Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Make It Count

This missive to the general readership of my blog, all 5 of you, is to remind you that local government elections are happening tomorrow. In light of this I'd like to make three points.

1. You should vote.

We were all children once, in those days we could do whatever we wished, regardless of the consequences. We played all day and didn't care about the future, in short we had no responsibilities. As we've grown older so responsibility has crept into our lives, we have jobs, bills to pay and families to support. Voting in an election is every bit as important as any of these other obligations. Self-determination is a right that people all over the world have fought and died for. It all started long ago in France, moved to America, happened in South Africa (twice) and is still going on in the Middle East. These people didn't fall out of bed one day and decide that major political upheaval would be fun, they realised the potential of controlling their own destiny. It is your responsibility to yourself, your family and your fellow citizens to vote for the party that you believe has your best interest at heart.

Many people argue that "my vote doesn't count", this is utter crapola. Have you ever been to a polling station after the votes have been counted? I have, it's amazing how narrow margins can be. Trust me, I myself narrowly escaped election to a position on the UCT SRC in an election where five votes would have made all the difference.

If you're worried about the huge margins obtained by certain heavyweights and that a single vote wouldn't count you are even more mistaken. In proportional representation type situation, like municipal elections, no votes are losers because, as the name implies, representation is proportional to votes cast, if you don't understand this then go ask The SchpatDope. In non-proportional representation type situations, like ward elections, there is only one winner, the person who gets more votes, but even losing votes count. How so you ask? Well political parties use these votes as a sort of market research to determine what their chances of winning the next election in that area are. If an area was closely contested the winning party will be more likely to make sure that they deliver on their promises, if a party lost an area by a landslide they may have to consider whether or not it is productive to stand in that area next election.

The bottom line is that apathy is not an excuse. If you vote you will be making a choice on who should be in control of making sure your interests are seen to, you may not get what you choose, but your choice will make a difference in some way. If you don't vote you will also be making a choice, a choice to let someone else decide for you. Yes apathy is cool, if you don't care, but actively participating in your future is way more important.

2. You should vote based on the Issues

I was originally going to give a long description of the major political parties, what they were offering and, more importantly, what their faults were, but I'm sure anyone reading this blog is intelligent enough to know what the issues are, and what issues are important to them. I don't care who you are voting for, just do so in an informed and intelligent way. Too many people in this country vote out of loyalty and not based on the issues. This cartoon from today’s issue of Business Day is quite cool and shows that issues are starting to take over from loyalty, however this trend is still in its infancy. I'm a bit more pessimistic about this though, I would have drawn the old guy about to trip and fall before the baton could be passed.

Issues that might be important to you are: Corruption, Welfare, Policing, Service Delivery, Women’s Rights, Economy, Health Care, and much much more. Find out what the parties stand for and choose the one that best matches your own personal ideology.

3. Game Mechanics

I believe that for any democracy to be truly successful a strong opposition is essential. This is the only political viewpoint I'll be pushing today, I don't care who wins, only that they have decent opposition. Opposition ensures that the ruling party stays on its toes. They keep them honest.

If you don't agree with the above statement you can pretty much stop reading now, all I'm going to do for the rest of this post is point out some measures that can be taken to ensure good opposition. This is not an endorsement of any specific political party, only an observation of the mechanics of the election.

A few days ago the Freedom Front Plus accused the Democratic Alliance of misleading the voting population. What had the DA done? Well they told people not to "split the opposition vote", and that by not having a clear and strong opposition the ruling party gained relative strength. The VF+ argued that due to the proportional nature of the election the DA was lying and trying to scare voters into voting for them instead of the VF+. Are the VF+ right, were the DA blackmailing voters? Well here's the truth, election of ward councillors is not proportional. The person that gets the most votes in a ward becomes the councillor, that's the long and short of it. Now in a hypothetical situation where a ruling party held 40% support in a fictitious ward and two opposition parties each held 30% of the votes the ward would be won by the ruling party even though it is clear that a majority of voters did not vote for them.

