Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I’m trying to think of a reason for this invention, except as a useful night light during a power cut. Scientists in Taiwan have developed green pigs, glow-in-the-dark green pigs, and they don’t just have green hides, they’re green all the way through to their green piggy nuclei.

They were created by adding the DNA of jellyfish to pig embryos, which were implanted in 8 sows, 4 of which got pregnant resulting in a paltry 3 piglets, (which might indicate what the pigs think of the wisdom of this enterprise). In daylight their skin has a decidedly green tinge, and in the dark under a blue light, they glow “torch-light bright”.

There’s something horribly ghoulish about this whole thing, but it’s all in the name of science, the pigs are transgenic, and what a creepy word that is. Transagenics, the science of transferring genetic matter between species, creating those much needed tortoise-daffodil combinations so crucial to the survival of our planet.

It’s a brilliant idea in theory, because by injecting green pig stem cells into ordinary pigs, they can track the movements of the cells through the host’s body. Why stop there, pink elephants will become a reality and not a hangover apparition. A trip to the game reserve will take on a surreal glow. Think of the combinations that can be achieved by judicious gene mixing, cross a dog with a rose, for example, or create the fastest horse in the world with a pinch of cheetah tissue, it all sounds like a B-movie in the making.

This sort of trans species manipulation has been done before in the name of art, a glowing rabbit called Alba was created by artist Eduardo Kac who is PhD research fellow at a University in Wales (where else?). He developed the project to “combine biotechnology, private family life and the social domain of public opinion into a single furry symbol.” The whole thing ended in tears when his collaborators refused to hand over the bunny, and he’s now working on a transgenic dog that at least has the useful function of lighting up the front stoep.

They’re working on other, even more useful applications for this glow in the dark technology, consumer products that we, the average punter, won’t be able to resist: hair mousse, cake frosting, beer and champagne.

Think of the implications - No officer I haven’t been drinking, that’s hair mousse down the front of my shirt.

Monday, January 30, 2006


It has come to our attention that in places called Italy and England, domestic pets are possessed of rights, the five freedoms laid down by the Animal Welfare Bill, reinforced by the Pet Police who are empowered to sting offending owners with a hefty fine. In light of this, we your resident cats hereby demand certain changes in the provision of food and entertainment in our current situation, and we’ve made a list.

First off you’re required to provide an “appropriate” diet, and we think chicken and tuna are far more appropriate to our needs and tastes than those dry science pebbles, which are OK if all you want to eat day in and day out is that muesli stuff you choke down every morning. From henceforth it is an offence to make the aforementioned food items for yourself without giving us any.

We’ve got no complaints about the living arrangements, although we’d like it if you allowed us unlimited scratching on the new couch before you reach for the water pistol. It has the ideal texture for stripping those pesky nails and it’s the right colour to conceal blobs of hairball puke.

You are now required to provide “mental stimulation” so that we don’t become bored and frustrated, and we’re not talking catnip-filled mice, and feathers on a stick (although we do like the catnip), we’ll be needing several hours of string chasing, fishing-rod flinging and lightweight ball retrieval to stimulate our “catching behaviour”. Or you could leave the window open during the day when you’re at the office, and we’ll work on our catching skills in our own way.

The new law makes it compulsory to provide companionship or solitude depending on the situation, and we’re pleased to inform you that cats are solitary animals so there is no reason whatsoever for you to acquire a dog. If you did feel compelled to get a dog, it would need to be kept on a leash and introduced to us carefully and you will have to provide a hidey hole for us in case of rowdy children, and for that we’ve decided on the bed with the electric blanket.

You are also compelled to monitor us for abnormal behaviour (difficult to tell) and we’re sure we’ll quickly show signs of abnormal behaviour if a dog is introduced, so we must stress once again that no canine creatures be introduced into our living situation. Ever.

