Thursday, September 25, 2008

Negotium Perambulans in Tenebris

I am re-reading a section in my textbook, "HIV/Aids Care and Counselling" by Alta van Dyk, on the symptoms of HIV infection in children. It ain't pretty. I will spare you most of the details but the author stated that it is estimated that 75% of HIV positive children will die before their fifth birthday if they do not receive antiretroviral therapy.

Now today our new president is being elected and it strikes me that, if there was a reason for Mr Mbeki to have been taken to task or "recalled" by the ANC, it should have been the government's inexplicable ostrich-like stand on HIV/Aids and ART. For years the government has dithered while infection rates soared, people died and children lost their parents to the disease. Why is he recalled now? And why, oh why, did Manto not resign? Does she truly believe she will be protected as much by the new president?

At any rate, I have decided that I will punch the next person who says that HIV infection is people's "own fault". Is it also the children's own fault for being born to HIV + mothers? What about rape victims, or people who have to work as sex workers in order to - oh the irony - survive? Or someone infected by an unfaithful partner or spouse? Is it their fault too? Even if someone gets infected with HIV because of irresponsible sexual behaviour, is a protracted death sentence really "what they deserve"? Who can make that judgement? I'd rather not, judge not lest thou be judged and all that.

On a more objective note, the economic impact of HIV/Aids is staggering and will get worse. When our economically productive people fall prey to HIV/Aids, who will produce and transport goods? Who will provide for and look after children and the elderly? Oh wait, we already know this. They will be forced to look after themselves, with little or no government assistance.

I'd like to tie Dr Beetroot to a chair and play her a recording of the entire contents of the textbook, on repeat, ad infinitum.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy Spring Equinox!

Happy Spring Equinox - rather late than never :)

May it be a blessed one and may this be a fruitful and lovely spring for everyone.

I spent the day mainly gardening and eating fabulous things my husband made. When I have time I will post pics of my garden.

As you were

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's the end of the world...

So today the Large Hadron Collider is being fired up. Some people are having "end of the world" parties :) Yes, yes, I know it's only starting up now, don't spoil my fun.

I figured I'd celebrate by actually lightening up and not having a furiously angry or completely depressing blog post for once (despite reading this rather irritating article about Zuma and his silly little friends), and posting an XKCD link here. Of course, it wouldn't be complete without a word of warning from

Besides that I had fun yesterday reading these blogs and thought I should share:

I leave you with some lyrics:

It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) - R.E.M.

That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane -
Lenny Bruce is not afraid. Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn -
world serves its own needs, regardless of your own needs. Feed it up a knock,
speed, grunt no, strength no. Ladder structure clatter with fear of height,down height.
Wire in a fire, represent the seven games in a government for
hire and a combat site. Left her, wasn't coming in a hurry with the furies
breathing down your neck. Team by team reporters baffled, trump, tethered
crop. Look at that low plane! Fine then. Uh oh, overflow, population,
common group, but it'll do. Save yourself, serve yourself. World serves its
own needs, listen to your heart bleed. Tell me with the rapture and the
reverent in the right - right. You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright
light, feeling pretty psyched.

It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

Six o'clock - TV hour. Don't get caught in foreign tower. Slash and burn,
return, listen to yourself churn. Lock him in uniform and book burning,
blood letting. Every motive escalate. Automotive incinerate. Light a candle,
light a motive. Step down, step down. Watch a heel crush, crush. Uh oh,
this means no fear - cavalier. Renegade and steer clear! A tournament,
a tournament, a tournament of lies. Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives
and I decline.

It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

The other night I tripped a nice continental drift divide. Mount St. Edelite.
Leonard Bernstein. Leonid Breshnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs.
Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom! You symbiotic, patriotic,
slam, but neck, right? Right.

