Archive for June, 2006

Coming Deep and Coming from Behind…

June 29, 2006

I am referring, of course, to the attack formation of the Argentinian wings, and the French Renaissance, as it were, against Spain, respectively. In the FIFA 2006 World Cup (R) (TM), in case you were wondering. Penalties are just around the corner (kick).

Anyone care to wager on Saturday’s revenge game between Brazil and France? I am leaning towards 3-0 to Brazil.


Me vs. Andre Agassi in the Game of Life

June 29, 2006

You might remember a certain long-haired chap from the early nineties. No, not me, but Andre Agassi.

Well, seeing as how he is now nearing retirement at the ripe old age of 34, and I – of a similar age and only now beginning to work and only due for retirement in 30 years or so – well, I thought a retrospective would be appropriate.

1. Andre has reached the pinnacle of his career, dominating the world of tennis.

—Fifteen Love Agassi…

2. Andre married Brooke Shields!

—–Thirty Love Agassi…

3. Andre has accrued a vast fortune, raking in millions of dollars, while doing what he loves.

——-Forty Love Agassi…

Oh, Oh, game point: gotta pull one outta the bag.

4. Whereas Andre has lost all his hair, I still have mine in great abundance.

———–Game to Rod!

Send this to five guys you know with hair, then rub a bald man’s head and see what happens!!!!

The Man who was Thursday

June 28, 2006

There is an entertaining story by the same name written by G.K Chesterton. I am not sure if Mr. Chesterton ever encountered the game of squash racquets, because that is the topic of discussion today.

I have of late managed to organise two games of squash per week, against two separate opponents, who shall be known as Thursday and Saturday, for obvious reasons. Now Thursday never plays on a Saturday, it fact, it was difficult enough getting him to play on Thursday, although we did try Monday once. Saturday, on the other hand, hasn’t always been the same. He changes from week to week, although I have played the current Saturday two Saturdays in a row now.

Now, about the squash, I noticed in last week’s game, a considerable improvement in my play. This can,of course, be ascribed to various factors, including an improvement in fitness, increase in court time over the past month, and most especially, a strong coffee taken an hour before the game. I managed to block Thursday out completely, whereas I used to forfiet the first game or two when we first started. As for Saturday, I had resolved to figure him out after the heavy defeat I suffered the first Saturday we played. He serves deep and hard, which, if left poorly answered, results in easy mid-court put aways for him.

My solution was to take a step up at the start of the point, allowing me to volley the serve, especially on the backhand. This paid off, as the duration of the point increased, and Saturday’s fitness came into play. When i had played him years ago in my youth, I had found that he was short of fitness, due primarily, I believe, to his ability to finish off the points relatively quickly. Now, by extending the point with better ball control, I tap into another advantage I have, namely body conditioning. Also, in those cases when he did try to put away poor length from me, I was able to better retrieve in the front of the court. My drop shots were themselves of better quality. This was due, I believe to my better sense of anticipation, which is where the coffee came in.

Squash is a lot like life, as they say. Always keep your eye on the ball. Anticipate the next shot. Keep fit. Dominate the centre.

Nasruallah Khan once described a game he had with Geoff Hunt, the World Champion from the 1970’s. He had never defeated Hunt before, but in the final of one tournament, he fought a great battle of body and wits to take the first game 10-9. He thought he had finally gained the measure of the great player. In his mind he was racing to the trophy already. Starting the second game, he was, however, dismayed to find that Hunt had taken several steps forward in preparation for the  serve, and far from being mentally defeated, Hunt was prepared to attack even more. Needless to say, Hunt won.

I had a dream

June 22, 2006

last night. My dad was in it. He was still alive, but constrained somehow. I cannot recall the details of it. There was something strange throughout the dream and only at the end I realised my dad was constrained.

The Color Purple…

June 21, 2006

is turning Orange. I mean Orange is the new pink, if you know what I mean.

Not that I've read the book with the above title as it's title, or that you, dear reader, will have read it either, or perhaps even that you would have known that it was a book which inspired this title, but I went  into Markham yesterday and found my way to the t-shirt section where I bargained for one collared and one uncollared garment, both being orange. My urge for orange started some weeks ago when I entered Woolworths and encountered a rust/orange 'trui', as they say in Afrikaans. Since then mine eyes have seen the glory of orange. But not its citrus nature.

Speaking of which, I ate a red orange a few days ago. How is this possible, I wanted to know? Can one get sick of eating healthily then, too? Are all contradictions merely words crashing into each other, while reality gaily (that's a word you don't see very often, hey?) goes about its business? Aha!, perhaps it was a grapefruit masquerading as an orange. Cross-dressing fruits, as it were.

