Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Creationism, or, please don't challenge my dearly-held paradigm with nasty evidence

I am speechless. I have just read this article * about Creation, a movie about the life of Charles Darwin. People do not want to see the movie because apparently evolution is "a silly theory with a serious lack of evidence to support it despite over a century of trying".

It suggests a serious lack of understanding of evidence, of scientific method, and imho, of faith. Believing in a deity doesn't mean you have to avoid all knowledge. Accepting evolution as a valid theory doers not mean you can't believe in God. If I were Christian I'd be loads more impressed by a God who designed a universe to adapt and evolve than by one who just made things from clay and sort of stuck them there. And whether or not you believe in macro-evolution, you can't deny micro-evolution** - the ways in which species change and adapt in such small and rapid ways that humans can observe it.

Anyway, I suppose some people are just more comfortable avoiding anything that might challenge their comfort zone.

*thanks to Marcia for the heads up

**thanks to Andre Croukamp for the terms, not to mention lots of material to think about wrt evolution and numerous other things

P.S. I was tagging this and thinking that I need a "wtf?" tag. then discarded that idea because just about every post would require said tag. The world is a strange place, people :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

You have the right to freedom of expression, as long as you say what we tell you

This article frightens the crap out of me. Does anyone else think this law is a throwback to apartheid days, when the government decided for you what you were allowed to see or hear? Can you say "unconstitutional"?

It is bleeding obvious what the aim of this law is - to protect our corrupt and incompetent officials against exposure. I can't help seeing in this yet another, and an ominously significant, deviation from that promising path of freedom and democracy that lay before us in 1994. The longer the ANC is in power, they more they resemble the Nats L

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wishing well

A friend of mine wrote a blog post entitled "Be careful what you wish for" and my post today is about that.

We spend most of our lives wishing for this, wishing for that, thinking, "if only I have X I will be happy", forgetting to be happy in the meantime and letting wonderful, beautiful things pass us by.

Sometimes we get a wake-up call - losing someone we love, or something we value; or seeing someone else get what we want and realising that it's not necessarily a piece of cake.

I am trying to be happy in the present - after all, my life is ridiculously good in most regards at the moment, and I am deeply grateful to the Goddess and the God. So I will stop whining about that which I cannot have, and immerse myself to the fullest in what I have right now.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Just to clarify

I have recently gotten myself into numerous veganism-related discussions, some more amicable than others. I felt that perhaps I should clarify why I feel so strongly about the vegan lifestyle, and why I will not shut up J

Yes it is a personal choice. But while omnivores exercise that choice, animals suffer and die. People attack vegan ideology from economic, cultural, personal liberty and other perspectives. And whereas I feel that the facts stand up for themselves in these matters, the plain and gory truth is that, for you to eat an animal, the animal must die. For you to eat eggs, a chicken must lay them. For you to eat dairy, a cow must become pregnant, have a calf, and be milked.

This is where Mr James LaVeck's brilliant quote comes in:

"There is a reason why human rights groups do not endorse 'humane' methods of executing political prisoners, and why children's rights advocates do not collaborate with the pornography industry to develop standards for films that make 'compassionate' use of runaway teens. To do such things is to introduce moral ambiguity into situations where the boundaries between right and wrong must never be allowed to blur."

Yes I completely subscribe to that. Even if slaughtering methods were humane (which it simply cannot be due to the overwhelming demands for meat, and let's for one minute forget how animals are raised), it is my honest opinion that taking away a sentient being's life – except in extremis, such as a dog with a terminal illness – can never be anything but cruel.

As for eggs and dairy, is it possible to provide these to a 7-billion strong population in a "humane" way? No, again the demand is too big. We simply do not have the space for truly free-range chickens, and cows do not produce enough milk to be viable if their calves are left with them. Besides that, as long as animals are exploited for their "products" they will remain a commodity, in the same way that slaves were still a commodity no matter how well they might have been treated by some of the slave owners. And being a commodity means not having universal, inalienable rights. It means being vulnerable to abuse, it means never being free, and it means that when you are no longer economically useful, you will be discarded by the cheapest means.

Gary L. Francione calls our relationship with animals morally schizophrenic, and I feel this is accurate. We accord some rights to companion animals and all decent people are horrified when cruelty is inflicted on these companion animals. But most of the same people seem blissfully unaware that similar cruelty is perpetrated against "food" animals every day. And of course people generally do not feel that animals should have rights like humans do, forgetting how the same rhetoric, the same excuses were used to subjugate black people and women, to excuse the horrible abuses of religious inquisitions and in the early lunatic asylums.

