There are many victims. Some are the victims of victims.

All the president's persons

While surfing the website of the South African Department of Health I came across the Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel Report of 2001. It seems that when President Mbeki finally decided to do something about the AIDS pandemic in South Africa, he inviting the leading cranks of the scientific fringe to tell him how the rest of the peer-reviewed scientific world got the whole “AIDS” thing wrong.

I would love to know whose personal assistant with a grade 8 certificate and internet access decided on the composition of this panel. Did he or she just Google the terms 'AIDS' and 'dissident' and then sent out fully paid invitations to the first ten names that popped up?

I draw your attention to a title in chapter 2: Does HIV cause AIDS? This is like getting creationists to debate cosmogony and calling it a scientific discussion (or as Bush put it, “hearing both sides of the story”). Some of the alternative causal explanations are the "Chemical AIDS hypothesis", where AIDS is caused by ‘exposure to toxins’ such as AZT (yes, the drug the rest of the world uses to fight the disease); and the "Immunotoxicological hypothesis", where AIDS is caused by various ‘stressors’. My personal favorite, however, has got to be the "Oxidation Hypothesis", under which it is simply stated that ‘oxidization agents’ lead to AIDS.

O. Now I see. And to think it was oxygen all along. I should have known.

Although I recommend reading the whole report, another spot of special scientific rigor is chapter 5: The Treatment and use of Antiretroviral Drugs.
I quote:

“It was also argued that the drugs themselves caused AIDS, since they act on cells that are either metabolically active or in constant division”

Exactly what does this mean? If anybody out there can explain that last sentence to me I will buy them a beer/house/tropical island.

Or this gem of a quote from Chapter 6 of the report, which discusses prevention methods:

“Dr Giraldo recommended that the first point of entry for prevention was to stop the media-generated hysteria on AIDS. He argued that this hysteria and fear contributed to suppression of the immune system of people who were told that they are HIV-positive on the basis of unreliable tests and were doomed to die.”

I am speechless. I am without speech.


Knowledge Management

Long term phased projects (especially when it is complicated engineering development for government procurement) are feeling the brunt of the affirmative action policy as well. Development projects aim to increase service delivery and raise the living standards of all South Africans. A white professional is lucky to get a position as contractor in his private capacity on such projects, but will not, regardless of qualification or experience, be given permanent employment. Employment contracts are typically linked to the duration of a development phase within the project. Gap periods lasting from 3 months to a year, depending on the project, are experienced between development phases. Financial planning and allocation for the next project phase with approval procedures for work completed in previous phases are typical constituents of these gap periods. All sounds fair thus far, right…

Here’s the glitch…

Since the contractor is not an affirmative action candidate (otherwise he surely would not have worked as a contractor) and the contract was linked to “as long as there’s work”, the project manager is compelled to terminate the contract during the gap periods. Contractors are forced to look for new work (with international opportunities appearing even more promising). Project specific knowledge and experience are lost. Destroyed. As a result, immense indirect costs are incurred to redevelop human capital during the next phase of the project. These costs are reflected through low employee output, an increase in development mistakes of the project and massive increases in time and financial costs required for successful project completion. This ill influence of affirmative action might be a factor input to many project failures throughout South Africa that impedes economic growth to a large extent. Is it appropriate to question AA's influence on our economy; costs (direct and indirect) to the economy? Is research on the AA policy and the influence thereof on business growth acceptable or is the elite, benefiting from other AA advantages, smothering all questions?

Will I enjoy leaving South Africa at the end of August, knowing that in January some other sucker is required to study 1300 pages in my filing cabinet, prior to any efficient project continuation? I can tell you, it will leave a bitter taste!

To whom it may concern

Dear American Reader

On a day-to-day individual basis I do not discriminate in any way. In fact, I am often surprised at the level of racism I see at work (I work for a multi-national composed 75% of foreigners), which is probably of the few places in South Africa where racism is white looking down on black.

