting, if not funny. I'd cruise down on the downhills ahead of the pack (this is the original spoedvark bunch fortified with the time-trial team) and so build momentum up the drags, which I was finding to be getting tougher and tougher. Then on the drags almost all the guys would slowly drift by me, but by the time we reached the top, I'd be at the back, but still in touch.

I don't know how many times it happened, but it happened a lot. I realised once again just how much heavier I am than these guys. I mean there's no way it's just a question of being more aero on the downhills.

At about 70km I just couldn't stay in touch, and then I went backwards badly, and quickly. Up until then my average was about 36km/h. On the HR graph you can see my heartrate starts to slip downwards at this point, and at the same time, there is a constant upward climb. My legs just couldn't handle it; and I couldn't figure it out. Am this freaking unfit? The last 10km were a nightmare. A muscle on my inner left leg was threatening to pull, and that is very very eina. I used my easiest gears for the last few kilometres and limped home in 3:03. Averaging 33.9km/h (in other words, with fewer uphills, I did this slower than the Argus.

It was only when I arrived home that I noticed my seatpost was about 2-3cm lower than it should have been. See, I'd taken my bike in to the bike shop for a service, and the guy must have removed the seatpost to clean it. He'd put it back a lot lower. I only picked this up when I got home - my legs totally wasted. It's some consolation that the last 30km of vrotness wasn't due to lack of fitness, but my muscles trying to figure out how a racing bike had suddenly become a knee buckling BMX.

A had an incredible ride. He broke away at 50km (with 100km to go) and stayed away with 4 or 5 other guys. Quite amazing how strong he is. H came in about 10 minutes after A - and wryly thanked him for making the ride so tough.

More cycling news: Fietstoer is at Burgersdorp right now. Maritza had a pretty nasty fall on a downhill. She says her whole left side has dark blue bruises. And the rider behind her basically rode over her. I said she must put ice on the bruises, when the skin is cold massage till it is warm, and repeat a few times. Just gets more blood into the tissue to accelerate tissue restoration.

Also spoke to Lizaan - shame she has laryngitis. Not nice to start off and your voice is gone. I know, I had the same problem last year. But it got better.

We're thinking of going down to do the Kimberley to Bloem ride, end of May I think - 180km. Need to start getting the basics right in the meantime, like enough shuteye.

The Zimbabweans Say Mugabe Will Stay President

The Sunday Times optimistically demands on the front page that 'Mugabe must go', and refers to the vote as though this has any bearing on the election. I've spoken to a few Zimbabweans and they're pretty clear on what they expect. They expect Mugabe to win. Not because he deserves to, or because the locals think he's the best man for the job - but because he is holding all the cards. Because he knows how to cheat the system. My God, are South Africans still so naive to think the election is actually going to be free and fair? And when Mugabe turns out to be 'elected', it's going to be really boring to have people go: "I think the vote was rigged." Of course it was - it was always going to be.

Morgan Tsvangirai has suggested today (Saturday) that efforts to rig the election have been sabotaged. If Mugabe is re-elected we'll know if those efforts ultimately failed.

Zimbabwe: Hundreds Cast Mock Ballots in Diaspora
African observers allege fraud in Zimbabwe poll
Zimbabwe opposition accuses Mossad of helping Mugabe

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A lot is possible...


Movie Review: John Rambo


The original suicide weapon is still full of surprises

John Rambo: When you’re pushed, killing is as easy as breathing.

I dare you. Go into this flick expecting a formula. Go in with a preconceived notion about how appalling violence is. Sit down and make up your mind that Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is about as bad as the worst Steven Seagal/Jeanne-Claude Van Damme stuff you’ve ever been dished up. Happy? Pretty soon you are going to be eating humble pie, but watch that you don’t get your face splattered with blood.

Nobody says it better than Rambo himself. Fuck the world. He’s fed up with the world, and he has damn good reasons to be. But c’mon, are you going to sit around in the backwoods all day, or do something. “Go home,” he implores. It’s like saying, “Walk out of the movie. You don’t want to see this.” But we do, don’t we? And that’s the question: why do we want to see this?

The movie is set in Thailand, Chiang Mai in particular. The initial scenes in nature are delicately primeval. The rain, the trees, the dirty faces of the natives, the snake handling and woodsmoke all add up to John’s Life. This is life; the hard life of the Third World. He says he has lived this way for a ‘long time’.

It’s always interesting, just from a purely escapist point of view, when movies literally transport you to faraway places. We find Rambo as the everyman in exile, eeking out a living catching snakes, and otherwise proving his finesse as a hunter. This is powerful stuff for the office worker who silently rages against his boss, who is stifled behind a desk. The primitive hunting streak is something every boy is born with, and some men never outgrow it. Even Rambo tries to shed his skin. At one point he guiltily admits to himself, “You didn't kill for your country... you killed for yourself.” At some level there is bitter satisfaction in this process.

Rambo is approached by a group of American Christians (including Julie Benz as“Dexter”), who ask him to pilot them across the northern border, taking the Salween River into the Burmese civil war. Rambo isn’t interested. But the tagline says it all, doesn’t it: ‘Heroes never die…they just reload.’

While some will recite all the clichés about Rambo movies, this is a lesson that bears repeating: it’s a big bloody mistake to get involved in foreign wars. Revenge, survival, and antagonism – these drives came across powerfully. And it is often religious beliefs that compel us to ignore the obvious dangers.

Lewis: God didn't save you, we did.

We are all born with an innate sense of indignation. Hurt me or my people long enough and you will pay the price with interest. Is it coincidence that one of the characters is Mike Burnett (the same name behind the survivor series?)

This film is about atrocity but probably not in the way many people expect; it is visceral and bloody, but John Rambo holds back until what feels like the last moment. The insuing carnage is vicious and disturbing, in ways that illict the grittiness of Saving Private Ryan, except the screen literally spatters with blood.

Although many will slate this movie (Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 3/10), and many will be dismissive, I found it very well done as a critique on war, but not only a critique – it allows the viewer to probe their own attitudes towards violence (and satisfaction through violence). Blind idealism sometimes seems sensible, even good, but the real world is often merciless. Somehow John Rambo’s simple words do ring true, now more than ever (especially with Afghanistan and Iraq echoing over the news). You can’t change the world. You can only change your world.