We are told that anthropomorphising animals is bad science, but is it? Animals, especially mammals but to a large extent birds, have similar brain structures and similar neurotransmitters, and their brains behave in similar ways to ours when similar stimuli are applied. So how different can their emotions be? Even here our beliefs about animals display a certain logical disconnect. We accept that animals can feel fear, but not that they can experience love, or grief. Except maybe a dog, right?

When these things are brought to people's attention, those doing so are usually seen as "extremists" and all-round unpleasant people. But knowing how animals – whom I passionately love – suffer every day, for every egg or slice of bacon someone eats, how can I be expected to remain silent? I do not judge nor do I seek to prescribe. What I want to do is to challenge misconceptions, but perhaps more importantly, I want to challenge why people hold the opinions they do. Is it truly your opinion or did you inherit it?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


The first post is up on the vegan food blog is up and running. Please check it out and comment, request stuff, argue, whatever.

Thanks :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I have lost my mojo...

...or have at least misplaced it. For a while now I haven't blogged because I couldn't think of anything to blog about. Now I have realised why. I am too happy. My life is going quite smoothly. I have a decent job, family life is good, I have actually been out a couple of times, etc etc. Generally life is very good. So I am not angry enough.

While I am certainly not complaining (I am quite satisfied with my life being this good thank you very much), the rest of the world is pretty much the same as always and there's plenty to be angry about.

So to start off with I have today's WTF moment - I mean who would want their daughters to be armed with knowledge about sex, right? And who actually sits down with their 13yr olds to see what they're watching on TV?? Shocking *rolls eyes*

But even better, read this. Seriously, when is this crap going to stop? How can this madman and his evil camarilla be allowed to continue destroying Zimbabwe? And will our president actually do something for a change??

Only time will tell, but of one thing you can be sure: I am back, and pissed off as ever ;)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Domo Arigato Mr Roboto

I haven't actually had time to blog something decent but just wanted to say thanks to my followers (I love the sound of that) :)

Pretty soon I shall have a wedding blog up and running, and Malcolm will have a vegan food blog. I shall share addresses here.

While I'm at it I shall wish everyone a happy Imbolc.

And finally, although it's a bit late for this year, I reckon Maybe Day should be celebrated annually (shout out to An Unquiet Day for the link). Just so we can all remember that no-one really has a clue.

As you were.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Evyl Shnukums' Guide to Vegan Living

Because I have all the zeal of a recent convert, and because switching to veganism can be tricky in a place like South Africa, I have decided to write mine very own beginner's guide to being vegan.

First off examine your motives and ideas. If you approach this as a huge sacrifice, you will probably endure pain. If you approach it as a conscious, "fcuk you I won't buy what you tell me" decision, you'll have a lot more fun.

Bear in mind that a. this list is hardly exhaustive and b. I have been vegan for a total of 6 months, so I am hardly an expert. And of course the links here are rather lazily added, I'll add more when I can be bothered.

  1. Let's get the worst out of the way. Say goodbye to cheese. This is the one thing you probably will miss. Few cheese replacements are any good although Bute Island Cream Sheese is awesome, and Free Food's No-D Cheese (available from Fresh Earth) melts well in white sauces etc.

  2. You gotta like veggies. This may seem obvious, but I hear whispers of people who don't like vegetables. I feel sorry for them :)

  3. Meat is actually quite expensive so going vegan means you can afford to buy awesome stuff like cashews and capers and other tasty things you can eat instead of meat and animal products.

  4. Learn to cook. If you can toss up a nice veggie meal you will a. save money, b. eat less frankenfoods, c. have a prettier plate and d. still get all those nutrients people are forever quizzing you about. Find lots of recipes here.

  5. Don't let all your food consist of substitutes but do make use of them when convenience is an issue. Some substitutes (e.g Fry's, Bassets' Tofu Treats Ice Cream) are as good as the oringinal.

  6. Pack a lunchbox. Even if you have a work cafeteria, the chips and/or green salad will seem a bit samey by the third week.

  7. Get recommendations from people about restaurants, or go there and check out the menu. Don't be afraid to ask waiters, caterers etc what is in the food. They will usually be quite helpful, considering that some food allergies can be fatal they will usually be happy to tell you exactly what goes into a dish. Shahi Khana in Norwood and Sho Ming in Kensington, for example, are very understanding and helpful.

  8. Be prepared to get flak from people. The majority of people are cool with veganism but some people seem genuinely offended that a person may not want to eat dead animals.