It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine...fine...
(It's time I had some time alone)

Cheers, have a drink on me, and remember to wear clean underwear just in case the world ends (Thanks for the heads up, Malcolm)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Of Satanism, scapegoats and human rights part 3: Positive response from the NP

To my surprise, the NP responded very positively to the Pagan community in a press release. I am pleased that they state that Paganism is "wrongly associated with Satanism" and a "force for good in society". Even if I do think they are still confusing Reverse Christianity (which can be a source of problems) with LaVeyan Satanism (which is a valid religious path). However they didn't mention Witchcraft, which was specifically targeted by another NP National Executive member.

September 01, 2008

We have noted with great concern that there is a misunderstanding amongst the Pagan community regarding the NP's statement on Satanism.

We would like to state it unequivocally that the National Party does not hold any ill feeling against the pagan community. On the contrary, the National Party would endeavour upon election to protect the rights of the Pagan community. We understand the response from the Pagan community regarding our policy towards Satanism. It is well known that paganism has wrongly, and to the great detriment of the Pagans, been associated with Satanism by ill-informed officials.

However, the National Party wishes to advise that we fully support freedom of religion and that there would be no witch-hunt of any practitioners of Wicca, Odinic Rite or any of the other Pagan practices. Pagans are welcome to celebrate Imbolc, Beltane or any other festival in public, as long as the particular group does not break any of the laws of the Republic.

The reference to Satanism refers to destructive religion that developed as an inversion of Christian beliefs and is an open worship of evil. Paganism does not worship evil and it is a force for good in society. The senseless killing of a 16-year old boy at a school in Krugersdorp under the alleged influence of Satanism has prompted the suggestion that there should be acted against Satanism.

Finally, again we wish to advise that the Pagan community can rest assured that their rights to worship will be protected by the National Party once we have been elected to office.

We sincerely hope this statement has clarified all misunderstandings regarding our religious policy.

JMT Labuschagne
Spokesperson for Religion & Culture Affairs,


Damon Leff, the convenor of SAPRA, responded as follows:

Dear Mr. JMT Labuschagne / JD Uys

Your press statement of 1 September - - refers.

The South African Pagan Rights Alliance welcomes your statement of tolerance with regard to Paganism in South Africa.

This Alliance notes however that it is, according to correspondence received from Mr. Uys dated 18 August, the intention of the National Party to suppress Witchcraft - an internationally recognised Pagan religion.

Note with reference to accompanying correspondence between myself and Mr Uys dated 18 August.

Clearly the misunderstanding, to which you refer in your press release, wholly belongs to Mr. Uys who, on behalf of the National Party, undertook to promote a religious policy that clearly and plainly intended to discriminate against identified religious minorities - Satanism and Witchcraft.

I therefore seek further clarification regarding the National Party’s religious agenda, in light of statements made by Mr. Uys which contradict your own statements in this regard on the subject of Witchcraft and self-defined Witches in this country.

I look forward to your considered response.

Yours Sincerely

Damon Leff

with reference previous correspondence between Damon Leff and Mr. Uys


Original Message
From: "Damon Leff" <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, August 18, 2008 11:12 AM
Subject: National Party Policy on Religion


I note that the National Party has made the following statement on its website:"The National Party respects the practice of all religions in our country, but will not tolerate satanism. The NP will outlaw all practices directly linked to satanism."

I would like to enquire the following:

1. What are the practices "directly linked" to Satanism that the National Party will outlaw?
2. Will the National Party recognise Paganism and Witchcraft as bone-fide religions in South Africa?
Yours Sincerely
Damon Leff

National Party South Africa (NP) wrote:


We will not allow witches to operate in South Africa under NP Government. We and our supporters can not associate ourselves with anything that are linked to Satanism.


Juan-Duval Uys
Member of the NP National Executive.


Original Message
From: "Damon Leff" <>
To: "National Party South Africa (NP)" <>
Sent: Monday, August 18, 2008 12:46 PM
Subject: Re: National Party Policy on Religion

Dear Juan-Duval Uys

I saddens me to see you repeat Nationalist Christian propaganda and discrimination against Witches and Witchcraft in South Africa.