So as you can see it is possible to split the vote to the detriment of opposition party and in so doing give unintended power to the ruling party. Previously alliances between parties have been forged to ensure that wards are only contested by one of the parties in the alliance and therefore opposition votes are not split. In fact this is how the DA came into existence when the Democratic Party, the New National Party and they party run by Louis Luyt joined forces to become the Democratic Alliance. That was before The NNP decided that they didn't really want to be opposition and moved almost entirely into the ranks of the ruling party, where their leader (Martinus Van Schalkwyk) was given a cushy job as Minister of Environmental Affairs, something's rotten in the state of Denmark, but I digress.

When it comes to the proportional representation part of the election it's a bit more difficult to assess whether or not splitting the vote has a detrimental effect on the opposition. I personally think it does because if the opposition is formed of many disparate parties it is easier to divide and conquer. If all the opposition parties in South Africa decided to stop their damn bickering and joined together I think we'd find that a strong, solidified opposition could really challenge our ruling party.


My final appeal here is that you go out and vote tomorrow, and if you do please take the issues and the mechanics into account when making your mark. This stuff is important.

Cock punches all round

Well, Well, Well. I hate being right. If I meet the people responsible for creating the "Load Shedding Schedule" I swear I will punch them in the cock! If they don't have cocks I'll force them to have gender alteration surgery so that I can PUNCH THEM IN THE FUCKING COCK!!!!

This post going to be a quick rant about how stupid the people planning for emergencies are.

I live in Pinelands, which happens to be in "Block A" of the load shedding schedule (found on the Chamber of Commerce Website). Block A is off between 06:00 - 9:30 and 14:00 - 17:30. On the face of it it seems that this is reasonable, 7 hours of power cuts is about the 30%, about what they said they need us to cut. The only problem is that the fourth block in the load shedding schedule is a union of sets A and B, this block is off from 22:00 - 06:00. That brings the total time without power to 15 hours out of every 24 for anybody in blocks A or B. If you're unlucky enough to be in block A then 11.5 of those hours are consecutive! What's more, I don't see any areas in the Northern Suburbs having their power cut, maybe they're just not on the list but reports from colleagues who live in those areas tell me that they have been unaffected by Load Shedding.

As I have stated before, this situation was totally avoidable, but now that it has happened we need to understand that there will be power cuts and bitching about them isn't going to nullify their necessity. However bitching about unfair distribution of the power that is available might have some effect. Electricity is after all a “basic service”, the provision of which is enshrined in our constitution.

To the city officials that decide on Load Shedding: Get your act together, Fucktards.

I'm sure this electricity thing is just a conspiracy to stop you all from reading the "Election Special" post that I had planned for today. Never fear, I, the great and mighty Schpat, will ensure that their evil countermeasures do not silence this lone voice of decent! That means that there will be a second post at some point today.


PS: This is my 100th post. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Eat Flaming Poo!

This just in. Charles Kadali thinks that some stupid rugby game is more important than average people being able to cook food. Well, not his exact words but he has GUARANTEED that there will be power on at Newlands Rugby Stadium during the Stormers vs Brumbies match. What a fucking wanker! Hey idiot, I haven’t had electricity for three nights in a row and you are ensuring that some inbred rugby supporters have extreme amounts of electricity for flood lights! Why don’t you just reschedule the fucking game for early in the afternoon when THE GOD DAMNED SUN IS FUCKING SHINING!

You know it’s idiots like you that pre-empt shows like Star Trek and Fire Fly to play sports. You guys fucking suck.

Everybody do me a favour and phone the *UNT on 021 446 1926 and tell him how you feel!

The contents of this entry are fuelled by hate and are only the authors opinion!


Shit Flinging For Goodness

If you have any poo, fling it now! - Mason, Madagascar.

Hey there to my regular readers.

