Category: comment


gender bullshit

At Woolies today I saw some Father’s Day merchandise for sale at the till. I didn’t look at what it was and whether it is a Woolies product or not but it disturbed me somewhat.

The wrapping  has two options. They refer to the father as: A son’s first hero or a daughter’s first love

Hmmmm – that sticks a little in my crop

Are girls only soft, gentle things that need love and boys are future toughies who need a hero to aspire to? Do girls not deserve heroes as much as boys deserve love? Are dads not heroes to their daughters too?

And how heteronormative is it??? Girls love dad first and then other men because of course all girls are straight. And I assume boys’ first love is mom followed by other females. Let us not even mention the horrible incestuous undertones underpinning the hetero assumptions there.

And then, since when are dads always the hero of the family? Do fatherless kids have no heroes and therefore no chance of becoming whatever these fictitious boys have lined up for their future?

Could we not have just had Dad – my hero, or Dad – I love you instead of putting gender bullshit on the merchandise?

Why do we keep books?

I used to have thousands of books on bookshelves which dominated my house. Wall to wall, floor to ceiling, the evidence of how well read I really was, was there for all to see. And be impressed by. Cos let’s be honest, part of why we hoard books, books we will never read again, is so that others will see what very clever well-read people we are. Or that’s what I think anyway.

One sunny day, watching dust motes in the sunlight after my maid had dusted my bookshelves I suddenly realised that the evidence of my smartness/well readness/interestingness as a human being/ability to make up words lay not in the pages and pages lining my walls, but in my interaction with humans.
Also, I mused, all of these books are being kept here so I can be seen as one who reads rather than being sent out into the world so that others too can enjoy them.

And suddenly not only did I not need the literary wall paper, but suddenly I had a desire to free myself of their weight and what had been for me, pretension. What I did not expect was the great joy I had when sorting through them and distribution them to other readers. I loved giving some of my most enjoyed books to others knowing that the wonderful experience of that book was in their future. I felt jealous of people about to experience my beloved stories. But also so glad for them and for the book, for its freedom to be out of my living room and back in the wild, back being read and loved rather than observed and ignored.

I set my books free, all 1 500 of them, and suddenly my house and world was open for new things. And not a single person suddenly thought I was a dullard because my walls were covered in art and other decorations.

I still have some books, of course I do. I have a waiting-to-be read pile that is as large as many people’s entire book collection, I have books I loved that I am waiting for my nephews to get old enough to hand on, and I have some beautiful non-fiction books I keep because they are works of art all on their own. And of course I have a slew of cookery books.

But I no longer keep books simply to keep them. I have no need to look like a book shop – the book shop is in my head.

stop stealing IP

I work with writers every day, all bloody day. Some (and by that I mean very very few) are actually professional and a pleasure to work with. Some others (and by that I mean almost every single one) are a nightmare with an attitude problem and an ego which is so far out of proportion in terms of their skills that I am surprised they are not stopped at airport security to explain the odd bulge.

But skill and professionalism can be honed and beaten into people, respectively.

What has shocked me in the most recent project I have been involved with is the dishonesty, lack of integrity, willingness to steal and complete disrespect for the ownership others have of their IP displayed by this bunch of authors.

Were someone to steal even half a sentence of theirs and not pay them a share of royalties earned these authors would be on their high horse, galloping to court faster than the ink could dry on the printing press. But they feel it is okay to lift huge chunks of information from online sources with not even a nod or a wink. No ‘adapted from’ or ‘source….’included. Nope, just text trying to masquerade as original thought. And the morons occasionally don’t even bother to remove the hyperlinks!!

 

I am not sure whether to be angry because they think I am too stupid to notice, or angry because their lazy dishonesty will put the project, and therefore my job, in jeopardy. I think I am actually angry because this industry is so small what one person does reflects on all of us.

Theft is theft – be it a cd, a wallet, a car or intellectual property

Have some respect you pigs!

let’s set a test

A few days ago the bf and I had this conversation:

Him: We have almost no sugar left. Have you started putting sugar in your tea?

Me: Nope. It’s you who has a cup of sugar in your teaspoon of coffee

Him: Ja ja but I only have two cups a week and there is almost no sugar left.

Me: Well, I dunno. Maybe Audrey has lots in her tea on Fridays (Audrey is our once a week maid)

Him: Fuck Kim, she’d have to drink 5 litres of the stuff to use that much sugar. Maybe she is taking sugar.