You aught then to be aware of the fact that in South Africa self-defined Witches represent a small but visible religious minority. We have government appointed religious marriage officers and officially recognised religious groups and faith-based organisations. Our own faith-based organisation was formed in 2004 in order to protect the constitutional right to religious freedom and belief of self-defined Pagan Witches and to defend and protect Witchcraft as a bone-fide religion. South African Witches do not self-define as Satanists and do not regard Satanism as a Pagan religion.

The South African Pagan Rights Alliance regards your statement to "not allow witches to operate in South Africa under NP Government" as intent to suppress and discriminate against Witchcraft and Witches in South Africa.

This Alliance will therefore not support the Nationalist Party in any form and will, at every available opportunity, denounce the religious prejudiced policies of the National Party.

Yours Sincerely

Damon Leff

Convener: South African Pagan Rights Alliance


National Party South Africa (NP) wrote:


We dont have a problem with your view on our policy, but we will NEVER regard Satanism or witches as a form of religion.Our major support comes from Christians and Muslims etc, we will never link this party to Satanism or witchcraft. We will make this very clear during elections 2009.

Kind regards

Juan-Duval Uys

Monday, September 1, 2008

Greyhound racing, or, let's take a really crap idea from overseas and inflict it here

This was forwarded to a mailing list I'm on. Please take a moment to read and, should you feel that greyhound racing should remain banned - as I do - please write to Prof Snyman-Van Deventer. Feel free to quote from the Greyhound Crusaders info below.
Greyhound racing research
South African Department of Trade and Industry

26 August 2008

Members of the public who want to submit their inputs regarding the possible legislation of greyhound racing in the country have until the endof October 2008 to do so.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has appointed the University ofthe Free State Faculty of Law, under the supervision of Prof Elizabeth Snyman-Van Deventer, to oversee the process.

Greyhound racing was banned years ago because gambling was regarded as immoral at that time.

Now that gambling has been revisited in the country,there are debates on possible legislation of greyhound racing.

The animal welfare and protection groups are in support of the ban ongreyhound racing, while other role players have been calling for the racingto be reintroduced.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty against Animals (NSPCA)says the legalisation and introduction of dog racing into South Africa will result in the suffering, unspeakable living conditions and often untimely and brutal death of thousands of greyhounds.

The research team under Prof Snyman-Van Deventer will hold workshops across the country later this year to gather input from the public. Members of the public can also send their written submissions to Prof Snyman-Van Deventer at 051 401 2698 or send them by e-mail to *** <>*.

For further information, contact Mpho Mosing at 012 394 1504/083 436 5534.

Issued by:Media and Public Relations, the DTI

Director: Sidwell Moloantoa Medupe

Mobile: + 27 (0) 73 522 6801 E-mail:

DTI website:

From a UK-based group:

Why Greyhound Crusaders are so strongly opposed to greyhound racing

Firstly due to the thousands of greyhounds that are destroyed every year once they are retired from racing, average age 3-4 years old. Additionally, thousands of greyhound pups are destroyed each year because they are considered 'unsuitable for racing'. The RSPCA believes: "at least 20 greyhounds a day - either puppies which do not make the track, or 'retired' dogs aged three or four - simply 'disappear', presumed killed" (Please view the recent APGAW (Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare) report at this link:

Also the fact that many greyhounds every year sustain serious, sometimes fatal injuries whilst racing. Additionally, greyhounds have fallen victim to extreme abuse: Greyhounds have been found drowned, poisoned, shot, abandoned, some emaciated, some with their ears hacked off (or burnt off with acid) to remove identifying tattoos. Some greyhounds are subjected to 'drugging' as a way of 'fixing' certain races. Greyhounds taken on by rescuers are often in a poor state of neglect i.e. flea-ridden, worm-ridden, rotten teeth.

