Friday, July 25, 2014

Crime in South Africa - is the average South African worried about a 'swart/or-any-other/gevaar'?

Do people care about crime in SA?

Sometimes they care a lot:

July 25, 2014:  Taegrin Morris died after being dragged for a long distance behind a hijacked car last Saturday night.The memorial service in Reiger Park was attended by thousands of people, including Ekurhuleni mayor Mondli Gungubele, councillors and police officials, according to the report.

Now, don't laugh, but during the writing of this series, I was home alone for several days. My companion/s went on holiday for about 10 days and during that time my best friends were victims of an armed robbery. It was the second time they found themselves face-to-face with intruders in their Houghton home. In the same week PJ Powers found herself face to face with five armed robbers in a Guesthouse in the Free State.

So during my week staying alone at home, I found a mark on an inside door (made of wood) that looked like something had been jammed in it, to pry it open (fortunately unsuccesssfully). That same night I heard a very odd noise, it sounded like a metal door opening...I called security - not to come into the house, but to inspect the garden where I heard this strange noise, and a second noise. Well, it turned out the next morning one of the dogs had knocked over a earthen pot, and the pot with plant inside had rolled down two steps. A ceramic pot rolling on tiles can be msitaken for a metal door opening...
In any event, these sounds were quite scary given the above context, so I elected to 'barricade' my inner door, which also locks. Overkill? Paranoia? Some might say in South Africa, being a little paranoid is healthy, and sensible. But the jury is still in chambers on how much paranoia in SA is a 'little', or enough.

Engler's The Reeva I Knew was shared to the Daily Maverick's Facebook page at 18:51 on 14 February 2013

Move your cursor over the date below, and you'll see the time it was posted.

The article was tweeted at 7:37PM, almost an hour after sharing it to Facebook. 5 days later Engler wrote this, originally for the Sunday Times.
What were the circumstances of Engler's departure from FHM?

MediaslutZACurrent editor Hagen Engler has been ‘asked’ to step down ”resigned”...

This was after the April 2012 issue.

On Engler's public Facebook page (311 likes) there's no sign of his Daily Maverick piece.  If he did share it here, he's subsequently deleted it.

What is certain in his Daily Maverick article timestamped 07:28 Engler writes: Today her name is known worldwide. In a few hours, I’ve spoken to the BBC, CNN, The Guardian, The New York Times and the Sunday Independent, all wanting to know, “What was Reeva like?” And sure enough he was giving interviews to CNN, saying nice stuff about Reeva like:

  She was “just a great, fun presence of a person,” said Hagen Engler, former editor of the magazine FHM. He described her as “a bikini model, beautiful, gorgeous girl” with a “wicked” sense of humor. She understood the industry and was intelligent and fun to work with, he said.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Reeva couldn't possibly have screamed for help" - Oscar's defence

Text Via Daily Mail: Oscar Pistorius broke down in court today as his defence lawyer argued that Reeva Steenkamp was so badly brain damaged by the gunshot to her head she couldn't possibly have screamed for help.

Advocate Barry Roux made the claims in response to a neighbour's testimony that she heard a woman's screams after shots were fired on the night the model was killed.

He told the court: 'We will have experts state that there was serious brain damage after the shot to the head, that it would not have been possible for her to scream at all. 'With the head shot, she would have dropped down immediately.' The Paralympian was seen bent double in the dock, with his hands behind his head, as the court heard details of the bullets hitting Miss Steenkamp and the removal of fragments from her head during the post-mortem.

Prosecution lawyer Gerrie Nel interjected to say it was the last of four shots that struck Miss Steenkamp's head, the first two hitting her right side, the wall and her shoulder. Mr Roux's remarks came during fierce cross-examination of one of the state's key witnesses, Michell Burger, a university lecturer who lives near the athlete's Pretoria home. Ms Burger replied: 'As I said yesterday, I heard her voice just after the last shot. It could have been that it was at the last shot was fired.'

Mr Roux today sought to undercut her evidence further, suggesting that she was changing her story partly because she had not told police in a statement last year that she had heard screaming during the gunshots. Mr Roux argued that the screams she heard were in fact those of his devastated client after realising that he had mistakenly killed his girlfriend. He said: 'It was a stage of heightened anxiety. It was a pinnacle... It was him screaming, absolutely anxious.'

