Showing posts from February, 2005


Have you ever noticed how in Africa the Kenyans have all the plum jobs, particularly in marketing? Ugandan opinion columnist Charles Onyango-Obbo has: Yet, I discovered, rather unhappily, that this increased level of contact has at the same time raised old prejudices from the dead. Ugandans sometimes bristle at the fact that all the plum jobs (particularly in marketing) at the major regional and international companies in Kampala have been taken by Kenyans - the feeling is stronger in Dar es Salaam. Kenyans and Tanzanians tend to think that Ugandans are a people who are unable to consistently manage their affairs without degenerating into violent madness. Perhaps the only thing that's enduring about the country is the beauty of its women, I have been told. The Tanzanians? They are laidback at best, and at worst lazy - corrupted by the cradle-to-grave ways of the socialism of Nyerere's days. And Ugandans and Tanzanians will tell you that Kenyans are boorish, greedy, arrogant an

Departure: Parking garage

I plan on covering the Michael Jackson trial ‘in depth’ as the journalistas like to say. Of course I won’t be going to Los Angeles (after my recent experiences in Lome I’m trying to avoid third world cities for awhile), instead I’m going to watch the entire hideous spectacle on TV. I have even gone so far as to have my ride pimped by installing a television set in the steering wheel, to ensure I won’t miss a minute of the trial in the event I have to drive somewhere in the next six months. Jackson is clearly innocent. Really, he is. Examine the past actions of his accuser’s family . And examine the testimony of Corey Feldman , who assures us Jackson never fondled him. Think about it for a moment – would someone who takes advantage of boys pass on a young Corey Feldman given the chance? It makes no sense. While it may be because of his wealth and fame, I suspect the poor creature’s being persecuted in part because he’s the best dancer in the world. Envy is an ugly thing. I also think

The Hinterlands of the Unspoken

"I write to create a being of beautiful energy. So, I admit, did Edgar Allan Poe. For this creating to take place (as it does from time to time) words have to be accepted as heirs of their forebears, as we are of ours. And in each case, what exists is often only a bankrupt inheritance; or the hinterlands of the unspoken." - Geoffrey Hill

Reference to selfish excess and excessive self reference

While I have a propensity to mock scientists (such as the ridiculous professor Lloyd Peck ), I must admit there are certain men of science diligently applying all their intelligence in order to make the world a better place (unlike some who are merely pests ). Take these scientists who: have developed a product that can keep a person drunk…The tablet called RU-21 Red was developed in Spirit Sciences, a laboratory based in California but with research facilities in Russia. The same scientists had earlier worked on secret programs for the Kremlin and had made the famous RU-21 product that cures hangovers. If you take a tablet you need less alcohol to stay drunk, the scientists were quoted by the paper as saying. “RU-21 Red prolongs drunkenness and enhances intoxication,” the company co-founder, Emil Chiabery, born in the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia said. In my younger days, I would often find myself arriving at work in the morning still drunk from the prior night out. Unfortunately


"...You tell me Kuchak's bedbugs degrade her in your eyes; for me they were the most enchanting touch of all. Their nauseating odor mingled with the scent of her skin, which was dripping with sandalwood oil. I want a touch of bitterness in everything - always a jeer in the midst of our triumphs, desolation even in the midst of enthusiasm." Gustave Flaubert, Flaubert in Egypt .

Departure: Togo

I’m leaving Togo, despite unfinished business (I was never able to meet Faure Gnassingbe), as a drunken excursion into the Togolese bush has left me with a mysterious rash that Lome’s finest witch doctors seem unable to cure. Gnassy the younger’s government has shut down a number of the Togo’s television and radio stations . This is (predictably) being condemned by outsiders. Of course none of these outsiders have ever actually watched Togolese television. I have, the shows are almost as bad as the ones on UPN. So it's hard to get excited about seeing the stations shut down, and those complaining about the local talk radio being suppressed have short memories . In related news, Nigeria is now threatening to invade Togo in order to restore democracy: Femi Fani-Kayode, spokesman of Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo, today was asked whether his country was considering using military force in Togo. "Whatever it takes to ... ensure there is peace, democracy and stability i