I think what B is talking about in his post is the very strange and unique situation we have in South Africa, which many call 'reverse racism'. (This is, of course, a misnomer. There is no such thing as reverse murder. Murder as revenge is still murder.)

In South Africa, there is institutionalized racism against non-black people. Although all sectors, particularly the public sector, face a severe skills shortage, white people are not considered equally for positions, due to affirmative action and something called Black Economic Empowerment, or BEE. Both these primitive concepts (which have failed dismally wherever they have been tried) have not only been legislated, but each company over 50 people must to have an affirmative action strategy to ensure that the color of their staff and the ownership of the company reflects the 'demographic composition' of the country (79% of South Africa is Black, 9.6% is white), or else they get fined. Small business owners and entrepreneurs now don’t only have to worry about making a profit and creating employment; they have to sign away a large part of the ownership of their business to black people once they succeed in growing their company.

This is thievery. No other word for it.

The system has led to a great deal of corruption, with the same group of rich black elite - all politically connected - receiving all government tenders and being invited by the big multi-nationals to become ‘partners’. What this partnership means is that these companies can now say they are BEE compliant and these new black partners get a fat check at the end of every month.

I promise you. I have heard this story many a time, often from the BEE partners themselves.

Sadly, this legislation only enriches this small group of already rich blacks, whilst the economic slowdown it causes negatively impacts those who need it most: the poor masses, be they black or white.

Also, those that are neither black nor white are bearing a very hard burden. During Apartheid they were discriminated against because they were not white, now they are discriminated against because they are not black. When will this absurdity end? Probably only when all the whites have left Africa, which may not be that far off in the future...

Time is my everything

Following on from DCM’s post regarding the 25 most popular nouns, I thought it would be interesting to see how relatively popular those nouns are on Google. The table below ranks the 25 words from most to least popular (as purported by Oxford), and gives their Google hits and their rankings in terms of Google hits.

It’s quite interesting that there seems to be almost no correlation between the two ranks. Calculating the statistical correlation between the ranks yields a measly 0.11 (1 being perfect and -1 being perfectly opposite, and zero being no linear relationship), which is statistically insignificant. Will the correlation one day be 1?

Another interesting thread in the Top25 is the occurrence of words denoting periods of time or time itself, i.e. time, year, day and week. They make up a whopping 23% of all the Google hits above. Well, yesterday they did.


Gentlemen prefer blondes

Generalisation is a critical survival instinct for the human species. Let’s imagine we have a friend Bob that lived thousands of years ago. Bob is having a bad day. A big lion just ate his friend Tommy, and this morning, another lion ate his girlfriend, Nell. Coincidence? Maybe, but just yesterday yet another lion ate his friend Peter. “I don’t like lions, they eat my friends”, he thinks to himself. But Bob, how can you say that? Do you know all lions? Aren’t you being an animalist? "Hmm, you’re right", says Bob, "I will give lions the benefit of the doubt." The next day Bob gets eaten by a lion while trying to feed it milk and cookies. Bob’s exact genetic makeup is lost forever. Which is good, because he was stupid.

And so a species prone to generalisation evolved over tens of thousands of years. It is only relatively recently in human history that generalizations have started to be frowned upon. What is the worst thing a person can be labelled as? A racist. You’re more likely to get away with murder. They should change the idiom to “he’s getting away with racism”. "Did you hear about that guy who allegedly murdered his wife, he’s getting away with racism."

Racism has been an important survival tool, just like other attempts of the human brain to categorize. For a long time it was perfectly acceptable to hate your proverbial neighbour, for the simple reason that, in a resource limited area, it was either you or them.

Racism is now considered the ultimate evil. White South Africans (with a lot of help from Cecil John Rhodes and English social engineers) inflicted Apartheid on blacks. This will forever be looked upon with disdain, while early US settlers’ conquering of Native Americans is still secretly considered by most US patriots to be a glorious conquering.