Mr Roux also grilled Ms Burger over the number of shots she heard - and whether they were gunshots at all. He suggested she may have mistaken the shots for the sound of Pistorius breaking the toilet door with a cricket bat after realising that Miss Steenkamp was inside. Ms Burger, who lives near Pistorius's home, rejected the assertion, saying the intervals between each shot were too quick to have been made by bat being swung against an object. Mr Roux was also sceptical that she could hear fear and anxiety in the voice of a woman in a toilet cubicle with a closed door.

'I will invite the state to go and do a test' to see if the sound would carry, Mr Roux said. Ms Burger stuck to her account, saying the area where she lives is tranquil and near a nature reserve, and that the windows of her house were open because there is no air conditioning. 'It's very quiet,' she said. 'Sound carries.' Prosecutor Mr Nel objected to Mr Roux's sometimes acerbic interrogation, saying it was repetitive. But Judge Masipa allowed the questioning to proceed and warned Ms Burger she would be 'in that witness box' for a lot longer unless she gave direct answers. 'You don't give an explanation,' Judge Masipa said. 'If the answer is yes, you say yes. If it's no, you say no. If you don't know, you say you don't know.'

Ms Burger later broke down in the witness box, wiping tears from her eyes with tissue, at the end of her cross-examination before being discharged. Pistorius again took lengthy notes during the witnesses's testimony with a black Mont Blanc pen and using an orange highlighter and sticky notes to mark certain passages. During adjournments, he huddled with his legal team. At one point, he removed a child’s small lunchbox from his briefcase to retrieve a can of fizzy juice and a wrapped snack.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

How to post an Amazon review – for dummies

And by dummies, I include myself in that group – not necessarily the village idiot, but someone occasionally challenged by the ambiguities of doing stuff online.

In my quest to triumph over this apparently simple task, my recces have come up with the following top tips:

 There are a couple of routes that will lead you down the path of posting a review:
a) go directly to the amazon website, and look up your item
b) if you have purchased an item through amazon, the company may send you an email inviting you to review this product, in which case, just click on their link.

If you are going to the amazon website to intentionally review a product, search for your product in the usual way, i.e. using the search bar (you may have to filter the search by department).
Once you are on the main page for that product/book/DVD/CD/eBook, scroll all the way down, past ‘product description’, ‘product details’, etc.  Keep going until you get to ‘Customer reviews’.  There you will find an icon (saying ‘Write a customer review’) that you can click on.  Click.  Or tap (if you’re on an ipad).

If you have not yet signed in, the amazon website will invite you to do this now.  If you do not have an amazon account, you will have to create one in order to sign in and write your review.

You will be taken to a page titled ‘Your reviews’ – all your latest purchases will appear there, so you have the option to review them at your leisure.  In this instance focus on the item you plan to review.

There are 5 blank stars – you can tap/click on as many as what you think your item is worth, i.e.  highlight 4 or 5 stars.

Just below the stars, there is a text box in which you can write your review.  There is a further text box that will appear below this, where you can give your review a heading.

Lastly, there is a yellow icon saying ‘Submit’.  Click/tap and voila.

Your full name will appear under your posted review.  If you do not wish to be named, you can edit your public name.  On the review page, there is an icon you can click on in the top right hand side which allows you to change your name.

Now go and post!


Friday, July 18, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dr Llewellyn Curlewis gives insight on Pistorius trial

Note: Contextually the clip below is from Monday 7 Jul7 2014, the opening moments of the trial, the first thoughts and comments following the 'leaked video' trumpeted across media headlines, and sufficient to prompt a statement from Oscar's own defense team. At 01:37 Judge Masipa pertinently asks the Defence 'Mr Oldwage' if he wishes to make any submissions. Within the context of a leaked video the previous night, which contradicts their own expert witness' testimony (on Monday) and is in fact their own 'manufactured' evidence (and thus, in theory, a 'gift' to Gerrie Nel, but essentially a poisoned gift*).


How does Oscar's defence team respond (to the question of submissions on amendments to agreements between counsels, the media and the court):

 Mr Oldwage: We have none, thank you My Lady.

*If Nel had mentioned the video footage, Oscar's defence could have cited this as privileged information (belonging to the defence) and on this basis along would have grounds for a mistrial, based on the sub judice rule.

