14 06 09

 A group of us attended the final evening’s performances of RAPS, the South African schools one-act play festival, last night. It is gratifying and encouraging to see teenagers so enthused and involved in the magical world of theatre. Good, bad or somewhere in between, these performances are heartfelt and clearly provide a means for these kids to display a creativity and passion that perhaps they can’t access in other aspects of their lives. 

RAPS is undergoing wonderful changes. For the first time in its 40-year history, the festival was captured on film – strange but true. A RAPS website has just gone live (http://raps.org.za), a Facebook page has been created as well as a Twitter feed. The festival, thanks to the recent appointment of a smart, innovative, strategic woman, shows every indication of being the premier introduction to the dramatic arts in the country. 

Next year May, please support RAPS simply by going to see some of S.A’s future acting, directing and production stars in action, before they become famous. And offer suggestions on the website – I know they would welcome all thoughts that would see RAPS growing and developing. 


On another note, the Young Communist League has said The Beautiful Game is one that should be played by S.A’s soccer team with “the militancy and radicalism” of the 1976 Soweto student uprising. 

Yes, the Young Communist League says Bafana Bafana should “apply the militancy and radicalism of the June 16 martyrs on the field of play by performing well and doing the country proud” during the Confederations Cup tournament, which kicked off today. 

I do love how most of S.A. youth leagues are able to bring militancy and radicalism into just about anything, including, I’m sure, cooking, candle making and sleeping. 

Empty vessels, eh?


Da devil made me wanna brand you HIV-positive.

11 06 09

 First it was Hansie Cronje almost a decade ago, who proclaimed that the devil made him fix international cricket matches so that he could benefit financially. Now a member of Swaziland’s parliament has said that Luci was responsible for his comments that people found to be HIV-positive after testing be “branded on the buttocks”.

However, Timothy Myeni, who’s also a gospel singer and a pastor, has apologised, saying, The devil has trapped me so that he celebrates that, from a Christian, such an uncalled for statement has come out. I am very sincere. I am very sorry. I understand very well that this was a blunder”.

Perhaps paster Miyeni thought unless he apologised for his comments, Satan would command the Treatment Action Campaign to make good on its threat to disrupt his upcoming gospel music concerts in Cape Town.

It’s evident that the devil has been a busy chap/chapess of late. Luci has obviously been precipitating the uttering of many nasty, demented and/or bewildering statements by a bunch of crazies the world over:

“It’s an unfortunate incident to happen on a Sunday morning.” — Wichita police captain Brent Allred speaking about the murder in a church of controversial abortion provider George Tiller.

“It is clear that the far left is exploiting—exploiting, the death of the doctor.  Those vicious individuals want to stifle any criticism of people like Tiller.  That and hating FOX News is the real agenda here.” – Bill O‘Reilly, FOX News host in the U.S.

“We don’t have to molest the kids, neither should we rape them and abuse the young ones.” – Julius Malema, leader of the ANC Youth League. (It’s nice of him to say that we don’t HAVE to molest or rape kids. Whew.)

” [We must] teach children to sing the National Anthem, Umshini Wami and how to pronounce ANC at an early age, then we will be working towards Jacob Zuma’s dream of the ANC ruling till the son of somebody comes back” – yes, Julius again.

Who knew the devil was also responsibly for stupidity, irrationality and an utter inability to express oneself?

Hang up or we’ll make things unpleasant…

10 06 09

Today I phoned a doctor’s rooms in order to try set up a time to interview her over the phone. When the receptionist finally answered the call, she huffily told me that she was on a call, and reluctantly asked if I wanted to hold on or call back. I chose the former option, which was a mistake. For the sin of opting to wait it out, I was made to listen to Elvis’s “Love me Tender”…the ‘your call is on hold’ version, which sounds about as close to the original as carob is to chocolate.

Because ‘on hold’ music usually sounds like a six-year-old playing one key of the piano, repeatedly (think of the musical score to “Eyes Wide Shut”),  it very rarely sounds like music, and almost never sounds like the song it imitates. And that problem was heightened today because it so happens the “Love me Tender” contains a pretty long string of the same musical note. This had the effect of an extended, single note which sounded just like those machines which tell you someone’s dead on TV. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Yes. I felt pretty dead after the twelfth repetition. I capitulated…I hung up.

Elevator music, including even that of Kenny G, is better than this kind of noise. Whoever designed and sold that ‘song’ should be forced to listen to his/her ADHD child/nephew/niece/godchild play Chopsticks for twenty straight hours, while bound and gagged.

Life stories

09 06 09

I am not big into reading non-fiction life stories. It’s not that I would mind reading about how the subject lay on her couch for two years and ate Aero dipped in vodka while trying to figure out what happened after she turned 30; rather, the expectation that there had to have been something quite dramatic either before or after the couch period, to make the story worthwhile telling – overcoming a fetish for clog dancing, overcoming an alien abduction involving anal probing, learning to speak whale, an addiction to being a subject in clinical trials.

The expectation that thousands/hundreds of thousands/millions would want to read about these experiences is terrifcally arrogant, but I suppose quite true, as demonstrated by the hundreds of singers, actors, humanitarians, sports people, divorced people, abused people, and general crazies who’ve managed to get published.

Now I hear that a nine-year old kid who acted in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is going to publish her life story next month. Apparently Rubina Ali’s book will tell the story of her life in the slum in which she grew up. The book is allegedly callled “Slumgirl Dreaming: My Journey to the Stars”.