With the aforementioned in mind, don’t make any plans for this evening. We’re expecting a chicken fillet dinner followed by a saucer of cream. You will then need to chase us up and down the stairs at least seventeen times before our massages, after which you will fluff out our pillows and if you persist in sleeping in our bed, try not to snore.

And for God’s sake, clean out the litterbox, the smell can strip paint off the wall.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Tuesday, January 24, 2006


I’m starting to look askance at some of the rocks in my garden, they look real enough, but since the revelation that British James Bond types had a transmitter hidden in a fake rock on a Moscow street, one can never really be sure.

That tree, sure the leaves are green and it purpled up during jacaranda season like a real tree, could it possibly harbour a tiny camera monitoring my every twitch and flicker? Hmm, never could trust that clump of bamboo.

I wonder at their choice of a rock, because what would really blend into a bustling cityscape is big brown rock that appears out of nowhere and sits there for no good reason. It doesn’t say where the rock was placed and how they found out it was made of less than rocklike materials. Needless to say, a full enquiry will be held, and the whole affair will provide endless hours of fun for satirists all over the world.

Come to think of it, that wheelie bin looks a bit dodgy.

Monday, January 23, 2006


If you were particularly grumpy today, if you were feeling disgruntled, despondent, depressed, down in the mouth or in the dumps. If today was the day you were finally going to blow your brains out, relax, it’s not you, it’s the 23rd of January, a day which has been scientifically proven to be the gloomiest most morbid and horrible day of the year.

Here’s the formula devised by Cliff Arnall from Cardiff University : [W+(D-d)xTQ M x NA]. The variables are:

W = weather
D = Debt
d = monthly salary
T = time since Christmas
Q = time since failure to quit bad habit
M = motivational level
NA = the need to take action

“The happy, giddy influence of the holidays fades with no immediate celebrations to anticipate. Meanwhile, those New Year's self-bettering resolutions such as losing weight or saving money often fail about 21 days later”.

All is not lost, in a few hours, the worst will be over, and if you succeeded in refraining from slitting even one wrist, you’ll be fine. If you’re looking for a new job, May 18 is the best day on which to make your move, and watch out for June 23, which absolutely has got to be the most fantastic day of the year, based “how much time we spend outdoors, social interaction, warm weather, vacations and pleasant-memory association”.

We might need to tweak this a little for South Africa, I’m suggesting a few variables like these:

t = time since last burglary, mugging, etc.
P = petrol price, car repayment, etc.
SAB = price of alcohol, cigarettes, mind-altering substances, etc.
j = interval before Christmas presents are repossessed

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Monday, January 09, 2006


Because there really aren’t enough words in the world, here’s a new one, recently voted Word of the Year by the people who decide there things, truthiness which means stating concepts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than the facts, a fuzzy, nebulous sort of truthfulness. Podcast is the most useful and the most Creative terms are “whale tail”, the appearance of the thong above the waistband and “muffin top”, the bulge of flesh hanging over the top of low rider pants”, both fairly squicky (unappealing).

Interesting how new words become part of the lexicon. This year has been particularly fruitful in terms of words for things that never used to exist. Here’s a brilliant idea for the nicotine bereft, the butt bus, a bus parked near a pub or restaurant that is used as the establishment's smoking section. Then there’s acoustic snooping, stealing data by decoding the sounds of keyboard strokes, jumping the couch, thanks to Tom Cruise and splog, a cross between a blog and spam, pupperware, dog accessories and toys sold at in-home parties, and zooing, to stare or ogle in a fixed way. Ever been accused of drailing? Sending an embarrassing e-mail message while drunk., don’t lie, we’ve all done it, and it tends to end us as a fiascal, between a fiasco and a hassle.

In the office, you might encounter nut-hugging, the highest glorified behaviour associated with ass-kissing, and if that doesn’t work, you could consider a nupgrade, to upgrade one’s life via nuptials or even become an angst entrepreneur, the weasels who profit from scaring the bejesus out of the rest of us on a more or less continuous basis.