I speculated on this on OFM radio on July 6 [listen from 1:12:40 onweards], and also communicated - via twitter -my intuitions to David Dadic, prior to the commencement of the trial.  We prognosticated (correctly as it turned) out - check the time of those tweets: 

that the leaked video would not even be raised by Gerrie Nel in court, for precisely the reasons provided here.

Review of Resurrection: Think outside the box, posted 16 July 2014

I have read these books out of order, starting with 'Reeva in her own words' and then jumping ahead to 'Resurrection'. 

Ultimately, this is an interrogation of the Oscar Pistorius story, addressing the issues of authenticity, as well as 'could he?' (Pistorius) or 'should he?' be resurrected? 

The paradox of a world renowned Paralympian athlete is highlighted: a Paralympian who has admitted he wouldn't be doing athletics i[f] he was able-bodied. 

A number of questions are posed: 

-should Oscar Pistorius have been allowed to compete in able-bodied athletics?
 -does he, in fact, have an advantage when he runs with is blades? 
-does he steer attention away from other able-bodies athletes when he is in the same arena? 

 There are a few surprises that I did not expect, including a plausible motive, or at least context, which may have led to the tragic shooting on Valentines Day 2013. 

The author picks away at the tapestry of the Oscar Pistorius Brand, posing interesting questions. Although some statements are controversial and the reader may not always agree, this is a well researched and cleverly written comment on Oscar's narrative that will get one thinking outside the box.

 More information here.

To hear the author discussing how and why he wrote the series, go here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Confessions of a Failed Author #6 UPDATE [16/07/2014]

Sometimes, during the course of your work, you get this sort of response:

Interrogation of Oscar’s motive ought to happen in court; there is no evidence before us or the judge at this stage to suggest there was a particular reason Oscar may have wanted to rid the world of Reeva. But of course we remain open to any leads or evidence that may reach us. [But] At this stage we will not take up your offer to publish your piece

Date is sometime today, 15 July 2015, forwarded to me by a freelance friend of mine.  The above opinion (because that's all it is) belongs to the editor of one of South Africa's largest newspapers. He says 'we remain open to any leads or evidence'.  Okay then.  Since he is a bigshot editor, it must mean the call he is making is...., well....right, right?

There's also this (received 16 July 2014 from a Professor of criminal law - yes, you didn't misread (and his allegations of rudeness or that I am upset are odd to stay the least.  I simply asked him why he had unfollowed me on twitter after I asked him to have a look at my ideas on motive):

Dear Nick

I don't know what I said or did that has you so upset. But for my part I need to tell you that I did read your original email several times because I struggled to understand it. It could be that I’m just stupid, but, it is virtually incomprehensible. Eventually I decided you must be referring to motive and that was the basis for my response. A civil and polite response. Your reply to that was outrageously rude [Actually this was my respomnse, not outrageous or rude: I see you're playing it safe, even unfollowing me on twitter.  Lol.]

I don't know what world you live in, but in my world no one speaks to another person with such disrespect. 

[Perhaps Mr X is referring to this extremely impolite email to him from me:

Hi X

I am talking about motive yes. I am also thinking about it, which I believe I'm allowed to do.  I also understand the sub judice rule.  I also understand case law (I have studied law myself).
I'm afraid I am a poor writer, but you are welcome to call me or we can skype.  
Phone is 072 555 5555
I agree one should tread carefully but it is not a case of lunacy or getting emotional, or seeking sensation, or stupidity (on my part) I can assure you]

I unfollowed you because I only followed you to send you my contact details and I use my twitter account as a news feed.  Also, at this point, from my perspective, based on both of your replies, you seem to me like a raving lunatic [my emphasis].

Let me be clear, I have no agenda. I am currently being hounded by “rag” mags for comment on Pistorius that are sensationalist and I decline to comment. Please give me the benefit of the doubt and call me or lets meet: 071 xxx xxxx. I want to understand better and help you if I can. 

kind regards

What's good to remember is not everyone in an industry is going to be as dismissive of you, or as closed open minded to you, or your work.  And when they are, it's not necessarily a reflection of you, as it is of...well, make up your mind ;-)

OFM Radio's Johrne van Huyysteen interviews Nick van der Leek on his Bestselling Oscar Pistorius Trial eBook series [AUDIO + IMAGES]

NOTE: Struggling to convert the original .MPEG/MP3 audio files to load as a PODOMATIC (minicast) with +-150 photos. Since I can't solve that problem right now, this Soundcloud audiostream(with no images) will have to do for the time being. Apologies for the dud link posted earlier. I've posted a few images here for the listener to browse through while the interview is running.