I'm really sorry about not posting for a while, it really is upsetting to me to just leave you in the lurch like this but I really haven’t felt particularly inspired to write much. But that has all changed now. I'll deal with a few things and then I'll get to my point.

First of all I promised you a biased budget review, well 'ol Trev has done a great job again. What? You thought I'd hate it? Minister Manual is the best minister in the government at the moment, and probably the best minister in the government in the last 20 years. A lot of people were really worried when this very young man was appointed as minister of finance ten years ago, and with only a Std 8 education if they were to be b3elived. Well it's true that he's not as edumacated as your average minister of finance, but he possessed wisdom (in fact his WIS modifier is at about +5). He has the wisdom to appoint very competent advisors and listen to them when necessary. Unlike some ministers we know *cough*manto*chough*tshabalala*chough*msimang*chough*. I point any naysayers to the 60% growth of the JSE over the last 12 months, and that's all I've got to say.

Also, it looks like Def may have something on the Lonely Finger Challenge, check out the previous comments). Only time will tell though. Until then Def, why don't you let us know a little about yourself so that I can tailor the prize, that you may or may not be winning, to your specific needs. Go Def!

If you don't like posts that rant, thank you for visiting but you can stop reading now.

What really has me fired up, in case you haven’t guessed it yet, is the Power Outages in the Western Cape. I find myself so upset that I am prone to uncontrollable fits of rage. I mean really uncontrollable! Here is a short list of things that upset me.

1. Lack of Foresight

Yes, all these problems could have been avoided. Don't take the crap about "unavoidable circumstances" lying down. The Powers That Be (TPTB) have known for years that demand was outstripping supply, and particularly emergency supply that would be used if power stations went off line. Last year Eskom posted profits of 5.2 Billion ZAR. About 1.6B ZAR of this was paid as a dividend to the government (more on this later). What is more Eskom's top 11 managers and directors collectively took home 70M ZAR in compensation last year. The CEO alone took home 13M ZAR, a 260% increase from the previous year. Now I have no problem paying people metricfuckpiles of cash if they deliver the equivalent value, these people clearly have not. Their bonuses would have been better spent laying another cable from Mpumalanga so that CPT could get more power if the nuclear reactors went down.

2. Deceit, Confusion & Incompetence. Danger?

So what caused the power failures? A loose bolt? Fictional Wild Fires? Pollution? Mist? Bird Shit? It'll only be out for a day, we mean two, um three ok seven. Don't call us, we'll call you! Are people who honestly believe that 'mist' is a believable excuse for a province wide power outage, or who don't really know how long it takes to restart a reactor, really the kind of people you want in charge of what basically amounts to a great big WMD? These excuses, we know they are nothing but excuses because they've been caught fibbing already (those fictional forest fires), are not only implausible but downright laughable. Did that bolt work itself loose? Are there suddenly vastly more birds than before? Is the mist in Cape Town unexpectedly acidic enough to eat through electrical insulation? The answer to these questions is, sadly, no. Far more likely (and I stress that the following is only the author's opinion) is that Proper safety checks on bolts are no longer performed, and that maintenance that stops mist and bird poo from impeding supply of electricity have been halted to cut costs and ensure profits.

3. Lack of Emergency Planning

Man, you think they’d have a contingency plan for these kinds of “unavoidable” situations. Well they do, they’ll just cut power randomly for a while, they call it Load Shedding. I realise that load shedding is probably the only way to handle a crisis like this, and once you’re in one ya gota do what ya gota do. But, if you had any sense you’d do it in a planned, organised and rational way. Supposedly they are cutting power to certain places in two hour bursts, so in theory nobody should be without power for more than two hours at a time. Well my own personal experience is that out of the last 40 hours I’ve had power for 16, and 5 of those were in the utterly useless time from 12:30 to 5:30. Here’s how it should be done:

a) Cut power for maximum of 1 hour at a time. This means that people’s lives will only have to be put on hold for a very short time. They will be able to make supper for their kids and wash clothes for work, even if they have to wait an hour to do so, also fridges and freezers won’t defrost causing waste of food.

b) Publish a schedule listing areas where power will be cut and at what times. Then stick to it!

c) Share load shedding equally between areas.