We have personally been involved with and assisted others in the rescue of many unwanted racing greyhounds over the past few years and during this time witnessed greyhounds with cigarette burns on their bodies, greyhounds with missing toes due to past injuries, greyhounds who have had to have many of their teeth removed due to previous neglect. Untreated injuries that have poorly healed. The list is endless.

You may have read the horrific story of David Smith from Co. Durham exterminating in the region of 10,000 unwanted greyhounds in a fifteen year period by shooting them callously with a bolt gun and burying them in his back garden. The Sunday Times along with other national newspapers exposed this in 2006.

More recently, the Sunday Times have also exposed two disturbing cases where healthy greyhounds are being sold to veterinary colleges by those involved in the greyhound racing industry, to be exploited for scientific purposes. On Sunday 2nd March 2008, a Sunday Times article exposed the Royal Veterinary College (the oldest and largest veterinary college in Britain) as having an agreement with a greyhound clinic in Essex to buy body parts taken from healthy greyhounds that were being euthanased regularly by the clinic, the healthy greyhounds were being supplied to the clinic by greyhound trainers who no longer had a use for these dogs.

The full article can be viewed here:

On Sunday 11th May 2008, a second article appeared in the Sunday Times, this time exposing Liverpool University's Small Animal Teaching Hospital as being supplied with healthy young greyhounds by the largest greyhound breeder in Britain, a Mr Charles Pickering. Mr Pickering admitted to selling young, perfectly healthy greyhounds who had failed to make the grade (i.e. chose not to chase the artificial hare or considered simply too slow for the tracks) to the university's animal teaching hospital to euthanased and used for scientific research. The article also revealed how greyhound trainer 'Richard Fielding' who was also supplied greyhounds by Mr Pickering, gave his older (still healthy) greyhounds once they retired from racing to the university veterinary staff to be euthanased so their organs could be removed for teaching and research purposes. The full article can be viewed here:

We are sickened and outraged by the appalling atrocities inflicted upon the racing greyhound and this is why we endeavour to educate the general public about the disturbing reality of greyhound racing and why we campaign tirelessly for total abolition.

If you could spare a few moments to please view this short video (volume up), as this supports the many reasons why we are so compelled to be a voice for the greyhounds.

We hope that our correspondence to you today will explain the reasons for our concerns and we would like a ban on greyhound racing for the reasons stated above. Many of the general public are horrified at what happens toman's best friend and it is high time the government did something to stop the thousands of greyhounds being killed every year.

"A noble death", or, a whole lot of bull

I have just read this and responded here

I will freely admit that I am not a philosopher and I do not have time to answer every assertion in the article. I guess my most important question is this: does it even matter whether some people get some aesthetic gratification out of it? Does aesthetic gratification justify inflicting harm on a sentient being who has no choice as to whether he partakes of this spectacle?

If the subject (victim) were human would this article have been written? If so, I think the DSM-IV-TR may have something to say about it, and so may the authorities. If a fight between an animal and a human, where the animal had an equal chance, would be "grotesque", is a bullfight not the same?

And as for the issue of animals not having rights if they cannot be "called upon to uphold those rights for themselves", that is a rather backward notion. Should children and the mentally disabled be denied rights, because they cannot be expected to uphold those rights for themselves? I think that the rational human being is in a position to uphold said rights, and therefore shoulders the responsibility. Yes I do find it somewhat hypocritical that people eat (factory farmed) meat - needless to say I don't - and protest bullfighting, but it can be argued that people need meat. Can the same be said of bullfighting? More importantly, do we have the right to inflict our whims on the animal whether it has rights or not?

As for the comparison between bullfighting and the lion attacking the wildebeest, this seems puerile. It is the nature of a predator to kill and eat prey. But humans can choose which aspects of our nature we express. Again, the bull has no say in the matter.

At any rate I find it sad (and as a psychology student, disturbing) that people consider the torture and death of a sentient being, an aesthetically pleasing spectacle.