Completely untrue and wholly without foundation

Not much good news in the cricket for England this morning, but I note that The Times is up to its usual tricks again:

Apology to Kevin Pietersen

THE Times would like to make a full apology to Kevin Pietersen for printing an article headlined “KP’s beer-flinging fury” on 6 January 2010. Following representations on My Pietersen’s behalf made by the England team management and the ECB (Eng-land [sic] and Wales Cricket Board), The Times now accepts that the article was completely untrue and wholly without foundation.

KP was out again cheaply at the Wanderers this morning.
Let’s hope he doesn’t throw any beer over the crowd again like he didn’t do last time.

Enough babies already!

I saw this letter in The Times earlier this week. It made me laugh.

I am a poor pensioner and taxpayer – I cannot afford to pay for your sexual urges.
The world and South Africa has enough people, please don’t be stupid and selfish and add more at my expense.

More people means more power stations are needed, more schools, more hospitals, more houses, more jobs (from where?), more dams, more roads, more prisons, more police, more global warming and so on, and I am expected to pay for all of this.

Think of me, yourselves, the rest of the world and the child before you make babies.

RL, by email

While RL’s plea may strike a chord with a number of  taxpayers, who (as in most other countries around the world) subsidise those “less fortunate” than themselves, I can’t see his/her message catching on. With 4.3 babies born per second worldwide, another 17.2 (ish) have arrived while you’ve been reading this sentence. Don’t tell RL – that sort of stat would kill him/her.

Of course, if RL was to pop his/her clogs, then it would – by RL’s reckoning, at least – be a good thing for the world. We’d need 0.00000001 less hospitals, 0.00000001 less power stations and dams. Schools would probably be unaffected, but there would be 1 whole house more. Which has got to be a step in the right direction. Unless you’re RL. 

However, if RL were to be cremated, that would add to global warming, so instead, we’d need more space in the local cemetery.  

Hmm. Swings and roundabouts. No – wait – that’s a playground, not a cemetery. But you know what I mean.

The problem with RL’s idea of thinking of him/her before submitting to your sexual urges is that, were one to think about a grumbling pensioner (like thinking of dead kittens or Manto Tshabalala-Msimang (remember her?)) while in the throes of passion, then the sexual urges would probably go away. Rapidly.

But then, maybe that’s RL’s plan.  

The Times they aren’t a-changin’

The pisspoor Times newspaper today shouts from the rooftops (or at least the streetlight poles) that an SA woman has “pulled a Huntley”, suggesting that she – like much-documented all-round nice guy and alleged racially-motivated crime victim, Brandon Huntley – has garnered refugee status in a foreign land claiming that the black people in South Africa are picking on her because she is white.

A South African woman has been granted a five-year residency permit in Ireland after testifying she feared “criminal racial discrimination” if she returned.

Which all sounds horribly familiar after the Huntley case – until one actually reads the story.

Dianne Jefferson is 22 and left SA when she was 14 years old. She has no family in SA, her father is married to an Irish citizen and she has a half-sister who is Irish.
Oh – and she is married to an Irishman.

So exactly like Huntley in every regard except her age, sex, her family situation, her marriage and er… all the other circumstances mentioned, then.

The Huntley saga prompted huge debate across all forms of media and amongst the citizens of South Africa and those abroad. It divided the country into those who believe that his claims were valid and those who knew they were bullshit. Everyone was desperate to keep abreast of the story and, as is to be expected, the media spun it out as long as possible in an effort to encourage more readers.
This appears to just be another attempt to piggy-back a few more sales onto that old story.

But yes, there are those three words: “criminal racial discrimination” which are mentioned as part of her submission to the court and which really have no basis or reason for being there, but then as her lawyer explains:

Dianne reads papers and is aware of the violent crime and rapes in the country and with no support structure she feels she is at a greater risk.

All of which serves as a perfect example of how the papers can blow things out of all proportion in order to sell their product as long as there are people willing to buy it (the story and the paper). 

I would really love someone to explain to me why this is a story – especially one warranting front-page attention.

EDIT: Dianne Jefferson comments on this story:

I believe the media spun my case out of control. I did not even want it in the papers in the first place. I have very fond memories of growing up in South africa. Iam married to an Irish citizen and I was trying to get a 5 year visa, which I now have. If I was to be deported, which I have not been. It would have been very hard for me to survive on my own in a country I left at a very young age.

Interesting, hey?

EDIT 2: The Times editor Ray Hartley tweets a thank you.

British Journalist Speaks Sense About South Africa SHOCK!!!!!