At this stage I started to feel a little stressed. I really can’t be for accusing the maid of stealing sugar – how cliched can you get

Him: Maybe we should set a test

I now started to hyperventilate. I was dreading the ‘let’s measure the sugar and catch her’ conversation I saw coming. I do not want to be with someone who would do this. This is not a plan I want to hear coming from the mouth of the man I live with. I stared at him, watching him change before my eyes

Him: Let’s just buy Audrey a big bag of sugar every month and then maybe you won’t need to top up our supply during the month. And maybe ask her if any other food stuff might help – she is feeding a whole family and I think some weeks we are her only job

For real – he really said that!

Phew

anti-human

I am reading a book at the moment that has rattled my cage and set me to some serious thinking

It is a book written by a Palestinian and is really about the Israel/Palestine ‘situation’

I do not know very much about the situation to be honest. I am shamefully ignorant in fact. But what I find so interesting is my struggle with maybe actually thinking Israel is wrong. Phosphorous bombs that set babies alight for days? Really – how is that not a war crime I wonder?

And yet it is very hard to conceive of being anti-Israel and by extension anti-Jews and by extension again anti-Semitic when the other option is to be anti-Arab and anti-Muslim

Being anti-Semitic is something no one wants to be called – I certainly do not. But anti-Muslim – well since 9/11 and the ‘with us or against us’ speech – anti-Muslim is kinda almost expected

Why is that okay? Why is anti-Semitism so not okay but anti-Muslim practically applauded? In what way are they different at their core?  How is anti-any group more ‘okay’ than any other prejudice?

And how does any group who was massacred for who and what they are even contemplate doing the same to another group.

 

I think maybe I am just anti-human. We are a disgusting species.

 

The gang rape and subsequent video of the crime which went viral in Soweto has South Africa up in arms at the moment. And rightly so – no person should be subjected to what that girl was subjected too. The rape itself is an horrendous thing to endure, but to have it recorded and watched by hundreds is just the worst kind of insult to add to the injury.

 

There are cries on all social media for the teenage rapists to be strung up by their delicate bits, for castration, for them to be locked up forever, for the death penalty to be reinstated especially for them. I understand this anger and I do think the boys must be punished – what they did is the worst kind of awful.

 

BUT – I think we need to look at the society we are part of, even over here in our air conned expensive houses and plush motor cars, that can created teenage boys who think this is okay, and other teenagers in their droves who want to watch the video of this kind of thing. Mandy Wiener said on 702 that she, as an adult and journalist, found it hard to watch and that she was the only person in the office able to watch it all; and that she did so only because she had to. Grown ups balk at watching it when teenagers, and younger probably, watch it for fun! This cannot be a reflection of the lack of moral fibre in the kids but rather a reflection of the awfulness they consider ordinary or normal.

 

These rapist children were not born evil. These kids watching the video and forwarding it were not born with a decreased sense of horror. They were babies like every other baby in the country. Only they were unlucky enough to be born into poverty and grow up in a deprived society. How many of these rapists know their fathers I wonder? How many of them have mothers who are up and out of the house before day break to travel to rich suburbs to clean houses? How many of them had the chance to attend a school with windows and desks and electronic equipment, never mind a sober teacher every day?

 

I am not saying this excuses their behaviour – but as long as we keep letting kids grow up like this we are part of the reason why they go so far off the rails that gang rape becomes a fun thing to do or watch on a boring Friday evening.

 

What can we do you may say. The problem is the governments, not ours. It is society not us. It’s not my fault.

 

We are society. And the government clearly gives less of a shit about the poor than they do about wives and mansions and parties. If we want the society we live in to be safer for all then we have to do something.

 

Do you know where your domestic worker’s children go to school? Do you know that many government schools have school fees of lower than R500 a year? R500 to you and me is a great deal less than it is to a domestic worker/office cleaner/petrol attendant.

Pay for one kid to go to school. Pay your cleaning lady’s electricity bill so her kids can do homework by real light and not candle light. Make sure the receptionist at work has enough food to feed her kids.

 

Maybe 100 of us have to try for there to be a different future for 1 kid. Maybe those are the odd.  But if none of us try then there will be no change. And if 1000 of us try, 10 futures will change. And all the people that child interacts with may have a different future too.

 

Idealistic you may say. But what other choice do we have other than to try! I know I am not prepared to sit by and allow my society, my country to breed kids who rape and watch rape and laugh. It is unfair on both the rape survivor and the rapists.  8 young people’s lives were ruined when that rape took place – and countless others have been exposed to gruesome images they are one day going to wish they could erase from their memories.

 

What are we going to do about it?

When you buy an expensive motor car there are two things that surely you have a right to expect – a good quality car and good quality customer service. What a pity that Mercedes Benz seems to believe its customers deserve neither.