Available July 28 on Amazon Kindle:

ATTENTION OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL EDITORS: The rule against publication which could prejudice the administration of justice is known as the sub judice rule

Through the grapevine I've heard word of contempt of court Nick van der Leek. Apparently I am an idiot who doesn't understand media law.  That's a curious thing because I have three years of Commercial law, as well as Family and Private law in my back pocket, but...uh...let's examine my ignorance when it comes to matters of the media and the law.  Personally I think SA media watch too much American/British TV, and should maybe definitely catch a wake up!
No. I think he’s an idiot [Nick vd Leek].
The reason the SA media will not publicise his book has nothing to do with Brand Pistorius and everything to do with the sub judice rule. Your mate is very likely to find himself in contempt of court at the very least. At worst he may have handed Pistorius his Get Out of Jail Card. If Oscar is convicted his lawyers can now seek a mistrial on the grounds that your mate has prejudiced the outcome. If that fails they can seek an appeal on the same grounds. >>>The idea of a mistrial is something I specifically researched for Resurrection, and hence published an extract here.
Take note my comments in this excellent article by Webber Wentzel's Dario Milo and Stuart Scott are provided in bold.
But could the publication of the video/article/eBook down under/or over here amount to a mistrial?
We submit not. I submit not too.
Significantly, the footage has not been relied upon by the state or the defence and thus it has no bearing on Pistorius’s murder trial whatsoever. 
Why would they not relie on it?  Because it's irrelevant to their own stating of their case in court.  
It follows that there is simply no basis for the view that Oscar’s or the state’s right to a fair trial has been infringed by the mere publication of the footage.
Accordingly, there is with respect no basis for the view that the broadcast creates what the Americans call a “mistrial”.
The legal reason is that our Supreme Court of Appeal made it clear in the Baby Jordancase that the test for whether a publication during a pending or on-going criminal trial is unlawful is whether there is a real risk of demonstrable and substantial prejudice to the administration of justice. And “[e]ven then publication will not be unlawful unless a court is satisfied that the disadvantage of curtailing the free flow of information outweighs its advantage.”  This rule against publication which could prejudice the administration of justice is known as the sub judice rule.
Importantly, the panel deciding Oscar’s legal fate is not a jury comprised of lay people who might be erroneously influenced by evidence which is not before the court, but a Judge and two legally-trained assessors.  Our courts have emphasised the importance of this distinction.
A helpful example in this regard is the case of Joseph Arthur Walter Brown v the NDPP and Others in which the former chief executive of Fidentia, (this case law, incidentally, is discussed in RESURRECTION) along with comment from David Dadic and Ulrich Roux) who had been charged with numerous counts of fraud and theft, applied for a permanent stay of the prosecution against him on the basis that pre-trial media coverage infringed his right to a fair trial.
The court agreed that there was indeed adverse media coverage in relation to his case but found that Brown had failed to show any link between the publicity and the effect that it would have on his trial.
>>>One also has to ask the question, if an idiot journalist were to write a book that could result in his, a publications and those he quoted being sued, why would litigation experts contribute to it?  Simple answer, we know something the ADD starved MSM don't.  Perhaps it's time you paid attention to the details people...

Confessions of a Failed Author #5

I've never understood all the skulduggery that goes on behind the scenes, where people scheme and invent and undermine.My research into the Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial, and also other Trials; Griekwastad and David Baine and OJ Simpson has shown me that people will go to extreme lengths to protect a persona.  In fact they will go to even more extreme lengths to protect a FAKE persona.  And I can tell you this for nothing, people who protect their own fake personas are ruthless when it comes to other people - authentic people - who might reveal them, or show them up.  And so there's this very real scenario playing out of someone who tries to invalidate you, in order to validate themselves.  It's important to do this especially when your shit is bullshit.  Then you really need all the good PR you can get to validate your bullshitness.

When you look at these cases, Simpson, Pistorius and this Steenkamp kid, all of them thought they were hotshots (and some still do), thought they were entitled to their lives and big bucks, saw others lives as cheap objects by comparison, and expendable to their own, and so were highly incentivised to cover up their inauthentic narratives.  Why? Because if people saw or knew who they really were they'd be in super serious trouble.  And how far will they go to protect these persona?  Pretty fucking far.