If you live in Joburg, you might have come across a Garage Mahal, a large ostentatious house, which exists solely to house a couple of 4x4’s and a Porsche.

Some words and terms have become so obnoxious they are henceforth banished for all eternity, and looky there our favourite word for schoolkids, “learners”. That word is now banished, can’t say it anymore, ag shame, the SABC will have to think of something else.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


It’s that time of year when the lists of Best and Worst come out. I'm more interested in the dreadful stuff, the cringe-worthy moments of deluded movie stars, the horrible songs endlessly repeated on the radio, the putrid movies that not only made it through the production process, but got foisted on the long-suffering viewing public.

Here are this year’s misguided moments in music and the most annoying pop songs of 2005.

Those wacky celebrities! Vote for the most toe-curling celebrity gaffe or scoff at their taste. Gwen Gill's SA worst and the winner is .... Amor's Jerry Springer style.

Style had something to say about Madonna’s disco reincarnation, ew are we really going to wear Farrah Fawcett hair another time around?

Everyone’s got an opinion on the Worst movies, here’s Dark Horizons, The Bombs Tomatometer List, The Stinkers and Ruthless Reviews Worst of 2005.

Although words are cheap, they hang around for an awful long time, here’s some of 2005’s memorable quotes.

Books, cars, gadgets and so you know what not to buy next year, here’s the Worst Christmas Gifts of 2005.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

It's Mardi Gras season

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Madonna looks in the wrong place


It’s incredibly reassuring to know that all over the world, scientists are grappling with the pressing issues of our times, peace, famine, disease and how fabric types can affect the perception of bottom size. Yes folks, female volunteers will try on hundreds of types of clothing and have their bums photographed in a study by Dr Lisa Macintyre of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. They will then look at the photographs and answer the age old question “Does my bum look big in this?”

It’s all in the interests of finding out which fabrics and patterns are most flattering to the posterior because “enhancing body perception can improve confidence and self-esteem”.

It’s not going to help, everyone knows that drawstring waists, bum pockets and checks make your bum look huge, but spend five minutes on the beach and you’ll see that nobody pays attention to any of that. Despite their better judgement, people still wear track suit pants, stiff fabrics and those lycra tights you can see the cellulite right through. Levi’s are now putting lycra in their jeans, is nothing sacred. All you have is the illusion that the wobbly bits are being pulled in, whereas they are merely being outlined.

Everyone knows these things, but still they do it and why, because we all think we’re much more fucking special than we really are. According to this study on Self-Assessment (PDF) Blissfully Incompetent, by Wendy Williams of Cornell University, we all think we’re fabulous whereas most of us are barely average. Apparently we’re wildly off base when it comes to judging our skill, knowledge, expertise, talent, personality and moral character and this has serious consequences for the millions of decisions we make every day. We’re over optimistic about our health, reckless with our physical safety and over-confident about our hotness factor, to whit Internet dating sites where nobody will ever claim to be less than “above average” in attractiveness. The world is “rife with people whose flawed self-assessments create a burden shouldered by everyone except, seemingly, themselves”.

In other words, self-esteem in a pair of pants is not the answer, we’re so blinded by our own magnificence, we just don’t notice that those pink stripes make our bum look HUGE.

I really love the way the new year flushes out people who are willing to lay their heads on the block and make predictions about the future. According to this, Camilla is the new It-Girl, oh yes, Camilla Parker-Bowles, the big boned galumphing aristocrat with really bad posture, the surrogate tampon who took on a beautiful princess and snatched away a jug-eared simpleton. Seems this is what we all aspire to now, according to Marian Salzman of J Walter Thompson we all want to be a woman who has no achievements to her credit but a little light charity work and her ability to ensnare a prominent man.