Rating: 7.5/10

Running Time: 91 minutes.
Rated R for strong graphic bloody violence, sexual assaults, grisly images and language.

The Color Red


Believe it or fart, I used to not like the color red at all. Too flash in the pan, too un-subtle, too fwaah. Really. For a long time I was into baby blue, then I graduated to earthy green and khaki, and then I went into a dark blue and black phase. And then on one particular day, for no particular reason, I went down the stairs of a bicycle shop on the freaking faraway end of Seoul (I lived like 2 hours away, 20 million people later). So I'm wandering around minding my own beeswax when WHAM! - I see it. This red Cannondale frame, but not just any frame. A tapered, aero frame. Now when you're old school, and you;re used to your bike looking like a bunch of sawed off poles welded together, this was a work of art.

It really felt like finding long lost dead sea scrolls in an attic (except this was a bike in basement), but you get my drift. So the guy sees me squizzing out that thing, and asks if I want to buy it. I sort of slowly crawl out of dreamland, and I'm like: "No...I'm not even thinking of buyin it, I have a bike...but er, how much is it?"
It was about R5000. I couldn't believe it. I snapped it up and ordered them to transfer everything (Gary Oldman in Leon shouting instead of EVERY ONE) - EVERYTHING - and that's how my love affair with red started. Because when I bought this bike I was just starting to earn enough money so I could fly around and pursue utterly expensive hobbies like the Ironman (think lots of time, money and energy invested + travel, plus accommodation + equipment).

So it was a new world order for me. And through the bike, I dunno, it rubbed off on me. The dynamism. The efficiency. When I bought Zipp wheels the bicycle was just transformed - shockingly beautiful.

My obsession with red has cooled to a simmer now. I don't wear many red t-shirts any more; my girlfriend reminds me that red doesn't really suit me (in terms of clothes). So I do the earthy deal when I go to work. But when I'm on my bike, there's something fiery and passionate about the red between my legs. There's something very sexy about passion; just being passionate. It's inspiring. That's what red means to me.

KAK DVD Warning: Lions and Lambs

Look, if you want to watch a movie with your girlfriend, and end up NOT watching the movie, this would be a great choice. See, it has quite an important (if tired) message, it has a classy cast, so your girlfriend is not going to think you're a retard. But she will get tired of it within about 20 minutes, and find you a LOT more interesting. Now, where were we...

Friday, March 28, 2008

How to win the Next Samsung Model Competition


First, check out the website, NextSamsungmodel.
Then, get your eye hooked on the $75 000 paycheck for the winner.
Now, mouth watering, go and print out the entry form.
Read the fine print, which states that you need a portrait and full length shot to enter.
Now, start dialling this number on your cellphone: 072 97 33 929. Setup an appointment, and if you're nice, I might even do it for free.

Filtering the Alan Knott-Craig Way

I know when I lived overseas, we'd see a lot of shocking and embarrassing footage some South Africans never see. Being so far from home, it is easy to say: they need to do this, or, they need to do that. And it always struck me - how come the people there, on the ground, never get around to doing anything?

The reason is because every now and then, some bright spark reminds us of how lucky we are, how positive we need to be. Alan Knott-Craig's brilliance is epitomised in his closing sentence: 'ignore the doomsayers, adjust your geyser and make yourself some coffee.' Thanks Craig. Ever heard the saying: ignorance is bliss.

There's a character who epitomises where this positive (but also self-serving) brilliance gets you. His name is Cypher, in the Matrix.

Cypher: You know, I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize?
[Takes a bite of steak]
Cypher: Ignorance is bliss.

What Cypher then does is engineer a scheme that gets him sitting nice and pretty, but basically sabotages his pals.

I get the gist. In the middle of struggle or trouble, lies opportunity. I am not going to nauseate you (or me) by listing the issues of our time. What I will say is that we are about to exit an extraordinary phase. Because we were born into the 20th century (and so were our parents), there is a nutty sense that this is how it will always be (and somehow, that this is how it always was). Actually, even the idea of suburbia is comparatively fucking new. Suburbia was dreamed up after World War 2. It has barely existed for one generation, let alone two. Guess what? Your children are unlikely to live in a house, built on a patch of land (a mini farm), connecting it to the city by motorway, with vehicles ferrying single human occupants there and back. Sorry, it's not going to happen. It's likely that even in this lifetime, you will spend the last years of your life working on a farm, or fighting in The Infinite War (which is a war for resources), or both.

The shift from motor cars to...well, not being able to use them on such a massive scale - the shift away from the world's highway systems is imminent. And here you have a guy asking you to sit back and relax and make a cup of fucking coffee? There is absolutely nothing wrong with being positive, and being optimistic. I welcome that - by all means. But to shut down your capacity for critical thinking (hey, what's not working here, where will this fucked up attitude get us in 5 years) and basically set up posters for ignorance, BE IGNORANT, BE HAPPY, EVERYTHING'S FINE that's scandalous.

A final note, a sort've a crucial one: I often have conversations with a banking dude, and I'm very aware of the way the press sets up their information. Our paradigm is that growth is good, unlimited growth, and growth no matter what the cost. This is in the name of 'greed is good'. It's also in the name of making money, getting richer. As long as we grow, companies (and Mr. Craig) get richer. It doesn't matter to them if another road is paved through a veld, or if twenty more trucks roar off an assembly line. All that matters is that 'subscribers are up'. And how do you stimulate demand? By making sure your market is happy. And how do you do that? You tell them to be happy. You associate your useless product with happy associations. You bullshit them that by buying something - by being an automaton and a consumer - that's their purpose, and the gilded road to happiness. Actually it's only the gilded road for the okes making the products they're trying to sell to you.

And when all these things happen that we need to ignore with buckets of positive smoke, when we can't afford to drive to Cape Town, or to buy a nice big steak, they will be able to afford it. Because at the end of the day, all the costs are passed down to the poorest. It's in their interest to keep us ignorant, and if you can't see that, you totally deserve to be played for a fool.

Mugabe Wins Another Term In Shock Victory

In a victory that has caught the international press by surprise, President Mugabe has won another term by a landslide victory. Zanu-PF mananged a comfortable 62% of the vote. Officials - wha? Huh? What do you mean we can only release this after the vote?

Now for the funnies...