White South African leaders were not evil men. They simply believed that the ever-multiplying blacks would eventually kill them all. Let’s face it: by contemporary standards, black tribes were savages. Zulus sacrificed human life for the good karma of the tribe. Witchdoctors were the closest they had to medical science, and even today we have to put up with that mumbo jumbo. They routinely murdered each other, e.g. that fat traitor Dingaan cowardly assassinated Shaka, his own half brother and the greatest Zulu leader ever. One regularly hears about wonderful cultures past and present from across the world. Surely if you allow some cultures to be considered rich and fascinating, you must allow contempt of others?

Had blacks conquered South Africa and apartheid never happened, chances are the Afrikaans culture would have been lost (or at best scattered in puny clusters around the world), and South Africa would be in complete economic disarray. And blacks would be starving. Happy, but starving.

These are the facts. Facts that cannot ever be mentioned by the media, for they are too terrible and too true. They would result in less international sympathy and therefore less leverage in “the Struggle”. Make no mistake, the Struggle continues. The struggle will never end, because in their heart of hearts, average blacks long for the glory days of Shaka Zulu and other great black leaders, when they had a virtual god to believe in and fight for. Their struggle is against consensus modern civilisation.

Is there ever a justification for racism? How predominantly fucked up must a race/culture be before it is PC for me to say “Fuck it, I don’t lik’em”. The answer, apparently, is that you can never say that. Race is the ONE instance where you simply cannot have a preference. No matter how many babies get raped, farmers get killed, African countries get fucked up, or how many dearly loved fat cat black kings enfamish their peoples, you have to respect it. Even admire it.

Political correctness is the denial of reality in favour of prevailing ideology. The fact that black tribes would have slaughtered white folk one by one had they not devised a system to control the black masses doesn’t make any difference. The fact that blacks were arguably better off under white rule doesn’t change a thing. The fact that culturally-challenged blacks fucked up just about every country in Africa must never be uttered. White Afrikaners are evil because they stood up to barbarians and defended their culture, their way of living, which they valued above anybody else’s culture. So God yes they were racist.

To help make things make sense in my head, I have to generalize. Since my mind needs to process brutal murders, rapes, corruption and senseless violence, it yearns to generalize. In doing so, I hope the individual appreciates not being patronized.

Most commonly used noun

Here is a list of the top 25.
Found on Marginal Revolution.


Werner Herzog and the Deeper Truth

"Compared to the newer technological advances that enable us to experience, and participate in, art and culture (television on cell phones, MP3 players, blogging websites), the DVD format appears almost antique. The first DVD Players appeared in Japan in 1996, and in the U.S.A. the following year. Since then, DVD has usurped the VHS tape to become the dominant domestic format for watching movies and filmed entertainment.

Yet contained within DVDs is a technical feature that enhances our enjoyment and understanding of film to an unprecedented degree: these are the spare audio tracks that allow optional audio commentaries to be added. For hardcore cineastes — and bug-eyed amateur movie buffs like me — this is an invention of Guttenburgian proportions. Few technological advances in the realm of art and culture can equal the joy afforded by an articulate and perceptive commentary specially prepared to accompany a movie."




Die somer is verby die winter wil ek vermy
Ons is mense deurmekaar… 30 ook net daar
Party het daarin getrap terwyl ander wag vir die grap
Glo vinnig verby met bitter min wat oorbly

Soveel jaar terug is kinders afgemaai
In opstand teen die taal wat ek nou saai
Die dooies sou vandag die rollercoaster ry
Maar vir hulle was dit alles vroeg verby

In bitter heimweƫ is daar wel iets om te wys
Die meerderheid vind die land nou baie tuis
Dit laat almal uitsien na die vakansiedae
Vir die Ooste om ons besigheid weg te dra


There is so much to fear. Just leaving the house seems a ridiculous risk. Unlocking your front door makes no sense at all.

The roads are filled with humans prone to idiocy and weakness behind massive metal husks moving at high and incongruous speed. I cannot in any way trust any human being behind any car, and whilst driving I have the sensation that I am doing something dumb and teenage.