I can’t really wrap my head around why I find it so incredibly bizarre that a child, who probably only really knows four years life, would be paid to get someone to write about it. Do we care that she grew up in a slum? Would she really be able to offer any of her own, simple insights without them being packaged specifically to lure the public?

Which grasping adult told this kid that it would be a good idea to publish her life story? I find it gross – manipulative and insincere. But then again, writing is not about being sincere. I suppose if it gets her enough money to move out of her slum, and material to write about how difficult it was to adjust to a middle-class lifestyle (when she’s 13 years old), why not?

More support for breeding laws

08 06 09

 It’s this kind of story that makes me want to petition for breeding licences for humans to become standard and non-negotiable:


A Michigan woman who’s one-third of a set of triplets is
celebrating the birth of her own three babies. Amber Ali delivered Amir, Armann and Amari Whitaker on May 26 at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit. The 23-year-old woman tells  The Detroit News she’s relieved the boys arrived safely. The children remain hospitalized, and Ali says she’s looking
forward to playing with them. She says: “It’s going to be fun.”
Amir was 4 pounds, 5 ounces (1.95 kilograms) at birth Amari was 4 pounds, 3 ounces (1.89 kilograms) and Armann was 3 pounds, 12 ounces (1.7 kilograms).

The babies’ 25-year-old father, Andre Whitaker, says that naming the triplets “took forever.” The couple live with Whitaker’s mother in Detroit. Amber Ali’s
triplet sisters, Asia and Ashley, live nearby.

Soooo, Amber Ali, who is the sister of Asia and Ashley, and her husband Andre, are the parents of Amir, Armann and Amari.

Clearly it’s too late to remove them from the gene pool. They’ve bred now, and have passed on this obsession with the letter ‘A’ undoubtedly, which is neither adorable nor amusing. It’s a foregone conclusion that when Amir, Armann and Amari get preggers and impregnate others in their mid teens, there will be much support from ma and pa for this naming ‘tradition’.

I hate these people.

Deconstructing the process of naming a clinical trial

05 06 09

In a weird kind of coincidence – is there any other kind, some might ask? – Full-grown Single, in a comment on my post ‘How not to pay SARS’, hit on something I’ve been wondering about this past week: how do scientists come up with the remarkable names they supply to clinical trials? 

It is quite obvious that an English acronym for a boring old medical trial would be more easily remembered by the community it targets than would a string of seemingly random letters and/or numbers. However, in some of the trial names, the researchers are really reaching for something memorable to match their subjects. For example:

TOPCAT – Treatment Of Preserved Cardiac function heart failure with an Aldosterone anTagonist  (damn, try harder!)

EXCEED – EXforge aggressive Control of hypertension to Evaluate Efficacy in Diastolic dysfunction

ONTARGET – Ongoing Telmisartan Alone and in combination with Ramipril Global Endpoint Trial  

TRANSCEND – Telmisartan Randomised Assessment Study in ACE Intolerant Subjects with Cardiovascular Disease (yeesh!)

ACCORD – Action to Control CardiOvascular Risk in Diabetes

SPORT  – Spine Patient Outcome Research Trial  

BEAUTIfUL – Randomised Trial of Ivabradine in Patients with Stable Coronary Artery Disease and Left Ventricular Systolic Dysfunction  (where the hell does BEAUTIfUL come into this?) 

and, my favourite:

ACCOMPLISH – The Avoiding Cardiovascular Events through Combination Therapy in Patients Living with Systolic Hypertension. 

Because I consider everyday at my workplace a trial, I have broken down daily events I experience from one or more colleagues, into a few easy to remember acronyms:

IGNORE – I’m Going to preteNd I dOn’t heaR concErns

BERATE – BE the Ruler And Tolerate No-onE

ABUSE – Always Be an Underling who Says littlE

DERIDE – Do EveRything possIble to Deny blamE

Any trials you suffer at your workplaces?

Vaguely medical research

02 06 09

AFP is running a story which gravely warns that The Simpsons may promote smoking by showing it in so many episodes. Coincidentally, I watched about four episodes of the TV series last night, and this morning I very nearly joined my colleagues for a smoke break. Oh no, wait…that’s not true; I just ate breakfast as usual. SEE HOW CLOSE I WAS TO JOINING THE RANKS OF THE SMOKERS?!?!

Perhaps this is of interest to protective parents and evangelicals. What is of interest to ME is that this Australian researcher  – public health specialist Guy Eslick – managed to convince whoever was involved, that this would be a valuable way to spend scientific research AUS dollars, and that the  Medical Journal of Australia elected to publish the results.

I imagine Eslick, after deciding that he wanted to watch 18 seasons of The Simpsons instead of working, might have applied for funding in the following way:

Eslick: Leesten, Oi’m a beeet taa-yerd of working for a leeving. Oi’d rather be watching 400 episodes of The Simpsons and get paid for that instead. How about you pay me to do that?

Funder: Erm, listen Eslick, I have lots of cash to throw at you, but you have to come up with something vaguely measurable for me to justify this to the Board. What about the incidence and prevalence of blue hair in the show, and how it has spawned a new generation of Punk? 

Eslick: Naaaa, mate, that’s just seelly.

Funder: Alright, well, how about the soaring costs of orthodontic treatment as a result of mimickry of the Simpson overbite?

Eslick: Mate!! Oi’ve got it! You know what the University of Seedney hasn’t concentrated on in a whoile? Smoking!!! Yeah, that’s perfect!

Funder: Super! Alright, I’ll organise petty cash to give you enough to buy 400 episodes and100 bags of microwave popcorn for your, ahem, research.

Eslick: Don’t forget lollies. See you in a few months, bye!