A man is caught in a traffic jam when suddenly, someone taps on the window of his car. He lowers the window and asks what he wants.

The other man says, "President Mugabe was kidnapped and the ransom is $50 million dollars. If the ransom is not paid, the kidnappers have threatened to douse the President with gasoline and set him on fire. We are taking up a collection. Do you wish to participate?"

The man in the car asks, "On average, what are people donating?"

The other man replies, "About 5 to 10 liters".

Local is sometimes not so lekker

Queen Elizabeth, Bill Clinton & Robert Mugabe died & went straight to hell.
Queen Elizabeth said "I miss England, I want to call England and see how everybody is doing there.
She called and talked for about 5 minutes, then she asked "Well ,devil how much do I owe you????
The devil says "Five million dollars"
She wrote him a cheque and went to sit back on her chair.
Bill Clinton was so jealous, he starts screaming, "My turn! I wanna call the United States, I want to see how everybody is doing there too"
He called and talked for about 2 minutes, then he asked "Well, devil how much do I owe you????
The devil says "Ten million dollars"
With a smug look on his face, he made a cheque and went to sit back on his chair.
Robert Mugabe was even more jealous & starts screaming, "I want to call Zim too, I want to see how everybody is doing there too. I wanna talk to the ministers, to the deputy, I wanna talk to everybody".....
He called Zim and he talked for about twenty hours, he talked & talked & talked, then he asked "Well, devil how much do I owe you????
The devil says "One dollar".
Mugabe is stunned & says "One dollar??? Only one lousy dollar??"
The devil says "Well if you make a call from one hell to another hell, it's local".

And now this is scary.

AG: Blogging as a fad is over; serious blogging arrives

Aside from the number of page views doubling in five months, in January the South African blogs passed the remarkable milestone of 10-million page views in one month. Had the South African blogosphere been one site, it would have ranked in the top 10 of South Africa’s most-viewed sites based on the monthly average for the last quarter of 2007, at number eight. If only media sites — that is, aimed at readership rather than usage (such as mail and jobs sites) — were taken into account, it would have ranked third.



NVDL: I reckon AMATOMU has a lot to do with the tipping point of SA Blogs. It really is the SA Blogosphere sorted, and everyone is getting in on the game, and competing like mad.

The Times: Prepare yourselves for Black Monday

Residential consumers are only saving 2 percent

From Monday, power cuts will become a regular phenomenon in South Africa, with blackouts guaranteed — even when Eskom has enough electricity. This comes after commercial and residential consumers failed to save the 10 percent required by Eskom to end power cuts.

by Thabo Mkhize

More.

NVDL: I think the same meter we see on TV saying the electricity supply in under pressure/critical etc ought to be informing us (perhaps constantly in a corner of the screen) more precisely - in fact exactly - what our percentage of saving is. Just give us a number. That way we can measure and respond in real time. This attitude from Eskom demanding savings by issuing a blunt statement isn't helpful. We can help to be part of the solution, but so can Eskom. If Eskom doesn't start playing ball - better than they are - I'd recommend street protests demanding the fat cats there take a pay cut, starting off with paying back their bonusses. The community can also be blunt when they feel they are being bullied.

I'd also suggest employers encourage employees to leave and arrive for work in a staggered manner. This prevents bottlenecking of demand both in terms of electricity usage (especially going home, cooking and washing), but also traffic flows on our highways. Even if bosses don't manage this, we can.



Ice Shelf Collapse (VIDEO)

Billiton fires Standard Bank for ‘reckless talk’

GLOBAL resources giant BHP Billiton has decided to terminate R2,4bn worth of annual business with Standard Bank after a top bank executive suggested at a recent high-level business and government meeting that Billiton’s Hillside aluminium smelter be shut down to save electricity.

by Charlotte Mathews

More.

NVDL: What do they say? Loose lips sink ships. I personally have a problem where someone inadvertently says something which happens to be 1) true and 2) common sense. It's like, let's all pretend the obvious isn't obvious. Case in point is Alan Greenspan referring to the war in Iraq being essentially a war for oil. God forbid he said that when he was still working at the Fed. I mean everyone knows it's true, but God forbid you actually say it. How does that make any sense? I suppose the answer is that when you vocalise it, someone realises they are going to be in trouble, going to be exposed and possibly bankrupted for bullshitting the masses. Trouble is, the masses don't get involved - they're complacent. It's the people who get 'busted' for stating the obvious who should be heroes, not punished for being 'indiscreet'.

Building Bridges (PHOTOGRAPHY)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

New Climate Record

Highest Maximum 38.8 1999-03-01 42.8 2008-03-26
Kathu

That isn't just half a degree warmer either. That's a 4 degree leap. Ouch!

Economy sputters with 0.6 percent growth

WASHINGTON - The economy nearly sputtered out at the end of the year and is probably faring even worse now amid continuing housing, credit and financial crises.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that gross domestic product increased at a feeble 0.6 percent annual rate in the October-to-December quarter. The reading — unchanged from a previous estimate a month ago — provided stark evidence of just how much the economy has weakened. In the prior quarter, the economy clocked in at a sizzling 4.9 percent growth rate.

The gross domestic product (GDP) measures the value of all goods and services produced in the United States and is the best barometer of the country's economic health.

Many economists say they believe growth in the current January-to-March quarter will be even weaker than the 0.6 percent figure of the previous quarter.

By JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer

More.
Renewable energy sources ‘can provide 5% of needs’

Koo Koo - There's a Radio On This Blog

Right now, right here, look to your right. Err...let's get those eyeballs back onto the monitor though. Just look to the right of this POST. See a black square with white vertical text? Believe it or not, that's Artist Radio. Search any artist, or just choose sommer any one, and watch and listen to what happens.

So the next time you visit this blog, turn on the radio and enjoy...but remember, the clock above it is ticking ;-)

Zuma is getting warmer, and we're 'warming' towards him: SERIUSSLY

So what if government officials are corrupt, we know they are. But here - this question of amnesty - is a way to prevent Muga…er…bit of slip, Zuma from getting in. Long before the Iraq war was sanctioned/supported, I was one voice saying it was a bad idea. I also think Zuma is a bad idea. Simply because we already know what to expect. Seri-o-usly.