Once I am in my car, I also fear stopping. I cautiously approach Stop signs and red lights, knowing through newspaper what cruelty and maiming could befall me at any moment. Somebody could run up to my car and shoot me in the head. I could survive with brain damage. People I meet would pity and loathe me and call me lucky.

Sometimes lying awake at night I think of how a man or men could enter my house. Rape my love and make me watch. Then I think no that’s paranoid. Then I remember this happens all the time.

I am so scared every day. There are all these people around me who I cannot understand. I cannot help them either, and nothing will come of any attempt. There are too many of them, too few of us, and they don’t want help, they want the power promised to them by their leaders and visionaries and egos and TVs.

So I stay locked away in fear.


Hector Pieterson

I was recently involved in a conversation in which one of the participants did not know who Hector Pieterson was. The others proceeded to scold the shit out of him for his ignorance. What an idiot. I wouldn’t usually be that critical on someone, but in this case I have no choice: that someone turns out to be me.

Hector Pieterson was killed alongside 565 other school children on June the 16th 1976, while they were protesting the compulsory teaching of Afrikaans in their schools. The only difference between him and the others is that there was a photographer nearby to immortalize the image of his death.

Of all events we commemorate on public holidays, this one is surely one of the most poignant, right up there with the birth and death of your personal choice of a pseudo-God. If you’re not affected by 565 children being shot to death, you’re probably dead yourself. I suppose it's doubly apt that Youth Day commemorates these children, since even though they would now have been in their forties were they alive, they will be children forever.

Hector Pieterson. For me this is going to be one of those names/words/concepts that you go for years never even knowing it existed and then suddenly, when you learn of it, you hear it all the time. And then, one day, it comes up in conversation and a friend doesn’t know anything about it, and you take great pleasure in scolding the shit out of him.

God, what an ignoramus.


I just unearthed this interesting interview with Slavoj Zizek that took place a few months after 9/11. I like the part where he talks about Nietzsche's Last Man. It felt like he was talking directly about me:

"This post-political world still seems to retain the tension between what we usually refer to as tolerant liberalism versus multiculturalism. But for me - though I never liked Friedrich Nietzsche - if there is a definition that really fits, it is Nietzsche's old opposition between active and passive nihilism. Active nihilism, in the sense of wanting nothing itself, is this active self-destruction which would be precisely the passion of the real - the idea that, in order to live fully and authentically, you must engage in self-destruction. On the other hand, there is passive nihilism, what Nietzsche called 'The last man' - just living a stupid, self-satisfied life without great passions"

There are no more struggles for me. Only self-satisfaction. The happier i am the more I ebb towards this pasive nihilism. The more I have the less I am prepared to die. I think this idea was also voiced in Barbarian Invasions, where the dying father says something about how the young are always ready to die for a cause, but the old has gotten used to life and are more unwilling to part with it.

At the moment it just feels like I am, and all my planning focusses on everyday and small improvements in the quality of my meaningless life, more The Man After The Last Man.

FW's rollercoaster ride

Source: News24 (chronological from bottom to top)

About 12 years ago, a friend of my parents, who also happened to be an acclaimed journalist (he has since passed away), told us of an off the record meeting he had with FW de Klerk. It was long ago and I was very young, but I'll never forget one thing he said: that FW was very bitter about how he was cast aside after the post-Apartheid elections. The journo said he had lost all respect for FW, that he had become "a bitter old man".

FW de Klerk - adulterer, Apartheid-buster, token Nobel Peace Prize winner, bitter old man: the last of the great Afrikaans leaders.

Where have all the great Afrikaans leaders gone? Charismatic Afrikaans leaders are a dying breed (at best). As flawed as FW is/was, these days we have to endure spineless sycophantic sell-outs like Marthinus van Schalkwyk. I know jellyfish with more backbone and accountants with more charisma than that guy. If Paul Kruger were alive today, Marthinus van Schalkwyk would be dead today. The truth is that we (yes I’m Afrikaans) have been conditioned to believe that we are scum. We have lost all cultural pride and the great Afrikaans minds are not stepping up to the plate simply because they don’t believe in the Team anymore.