Who’s hitting (on) me like this?

June 21, 2006

I know the traffic has been bad in Cape Town lately, but the blog's stats went a bit haywire yesterday. Was it a bot, or not? Identify yourself! Nabs?

More of the Sane

June 14, 2006

Margaret Legum 

This article was published in the Business Report on Wednesday, 6 June 2006. Follow the link below.

My friend Grace recently engaged a security firm to send one guard to her home from 6 pm to 6 am each night. She paid the firm R14,000 a month. We all now know that the guard himself was paid between R1,050 and R1,300 a month, regardless of hours worked. Nice profit.

The security company, or at least its interests , were represented at the World Economic Forum (WEF) which inhabited the high luxury of the Convention Centre last week.  The government was there in force – the WEF brings governments and business together.  But the security guard was neither present nor represented.

Does that matter? Poverty was high on the agenda even though poor people were not there.

It matters because there is no such thing as impartial advise to governments. The security company's profits are in direct opposition to the interests of its employees. It can get away with paying such wages for the simple reason that high unemployment creates a buyers market for workers: destitute people will accept anything. The fact of different power levels makes nonsense of the free marketeers' slogan that wages are a bargain freely entered into by both sides.

This obvious point is, strangely, often ignored by economic analysts and reporters. Thus our media routinely calls upon economists who work for large business, especially the financial sector, to comment on events and situations in which they have a direct interest. As though the manager of the Springboks were asked to comment impartially on the conditions in which a match should be played in which his team was involved.

Who gets what for doing what is the core of economics.  Economics is essentially about the outcome of differential power. It is about the strength that different interests in an economy can exert. A Forum representing business is perfectly legitimate, as are the interests it represents. But it is not impartial in advising governments how they should create policy.

For example, the WEF concluded, as reported in the media, that aid had little or no role to play in the elimination of poverty.  What should take its place is more investment by the large sources of capital. Countries seeking to end poverty should create easy and profitable conditions for business. Well they would say that, wouldn’t they?  (As Mandy Rice-Jones famously said when an adulterous lover denied his involvement with her)  

Their position sounds fine, although it is hardly new. It is based on a number of falsehoods.  The first is that easier conditions for business – less regulation, more profit, flexible labour conditions – diminish poverty. They do not; they systematically expand the amount and proportion of wealth at the top.

That business advice has been applied worldwide for three decades, during which inequality has expanded relentlessly, profits have soared, and poverty has widened and deepened. Destitute people apart, more people who used to earn well have now become working poor, earning less than they need for basics; more have resorted to the informal economy including crime; educational and health standards have fallen worldwide; and the rich have expanded their wealth exponentially.
China and
India are quoted as exceptions – as the 'Asian Tigers' were before they crashed – but although they have more employment they also have more destitute people.

The reason is simple, and goes back to relative power. If you apply this prescription to all countries, you play them off against each other, obliging them to give you (business) larger and larger slices of the cake. And if you give business profits larger slices, you reduce the slices for everyone else. It seems amazing that we still believe this prescription.

The second is that only private business can address unemployment. Again that prescription is contradicted by both theory and evidence on the ground. Business stays in business only while it makes profits; that means reducing labour in favour of capital. Worldwide, business's success has been in proportion to its use of technology. The fact is that only governments can seriously address unemployment.

Try to imagine the effect of the following. After the business news in the media – giving details of the share prices and profits of listed companies, and leaving an impression of rising prosperity – an equal time were given to statistics about poor people: how many without work and/or without income, the wages paid to casual labourers, numbers of people living on the streets and children going to school without eating, the average temperature in shacks, the population that day of street children, the length of queues and extent of crowding in public services, including hospitals and clinics, buses and trains, prisons and offices of social workers, how many people has their services cut off; and how many died that day from what causes and in what conditions.

Would such a daily dose of detail change our attitude to the poverty we all know is around us? Would we insist that the WEF be balanced by an equally well financed and publicized shindig in which government took the advise of poor people and those who represent them?  Poor people are now so numerous that their only hope of equalizing their power as employees is through force or if government comes down on their side. Instead, business gets a much bigger hearing from government than people offering pro-poor prescriptions.

What’s happening brother?

June 14, 2006

What's going on?

Mercy, Mercy me…I bought Marvin Gaye's CD yesterday.

OK Computer. Tell me…

June 13, 2006

why is Radiohead considered to be one of the greatest rock bands of recent times?

Are they in any way like REM, who evolved from hit singles like 'Losing My Religion' and 'Stand' to album-wide excellence in 'Automatic for the People'?