We can expect even higher degrees of corruption and covering up than we’re used to. This is an uneducated man who has already greased his palms. And he shows a disregard for the AIDS holocaust that is killing the people he claims to represent. The amnesty idea - not granting I mean - is a useful tool to prevent him from getting into power, and I believe there are VERY cogent reasons for doing just that. Among them the freedom of blogs like this to differ - and they may no longer exist under a ZUMA government. Zuma tried to sue David Bullard for R6 million. I suppose that’s just a joke. It’s not real right? Actually it is real, and under a ZUMA government it will be more real. Something to ponder.

More at Trapido's blog.

Big Breakthrough for Bafana

I stumbled on the game between Paraguay and Bafana in about the 50th minute. At that stage Bafana were 2-0 ahead. They scored again to win 3-0, but the score could just as easily have been 5-0 or better.

Bafana danced around the South Americans, playing strategically, maintaining possession, and obviously the skill was all there to follow through and dominate. And they did. Benni McCarthy scored, and so did a promising Free State Star player, Tshabalala, but the best goal was from Surprise Moriri - a cracker that even had the Paraguayian defender involuntarily getting out of the way.

I've tried not to watch a few Bafana games but this one impressed. The guys also look fit, and the Adidas uniforms make them look like champions. Remember, Bafana once beat Brazil, so the potential was always there. So hopefully this win takes them out of the 70's world rankings. They need to be in the top 40 in six months.

Let's hope this is the moment, this is the turning point. Coach Perriera has told everyone to SHUT UP, and somewhat cryptically (or was that just broken English) he said on TV last night: "You can't jump nature." I think he meant you need to progress step-by-step, building a foundation, to grow strong. And now that they are stronger and starting to win, let's put in a few token white players,- 2 should do it ja? - just to keep things interesting (and maybe make it slightly harder ;-)

Bafana on the rampage

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Interesting...


Roxanne...looks like she's gonna appear in SA Sports Illustrated 'Beauties of Sport' issue. Anyone else (pretty) who wants to be famous ;-)

Paris just loves West Africa ... she thinks it’s a great country!


Socialite and hotel chain heiress Paris Hilton has made a hash of African geography while visiting South Africa with rocker boyfriend Benji Madden of the pop-punk band Good Charlotte.

UK tabloid The Sun has reported Hilton was asked at the weekend what she thought of South Africa, where she accompanied Madden on tour as part of the local Easter weekend My Coke Fest concerts.

Hilton answered: “I love Africa in general — South Africa and West Africa, they are both great countries.”

The socialite’s idiotic comment came after a weekend spent with South African orphans in Pretoria and stealing the limelight from local celebrities who clamoured to be seen with the heiress.

For more silliness, go here.

Soccer: South Africa can learn from South Korea

On the surface, South Africa and South Korea have little in common.

South Korea boasts the most intelligent people on earth, with a national IQ of 106. It is also the world’s most wired country — 95% of homes are connected to broadband — and its people endure the longest work hours of anyone.

South Africa, in turn, dominates HIV and crime figures and boasts the No1 rugby and cricket (ODI) teams internationally. Our lot certainly couldn’t lay claim to being among the hardest working or brightest — just look at government — and Internet connectivity is a joke. Two very different places; two very different peoples.

But where the citizens of South Africa and South Korea converge is their love of soccer. Traditions run deep and fans flock to watch their heroes, be it at FNB Stadium or Incheon Munhak Stadium.

Whether in Seoul or Soweto, big matches are riots of colour and excitement.

South Korea is where South Africa should look for pointers for 2010; not the ministry of sport, whose recent claptrap about Bafana Bafana becoming government-run is the stuff of mad scientists and desperadoes. At least government sentiments were well-placed: we’re about to host the biggest party on the planet but we’re also likely to be the first to shuffle off, long before the music dies. Something urgent must be done.

South Korea had a similar fear when they were awarded the World Cup as co-hosts with Japan for 2002. The Asian country’s soccer was in a mess. Five straight World Cups had failed to yield a single victory. In 2001, they were ranked 42 [Bafana are 71st] in the world. Optimism wasn’t [isn't] in great supply.

The South Koreans, like SA, then went and caught themselves a big fish. His name was Guus Hiddink, the former Real Madrid and Holland coach.

Hiddink came with the proviso that he was his own man who did things his way. His impact was remarkable. In less than two years he produced a splendid team that overwhelmed Poland, Portugal, Italy and Spain in the World Cup finals, finally losing to a Michael Ballack goal for Germany in the semifinals.

By Clinton van den Berg.

Go to the rest of his excellent article in the Sunday Times here.

Small Things (Photography)



We hope that, when the insects take over the world, they will remember with gratitude how we took them along on all our picnics. ~Bill Vaughan

Let's face it, we're shallow (well, you are)

I spend quite a bit of time guessing about how human beings behave; those close to me, those I work with, and sometimes those I hardly know.
I know it is an absolute waste of time, yet I find myself pressing my ear to the world of men and trying to figure out what the hell motivates people to be so incredibly stupid most of the time?

Context and perspective is important, and obviously the smaller your world, the more inexplicable your behaviour to an outside observer. Thus if your world is about the size of your own organism, behaviour becomes increasingly nuts.

One of the incidental things that got me thinking about this was an email forwarded to me by someone I was in touch with. The interesting thing was the irony - I had sent about two or three paragraphs with a few observations and statements. My friend sent one short sentence. I received two curt sentences in response, and my friend several paragraphs of non-solicited text? It's no mystery - me and the person had not much in common; a color difference for one. And I am not rampaging here, saying she was evil. I am just saying as a measure of our average behaviour we are shallow. All of us. We spend more time, dedicate more effort to those we know, those we are attracted to, and those we feel like being associated with, than anyone else.

Unfortunately, this is also the reason why we sometimes find our lives never change. Because we keep looking in the same direction, we keep responding to the same sorts of people, we continually ignore the sets of signals we've programmed ourselves to be meaningless. But nothing is meaningless. Everything matters. We just have to prioritise what is less important, and therein lies the rub.

Imagine what it is like to be me. To see meaning in everything, and at times, every one. And take that, and add it to the experience of living a in a world where people attempt to strip everything of meaning. It only means something - for most - if they like it. And the contempt for something not understood is chronic. What happened to childlike curiosity?

Anyway, I accept this. It is the average of the human condition, and I am not going to kick and rail against it. But accepting it doesn't mean I do the same, that I personally endorse it.