I mean if your persona is your identity, it feels - at times - interchangeable, identical to who you are. It isn't, but if you are so invested in your persona, then threats to your persona, which are threats to your identity, are going to feel just like threats to you.  Threats to your life.  The unhinged can take these threats so seriously it can go as far as murder, and even murdering one's own family.  Murdering the people closest to you to protect some unpleasant truth (raping your sister, an abusive argument, jealous) about you from being revealed.

They would lose millions alongside losing the love, support and sycophancy of their fans, family and friends.  You think this business of covering up lies is limited to big court cases, and Lance, and Tiger?  No.  It's here.  It's part of the fabric of society, and I'm going to dig out a can of worms I've been sitting on, and show them to you.

Make a cup of coffee, and set aside 5, make that 10 minutes to concentrate on this rusty tin of vrotting baked beans.  Ready?  Here we go.

Yes, covering up a persona also happens in the real world, and it happens a lot.  Not murder, necessarily, but scheming and repression and the behaviour that is meant to undermine you, and at the same time benefit the perpetrator.  I'm not sure whether we should be surprised at this, or even wounded.  Isn't it natural?

It's Natural

Think about the natural world...think about have one bachelor females.  The lone bachelors are cast out and it's a pretty lonely life for them.  Meanwhile the dominant stags get all the action.
I want you, the reader, to think of the females, as booty.  As in treasure.  As in the sort of the stuff you accumulate when you work hard, arrange your affairs properly, and have the presence of mind to know your friends from your enemies rivals.

In the schema, the mythos of the Impala, the dominant male, in rutting season, has a pretty good run of the veld. That is until another male emerges and then there is a duel for supremacy.  Duel done, the females head off to camp with the dominant male.

Nature has programmed this system, so that only the strongest and best males breed with the females. This system is in place because it works.  It serves to advance the interests of some of the individuals (notably the dominant males, and their females, who are protected from unsavoury characters and predators) and implicitly enhances the group.  The best individuals survive, and effective survival in nature must be enforced.

If you're in this sytem, the best place to be if you want to be at the top, and see the most action, and get the most credit, is in the herd run by one dominant Impala, the territorial male. You want to be him.  It's lkike being the CEO or a Hollywood Actor.  On the other hand, if you'd like to relax in your office cubicle, have lunch, mind your business, kind of be a nobody (and hey, that's also okay) then the female herds are your place to be.  Bachelor herds are less fun. There's bickering.  There's frustration.  There's a lot of alliances forming and breaking up. It's kind've a purgatory for losers and outcasts; it's where you go when you can't find an 'in' either with the female herds, or because you've failed to properly challenge the big kahuna running the terriorial show (and for that honor, services as many as 100 females in a season).  So this is the setup, thanks Wikipedia:

The social behaviour of the impala is influenced by the seasons. Three distinct social groups are formed in the wet season: the territorial males, bachelor herds and female herds.[22] These groups continually break up into smaller herds and reunite.[4] About a third of the adult males hold individual territories...and may change according to the season.[3] The males demarcate their territories with urine and faeces and defend them against any other male intruders. A study of impala in the Serengeti National Park showed that in 94% of the males, territoriality was observed only for a duration of less than four months.[5] 

So yes, it's seasonal.  It comes and goes.  But when it comes it can be a big deal.  Below the next paragraph I'm going to reveal why we're in season now. In the schema of this can of worms, this example I'm laying bear, at any rate.
First let's look at how this mechanism of being part of a group, or not part of a group works, and why it matters. Pay attention to the Territorial Male, because they are actually running the show, and that's kind of where you want to be (and kind of where I am at, incidentally, in my own working scenario.  I run my show, and am answerable to me.  I have no vested interests.). How do you know who is really running the show?  Simple.  Just see how many followers (females) are following him.

During the mating season males prefer small, easily defended territories, and will sometimes reclaim their old ones from previous mating seasons.[12] These territorial males may or may not have breeding females in their territories. The male will try to control any female herds passing through his territory by herding them towards the centre, and will also chase away any bachelor males or juveniles who accompany them.[5]
The bachelor herds comprise non-territorial adult as well as juvenile males, and can have about 30 members.[3] Individuals maintain distances of 2.5–3 m from one another. Young and old males may interact, but middle-aged males usually avoid one another.[23] The female herds consist of 15-100 individuals, and comprise of breeding herds of females and their young (including young males below four years). The females form clans, and inhabit home ranges 80–180 hectares in size. There is no distinct leader of the female herd, though animals aged five years or more may move independently.[23]Membership in both bachelor and female herds is variable.

