Thursday, July 9, 2009

You say amohbay, I say ameebuh

Life would be much simpler with a few small adjustments to our bodies. Who can honestly say that they haven’t, at some point, hankered after a thatch of stinging tentacles?* Instant solution to crowds and queuing.

A prehensile tail wouldn’t hurt, either. No more having to open the door while carrying keys, bags and food packages, while pushing a bicycle suspended from an umbrella. With a tail you can do all of this, while drinking an amusing beverage, or doing rude hand gestures to your neighbours (behind their backs, of course).

In fact, there are many novel body features we could do with. Ears in our knees, nostrils on the tops of our heads, nictitating membranes on our eyes, claws on our heels, and water-based propulsion systems.

Big whoop. So we get well-developed brains (in relation to our size). Lovely. So we can handle tools, construct complex languages and think up fiendish revenge plots. And overthink to the point of immobility.

Oprah’s guest speakers claim that life is all about decluttering, simplification, getting rid of complexity in the home and the workplace. Hmm. Something floaty sea creatures have been doing for ages, anyway.
I like the purple ones. Yup, purple. They are so purpley. Aaaaah. I feel simpler already.

*I always have to say the word 'tentacles' slowly, in case it comes out wrong. I thought you'd like to know that.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Invoking Gloria Gaynor

Hey! You! Yeah, YOU!
You aren’t much to look at, and probably have more complexes than parts of Tableview, but you know what? You survived. Unless of course you are the living dead, and you think you’d rather spend your damned eternity reading blogs. Could be some people’s idea of hell, I guess. I digress. MOST of you reading this are alive, and have survived until reading age. I suggest that unless you are quite a bit older than reading age, you disappear for a few years.

You may not be happy in your job, family, relationship/s, team, general environment, but you are alive. I am too. Spambots aren’t known for their rapier wit and tendency towards moroseness.

I survived: Sleeping on my tummy in my cot as a baby, sleeping on my back ditto, crawling around near exposed wires and plug outlets, eating foods containing allergens, being given toys like fireworks, penknives, tool sets, bicycles, chemistry sets and a skateboard. I survived climbing trees, travelling on planes, running while carrying glass bottles, swallowing coins and other small objects, setting my clothes on fire by accident, a few surgical procedures, lying to my parents, jumping off roofs, jumping off rocks into unknown waters, balancing on rickety things, grabbing electric fences, sticking a fork in a live toaster, small car crashes, patting sleeping dogs, being attacked by awake dogs, first break-ups, falling out with friends, realising that adults are screwed up, the ends of favourite TV series, the ends of good books, bad dreams, scary movies, real life monsters, potential kidnappers, sleazy men with pockets full of sweets, first jobs, first unemployment, failing exams, being called hurtful things, being hit by bullies, becoming a parent, and
watching all of these things start to happen all over again
to a new generation.

It’s a wonder any of us survived.
But we did.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Amplifications: The author's own.

Read this:
*“Another five would-be initiates died in the Eastern Cape on the weekend, bringing the winter circumcision death toll to 36, the provincial health department said on Monday”.
And further on in the same article:

“…one youth was admitted to Canzibe Hospital at Ngqeleni on Sunday, and as he was admitted, his gangrenous penis fell off.
And wait! There’s more!
“…of the 36, six had suffered "spontaneous amputations" when their penises dropped off, and two lost parts of their penises.Three had been referred to Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital with grade-four gangrene and faced medical amputation”.

In one season, 36 young men are dead because of circumcision-related injuries. This is South Africa. If this had happened in some country village school in sleepy England, the entire country would have been calling for new laws, imprisonment for those doing the ‘surgery’, and the banning of all sweetened food. Ok, the last one was just a nod to the nanny state that is the UK, but you get the point.

Initiation amongst the Xhosa, for example:

*“The Initiation to Adulthood
In order to be accepted as adults by their community, young Xhosa men must go through initiation. Many aspects of Xhosa initiation are handed down and adapted following early interactions with the KhoiSan. Young boys from traditional families must go through the khwetha or circumcision school. Khwetha is regarded as an essential step into manhood. The youth's departure for the initiation lodge is a significant event and may be marked by the sacrifice of a goat. The lodge is usually located in a remote location near a stream and specially built for the purpose. Initiates are usually instructed by a 'father' and assisted by 'guardians.' There are many secret rites and ceremonies associated with initiation, and the process can last up to three months ' although in modern times, this is often shorter because many young men need to return to work. After a period of seclusion, young initiates smear their naked bodies with white clay and are covered in a single blanket or, in the old days, a sheepskin kaross. The white clay serves to conceal their identity and protect them from evil. Contact with women is forbidden, and apart from the staple foods brought to them by children, the boys fend for themselves ' usually by hunting. Before their circumcision, they must sit in the stream to cleanse themselves while confessing their misdeeds to the adults. After the ritual is completed, the new 'adults' wash the white clay from their bodies and the simple grass huts in which they lived are set alight in a ritual that symbolizes the burning of their past. In this way, they leave behind their childhood and are accepted as men. In the past, initiates were expected to wait approximately four years after their khwetha ceremonies before they were permitted to take a wife”.

I recently read of an addendum to the initiation- an initiate must not sleep with his own girlfriend afterwards, but the first time he ‘tests’ his penis, it must be with a woman in the community not held in respect (usually a prostitute). You can imagine how this exacerbates HIV in the community.
Now, I am not a Xhosa male. I am not ever going to go through that experience. I cannot comment on the cultural importance of it, but I can, and will, say that this loss of life is unacceptable. There are doctors willing to do the actual surgery, so that the circumcision taking place at the schools is largely ceremonial. There has been a massive drive to close illegal schools. In the past, young men were often forced to undergo initiation- kidnapped and taken away- this has also become less common.
Seriously, though, it makes me glad that although I hated the Western form of initiation (mocking, alcohol consumption until vomiting, towel-flicking in change-rooms, smoking behind bicycle sheds at school etc), I have never been in danger of something as physically and emotionally devastating as a ‘spontaneous amputation’.

What can be said? Well, voices of complaint issuing forth from the leafy suburbs of the cities are not going to impact society as much as the community leaders in rural areas putting an end to the life-threatening behaviour happening in these schools. Sure, cultural identity cannot be denied these young men, and, indeed, should be protected, but with the added benefit of other human rights. Access to healthcare,dignity, and the right to life.
I am not a pith-helmeted colonialist with ears closed to the wishes of the people, just a regular person who is utterly shocked at the statistics.

*The quoted parts belong to other people somewhere- follow the links...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

But what's it for?

Thanks, Steers, for this. The kind of marketing any restaurant chain would envy. Some marketing director was paid huge amounts of money for this. Probably sourced from some Asian country, it's a ball, a very hard one, that tends to bounce up and hit you in the face. Hard. And it has amusing hair...
Ha. Ha. Ha.
This should be a more in-depth post about happy meal toys in general, but this one kinda sums them up:
They are all as useful as a hairy ball.