This morning on the way to work a vehicle insisted on creeping along the edge of the lane my line of vehicles was in. He had to squeeze so tightly his mirrors were close to brushing mine. After advancing a little, I found he was ahead of me, and I didn't want to drive further forward because he was just too close for comfort. Then the next thing this guy swims in front of me, after squeezing me out. A short while later the road widened and I got behind him; hooted, pointed, and shook my fist at him.

The message was this: you drive dangerously close, you squeeze me out of my own line of traffic, and then you arrogantly profit from it. Don't do that again - it puts me in danger, and it's a reckless way to behave. The very next moment, the traffic light turned green and with half a vehicle space now open, the Merc on my left dived into the small space between me and Mr. Asshole. Incredibly, the Merc must have heard me hoot at the driver on his left, and he then executed almost a carbon copy of it. And what does it achieve? 3 metres, and less than a second in total traffic time. Stupid people!

At the intersection itself I allowed some space in case the lights went red and traffic on the other side stopped moving - I didn't want to block the traffic flow. Now a constant stream of chancers streamed through amber, then red lights, not allowing me - who had right of way - to get across, and basically changing the situation from me being considerate to their greedy snatching of opportunity, thereby stranding me in a converse traffic flow.

What is the moral of the story? Greed is good until greed is bad. When it is bad it is quick sick. And the sickness spreads. Your shallowness will come back to haunt you. Well, it already is. This life you have is the life you deserve. A bunch of rats squriming along a dirty alley.

Mugabe in a Nutshell (CARTOON)


From The Economist

Colosseum Story in The Times

Horton Hears a Who ha ha!


The Juice on the new Seuss Movie

For the first time a motion picture transports audiences into Dr. Seuss’ incredible imagination, through state of the art CG animation. Dr Seuss’ HORTON HEARS A WHO! is Seuss as you want to experience his work at the movies – and as it was meant to be seen.

It starts…’On the fifteenth of May, in the jungle of Nool, in the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool. He was splashing…enjoying the jungle’s great joys…When Horton the elephant heard a small noise.

The premise is charming, but also profound. One of the largest animals our world is perhaps the only creature with ears big enough to hear the smallest sound from the smallest creatures (in another world).

Horton: There's a tiny person on that speck that needs my help!

And Horton’s rationale for taking care of the microscopic community? “A person’s a person no matter how small.” The film provides ample candy for the kids, but adults will have ample food for thought too, as Horton explains: “If you were way out in space, and you looked down at where we live, we would look like a speck.”

It is obvious that the filmmakers at Blue Sky Studios (the makers of Ice Age 1 and 2, and Robots) strove to push the CG animation as far as possible. Director’s Jimmy Hayward and Steve Marino’s mandate was to stay true to Seuss’ themes, characters and visuals. Audrey Geisel also wanted to make sure the film adaptation remained respectful of her late husband’s book. And like Horton, the filmmakers and animators bought into and invested into Seuss’ imagination, delivering consistently within that theme.

Horton: I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant remembers one hundred percent.

Director Steve Martino (with a Master’s in computer animation) brings a massive amount of expertise to this Blue Sky Studio production. The Ohio State University’s Computer Graphics Research Group was the first program of its kind to place artists with computer scientists in a collaborative environment. These intelligent collaborations were fed through to an army of animators, allowing them to build on previous skill levels to develop new animation methodologies. Jimmy Hayward co-directed, bringing Pixar expertise from projects such as “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo”.

One reviewer has described the movie as ‘Seuss on crack’. Brian Ormdorf, writing for Ohmynews International, states: ‘As throwaway as it is, "Horton Hears a Who" still shines with a fresh coat of mass-appeal shellac, just don't walk in expecting something as cozy and magical as the original book.’ While Ormdorf’s assessment makes for good looking, astute sounding writing, it’s not a fair reflection. Over 2700 people at the Internet Movie Database gave an average rating of 7.8 out of 10 for Horton. It’s also not an accurate assessment, and one wonders whether Ormdorf read much of Dr. Seuss as a child?

Heather: In my imaginary world everyone's a pony and they eat rainbows, and poop butterflies!

There is a lot of magic and mayhem in Horton, but Seuss’ worlds are filled with characters teetering unbalanced in maelstroms of chaos. Blue Sky render this with typical Seussian look and feel, but the discipline is maintained in sticking to Seuss’ designs and characters.

The directors commitment and respect to Seuss is evident in their visit to the Geisel Library at the University of California San Diego, which houses all of his original work. The author’s original art, every manuscript, even handwritten notes and annotations was carefully studied. One of the animators working on Horton, South African Dan Barker, reflected on the complete library of Seuss work that they were encouraged to refer to by Hayward and Martino. Barker also described the amount of work involved: “48 seconds took 6 months to render.”

Martino, referring to their careful assimilation of Seuss’ entire body of work, says that eventually: “…we began to get into a zone of Seussian exaggeration. It became infectious, and we began to dial into Seuss’ visual vocabulary. We would digitally brush the hair of a Who, for example, and ask, how can we do that Seuss-style? Being in his world stimulated our imaginations.”
This is exactly the thrill that audiences will take with them, when they step out of the cinema.

The filmmakers called their approach “Seussian logic” – a process that ensured every crazy gizmo and contraption was entertainingly correct. These gizmo’s included roller-bladers on stilts, unicyclists and sock-mobiles (a car with four legs, walking in socks). The filmmakers also delighted in creating the unconventional bed-modbile. Says Hayward: “you could read a book on your way to work, or catch up on some sleep.” Jo-Jo’s giant sling-shot device is another gadget that will charm and delight.

Hayward explains that in Who-ville “…gravity isn’t much of an issue…where narrow staircases with no railings spiral up into the sky, and where Who routinely walk around on the sides of giant buildings.”

Hayward goes on to describe Seussian fashions: “You’ll see lots of high tutrtlenecks and big collars.” The fur-as-fashion is distinctly Seussian.

One of the most beautiful cinematic touches in Horton was rendered by a proprietary algorithm that allowed the filmmakers to depict the wind blowing across the top of the clover field. The pink “hero’ clover in Horton’s trunk was made up of a million hairs. The ‘supporting’ clovers in the field – a beautiful, even existential scene - averaged 50 000 hairs each (even in the background).