The same is true of lions, where the male big shots must defend their territory and their pride, and expect attacks and be able to ward them off.  Sometimes by other lions, sometimes by Hyena.  It's the most troubling, in some ways, when you see wolves wiping one another out. I mean entire packs eviscerating rival groups.  It's where the saying comes from:

Man is a wolf to man.

It's different of course with Impala. They duel and the loser then heads off into the sunset.  Defeated, but not dead.  Lions too will scrap a little and then the status quo slots back into place.  One of the most shocking things I ever saw was at Shamwari, where an opportunistic male lion who was used to winning, but was already excluded, and wanted to mate so he took his chances.  He fought a younger rival and lost. He didn't just lose the fight he was killed. A dead lion is...a very disturbing sight.  It takes a lot to kill a lion.  A lot of biting and ripping and mauling.  So when we found an old male by the side of the road, ripped to's disturbing. It's so disturbing I can tell you that the staff at Shamwari said they would not simply let the lion - a once magnificent animal, well known over many years - lie beside the road for all to see, and rot.  No, even though what had happened was in the schema of nature, they would bury him.  A mark of respect, across species no less, for a fallen friend.

Think about that.  Why do we bury some animals, and not bother with others?  It is a sign that an animal means something to us, beyond the meaning of its own vitality, and its own Life Force.  That's deeply impressive and deeply beautiful to me.

It happens in the human world too, where people go out of their way to advance the hopes of other people, sometimes - well, especially when it's at their own expense it's so heroic.  That's Mandela right there.  Ghandi. We celebrate these men as true icons of the human story, and we recognise them as among the greatest human beings that ever lived.  They didn't serve their own interests.  They helped all the animals in the herd.  They protected all, and not to further their own interests, but the interests of all.

But I'm afraid it's a fact of life that man is a wolf -sometimes, often - to his fellow man.  How the game works is if you can invalidate your rival, you benefit at his expense.  Politics works like that. Law. So does freelance journalism.  

I don't quite get that stuff, and I think the reason is...I don't feel threatened by other writers. Or photographers. The few that are intimidatingly good I try to form friendships with, I don't bear a grudge or an agenda.  Those who do, in my opinion, are that miserable lot who don't really know what to say, or why they're saying it.  They seem to be the frustrated bachelor's who aren't properly in any where and are suffering existential angst as a result.  My advice to you - you are probably in the wrong business.  You get great writers and artists who suffer and are poor their whole lives, and you get really terrible folk with no talent who believe themselves to be better than they are who also remain poor, and struggle to emerge.  Take it from me, you rather one to be the guy with real talent that's struggling and getting nowhere, than the other guy.

For the other guy it all ends in tears, and he is so distracted by his misery and frustation and over-reach, because he's in the wrong place, the wrong herd (go play in your cubicle with the tea drinkers, it's safer) he doesn't see the lion stalking him in the thicket.  Maybe he has his eyes set on the territorial male, but whatever it is, he doesn't see Death until those claws sink into the jugular, and the little Life Force you had drains, and then is gobbled away.  If you're not hacking it, and never have any followers, and you're doing the PR thing permanently and no one is paying attention, please, for the love of God, stop.  Stop, take stock, and go do something else.

Go and seek out another living of some kind.

Behind the Bravado

Remember I said if you're that guy that doesn't have any talent to speak of, walk away?  What do you think happens when you insist?  When... behind the bravado is...let's face it...not the highest standard of work. There is a caricature of the struggling artist, and the struggling writer...there's the equipment, prominently displayed, the camera, the notebook, the phone...and I think it's especially sad where you see a committed fundamentalist with all the right gear, all the right contacts, the right CV, the right everything, just their work is...well, something is wrong with it.  It's dull.  And you recognise them immediately because they are desperate for something from you.  A contact.  What settting did you use?  How did you do this?  How did you do that?  And of course you mean well, and you try to help.  But there is something, I'm sorry to say, unfortunate, and perhaps not fair, about the sighted trying to lead the blind.

The blind leading the blind has a poetic irony, but when the man who sees and do's has to tolerate idiots (and idiots who don't know they are idiots, and of course, he doesn't know that either) then it's not a good situation for anyone.