My favorite Ugandan

My new favorite opinion columnist is the Ugandan commentator Charles Onyango-Obbo (who I have cited previously - see ' Togo situation so-so ' below). His recent work can be found here , see also this archive of his articles written between 1995-2002. It's full of gems. Some highlights: Why is the use of bikes widespread in poor Asian countries, but not in Africa? Onyango-Obbo explains : The scooter and small bike is ubiquitous in Bali as in most of Asia…Beautiful girls ride their own scooters, and are also carried by their boyfriends on their tiny bikes. Apart from demographic and social realities, no doubt the petite hips of the Asian women and men make scooter travel possible. The belly of the Ugandan male and elephantine hips (much loved no doubt) of some of our women make this form of transportation impractical for many. Honestly, has Thomas Friedman (who some absurdly call the American Charles Onyango-Obbo) even once said anything as insightful or entertaining? You r

To be fair to Togo

Since I have mocked the Togolese taste for voodoo, witch doctors, and magic charms made from animal skulls and human hunchback humps, it seems only fair to acknowledge the existence in the West of people who believe: There is an extraordinary natural healing substance, produced by our own bodies, that modern medical science has proven to be one of the most powerful natural medicines known to man. Unlike many other natural medical therapies, this method requires no monetary investment or doctor's intervention and can be easily accessed and used at any time. The extensive medical research findings on this natural medicine have never been compiled and released to the general public before now, but those who have been fortunate enough to hear about this medicine and use it have found that it can produce often astounding healing even when all other therapies have failed. And this substance is? This extraordinary miracle medicine that numerous doctors, researchers and hundreds of pe

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Lincoln Log

How will you be celebrating Abraham Lincoln’s birthday? I'll be at the bar wearing a top hat and a beard with no moustache. Start your own festivities by reading this fascinating examination of whether or not the gangly emancipator was a homosexualist . Also see these new findings on the origins of the ' Mysterious Melungeons ': Melungeons most likely descend from 16th century settlers, Portuguese and Spanish, who were abandoned or cutoff when the English overran the Santa Elena Colony, presently known as Beaufort, S.C., in 1587. The MRC believes these settlers came to the coast of South Carolina in 1567 under the leadership of a Spanish captain, Juan Pardo. The settlers consisted of approximately 250 soldiers, their wives and children. "Several forts were built around the borders of South Carolina and Georgia, and one near Chattanooga," Collins' information states. The settlers lived in and around these forts 20 years, "until the English arrived

And mine as well

From an Enlightenment or Positivist point of view, which is Hume's point of view, and mine, there is simply no avoiding the conclusion that the human race is mad. There are scarcely any human beings who do not have some lunatic beliefs or other to which they attach great importance. People are mostly sane enough, of course, in the affairs of common life: the getting of food, shelter, and so on. But the moment they attempt any depth or generality of thought, they go mad almost infallibly. The vast majority adopt the local religious madness, as naturally as they adopt the local dress. But the more powerful minds will, equally infallibly, fall into the worship of some intelligent and dangerous lunatic, such as Plato, or Augustine, or Comte, or Hegel, or Marx.  - David Stove, The Plato Cult .

Togo situation so-so

The situation in Togo is little changed, but it seems that as a result of outside pressure from the usual bores Togo is inching toward democracy. Which is a shame, and is a sign of how out of control the whole democracy fad has become. Everyone knows Faure Gnassingbe, as son of a president and possessor of an MBA (I call him the African Bush) is the best possible president for Togo, and what everyone is failing to acknowledge is given the chance to vote, the Togolese will elect the scariest witch doctor they can find instead. Fascinating Togo fact: In 1963 Togo was ruled by a man named Nicolas Grunitzky, who was half Polish and half Moba . (How can you tell that the kid who stole your bike is half black and half Polish? He's running down the street with the bike under his arm.) I still have not been able to get past the palace security to meet with Gnassy jr. While waiting I’ve stumbled across the writings of Charles Onyango Obbo . I would describe him as a Ugandan Thomas