My brother bought a C180 Kompressor with 70 000 km on it in 2010. In June 2011 with 100 000km on the clock the car went in for a service to the Pinetown Mercedes Benz Service Centre, NMI. It was then discovered that the timing chain needed replacing. However Mercedes then said it was simply the tensioner that needed tightening, which they did. The car was still under motor plan at this stage although it was the last service where it was covered. In January this year, with 117 000km on the clock it went back to NMI Pinetown for a minor “A” service. Once again he was told the timing chain needed replacement. This time, however once they opened it up it was definitely the timing chain that needed attention! Surprised at the car needing such a major job at just over 100 000km (72 000 miles) my brother went online and both researched this issue and discussed it in a range of chat rooms and forums dedicated to Mercedes Benz, and the Mercedes Benz Club. The consensus was that this kind of repair should not be required before the car has at least 250 000 miles (402 000 km) on the clock.

NMI Pinetown claimed the damage was normal wear and tear, but treated the car as though it was still under warranty and offered my brother a 50% discount on parts and 25% on the labour. After much arguing they agreed to supplement the original offer, which it turns out was from Mercedes South Africa and not the dealer, with another 25% on Labour. 2 days later Mercedes South Africa called him to say they had a final offer of 50% on Parts and 75% on labour. When he went to collect the car the service manager told him they knew nothing about it and he had to pay the original 50% offer if he wanted the car released. The dealer called Merc SA who confirmed they had made a mistake and were sorry but if he wanted the car he had to pay the higher amount. Neither Merc SA or the dealer were prepared to honour the offer made by Merc SA.

Why, if this is normal wear and tear, is the company subsidising part of the repair cost? And does Mercedes Benz expect their consumers to accept that their car will manage a mere 100 000km before needing this kind of major work on it? What is the point of buying a luxury vehicle if its engine life is a little over 100 000km?

The complete lack of interest shown by Mercedes Benz SA to my brother’s queries about the work that needed doing is not what might be expected from the producers of a car with the image Mercedes Benz has.

The result of this is that my brother had to pay R17000 for repairs which the car should not have needed, and, a long-time fan of Mercedes Benz, has decided he will never again own a Benz.

All for R17 000 – you’d think Mercedes Benz would have thought a loyal customer worth more than that. It seems you’d have been wrong

a belly in a burka

I have been fed by other people for the last little while – hence no recipes

I will cook again tonight but in the meantime decided it was time for a non-food post – cos I do do them too ya’know

 

The other day I was walking in a mall somewhere and in front of me was a man and his wife and child. The man was dressed in that long white kaftan thing Muslim men wear and the woman in what non-Muslims call a burka but which is actually a niqab– all the way to her feet. The child was young and so dressed in ordinary western clothes. Nothing unusual for Durban really.

 

I walked past them and then happened to see the woman from the front. She was completely covered up, just her eyes visible. Her eyes and the largest pregnant belly I have seen walking around in a long time. She must’ve been days from popping.

 

Now I know Muslims have sex, of course they do. And they get pregnant etc. but for some reason I was really surprised at the combination of such modest clothing and evidence of sex.

I don’t think I have ever seen a pregnant Muslim woman before.

I am a bit nonplussed at my own surprise – where did I think Muslim women went when pregnant?

what colour is an egg yolk?

I learnt a very interesting lesson while teaching in Zambia that I have never forgotten

Chickens in Zambia (where I was living) truly are free range. They wander around farms and plots scratching in the ground for food. The eggs I bought at the markets were often caked in mud and chicken shit and more often than you might like had blood in the yolk. Real proper free range eggs.

Delicious even if a bit off putting when half-chick half-yolk.

However, the yolks were not yellow. I don’t know if we here in the land with battery chickens and money feed the chickens something to make the yolks yellow, or if the chickens there in the land of truly organic farming and roosters getting at the hens there is something missing from the food they find in the dirt – but the result is beige egg yolks in Zambia.

Delicious eggs but beige yolks

Which brings me to the lesson

Never ever assume that your experience of anything is the absolute experience.

What you call egg yolk yellow is not necessarily what someone else has experienced as egg yolk coloured

I wonder how many immigrant kids (or house painters) got called stupid (or fired) for selecting beige when told to select egg yolk yellow!

How often have you judged someone by their understanding of ‘egg yolk yellow’?

It was a beautiful morning. The sun shone and the waves glistened, surfers bobbing in and out of the water like sleek seals. Eager families in psychedelic costumes and sandy bums stood knee deep in the warm water. Cyclists, runners, women with prams; the beachfront was a riot of early morning energy and colour.

 

A mixed race gay couple approached, holding hands, strolling in the gentle morning sun. They gave way to a Muslim woman in a burkha and side-stepped a coloured child on a bike.

 

6:30 on a Friday morning and I absorbed my land, my country, my future.