Currently power is cut for much longer than the claimed 2 hours at a time (last night I was out for 10 hours), the schedule that they have published is not being stuck to and certain areas are being affected way more than others (I was told this morning that Kennilworth has had about 2 hours out since Sunday). On the subject of a schedule, this first schedule published for suburbs within the city of Cape Town was only published this morning (four days in) and can be found here, but don’t believe a word! Also it’s really crap that I’ve had no power for so long and that according to the list there are no power outages planned in the entire northern suburbs.

4. Passing the Buck

It really pisses me off when people refuse to accept responsibility for their actions. It’s all got to do with avoidance of conflict. People will not admit to their actions, even if they are the correct ones, if they think the person they are talking to will get upset with them. I phoned the council to make them aware of the fact, and complain that Pinelands was being treated the same way as the industrial areas around it. It was tuned off at 5:00pm and only switched on again in the early hours of the morning two days in a row. I managed to get hold of Charles Kadalie, Cape Town's manager for public lighting, his phone number is 446 1926 by the way. He told me that no, Pinelands was not being treated as an industrial area and really it was out of their hands as Eskom was the one pulling the switches. I contacted my local Councillor, a really great guy, and they had told him the same thing.

Well, after further investigation I found out that it was in fact the municipality switching us off. If you’re interested the actual place where they pull the levers is in Laidlaw Road Rondebosch. Then this morning when they published the list of station to be turned off Pinelands is listed under the “Epping Main Station” along with the industrial area. Flat out lies, that’s what it was.

5. This Is Only The Beginning

Koeberg’s reactor two is almost out of fuel. This means that pretty soon they are going to have to shut that reactor down and chuck in some more uranium. This is probably going to be a 40 day process. Folks my only advice here is it to stock up on candles, batteries and gas, and don’t put anything in your freezers.

Well that’s all I really want to say on the subject for the moment. I’m really quite upset and getting more so. As an aside, Elisabeth and I narrowly escaped being stuck in an elevator for 10 hours, the power went out just as the lift we were in reached out floor last night. The doors didn’t even open properly, I had to force them after the lights had gone out. Luckily I’ve taken to carrying a torch with me wherever I go after dark. Now that’s planning for you!

Schpat Out.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Spurred into action

I know I've been rather remiss in posting to this blog, but many works at place of employment has successfully stopped me. But one thing has spurred me into action, yes I just had to let all of you know about the return of the IOL penis story.

Also there's a new Schpatdope out. It's on genetic memory and worth a read. Also apparently I offend a fringe religious group, go me!

Hey it's also my birthday today. Trev is going to give a budget speech today and if it warrants comment I pledge to you my faithful readers to deliver such comment with as much bias as possible.

Damnit, while I'm here I might as well tell you a little story form the weekend. Elisabeth was in PE visiting her dad, who is sick and in hospital, the whole weekend, so I took the opportunity to play a little poker online on saturday (btw firegolem I play on Poker Stars). I played pretty much the whole day and about 12 hours into it, while on my third meal of left over roast lamb, I was getting pretty tired and told the rest of the table that I'd had a long day and would be leaving soon. One of the other players commented that it did indeed look like I'd had some rough treatment. Huh? I thought. Then remembered that my avatar was a picture of me in zombie make-up from the Land of the Dead party. Lol, yeah 'Dead Tired' I said. About fifteen minutes of puns ensued about 'Dead Man's Hands', being 'card Dead' and when I started winning again 'Digging my way up'. This little exchange really energised me and I continued to play for another three hours booking a $15 win. At the end of the day I finished only a little up and I was very happy with my performance.

Oh and I chatted to Wil Wheaton during his poker tournament on friday.