If I’m supposed to feel guilty about Apartheid, well sorry, I don’t. For the same reason I’m not personally ashamed that my parents used to listen to ABBA. This is a new generation: fuck the sins of our fathers for they are not mine, I will not take ownership. Until they pinpoint and isolate an undeniably responsible Apartheid genetic sequence, I will not apologize for anything.


The science of soccer

New Scientist presents a round-up of their favourite science stories related to "the beautiful game". This article on silencing hooligan chants with a delayed echo machine looks like it belongs in The Onion.

And a robotic foosball table.


Woman hit by lightning while praying

"DAPHNE, Ala. -- Worried about the safety of her family during a stormy Memorial Day trip to the beach, Clara Jean Brown stood in her kitchen and prayed for their safe return as a strong thunderstorm rumbled through Baldwin County, Alabama. But while she prayed, lightning suddenly exploded, blowing through the linoleum and leaving a blackened area on the concrete. Brown wound up on the floor, dazed and disoriented by the blast but otherwise uninjured. She said 'Amen' and the room was engulfed in a huge ball of fire. The 65-year-old Brown said she is blessed to be alive."



mp3 of the week

junior boys - in the morning

interesting article

On groups

Planning on reading all of this guy's writings


List of lines from Shakespeare plays that have become cliches.

Another Century

The next patterntub entry will be the hundredth. History shows how little significance the peculiar occurrence of 10^2 holds, if you refer to it as a hundred. More useless peculiarities are probably the 060606060606 of this morning and the 010203040506 of last month…


visualcomplexity.com - A visual exploration on mapping complex networks


Crystal Pools

Some guy put pictures of Crystal Pools in Gordon's Bay on Flickr.

Song of the day

xxl - paw paw paw paw paw paw paw

(XXL is a collaboration between Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart and Italian band Larsen)

insultingly stupid movie physics

If you’ve ever had your doubts about the viability of technical feats and contentions in Hollywood films, this site will come as a huge and long overdue relief. It has reviewed a dozen or so blockbusters, with a bias towards physical credibility.

This may sound quite tedious, but it is surprisingly entertaining, and quite refreshing thanks its critical point of entry.

The Core is, not surprisingly, their pick as the worst physics movie ever. If you’ve had the misfortune of watching this classic, you’ll know it’s about a group of “terronauts” who drill through to the core of the earth in a heroic attempt to get it to spin again. I shit you not.

Keyes proceeds to demonstrate the effects of losing the magnetic field by lighting the aerosol from a can of hair spray and flaming a peach representing Earth. He makes his explanation simplistic since he's talking to military brass who can't grasp complexity, even though they lead one of the most complex and high tech organizations in the world.

The Matrix also takes a pounding, in the course of which the following interesting titbit is disclosed:

It's no great surprise that The Matrix has not just become a popular movie but also a somewhat popular insanity defence. According to Stephen Kiehl of SunSpot.net "the 1999 film has been used, with some success, in at least ... three ... murder cases in which young defendants attempted to justify their crimes with allusions to the movie's philosophy that the world people live in is only a dream sequence controlled by a computer. Violence is condoned as a way to get out of the fake, oppressive world of The Matrix." This argument is now being used in yet a fourth case, that of sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo.

There's a generic bad movie physics section which deals with recurring mistakes in Hollywood films. Some of these things I have always assumed are realistic. Imagine my shock when I learnt that laserbeams on sniperguns are actually completely unnecessary:

When a sniper looks through the telescopic sight on his rifle, he knows where the bullet is going to go relative to the crosshairs. Adding a laserbeam would do nothing except tip off the victim that he's about to be shot and give him time to duck before the bullet arrived.