Jim Carrey’s buy-in to the Horton flick was phenomenal. Hayward credits Jim Carrey (Carrey was also in “The Mask”) for coming up with the idea for the key scene when Horton has to cross a precarious rope bridge. Carrey asked: “If an elephant was carrying your world on a speck, where would be the worst place for the Mayor to be?” Watch the movie to find out what Carrey’s idea was!

Steve Carell previously performed opposite Carrey in “Bruce Almighty”. This time they are on the same side (though in entirely different worlds), with Carell (best known for “The 40-Year-Old-Virgin”) playing Who-ville’s luckless Mayor.

Six-time Emmy Award winner, Carol Burnett plays the self-appointed King of the Jungle, a loud, controlling Kangaroo Mum. Burnett describes her character as “misguided, but not evil.” Kangaroo’s hysteria revolves around one fixation: “If you can’t see something, it doesn’t exist.” Referring to her role in Horton, Burnett enthuses: “There’s something very liberating about screaming at the top of your lungs…and getting paid for it.”

An unexpected character likely to be one of the favorites is Morton the Mouse, who tries to be a voice of reason to his oversized pal. “Well, you’re talking to a clover; that doesn’t look good,” the savvy rodent advices. Morton is voiced by Seth Rogen (“Knocked Up”) who brings his special cockeyed sensibility to the role in a way that is especially Seussian.

Will Arnett (“Arrested Development”) plays Vlad, a sort’ve gun for hire.
Says Will: “I’m attracted to characters that are slightly cocky and also pretty dumb. That’s a winning combination. Not for life, but for comedy.”

Audiences who go to this film will not have to listen hard to hear chuckles, snorts and guffaws throughout the movie. The unique Seussian spark will infect worldwide audiences, not only with laughter, but also that unique blend of silliness and profound sanity that is Seuss itself.

Rating: 8/10

Horton Hears A Who! releases nationwide in South Africa on March 28. To win DVD’s from Blue Sky Studio’s visit the competition page of The Times.co.za

Note: Additional information for this article provided by Fox Studios

What is normal?


Mondli says it very well: in times of crisis you don't follow a normal routine. We're pretty far into crisis, we've just grown accustomed to its various guises. And is a crisis a crisis if it doesn't affect you right now?
There are crises aplenty in SA right now, but more important is the crisis of implosion heading towards the financial markets. It's important because once wealth is wiped out of the financial system, normal will seem like a faroff paradise world, where money had a meaning.
Even what we previously considered normal - the rat race, doing some or other activity to make lots of green stuff so we could by things and then run away to get more green stuff to by things we'd never have time to use - well thank God it's the end of normal as we know it.

ALERT: Vast Antarctic Ice Shelf on Verge of Collapse

A vast ice shelf hanging on by a thin strip looks to be the next chunk to break off from the Antarctic Peninsula, the latest sign of global warming's impact on Earth's southernmost continent.

Scientists are shocked by the rapid change of events.

Glaciologist Ted Scambos of the University of Colorado was monitoring satellite images of the Wilkins Ice Shelf and spotted a huge iceberg measuring 25 miles by 1.5 miles (41 kilometers by 2.5 kilometers - about 10 times the area of Manhattan) that appeared to have broken away from the shelf.

Scambos alerted colleagues at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) that it looked like the entire ice shelf - about 6,180 square miles (16,000 square kilometers - about the size of Northern Ireland)- was at risk of collapsing.

David Vaughan of the BAS had predicted in 1993 that the northern part of the Wilkins Ice Shelf was likely to be lost within 30 years if warming on the Peninsula continued at the same rate.

"Wilkins is the largest ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula yet to be threatened," he said. "I didn't expect to see things happen this quickly. The ice shelf is hanging by a thread - we'll know in the next few days and weeks what its fate will be."

Simon

Kunstler: Black Swans Everywhere


After a one-day reprieve from total meltdown in the financial markets, news media cheerleaders for the most reckless gang of bankers in world history declared the crisis over on Good Friday (with the markets safely closed). Whew, that's a relief. Problem solved. And just in time for baseball season, too, so none of the Banker Boyz have to sell their sky box leases.

Commodities Drop, Rally in Dollar, Stocks Vindicate Bernanke

What is meant by "meltdown," by the way, since the word is used so promiscuously by myself and others. I'd define it as the shock of recognition that many big institutions are worse than flat broke and are therefore powerless to conduct normal operations. By "worse than flat broke" I mean they are so deep in hock that all the accountants who ever lived, in the life of this universe and several others like it, using the fastest parallel processing computers ever built, could not keep up with their compounding accelerating losses (now approaching the speed of light).

The current vacation from reality on Wall Street may last a few more days, or even a couple weeks, but it seems as though a whole flock of black swan events is circling the sky over Financial-land and is about to blot out the sun. By black swan, I refer to the concept popularized by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his recent book of that name, namely unexpected events of great power that tend to change the course of history.

For the moment, with the crisis "contained," and the Boyz getting ready to air out their Hampton villas for the coming season, we are once again primed to be blindsided by potent random events that nobody saw coming. The trouble is, there are enough potent potential fiascos already visible on the horizon.

The mortgage fiasco is still just gathering steam as it moves from the non-payment stage to the default and repossession level on the grand scale. Even the political wish to bail out feckless mortgage holders will stumble on the mammoth clerical task of administrating the process, especially since we've barely begun to sort out who actually holds the mortgages after they've been minced into a fine mirepoix of securities off-loaded onto countless dupe "investors" ranging from municipal funds in obscure corners of foreign nations to countless public employee retirement plans.

No matter how the authorities try to "nationalize" the sucking chest wound of bad mortgages, the body of finance will flat-line -- and the American public will get stuck with the bill from the intensive care unit. Those who, for some weird reason, continue to pay their way and meet their obligations, will be none too pleased to pay for misdeeds of the deadbeats and their banker-lenders. This portends a taxpayer rebellion, which may translate into a voter rebellion.

It's too bad the current presidential candidates have been unable to address the unfolding economic nightmare. Their collective silence on the matter suggests that they don't have a clue what to say about it. As the nightmare plays out and black swans flock in to blot out the sun, and the hedge funds come a'tumbling down, and more big banks blunder into black holes, and businesses big and small across the land shutter up their operations, and the unemployment rolls swell, and families are thrown out of their houses even when bailouts are supposed to be saving them (but the bureaucracy can't get the paperwork done in time) -- well now, they are going to be one pissed off bunch of people. What will they do at the conventions? Our outside the conventions?