While I'm on the subject of poker: I'm running a poker tournament at UCT on saturday. It's really small stakes (R25 buy-in) but if you don't already know about it and are interested get hold of me and I'll give you some details. On Monday I got a phone call from a friend of a friend of a friend who had heard about the tournament as was interested in joining in. I was quite keen as long as they were accompanied by the original friend, but what was really interesting was that this guy had heard about a Hold Em tournament that was going to be held at UCT in march as was wondering if this was it. Obviously it wasn't but that's the second time I've heard of a 'Big Game' being held at UCT, it's definitely moved squarely into the ranks of rumour. If anybody else hears anything about this I want to know!

Ok that's enough. And I'm sure you're all bored of poker.


Monday, February 06, 2006

State of (INDIG)Nation

Anyway my weekend was good, yesterday I took Elisabeth out for a long scenic drive to McGregor near Robertson. It was a lot of fun and generally relaxing and enjoyable. There were two things I saw that shocked the shit out of me, not literally. The first one was shortly after exiting the tunnel we saw a baboon crossing the road, he was just ambling at a gentle pace expecting the world to stop for him. This is not surprising because he was the size of a large shetland pony! The second thing was two farm kids travelling on the back of their dad’s Toyota hilux. These were real “Plaas Suens” you know the kind that run around barefoot in shorts playing outside with their dogs and hunting small fury creatures, what was amazing was that one of them was wearing a pink golf shirt. They should be reported to Chuck Norris!

On our way back Elisabeth and I decided to stop at Grand West for the buffet because neither of us had eaten anything much all day. It’s a great deal at R95 but we were too late and they had stopped accepting walk-ins, although now you can book. We settled on a nice Italian restaurant and the food was very good and decently priced. I had a pasta with mushrooms, bacon, cream and chillies and Elisabeth has come calamari. It was yum. Afterwards Elisabeth went to House of Coffees while I spent some time at the Roulette table. I didn’t lose a spin in the hour that I played and walked way R145 up on a R100 stake, that’s a 145% ROI. When I when tell Elisabeth I found out that she’d been sitting that the coffee shop the whole time and nobody had even served her! I blew up at the management and we left.

We went to drop the car off with my folks, marvel at their new gigantic television and eventually got to bed at about 1am. Man it was a good weekend.

Now onto the political portion of this post. If you have no interest in South African politics I hope you enjoyed the first half of the post, but feel free to skip the rest, even though you should be informed! For the rest of you, here it is.

So, I was going to do a complete review of Thabo Mbeki’s State of the Nation address but I think that the almost 3% drop in on the JSE does a far better job of describing his weak attempt at sidestepping the issues far better than I ever could. I watched the address and then read the full text to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. The text was eighteen pages long, the first ten pages were about how bad apartheid was and how brilliant it was that some women killed herself by walking into the sea. Then there was about half a page about how happy everyone in South Africa is (according to international surveys), then about seven pages of what the government promises to do for us, and a final page about how bad apartheid was and how great the people who overcame it must be.

Did anyone else notice the complete failure to talk about what has already been delivered? Why this omission you ask? Well actually it’s quite simple, the government hasn’t delivered anything. Gasp! They’re too busy lining their own pocketsses and raping aids activists to even care about the people. So, what do they do when they eventually have to report back on their progress? Muddy the waters and confuse the issue, that’s what. Actually it’s a brilliant tactic, nobody in their politically correct, right mind could bad mouth you for being against apartheid, fortunately Schpat has never been politically correct.

When will the government or, to be more to the point, the ANC stop pushing the emotional buttons of segregation and oppression and actually start delivering to the people and earning their votes? The answer is probably never, ol’ bob from the north is still doing it today, and with great effect. As long as the general population, the people, of this country continue to allow themselves to be manipulated by politicians, that are too busy building empires to care about them, this country will not improve.

Politics is just like any other game, much more effective when everyone plays fair.