Togo a-Go-Go

I haven’t been able to meet Faure Gnassingbe yet, as the President’s palace is (sensibly) surrounded by armed guards to prevent ‘protestors’ from causing trouble. Some are complaining that Faure taking over is ‘dynastic’. When did ‘dynastic’ become a slur? Besides being the son of a president (the most popular president in Togo's history), Faure has an MBA from George Washington University. These parallels with America's leader have inspired me to start calling him The Black Bush. Those complaining include Kofi Annan , probably only because he's still angry about the time Gassy mailed him a hunchback’s hump as a practical joke. But it’s a touching story really - out of all of Gassy’s enormous number of children, Faure The Black Bush is the only one to follow him into politics. Those trying to stand in the way of this dream should be ashamed of themselves. Meanwhile I’ve been entertaining myself with the local sights. There’s marvelous shopping here in Lome, as long as

Departure: Lome, Togo

Another week, another tragic death. I leave tomorrow for the 'colorful' African nation of Togo ('colorful' being white-liberal speak for 'voodoo infested') to attend the funeral of President Gnassingbe Eyadema (he was so good at his job the Togolese kept him as President without interuption for the past 38 years). I was introduced to 'Gnassy' by our mutual friend the noted political philosopher Col. M. Gadhafi (Gnassy was a Colonel once too). Gnassy was always playing practical jokes. I still laugh thinking of the time he placed a hunchback’s hump in a box, had it gift wrapped, then mailed it to the pompous Kofi Annan (imagine the look on Kofi’s face upon opening it). It turns out this joke is a Togolese classic , though why Togo, an otherwise poor country, has such a surplus of hunchy humps is beyond me. Gnassy was also quite the ladies man, he had three wives and perhaps as many as 100 delightful children (give or take a few dozen), one of whom,

For reality in children's public television

By now you have probably heard about the controversy involving the PBS children’s program Buster . For those that have not, Buster is a cartoon rabbit who hops about visiting live people. In an upcoming episode Buster visits a pair of female homosexualists. (The name of the episode is ‘Sugartime’, I think ‘Tunatime’ would have been more accurate.) I am not upset with a television show portraying homosexualists, but it would be nice if just once the full variety of homosexualists was depicted as one encounters theam as they appear in their natural habitats. So instead of meeting a pair of homely lesbians (whom the media prefers to show unless going for laughs) they could show Buster innocently hippy-hopping through a public park when he stumbles upon a group of thin, well groomed men with fake tans and no pants sodomizing each other in behind some bushes. Or Buster could naively attempt to use a men’s restroom at his city’s downtown public library. There via a hole conveniently pre-

Wrinkled Desire

An horrific story in the news today: " Medicare to cover Viagra ". As if the oldies rubbing their shriveled bacons together in defiance of nature, morals, and good taste weren't bad enough, now my tax dollars have to pay for the chemicals necessary to allow the indecency to occur. The only positive is that the promise of romance can be used to help lure the geezers onto cruise ships .

The American is you, me and that (again)

"David Gelernter, the scientist and writer, argues that "Americanism" is a fundamentally religious notion shared by an incredibly varied population from every part of the globe and every conceivable background, all of whom feel that they have arrived, as Ronald Reagan put it, at a "shining city upon a hill." - Tom Wolfe Sound familiar ? "America is not only for the whites , but it is for all. Who is the America? The American is you, me and that. When we go to America we will become Americans and there is no a race or nationalism called America and the Americans are those Africans, Indians, Chinese, and Europeans and whoever goes to America will become American...American is for all of us and the whole world had made and created America. All the people all over the world had made America and it shall accordingly be for all of us. I will never feel ashamed when I claim for my right in America and it will not be strange when I raise my voice in America