In the deeper background of all this is the all-important oil story that nobody in politics or the media wants to pay attention to. Notice that in the fervid unloading of assets this past week, as investors dumped their positions in the commodities markets, the price of oil remained stubbornly above $100-a-barrel when it was all over on Thursday afternoon. Well, maybe they'll ratchet down a little further this week, but the trend line will prove to continue remorselessly upward in the months ahead.

Peak oil is for real. The supply can't keep up with global demand, even if it dips in the USA. And more portentous sub-plots develop in the story every month. Export rates are falling at a steeper rate than depletion rates. The exporting nations are not only buying more cars and running more air-conditioners, they also need to use more energy to lift the oil they've got out of the ground.

Another sub-plot is the fact that the equipment used world-wide to drill for oil and recover oil and move oil around the planet -- all that equipment is now so old and rusty that it can barely do the job, and it is going to start failing altogether unless investments are made to replace it, which nobody is making.

By the way, Americans blame the familiar private oil companies for all the trouble with oil in their lives -- Exxon-Mobil, Shell, et al -- but they don't seem to know that oil nationalism is in the driver's seat now. The old private "majors" are only producing five percent of the world's oil. The rest is coming from the national companies -- Aramco, Petrobras, Pemex, et blah blah -- and the very operations of the oil markets are entering a phase of radical instability as they move away from auctioning their stuff on the futures markets and start making long-term favored customer contracts instead.

The bottom line is that high prices for oil is hardly the only thing America has to worry about. Pretty soon the US will have to worry about getting the oil at any price -- meaning, we're in for shortages and supply disruptions sooner rather than later.
Also unbeknownst to most of America, the financial markets reflect all this instability around the basic resource of oil because industrial economies like ours are set up in such a way that they can't run without cheap and reliable supplies of the stuff. So the least little twitter in the reality-based world of peak oil means that everything to do with money and capital investment will naturally go batshit, since our expectations for increased wealth -- i.e. "growth" -- are predicated on the activities driven by oil.


It will be interesting to see what new machinations are unveiled this week. Whatever else this catastrophe is, it's a good show from the cheap seats.


NVDL: To paraphrase Kunstler: the reason we're seeing ahousing crisis/mortgage crisis/credit crisis has to do with oil inputs kicking into a system that was designed for a world with negligible energy prices. This not being the case, and also being the case to a lesser and lesser degree, expects banks and debt to start to escalate. This is the beginning of austerity, and it doesn't have a sell by date attached.




Above image courtesy The Economist

8 steps to a more professional Blogspot blog

Blogger is not as easy to customize as WordPress, but Blogger's simplicity also makes the process of setting up a blog a lot less daunting. You can literally start blogging within minutes of signing up for a Blogger account. Google will also host your blog for free, which means you don't need to pay for domain registration or web hosting. WordPress does also offer free hosting, but WordPress doesn't allow free account holders to include advertising. Blogger does. So if you have dreams of quitting your day job, but don't want to pay a few bucks a month for web hosting, Blogger provides a good way to test the waters.

More from Download Squad.

If you want me to assist you with starting up a blog, leave a comment below this post.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Well, the world IS a speck!


Dan Barker, South African animator’s involvement in Horton Hears a Who
Story by Nick Van Der Leek
Video by Mikale Barry

Blue Sky Studio’s newest film, Horton Hears a Who (based on a Dr. Seuss book) continues the magic we’ve been led to associate from that company (Ice Age, Robotos) The Horton script is great, performances (many of them) are awesome, and all of this is rendered with sparkling wit and precision by an army of animators, Dan Barker being one of them. Dan's signature scene (one of a whole bunch) is the ape cannon, shooting bananas at a fleeing Horton (Jim Carrey).

Dan was mostly involved in animating Horton and the Mayor of Whoville (Steve Carrell). Morton, a zippy blue mouse, is voiced by Knocked Up star Seth Rogen. Vlad, the evil misshapen vulture (voiced by Will Arnett) is another memorable character. There are many character besides, filling the movie to the brim with Seussian chaos.

For more go here.

Sasol launches SA’s biggest BEE deal

SASOL will sell a 10% stake to black investors in SA’s biggest black economic empowerment (BEE) transaction to date worth R25,9bn the group said today.

The deal will involve 63,1-million shares andwill broaden and transform the group’s shareholder base. BEE is designed to widen ownership of the economy - still in mainly white hands 14 years after the end of apartheid.

More from this Business Day article.

NVDL: I recently watched a good, but disturbing movie called THE BOILER room. If you think your finances are safe, remeber this: everyone is trying to make something for nothing, especially people in finance, and you know where that road goes. Eeeyaaaawww---CRASH!

Zero Sum Game

This psychology is based on: 'if I win, you lose.' I call it the 'white trash mentality'. The movie KILL BILL epitomises this perfectly. KILL BILL is about payback, I at the expense of you (and you at the expense of me). In one scene Kiddo has just killed a little girl's mother in the kitchen, and, wiping the blood from the blade of a knife, condescends to say to the little girl:
"When you're grown up, if you're still feel raw about it, I'll be waiting."

The great antidote to this self-limiting, sick me vs you psychology is a charming Dr. Seuss Movie.

Easter Fun and Fare (PHOTOGRAPHY)





NVDL Presents...



...in association with COMMUNITY CLOUD and THE GREEN GARDEN PARTY


from the makers of

THE RAP

and the publishers of

HALF FULL MOON and HOLIDAY

A ROCKETBUOY MEDIA/myMEDIA Venture




To visit my newest blog go here.

To become a member of this exclusive inclusive community - meaning you can receive permission to blog in this space - leave your email address in the comment field of THIS post. Membership places will be capped.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Peaches (PHOTOGRAPHY)

John McCrea - Open vs. Walled Garden: A Topic Taken Up by the Economist

In the March 19th print edition of the venerable The Economist, they take up the hot topic of social networking’s open future and the implications up that for Facebook. The piece, “Online Social Networks: Everywhere and nowhere,” takes up the vision recently articulated by Forrester’s Charlene Li that social networking will become a ubiquitous feature of the open Social Web:

“We will look back to 2008 and think it archaic and quaint that we had to go to a destination like Facebook or LinkedIn to be social,” says Charlene Li at Forrester Research, a consultancy. Future social networks, she thinks, “will be like air. They will be anywhere and everywhere we need and want them to be.”


