Blog change and Climate change

May 22, 2007

Right, I’ve had enough of returning to my blog just to find I’ve warbled on extensively about events in my personal life over the course of the previous evening. It depresses me. I’d be suprised if it doesn’t bore whoever reads this. I’m drunk. The details of our own lives are to each of us more important than anything that happens in the wider world. But I’m not happy coming back here in the mornings to reread a lengthy overhaul of what I’ve been up to. My life is not that important to you. Some people have more fascinating, saucy, and well-remembered lives than mine. I love reading their stories. I’m happy, but I want to be broader, graver, and more earnest. Oscar Wilde, never ever to be underestimated, once said that all bad poetry is in earnest. I hope all of the best writing and poetry is in earnest too. This probably won’t make sense tomorrow. Here are some links about climate change….

First, the last review from New Scientist, providing the strong counter-arguments to most of the ‘climate-change conspiracy’ myths…New Scientist are sometimes sensationalist and ‘pop-science’, but they simplify the complicated for ignorants like me, their heart is in the right place, and they get some great folks writing for them. For those of you who are not involved in research in the climate-change field, but still dissent with the majority body of academics who consider that humankind is causing global warming, there was an excellent quote from Bertrand Russell in a recent article by Sean Gonsalves which I saw at –  “Clearly, if you are going to believe anything outside your own experience, you should have some reason for believing it. Usually, the reason is authority… . It is true that most of us must inevitably depend upon authority for most of our knowledge.” 

It’s not often that I can clearly perceive what counts as ‘authority’. But I believe in this case the IPCC and supporting scientists are too numerous, dedicated, and genuinely respected to be part of some conspiracy. As I watch the KZN summers grow colder and more misty, I say we should believe them. Here’s the article from New Scientist:

Climate Change: A guide for the perplexed….

 Then there’s also some recent climate news from the BBC – it seems that the U.S. is trying to block sections of a new draft bill on climate change, which it was hoped all of the G8 members would sign. If the revisions requested by the U.S. are implemented, the bill will contain no firm commitments to reducing emissions or improving energy efficiency. This is similar to what happened with the bill presented to the 2005 G8 summit. There may well be prudent reasons, or at least reasons beyond industrial greed, which dissuade the US from committing to firm targets. If anyone knows where these reasons can be found, or if they have been delivered as part of a speech etc, please send me the link or let me know.

Here’s the article: US seeks G8 climate text changes 


A long night….tractable Kofi

May 18, 2007

James my flatmate came back in a hurry at six the other evening, in a rush to get himself ready for dinner with a girl who’s entranced him in a matter of days. He rushed past me in the lounge, where I was reading something and hurled himself into the bathroom. Where he was sick and sick again. Earlier that day he’d gulped down a worryingly healthy smoothie, complete with a raw egg for protein. Unbeknownst to him (though when I look back, I realise it may have been ‘beknownst’ to me), the egg was past its use-by date. Not far past, but enough to have played host to some kind of bacterial bloom. He emerged from the khazi, declared that he wasn’t sure whether his nausea was due to food-poisoning or pre-date nerves, and that nothing short of death was going to stop him from meeting the girl. And that was nearly what it took….he jumped into his car and drove away, only to pull over and collapse at the roadside, a few hundred metres from her front door. Whilst throwing up at the feet of a kindly security guard who had wandered across to help, he dialled her number..’I’m fainting, come and save me.’

I’m not sure what impression his initial plea made on her, though given his earlier enthusiasm, she might reasonably have assumed he was being overcome by passion.  It seemed like a disaster, but all was rosy by the time I reached Sunninghill Hospital. He was lying back on white sheets while she stroked his head and filled his water glass. Things weren’t perfect – there was a bit of blood from where they’d put in the drip, and he had to be sick into the dustbin occasionally. But I found it remarkable that, all things told, this ‘date’ seemed to go far better than his planned sushi dinner ever would have done. The ‘little bird with a broken wing’ effect is not to be underestimated…keep some bad eggs in your fridge, to be eaten a few hours before that special evening. And find out the location of the nearest hospital.

James was actually rather sick, though luckily it wasn’t salmonella. After several hours of observation, they decided he should stay in hospital overnight. They wheeled him off to ‘Puppy’ Ward, or somewhere with a similarly shite name, and I walked out to my car – it was already around midnight, and I needed to get home….I reached for my keys, and found my night had taken an interesting turn. Earlier in the evening I’d help collect James’ car from where it had been abandoned after he collapsed. My brother Andrew then took over and drove it back across town to our flat in Norwood. He continued from there to his house in Melville, but not before locking James’ car and throwing the bunch of keys through the grille of our security gate. Somehow I’d left my keys in James’ car…now his car was locked, and the keys were on the other side of some serious intruder-preventing steel. No way into either car, no way into the flat. Fuck-shit!