  9. Arm yourself with knowledge. Read up on nutrition. Neutral sources like Patrick Holford will be a good start, as will veggie websites and recipe books. Also read up on general facts. E.g. if someone tells you that the Amazon is being cleared to grow soy for vegans, tell them that "85 percent of the world’s soybean crop is processed into meal and vegetable oil, and virtually all of that meal is used in animal feed. Some two percent of the soybean meal is further processed into soy flours and proteins for food use…" . Even better, refer them to Livestock's Long Shadow, published by the FAO.

  10. Join the Vegan Society.

  11. Do not be discouraged. Be assured that however small the difference *you personally* make, the cumulative difference made by all people who try, will have an effect.

  12. Remember that veganism is not really just a dietary preference. It is a lifestyle choice, and in some cases a political statement. It includes boycotting companies who test on animals (and trust me the bastards are everywhere), boycotting fur, boycotting products with animal ingredients. In a similar vein I avoid buying clothes made in China. It's that "fcuk you I won't buy what you tell me" approach again. No I'm sorry I will not buy your factory farmed chicken, your cosmetics tested on helpless animals, your tissues made from old-growth forests' trees, or your branded crap made in a sweatshop.

Real men don't rape

I read this article about a rather scary research study conducted by the MRC regarding rape and HIV/Aids. Do read the comments section too.

I responded to the article (and the commenters):

"Firstly, in the context of polygamy, virginity testing, women being violently abused for wearing trousers or short skirts, dry sex, jackrolling, female genital mutilation, and voting against the UN declaring rape an act of war, I am going to be so bold as to say that Africa has some serious problems when it comes to the issue of women's rights, and men's sense of entitlement. This does not mean that Africa is the only place where this is true, but many of these sexist practices are socially sactioned. If you do not oppose the practices I've listed, in my opinion you do hold that problematic ideal of masculinity Prof Jewkes refers to.

Secondly, my studies tell me that rape (by and large) is not a problem of "sick people". It is a problem of a society with skewed beliefs about women and sexuality. Be honest, how many of the men (even women) on here truly believe that an incident was rape if the woman did not physically resist and scream? Even if there was a weapon involved. How many people would say that a drunk woman in a bar was "asking for it"? All cultures have been subjected to pathological ideas about women's rights and about rape for centuries. As Gareth said, marital rape, "corrective" rape, date rape etc are not seen as rape. I agree with Delia that a more in-depth study of the motivating behaviour and the thinking behind rape would be beneficial, but such studies have been conducted on convicted rapists and the results are not particularly surprising. Entitlement and sexual myths play a huge role.

Thirdly, do remember that the study (if not the newspaper article) is peer-reviewed and the raw data, workings etc must be published and *will* be ripped to shreds if not rigourous. I am not sure about the provinces and the age group apparently used, but the sample size seems reasonable. The stats don't literally imply that if I'm on a bus with 4 men that one of them *is* a rapist.

Has any of the commenters actually read the report? And why do some of the men here seem so precious about this? Kind of like that ad with Charlize Theron. Can anyone deny the seriousness of the problem?

Oh and finally this is not a race issue. It's a gender rights issue."

Mysogyny should never be confused with traditionalism.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's only fun till someone gets hurt

We all grew up with the idea of the circus as something fun and wholesome. Most kids love animals and a circus is the closest you can get to lions and elephants. If you were like me you also believed that they must be well taken care of - after all they are powerful animals and they would attack their trainers if not properly treated, right? And yes, their cages are small but when they're not travelling they get to frolic in open fields and rest until the next season, right?

Not quite. Circus animals are trained from a young age, and are taught how to behave by domination and punishment. They spend most of their lives either in tiny travelling cages or performing in noisy, crowded environments.

Recently this lion was removed from a circus and is currently in recovery at the Drakenstein Lion Park. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. In any event please consider not supporting circuses featuring animal acts.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Green eating

I have just read this article about green eating. I am pleased that the author address the issue of eating less meat. As you may be able to tell I am vegan, and believe that it is one of the simplest and easiest ways to reduce your environmental impact [1]. But let's face it, many people for a variety of reasons will never go vegan, and therefore from an environmental point of view, being a Lessmeatatarian - eating less meat - is a good alternative. A typical Western diet consists of far more meat than our bodies require. This has many adverse effects from being bad for one's health to the obvious problems involved in the intensive rearing of animals, from the sometimes obscene cruelty that is nowadays simply a part of the industry [2] to the breeding and promotion of disease.

Therefore, if you want to do one thing that can make a difference on numerous levels, all of them important, eat less meat.