More.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Cape Town (PHOTOGRAPHY)

What I'll Be Eating This Weekend



Remember the salty crax ad? And the end-of-the-month topping for salty crax? Well, this is the feast that is in store for me this weekend.

Jim Carrey voiceover: YUMMMMMY!

The Pothole That Defeated Mankind (PHOTOGRAPHY)




After 8 weeks, the road continues to leak mud and guts.

It looks like they have planted trees in what was originally a mud based jacuzzi. Now even the trees have died...

Snow! National Weather Warning

National Warning - Issued on Thursday, 20 March 2008 at 16.00
Very cold and wet conditions are expected on the high ground in south-western KwaZulu-Natal and north-eastern Eastern Cape, with light snowfalls on the Lesotho mountains.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Dr. Seuss, Dan Barker and Horton Hears A What? (Introduction and background to the Interview)



If you think about it it's pretty amazing

Two world's collided this morning (at least in my world). Mikale and I got shepherded through the Gallo and Nu Metro caves...festooned with posters, CD's and DVD's stuffed into wall and office space, cocooned rooms filled with creative human beings talking music and movies. The Entertainment brands may be part of the AVUSA stable, but it feels like a different world to the Newsroom where we're based. We went down into a private cinema at Gallo's entrance - I didn't even know it existed. It's a mini cinema with a small kiosk for popcorn and, well, everything you'd expect going to the movies.

We were here, armed with cameras, notepads, me with a microcasette recorder, to get the foreground of Horton Hears A Who, and get one of the animators takes on the background stuff.

I was a bit jittery going in, possibly because it was the first time I'd been in a tie for about a year. When Dan Barker arrived in a t-shirt, a friendly looking fellow (28 years old), blue eyes and dark hair, his wife discreetly beside him, my shadow tore off the tie and tossed it over my shoulder.

At around 9:45am we settled down to watch a preview of the movie, made by Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age, Robots). Dan sat behind me; it would be his second viewing of the whole film, and I had the feeling he'd be watching us to gauge reactions. Right off the bat the Dr. Seussy stuff - the fur, the gadgets, the strange silliness, came crackling through. Dr. Seuss has been very carefully and sensitively rendered, in all its unique magic and mayhem. I haven't laughed this much in a movie since...well, I can't remember when, perhaps when I was ten.

I went into the movie expecting it to be a bit awkward; about an elephant, and then a speck...but what actually happens? Well, a lot happens, and there are plenty of characters in both worlds, and as the flick progresses, so does the perception of one world of another. The premise of the flick is also charming: a large elephant is the only creature able to discern the tinny miniature world within the speck...

The script is great, performances (many of them) are awesome, and all of this is rendered with sparkling wit and precision by an army of animators, Dan Barker being one of them. Dan's signature scene (one of a whole couple, more on that later) is the ape cannon, shooting banananas at a fleeing Horton. Morton, a zippy blue mouse, is voiced by Knocked Up star Seth Rogen. Vlad the evil misshapen vulture (voiced by Will Arnett) is another memorable character. There are many character besides, filling the movie to the brim with Seussian chaos.

We all spoke at length to Dan after the flick; which demonstrates the extent that the imagination invested into the film fires up everyones creative flicker. Even the SABC2 cameramen asked Dan a lot of questions, out of curiosity, not as part of just 'doing the job'. And Dan's experience, and the experience that animation is, is fascinating. It is a painstaking, detailed process of perceiving our own imaginations, and then rendering these in technicolor, through creatures invented by some other imagineer. Dan's exposition of the process - and the American collaborative styles - was particularly insightful.

I read Dr. Seuss as a kid (you're supposed to pronounce Seuss as you do 'voice', with with an S, but no one ever does). The careful consideration and the consistent loyalty to the spirit of Seuss is what makes this flick so much fun. Considering the original book (Horton hears a Who) is 8 pages long, the director and animators stocked their libraries with everything Seuss, and worked hard to deliver 88 minutes of Seussian magic. They do, bringing in Seussian wisdom, and some existential tickles, that will deliver the feel good factor straight to the guts of both adults and children.

Score: 8/10
More.

To buy the book, go here.
To buy the DVD go here.

Moz tourist town on cyclone alert

VILANKULO, Mozambique - The Mozambican tourism town of Vilankulo was on high alert yesterday following a warning from disaster authorities of a possible cyclone hit.

Mozambique National Disaster management institute deputy director Joao Ribeiro said cyclone Jokwe, which has already killed 17 people and displaced thousands more by yesterday, was expected to hit the provinces of Gaza, Inhambane and Maputo by today.

"We are not sure if the cyclone is coming but it has gone to the central Mozambican channel. Anything can happen in the next twelve hours," Ribeiro said.

More from this The Times.co.za article.

Let the sun shine in (PHOTOGRAPHY)


Is it possible to Blog Full-time...and er...earn a living from doing that?


Yes, if your name is Danny Kim.

Here's who he is, and what he does:

Born in Korea, educated in U.S. from high school up to graduate school,
A computer science major,
Been back in Korea since 2003,

Worked for a great company named Samsung SDS for about 4 years,
Then quit the great company to become a full-time blogger (the first one in Korea as far as I know),
Known as the "Web 2.0 Evangelist" in Korea for my passion and enthusiasm for the changes related to "Web 2.0",
Blogger behind Taewoo's Log (Taewoo is my Korean name), one of the most widely read blogs in Korea with nearly 6,000 RSS subscribers, covering various aspects of the Web: technical, social, economic and legal,

Enjoying his last year as twenty-something before turning the big 3-0,
Author of the recently published book Meconomy, which examines the new economic landscape shaped by the Web with individuals being the powerful suppliers,
Currently works part-time as the global marketer for openmaru (more on this later), running its English blog,
A regular contributor to Korea Herald on "multiculturalism", starting in late January,

And loves Korea, Music (esp. piano), NBA, all kinds of Asian food, and Jesus.


To visit Danny's Blog, featured on CNN, go here.
To watch Danny on CNN, click here to watch.