Oh I forgot to mention that almost an entire page was devoted to how we are going to prepare for the 2010 soccer world cup. And now the president is taking matters into his own hands and has instructed SAFA to explain to the presidential portfolio committee why BafanaBafana did so badly in the African Cup Of Nations. I’m glad that with oilgate, travelgate, gravy plane, and the zuma rape trial they have their priorities straight!

Schpat Out.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Long Day

I’ve been up since 5:30 and I want to go home!

Last night I discovered that my PC is well and truly fubar. I can't even get it to start looking for an OS. I've tried everything and it's just completely screwed. I think it was probably damaged by the spate of power failures that we've had. I contacted my insurance provider and hey, guess what, they'll pay for repairs, zang.

A Johannesburg based group has petitioned Trevor Manual to make the costs of private broad band internet access tax deductible. They reckon that this will stimulate growth and broad band penetration. We'll have to wait for my birthday to find out what ol' Trev has in store for us.

If you want a good laugh check out some surprisingly interesting questions about bukkake etiquette raised by Lady Poker Player (one of the blogs I read regularly). Despite being a self confessed lover of poker and porn she only discovered bukkake like two days ago, wow.

Other than that, today is role playing, our rag-tag bunch of misfits is currently negotiating the transfer of a virus like (only on a much bigger scale) weapon of mass destruction in exchange for the services of a rather large and mean lizard. The way it works is this, we relieve the lizard of the burden of guarding the weapon and so he helps us win a war, it's a win win situation. Two weapons of mass destruction for the price of one.

But before that I need to fetch my PC so zenstar and synchronos can give it a once over.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Chuck Norris does not wear pink!

Wow, what is it with pink shirts? Working in a building with a good deal of "fashion" people I noticed a few of the men here wearing pink shirts as far back as six months ago, and I thought it was gay. Now, every second guy out there is wearing a damn pink shirt. It's bloody peer pressure I tell you! If you could go up to the average guy wearing a pink shirt in the street, go back in time six months and offer him a pink shirt for free, he'd probably beat the living shit out of you in homophobic rage. I've got nothing against gay men, brokeback mountain sounds kinda cool, but pink shirts are just so girlie!

Speaking of Brokeback Mountain, here's an alternate concocted by DJ Coffman of Yirmumah fame. Ladies I'm going to bet that you have no problem getting you man to tag along for: Bareback Mountain.......

Check this out, at worst it's a brilliant scam, at best it's kinda gross. These guys over at LifeGem will take the 'carbon remains' of a loved one and turn them into a diamond for you. What's more, they only need 8oz, or about a cup, of ashes to do it. Can you imagine losing a leg and having that made into your own personal gem.

And on the Living in South Africa Front

It's always good news when we find out that Capetonians may face power rationing. Yes they recon they may have to ration our power over the winter months to make sure the recent power failures are not repeated. Speaking of power failures I'd better just save this post quickly.

Also nice to see that certain factions within the ANC are opposing others that are calling for another presidential term for Thabo Mbeki. I do however suspect that they are opposing the extra term not for their love of the constitution, as they'd have us believe, but rather for their dislike of the prez. Don't you guys out there think that it's strange that the ones opposing an extra term for Thabo were JZ's biggest supporters?

Other Stupid People Around the World

A shipment of frozen beef going into Bulgaria was stopped by customs officials when they noticed that it was 22 years old. According to the health certificate it was loaded in Ireland in 1984! The dodgy paperwork wasn't what tipped them off though, it was that the meat was blue.

What would you expect to find when reading the ingredients label on a pack of sliced cooked ham? Well no matter how disgusting your answer I'm sure it's better that "Dog Shit". That's what some dude in the UK found listed when he inspected the product in a local store. The company who makes the ham denies using faecal matter in its product and claims to have fired the prankster responsible for the labelling joke, but we know the truth. Next time you think to yourself "Man, this sandwich tastes like shit!", you'll check for ham right?

Anyway, I'm reinstalling windows tonight, wish me luck.