At 36 seconds, Loki does what I sometimes feel I do myself. But more like a primal scream:

Loki: Enough! You are, all of you beneath me! I am a god, you dull creature

Of course you don't say any of these things.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

First Tweet

Saturday, July 12, 2014

"Reeva Steenkamp was my homegirl" (but not exactly my friend)

It disturbs me when I see this.

No, not because Engler wrote about her.  Also not because he immediately provides a disclaimer [He says he's her friend, sort've, but not actually, but it's implied that she is 'my friend'.]  Actually Engler is one of her Facebook friends (I checked).

No, none of that is particularly incriminating.  But something is.  Do you see it? Look closer...

It's the date and time.  We know now Reeva Steenkamp was shot to death on Valentine's Day (14 February 2013) at very close to 03:17.

But the time of the article is 07:28 and the breaking news tweet is:

The second breaking news tweet is five minutes later:

I could follow the conspiracy theory and ask why does it actually show 5 hours earlier on the screengrabs (ie 03:03 and 03:08, but that would put the tweets before the murder (alleged, right?) but I'm pretty sure there is a techy reason for that.

 I'm more perturbed, firstly by Hagen Engler's timing, and secondly, by the Daily Maverick.  It's possible Hagen simply made a mistake when he uploaded his story, or that an editor, or subeditor at the Daily Maverick editor back-tracked the time, in order to attract google spiders looking for the earliest news reports.  This would allow them to preempt Beeld and possibly Radio702's online coverage.  If that's true, and it was purposeful, that's opportunistic and dishonest journalism right there. You're reporting in the public domain about someone who has been shot to death, a crime, and you're going to play games with the time?

I'm not going to deal with those ethics, there's a time and place for that.  For now, I'm coming back to Engler.  What if Daily Maverick's clocks were right, and he wrote this story at the time published (it's still the present time on the site, if it was incorrect, surely it would have been changed].

Even if Engler wrote his story at 9am or 10am or 11am, that is a pretty damn blistering fast turn around on telling the world about 'my homegirl'.  Reeva was shot around 3am.  If this story was published the time it says it was published, it means Engler must have been working on it between 5am and 6am. It's also possible that Engler is buddies with one of the first people Oscar called, Justin Divaris, Oscar's best friend.

"At 3 h 55 Oscar called me: "I shot Reeva! I shot Reeva! '' he cried on the phone. A neighbor then took the handset: "You'd better come, this is serious! ''  ' between Johannesburg and Pretoria, the wide ribbon of asphalt fully lit at night, has Divaris dark. It was he who introduced Oscar Reeva, three months earlier, on November 4, 2012. Incredulous Here he looks at the scene from the sidewalk. He can see the body of Reeva lying in the living room.And, turning his head toward the garage, discover the champion's head in his hands, his shoulders shaking with spasms.
The day before, he lunched with him! He had even offered him a night with the guys while Samantha, his own wife, very close to Reeva, called on his side to make a canvas they getaway.
Not sure why this is published on a French website.  But even Oscar has testified to calling Divaris. If the Daily Maverick's time is right, the only other logical conclusion is Divaris either called Engler, or called someone who subsequently told Engler. Engler then busted his butt to get his story out as soon as possible.  What's interesting is that it appeared on the Daily Maverick, which I know pays peanuts, and which suggests to me - I'm speculating, he was turned down by the major dailies.  And for good reason, this is particularly poor taste.  Her blood was not even cold.

One could check, given that FHM was all about the laddish lifestyle, and Divaris' company was all about fast and flashy cars (a perfect fit for FHM) I wouldn't be surprised if Divaris and Engler were more than aquaintances.  Just look at it.  Divaris - Engler - Steenkamp/Pistorius - Divaris - Engler? Foreseably Divaris may have known or suspected the 'scoop' (which he had) was worth a lot of money, and so helped out his buddy.  Speculation.  I don't know. What's not speculation was that this was uploaded at such breakneck speed, then uploaded to Engler's blog the very next day,
But Engler wasn't done yet, that afternoon he did press for AP saying:

02/15/2013 05:33 PM

"The way I knew her she had had a very long relationship before. So, she wasn't really an opportunist, isn't really the way I understood her. So, you know, one never knows. She is a beautiful woman, so perhaps Oscar was taking his opportunity, but that's just speculation, you know.

Maybe you were too, Hagen.

