I’m well used to people looking at me, shaking their heads, a pitying look in their eyes, telling me: “You need help. Seriously.” But as I go back to chatting to my tuberculosis bacteria, singing the Cookie Jar song and chasing lesbian mice around the lab (long story), I have to think that they don’t know what they’re on about. It would be hard to find a more balanced, more mentally stable microbiologist than myself. (Believe me, I’ve worked with a lot of microbiologists – they’re an odd breed).
When it came to updating my banner though, I was forced to admit that these people were right. I don’t have access to Photoshop and even if I did, I would have no idea how to use it. So even for the (apparently) relatively easy task of adding a Sheffield United badge and a picture of our dear Table Mountain onto each end of the title bar above, I had to turn to someone much more experienced (with Photoshop, not with microbiologists) (probably anyway). Step forward Cloudgazer (presumably not his real name) (probably anyway). I have no idea what he did, how he did it or how long it took him to do, but my banner is now a little more interesting than before. And a lot more interesting than what you’re reading now.
Anyway. The upshot of having a slightly more detailed banner is that now I think that this site is completely lovely. Since everything from last year disappeared in a cloud of 123-reg.co.uk incompetence, it’s nice to be up and running again.
Just a quick update on the news from ballacorkish.net and from South Africa.
Let’s get the dull bit over first.Great news! My new RSS feed is up and running. This one is via Feedburner, so it should be universally acceptable. To subscribe, just click this little icon: and we’ll tell you each time the site is updated. It really couldn’t be simpler. (Unless of course the icon clicked itself.)
I’ve also spent a lot of time streamlining the page, so it should load more quickly than before and it’s also properly coded for the first time in years. The other pages on the site (pictures, Nix’s page and Alex’s page) will be returning soon. We’ll let you know.Meanwhile, in South Africa, it’s summer. You can tell this by just looking at the beautiful weather during this football match in Johannesburg on Wednesday evening. You know that I don’t put YouTube clips on here unless they’re really worth it. Don’t miss this – it’s amazing. Finally, the most unjust criticism of the new Faithless album To All New Arrivals, which I think is just lovely, came from my wife, who I think is just lovely too. She described it as:
“Good, but a bit Faithlessy.”
Proof, if any were needed, that you really can’t win when it comes to women.
No, not this site – although that was almost the case thanks to my ex-hosting package. Just like a terrible divorce settlement, they got the kids, the house and the car. Plus all my picture files. Grr. That’s why this place is looking a little bare at the moment. Ah well, it needed a spring clean anyway. Look out for improvements and stuff over the next few weeks.
No, the subject of today’s title is none other than Dr Mantombazana Tshabalala-Msimang, who you would be able to read a lot about in previous entries on this site if they still existed. Manto is still South Africa’s Health Minister – just. A bout of ill-health and a prolonged hospital stay for a mystery respiratory illness followed a storm caused by her questioning whether HIV causes AIDS, her endorsement of a diet including african potato, lemons, garlic and olive oil to cure AIDS, and her shady dealings with Mathias Rath: a German doctor who makes a living discouraging HIV-sufferers from taking their ARV drugs and advising them instead to take vitamin supplements to cure their illnesses. Vitamin supplements that he just happens to sell.
Manto’s job has virtually been taken from her in all but name. She has been replaced in most of her official duties by her deputy Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge and the deputy president, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. But Dr Rath is still hard at work. He’s funding his crony Anthony Brink to bring a charge of genocide, no less, against the leader of the Treatment Action Campaign who have always vehemently opposed Rath’s (dis)information campaign. Needless to say, the TAC and Manto don’t exactly see eye to eye and many have speculated that she has a hand in this action.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people are dying of AIDS in South Africa every day. These are, for the most part, preventable deaths – the problem is simply the government is failing to provide HIV-sufferers in South Africa suitable treatment – the cause is the attitude and beliefs of the incumbent Health Minister. You can read more on the Sack Manto Campaign website.