[1] Of course this only applies if you eat sensibly, cook most of your veggies, grains etc from scratch (or even better, have them raw in a nice salad) and don't live off only polystyrene-packaged take-aways and factory-produced substitutes.

[2] Don't believe the PETA link? See the movie Earthlings. It will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about whether the animals that end up on dinner plates really frolic happily on wide open fields until they are humanely and painlessly killed, or whether the reality is slightly darker.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Free Burma's Political Prisoners

I tried to write an impassioned plea for you to yet again raise your voices against the oppressive regime in Burma, and its illegal imprisonment of people whose only crime is refusing to acknowledge the authority of the tyrannical junta.  

However, I don't think it is necessary. Most people are familiar with the situation, most people know that the status quo is unacceptable.

However, as you will see in this email from Avaaz.org, there is the slightest possibility that things may change:

"Burmese pro democracy leader and Nobel peace prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, has spent 13 years detained by the Burmese military junta. She and thousands of fellow monks and students have been imprisoned for bravely challenging their brutal regime with calls for democracy. This week a glimmer of hope has risen for their release, and it's time for us to stand with them.

Risking danger to speak out for their jailed friends, 
Burmese activists this week demanded the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners and called on the world to help. As the global economic crisis makes aid flows more essential, Burma's generals are becoming more vulnerable to international pressure, but we need a flood of petition signatures to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to make this a top priority. Follow the link to sign the petition, and forward this email on to make sure she and her fellow prisoners are freed:


The Burmese organizers have set a goal of 888,888 signatures. The number 8 is powerful in Burmese culture, and the ruling junta is extremely superstitious - such a large and significant number might have a special influence on them. But this issue isn't in the headlines, so to build our numbers we need to forward this email and persuade our friends to help.

Aung San Suu Kyi is the international face of the struggle for democracy in Burma. She has been detained over and over again since 1988. She is now under house arrest and is allowed no contact with the outside world. 

But growing international 
pressure is working -- In December, 112 former Presidents and Prime Ministers from 50 countries sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urging him to press for the release of all political prisoners, and 20 political prisoners were released in February after a United Nations envoy visited the country.

Sources now say that the military regime is fearful of this unified and massive online call to the UN -- over 160 Burma exile and solidarity groups in 24 countries are participating in the campaign. But it will take all of us and all our friends signing this petition to get Mr Ban’s attention. Avaaz has done it before for Burma – we can do it again. 

This is one of those times where if enough of us act we can truly make a difference. Let’s join the courageous Burmese democracy activists in jail and in hiding and help end this violent repression."

If you agree, go to this link, or this one, and tell UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon that the time has come to put the pressure on and to make sure the Burmese political prisoners are released.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Omar al-Bashir is a c*nt

Last week, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President al-Bashir. In response, Bashir ordered 13 humanitarian aid organisation to leave Sudan.

I think we can all agree that he is an unmitigated arsehole.

What can we do?
  1. Sign a petition urging US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to lead an urgent, intense and sustained diplomatic push to ensure the continued flow of humanitarian aid and end the genocide in Darfur here
  2. Make a donation to Oxfam America to pick up where Oxfam UK was forced to leave off here.
Any other suggestions are welcomed.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Greyhound racing - again

Please call and/or forward this to as many people as you know who will be likely to attend and object to greyhound racing

Your help is needed now to stop dog racing and we only have a few weeks left to do it. However, it is not in the form of an e-mail, SMS or petition but your presence is needed at a hearing to state your objection to the introduction of greyhound racing.

The DTI is holding public consultations so that members of the public and interested groupings can submit their input. The process is neither confrontational nor a debate, and all that citizens are required to do is give their name, state whether or not they support greyhound racing, and why.


Simply by attending the hearing nearest to them and participating in the process and saying NO to greyhound racing. In this instance as your presence and input are required inside the actual hearings to make a difference.

Where and when?

13 FEBRUARY 2009 : 09h00-12h30

20 FEBRUARY 2009 : 09h00-12h30

26 FEBRUARY 2009 : 09h00-12h30

27 FEBRUARY 2009 : 09h00-12h30

6 MARCH 2009 : 09h00-12h30

13 MARCH 2009 : 09h00-12h30



The introduction to South Africa of abhorrent practices that surround this activity as they exist in other countries globally ultimately would result in enormous untold suffering and deprivation of welfare for thousands of animals in the future. Empirical research shows that the greyhound racing industry is in rapid decline around the world, for good reason, in that progressive societies are realizing the extent of cruelty involved in the sport, and thus a greater lack of support for the practice. 