On 25 February, 11 days after her death, Engler blogs about how much money her images are worth,[it appears on the Daily Maverick] and whether Reeva's family are due any benefit for the use of his images.

But where did these images come from? And does Reeva’s estate, or her family, get to benefit from this massive use of her image?
It appears not.
Copyright in images as intellectual property, while indeed a fraught issue, is mainly an area of contestation between photographers and employers. Usually the creator of the “artistic work”, ie. the photographer, will own copyright in the images. Exceptions are if the images are created in the course of his/her employment. If a client commissions a photographer to take an image, copyright rests with the client.
Writing on the website, intellectual property lawyer Mariette du Plessis points out that these exceptions can all be changed by prior agreement between the photographer and the employer.
Models, though, appear to left out of this arrangement.
Prime sources for Reeva pics have been Tropika Island of Treasure, the branded reality show she was set to appear in at the time of her death. Stills images from the Tropika show have been supplied free to news outlets, although Britain’s The Independent has reported production company Stimulii charging $3 000 a pop to use a video clip from the show, raising questions of profiteering from her death.
Local picture agency Gallo Images has been selling images of Reeva, including images of her shot for Media24 magazine title FHM. An FHM bikini pic of Reeva graced the cover of Britain’s The Sun on Friday morning, prompting a Twitter storm over the ethics of featuring a murder victim in her bikini.
“Reeva pics are selling. But at about the same rate as any other celebrity,” said a cagey Gallo MD, Pam Wills. “We’ve had lots of requests for pics of her and Oscar.”
The ethics of selling images of dead people is a minor subplot to the shock and outrage of the unfolding Oscar-Reeva saga. It lives alongside such other considerations of commerce vs commiseration as should the Tropika show be broadcast, should Oscar’s sponsors drop him, and should journalists camp outside the late girl’s family home to film her shattered dad and add an extra dimension of tragedy to this grim tale.
Our morbid fascination has been piqued, and a long-established industry is ready to feed that. Some of us will benefit from it. Reeva Steenkamp will not.

And on July 1, just a few days ago, Engler writes this for the Sunday Times:

 I felt some people should say something about her, what she was like as a person.
So I tweeted something. Three words, along the lines of “She was lovely”.This precipitated a DM: Did you know this girl? Would you do an interview?
I said yes. And thus began my spell in the media spotlight as “Someone who’s prepared to speak”.
I did some interviews. The interviews precipitated more interviews. And the more I did, the more my number was passed around by journos around the world. I soon realized that, thanks to the global fame of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius – now accused of Reeva’s murder – the appetite for news of the case was insatiable.
In the days after her death, I could mark the passage of the sun across the face of the earth by the calls I was getting on my cell. It went New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Norway, France, UK, USA… I was woken up at 4am for radio phoners, newspapers called constantly – the Independent, the Mail, the Telegraph, The Guardian, L’Equipe… I forget who all.
Where can we get pictures? Remember, we met the once? We’ll pay you for your time (that never happened) I got calls from correspondents who sounded cute and sexy on the phone. Cool people you wouldn’t mind having a beer with…
Softie that I am, I’d always break down and meet them. Sometimes a TV crew would occupy my home for four or five hours. I met crews in their homes, at restaurants, hotels. And after a while I began to feel some kind of way.
Sure, I was telling Reeva’s side of the story, but I felt a little, well, used. 
You might look and feel a bit like I did once the world’s media were finished with me. Wide-eyed. Paranoid. Embarrassed.
Can I be honest.  I don't buy it.  I don't buy the level of friendship he is portraying.  He turned the poor girl away twice out of the three times she approached the magazine, which to me shows less about his friendship with her and more about the average tendency of the average editor to be a dick.  Apologies to the good and decent editors out there (I'm sure you do exist), if this isn't you.

Writing this story as fast as possible to crow about his relationship with Reeva is sufficiently doos-like behaviour, if his clever (but actually not so clever) obfuscations about his friend, but sort've friend, special friend, different friends didn't feel so ill-timed and ill-motivated.

Perhaps I'm being unfair?  Or unfairly attacking Engler? Have a look at the top three or four comments in response to Engler's story, which is media opportunism - vile and cruel - at its worst.

One comment sums up the spirit of just how inappropriate (desperate) Engler is here:
Shallow and glib...insubstantial...your claim to fame in knowing her...hilarious that you should distance yourself from the superficial model industry...