It seems that Chief Football Commentator at The Times, Patrick Barclay, thinks that England can win the World Cup in South Africa next year. And he may well be right. They’re playing some great football and getting some great results. And, of course, the 2010 World Cup will be held in the middle of winter in South Africa… 

Now the strength-sapping summer heat of Italy, France, Japan and even Germany gives way to an English footballer’s dream: the coldest World Cup since records began.

…bringing with it the probability of weather conditions which will play right into England’s hands. We like the cold; the Portuguese (if they even manage to qualify) – don’t. Shame.

Barclay’s comments on South Africa were refreshingly honest as well. After all the hysteria which has surrounded South Africa’s preparation for the World Cup, the allegations that stadiums would not be finished, that the infrastructure couldn’t cope, that a lack of security would mean that everything was shifted to Oz at the last minute; well, here is a viewpoint from someone that’s actually been here and watched football. At last!

In Germany — not to mention Japan — trains were a fine method of getting about. In South Africa, forget it. Put yourself at the mercy of the roads and inevitable match-day congestion, get organised into bus-loads with local guides (though security should be less of a worry than some suggest, only a fool would take undue risks) and allow four or five times as long as is recommended for every journey.

To be fair to the hosts, most of the traffic jams we encountered were because of road improvements designed to ensure a smoother flow next year. But do reset your watch to take account of the time-difference between aspiration and reality. Then it can be fun; I have especially fond memories of a day in Soweto, which is keen to take budget guests and will, I was assured, be safe (unlike downtown Johannesburg, which apparently is full of bloody foreigners and hence crime-ravaged).

This isn’t Japan. It certainly isn’t Germany (thank goodness – do you really think I’d be here if it was?). This is South Africa and when in Rome, do as the Romans and expect everything to take longer than it would in Berlin. Or Rome. And of course there will be match day congestion, just like there is at Bramall Lane when United are at home and just like there was before and after the rugby at Newlands on Saturday. This isn’t a problem peculiar to South Africa, nor to football.

Barclay’s piece is not sycophantic, celebratory or (in some ways) even hugely positive about South Africa. But it’s first-hand (compare and contrast Louise Taylor’s Guardian article, mentioned here) and it’s honest. Fans coming to SA next year expecting another Germany or Japan are going to be left confused and possibly even a little disappointed. Not because we aren’t going to do a great job of hosting the World Cup, but because it’s going to be  hosted in South Africa and it’s going to be hosted in winter. Not for us the slide-rule punctuality of the Germans or the Japanese (if you can measure punctuality on a slide rule?), nor the wall-to-wall sunshine of a European July.
Things here are done at an African pace: vive le difference. (We can’t do much about the weather).

Better then that visitors arrive informed, with their eyes open and can get straight down to enjoying themselves instead of having to spend the first 2 weeks of their stay adjusting  to how things are done here and how wet and cold it may be.
All in all, this promises to be a brilliant tournament – just read more of the Patrick Barclay stuff and less of the Daily Maily hysterical rubbish. Oh, and back England to win it. Cos I think they can.

How to prevent HIV/AIDS

Here in SA, we have big problems with HIV/AIDS.  These problems are not helped in any way by our esteemed Health Minister, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and her wacky dietary suggestions which she claims will prevent and/or cure the infection, nor by her involvement with the Rath Foundation, who claim that vitamins (which they will helpfully sell you) can stop progression of HIV into AIDS.  

And who could forget the comments allegedly made by our President-in-waiting, Jacob Zuma during his rape trial that he took a shower after sex with an HIV-positive individual in order to prevent his contracting the virus? Ah… Happy days!

With these figures in authority, it’s sadly perhaps understandable that there is some confusion amongst the masses over HIV and AIDS in general. And that was illustrated by Papi Molimoeng’s letter published in The Times today:

Government should focus on jobs

The government wants us to believe that there is nothing that can be done to minimise the spread of the HIV-Aids pandemic.
Like any virus, the best way of stopping the virus is to encourage prevention.
If more people had jobs they would not be exposed to poverty.
As a result, they get bored and become infected with the virus. The health department and the government needs to make sure research scientists do their jobs, and stop pointing fingers.

I read the letter. Then I read it again. And I too became confused.

Fortunately, working as a research scientist, I rarely find myself bored. Not only will this please Papi, it seems that it will also stop me getting AIDS. Whoopie.
In fact, after having digested what (I think) Papi is trying to say, I am definitely going to encourage the prevention of me getting bored. I will also undertake not to point fingers. Unless I’m trying to indicate directions to a lost motorist or similar. It’s for my own good, after all.

And if all that doesn’t work, I’ll try eating beetroot and garlic in the shower. Messy, but worth it.