Global evidence reveals that ultimately only a few interested stakeholders will profiteer enormously off the back of suffering not animal amongst the animals, but amongst the millions of impoverished citizens for whom gambling merely adds to their economic deprivation. If South Africa is to thrive both economically and as a prosperous democracy, both government and its citizens should be engaging in positive economic opportunities, not encouraging a lose-lose industry whereby both the poor and the animals will be the resultant casualties at the hands of a few profiteering opportunists. In so many other respects, South Africa continues to hold its head high globally for its extremely progressive constitution and democratic practices, which many fought and sacrificed so much in order to achieve. It would be a very sad day indeed if South Africa slid back to darker days involving oppressive practices that involve causal suffering, both economically and socially. 

As a country, we should continue to serve as an example to the rest of the world as a thought leader and that we reject all forms of regressive practices, however lucrative they are to a small pool of self-interested business proponents who have no self-regulatory system to combat welfare issues or concern for the poor.

Friday, January 23, 2009



Bekkie was a baby Cape White-eye that had fallen out of her nest no more than a day or two after hatching. My mom found her on Friday, 5 December and gave her to me. She was still naked and blind but immediately opened her mouth for food - hence the name Bekkie. It was love at first sight. I fed her Avi Plus and she slept (with a hot water bottle) next to my bed. She travelled everywhere with us and countless waiters and shop assistants told me that "God would bless me" for taking care of the little bird. 

As time went by Bekkie's tiny, soundless cheeps became audible, her feathers grew and she eventually opened her eyes. Her right leg seemed to have trouble gripping, perhaps from the fall, but still she grew. As her appearance changed we wondered what on earth she could be. When tiny white feathers started growing around her eyes, we were sure - she was a Cape White-eye.

We started taking her outside so she could catch insects and nibble on flowers. She started flying in rapid bursts, and liked nibbling on our hands. We had to bathe her once or twice after she'd jumped into her food bowl. She would sit with us in the evenings, flitting over my notebook or nestling in my lap, or lie on her back in my daughter's hand while we tickled her tummy.

On Thursday, 22 January, we found Bekkie lying dead on the floor of her cage. No warning, no sign of anything wrong. Just a life ended, without reason, without warning. All that promise, all that hope, all the love and care come to naught.


Luis was a 7-year old boy from Guayaquil, Ecuador. He was an orphan, living with his older sister and other siblings in absolute poverty. He was about to start his second year of school, and had learned to write beautifully in his native Spanish. He drew pictures of his friends and of animals, and enjoyed learning reading and sums. On 8 January, he complained about abdominal pain and was taken to hospital. The doctors treated him for pancreatitis but he passed away that same evening.  

Again I felt so helpless.  A life, full of promise, ended.  I know the hospital and medical staff did what they could but had he not been born into such a life of hardship, would he not have had a better chance?

Luiz was involved with an organisation called Children International. They do wonderful work with children in impoverished communities. Please check them out.

There is no real point to this post, no political agenda, no opinion I am putting across.  I am just sharing with you my sadness.  

I entrust them to your care, Mother.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Women's mags

This was a question on a mailing list I'm on:

19.What are your feelings on "semi-nude" pictures of women, specifically in public areas? Do you think it objectifies women? why?

One person responded that women objectify women, citing the fact that women's mags, like men's mags, have women on the cover and that women are always checking out each other's hair, clothing etc.

My response was as follows. It was quickly dashed off, but more or less got my point across:

"In the 18th and 19th centuries women of “gentle” birth were not allowed to work, except maybe as a governess (which was a k*k job), and therefore the sole object of a girl’s education was to render her “marriageworthy” for lack of a better word. This basically meant squeezing every bit of self-reliance and natural curiosity out of her and interesting her only in her own appearance and “accomplishments”, such as embroidery or, if the parents were daring, playing the piano. Ms Wollstonecraft said this better than I but you get the gist. In order therefore, for a girl to have a semi-decent life she had to marry well, and in order to marry well she needed to be pretty, meek and generally “feminine” i.e. interested only in girly stuff. That hasn’t gone away, especially considering that women are still paid less than men and are still almost discouraged (by their socialisation and education) to do “masculine” work like being a pilot or an engineer. Hence looking at what other women are dressing like etc., is almost to make sure you are able to compete for resources. In a similar vein to men reading up on investment, flashy cars or how to last longer in bed ;)"

I will expand upon this post later, but it gets the point across. In fact this poem does, too http://themagazineanalysts.blogspot.com/