In the end I had to wake up Andrew and get him to come back across town to collect me. I stayed at his house overnight and in the morning he lent me a lengthy surf-fishing rod, a reel, and an artificial lure with treble-hooks. I took this into my housing complex, tired and dishevelled, just as all my new neighbours were emerging from their flats….their gaze followed me as I approached the entrance to my flat, rigged up my tackle, and started fishing through the bars of the security gate. After fifteen minutes or so I managed to catch the keys, which were lying at the end of a short corridor, but by then I’d already confirmed the neighbours suspicions – they live beside an unkempt drug fiend who fishes through the door of his flat at an hour when decent people should be working.

 But I digress and I digress, and it’s getting overindulgent. I’m still not sure what this blog will be, but I have the feeling that personal anecdotes should be used sparingly. Especially when they’re that long-winded. What I really wanted to mention was that when James came churning through the flat door to prepare for his lovin’ evening, I was reading about Kofi Annan and the United Nations. It could just as easily have been porn or Terry Pratchett, so don’t think say I’m trying to impress, and don’t be impressed. It’s a sad thing thing that I feel I need to make some kind of disclaimer for reading something serious in South Africa. I’m sure it’s mostly just me.

Anyway, this was a well-written article by a very capable scholar, so I though it worth mentioning. I’ve always thought that the League of Nations/UN idea is one of the best concepts we’ve come up with. Treating states as individuals with equal rights under a democratic ‘World Government’ seems to me to be the logical extension of national democracy, and the UN is a beautiful idea. But as with Communism, free-market capitalism, and other incredible ideas, there’s many a slip betwixt cup and lip. Sometimes to the extent that you realise they were never intended to meet in the first place. Here’s the article, from The Nation, by marxist history scholar Perry Anderson. Written as a review of two new books on Kofi Annan, he takes his thoughts on Annan and the UN well beyond what he’s reviewing:

‘Made in USA’ : Article on Kofi Annan and the United Nations by Perry Anderson, Published in The Nation.

That’s that. I’ve been wondering to what extent you can believe anything written by anyone….get my half-baked ideas at the next post.


May 14, 2007

I’ve been in Johannesburg for four weeks now, after eight wandering years out of the country. I grew up around here, living on smallholdings in the city outskirts until I was 13. But I spent most of my childhood reading, day-dreaming, or playing ‘spin-the-bottle’ with our neighbour’s daughter, so I don’t think I ever formed a clear impression of the city. It was always a hazy silhouette in the distance, where roads converged past the pale yellow mine-dumps for which this blog is named. It seems to me there aren’t so many of the mine-dumps any more. They’ve discovered better ways of extracting the gold, and have reprocessed many of the hulking square-cut hills which used to line the roadside. I suppose some of them have just become overgrown. I’d like to think that some of the land was turned into parks or playgrounds. Someone who’s been here for the past ten years could tell you. I chose ‘Yellow Dust’ because of those childhood memories of mine-dumps, seen on the school drive into town. Though they’re probably not such a potent symbol of Joburg anymore, and apparently ‘Joburg’ isn’t even the right name these days. Someone told me that I must use ‘Jozi’, as if ‘Joburg’ was somehow politically incorrect. I prefer Jozi anyway, it sounds playful and feminine, qualities this city could certainly use. But I’ve got as much stomach for political correctness as I do for racism, sexism, corruption, pre-emptive war, religious fanatics, relentlessly ‘subversive’ avant-garde media, relentlessly pretentious fashionistas, earthier-than-thou hippies, and knob-ends who hold a loud & controversial opinion on every little thing. I’d like to think I’m among the innocent, but I’ve surely been guilty of all of the above. Except for  the pre-emptive war – I’ll let you know when it happens…. 

But this is getting far too heavy & political…I’m young and clueless, and this blog isn’t going to be much of an answer to any of the burning issues which fill up the column space between ads.  Rather let it be a collection of personal junk, a dusty garden shed which echoes with warm greetings, stoned laughter, foolish thoughts and muted sighs. Hopefully a sensual moan or two as well.   

So, I hope you’ve all got the essential message contained in the above ramble: this blog is going to be like a dusty garden shed. Not sure what that means, but I’d expect cobwebs, ancient copies of Penthouse, and the smell of lawnmower fuel….welcome!

The First Post

May 14, 2007

This is it, my first post of my first blog. Personally, I don’t like the word ‘blog’. It’s redolent of words like ‘bog’, ‘slog’, ‘clog’ and ‘hog’, none of which conjure to mind the searing insight, rapier wit, earthy wisdom, and other tired phrases which will no doubt form the essence of this weblog. Not that I have a problem with words like ‘dog’, ‘grog’, ‘flog’ or ‘agog’. Nor do I have any idea what the essence of this blog will be. But if I were you, I wouldn’t wait around for the rapier wit….