On the other hand, as a woman of a certain age, I’m thrilled to bits that the people who decide these things have determined the wrinklie is IN. “Young women are so over,” says Salzman, opening up a lucrative market niche, older people with presumably fat checkbooks, falling in love, getting married and desperately needing all the products that go with it, since Camilla and Charles have de-stigmatised love over the age of 50. Even now, Nokia is working on cellphones for the older generation that do nothing but “make calls and if you’re feeling very adventurous, texting.” I am so glad about that, far too many buttons on the dang thing. According to the oracles, “affluent women in their forties and fifties are returning to the way they ate as children”. Hmm, jelly and fish fingers are so not in my freezer.

Other predictions include a new medievalism (and you only have to drive around Sandhurst to see that palisade fencing has become our national tree) and apparently growing our own food will become the “big aspiration thing”. I’m not sure how you grow cannelloni, but I think Woolies does it better, ditto for the prediction that we are going to find a new respect for our livers with “alcohol-free entertaining” (in which universe).

I’m all for the “new-connoisseurship”, a “sipping and savouring”, but I don’t even know what a chastity ring is and I don’t like the sound of “new Puritanism” or anything about “buttoned-up sexual restraint”, which jars oddly with Camilla’s new found sexiness about which Salzman says “she has an earthy, restrained sexiness that makes her bizarrely desirable.”

Oh and we’re going to start loving our neighbours, yeah right, good fences and all.

Here’s a bit of good news for the new year, South African executives are remarkably easy going about sex in the office. According to a survey by Finweek on sexual behaviour among South African executives, 27% believe that sex in the office has a positive effect on productivity, so go ahead, don’t hold back, bonk the sales manager in the file room, it’s not going to harm your career, uh, as long as you start when you’re young and cute.

There’s lots in this report that’s interesting, surprising and just plain hilarious and it might go some way to explaining why your boss is always in a foul mood. Turns out that success at work has a negligible effect on whether you are likely to have more sex at home, about equivalent to using recreational drugs. Although your boss might be sanguine about sex in the office, turns out if he’s over 50, well he’s not getting very much of it.

And why? Surprisingly enough, most of the respondents considered themselves unsexy, despite their high status and relative wealth, more than two thirds did not think they were appealing to the opposite sex. Most regarded themselves as conservative/traditional, yet more than half were bored and keen to up the excitement factor in their sex lives.

They’re not doing it, so what are they doing? They’re thinking about it a lot. Oh yes, and single executives think about sex more often that those married and over 50, although their level of sexual activity was a paltry once every few months!

Where are they doing it? Female executives seem to have a penchant for hotels, but most male executives have it at home, or in cars, parks, beaches and clubs, and if the lift at the office is taking a long time to reach you, you’ll know why.

While 90% of the subjects have been to a strip club and 9% to a swingers club, only 10% would admit to paying for sex and when it comes to sex toys, only 8% of the men confessed to using them whereas 17% of the women owned up to Rapid Rabbit under the pillow.

The Internet is a particularly popular hunting ground amongst executives who claim to be conservative, 90% have indulged in chat room sessions or intimate e-mails while less than 10% of the total sample have had any kind of virtual sex.

When it comes to what they find attractive, no surprises here, it’s looks for men, and attitude and intelligence for women. Money scores remarkably low, but interestingly enough, of those that are turned on by money, 33% think about sex all the time.

How’s this, 9% of men admit to sleeping their way up the career ladder, while only 4% of women did so. One thing they all agreed on was that sex in the office disrupts the power relations, upends the pecking order and for this reason perhaps, only 16% of the respondents admitted to having indulged in sex in the office, although 30% of them said they would grab the chance given the opportunity. What’s more of those who indulged, the majority said they didn’t regret it at all.

Almost all agreed that the line between sexual harassment and flirting lay at the point of physical contact or where the word “no” was heard.

So there you have it, so much for the new Puritanism, office sex is alive and well, so if you’ve a hankering for the blonde in accounts or that cute guy in IT, go ahead, knock yourself out, just be careful not to scuff the leather finish on the boardroom table.