Monday, July 30, 2012

Olympic Games to be drastically scaled down

Dear Olympic Organisers,
         We can’t go on like this. This year’s London Summer games could be the last in its present form.
          They are costing far, far, far too much to stage.
The entire1948 event in London cost 750 000 pounds (these primitive American computers have no pound signs because they seem to think the mighty $ is all that counts) where as this 2012’s opening ceremony alone hit the 27-million pound mark.
Is that Mitt Romney calling?
          During this period the number of nations competing has grown from 38 to 204. Where they’ve all come from goodness only knows.

         I’m sure the 2012 organisers made some of them up just to impress us. Where the devil are Vamiatu, Kyrgzstan and Voetsaki Island?

          And they’re all getting poorer, even the rich ones like the USA. The problem is there are just too many people in this world now and most of them are poverty stricken.
If there was a breeding Olympics man would win every time.
          The way things are going there won’t be a country rich enough to host the games and there are less and less countries that can afford to send a team of any consequence anyway.
Is this the Brits' only Gold?
          In spite of the burgeoning costs all we hear about is how we must add more and more sports. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson wanted to have the Wall Game at this year’s London games. It’s a crazy combination of soccer and rugby played against a curved wall at his old school, Eton.
         He might have been joking but that’s the way the Olympics have been going.
Logically, to be fair, we should add every other sport in the world.
If you have tennis, why not golf? And as soccer is in, rugby should also be there and what about Aussie rules footie. Then there’s tiddlywinks, pole dancing, chess, running with the bulls, and numerous other games that few of us have ever heard of.
          As sailing is there then you should allow speed boats and jetskis. Fishing, possibly the most popular sport in the world, should also be on the Olympic list.
A medal for Donald Trump Jr perhaps
Then there’s hunting of little birds to elephants. The Yanks regard shooting anything that moves as a sport, so I’m surprised this hasn’t been included already.
And as we are in London now the Queen should be potting grouse. The games will have to be extended beyond the Glorious Twelfth (of August) because that's when the slaughter season opens.   
         You can go on for ever with this kind or argument for expanding an event that is already far too bloated to last.
          To cut the games to a manageable size here are my suggestions.
All team sports should go including relays on the track and in the pool. Only individuals should be allowed to compete by themselves, not in boats, kyaks or on bikes or by using any other means of transport.
          Soccer has its own World Cup so what’s the point in repeating this at the Olympics. Tennis should also be left out because there are tournaments for this almost every week all over the world and it becomes tedious having the same billionaire champions vying for an Olympic medal.
What medal did he win Old Bean?
Judo and wrestling must go because they are so boring only the relatives of the competitors have any interest in watching an octopus of arms and legs wriggling about on the floor for ages in compromising positions. The rules too are so obscure the average person hasn’t a clue as to what’s going on.
          Fencing is too fast to be worth keeping with its blades flashing so quickly that even the judges have to resort to a video replay to establish who stabbed who.
          Dressage and cross country events should be in the zoo Olympics. The horses are the stars not the riders. I could also get moving on the back of a cheetah.
          The games should concentrate on ATHLETICS. That’s what it really should be about. Alright you can throw in swimming; boxing as a man’s sport without the protective head gear and namby pamby rules; gymnastics; weight lifting and perhaps archery and shooting.
          Be brave. Reform the Olympics drastically before it’s too late.
          That way you will be able to have ones that countries can stage without the fear of going bankrupt, or having white elephant memorials to this meeting of nations that so often turns sour for the hosts, immediately after the closing ceremony.
The Queen agrees with me obviously
          Don’t come back to me later and say I didn’t warn you.
          Yours bravely,
          Jon, whose only sign of Olympic potential was running rings round the masters of his Eton-like, posh school in Cape Town.

P.S. I bet you can't guess which of the nations I made up.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Literacy not required but Government to get 5% more

Dear South African Voters,
        Where in the world can you get a part-time job next to the beach that pays nearly R30 000 a month or R350 000 a year for only 20 hours work a week?
         Now they are expected to get a 5% increase.  
          Where can you get such a plumb job without being able to read or write?         
          In South Africa where else? And in picturesque Cape Town what’s more.
          Would you lend your car to somebody without a driving licence? Well that’s exactly what you voters are doing to our country. No wonder it’s in the ditch more often than not and the stage is fast approaching when there won’t be enough money to haul it out even for its scrap value.
          Sadly these words are wasted on a lot of you.
        Sadder still this is the deplorable standard we set for those who govern us.
          No wonder the African National Congress Government is not bothered about the edikasion sistam being in shimbles because with these kind of salaries who worries about schooling.
          We are a third, going on a fourth or fifth-world country with a population of 50-million.
          There are 400 members of Parliament. MPs get R800 000 a year while President Jacob Zuma and his bloated Cabinet get double that or more while at least a third of the adult population have no salary at all. Zuma’s standard of education is a State secret and who knows how many MPs would get a job anywhere else.
           Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the Mother of the nation proves the point. Flights to the moon occur more often than her appearances in the House.
          India, which has a population of more than a billion with around 200-million people in the A Income Group, has just over 800 MPs. Most of our A Income Group earners are in Government somewhere filling their boots.
          As the local government elections are coming up in South Africa it’s appropriate to talk about Councils. Take Cape Town, the only City controlled by the Democratic Alliance, as an example.
          It has 210 of these overpaid Councillors – more than half the number of the MPs who run the entire country - getting those salaries I mentioned to begin with. And the population is a mere 3-million.
          Tammy Petersen’s story in the Peoples Post opened my eyes to the way the spending splurge doesn’t end with ordinary Councillors. There’s the Mayor on over a million a year; his deputy taking home R789 355 and Mayoral Committee members and  sub-council chairmen each being paid R741 143. And there are 33 of these jackpot winners.
          And even some of these high rollers who are full-time employees can get permission to supplement their pittance by taking another job. That tells you just how diligently you have to work in a bureaucracy.
          A similar scenario is repeated at councils that are there to be plundered up and down the country. ANC supporters are fighting each other to be nominated for one of these, money for jam jobs where nobody has to account for anything.
           The country's Auditor-General's report for 2010/2011 gave a clean audit to a mere 13 of the 283 councils.. That's how bad it has got.
           It’s as though there’s been a gold strike and everybody is rushing to stake their claim. You don’t have to be educated to do that either.
        Literacy is a touchy subject. No wonder because all of our rulers should be deeply ashamed of the present situation.
          When I asked Alderman Dirk Smit (Salary R789 355) Cape Town’s Speaker (he’s there, I think, to make sure everybody behaves themselves) if you had to be able to read and write to be a Councillor his first response was "See Constitution." I asked his PA: "Surely the Speaker can give me the answer off the cuff." He came back through her saying it’s not a "Yes"or "No" answer.
          This was followed by a letter in which he referred to Section 158 and 47 of the country's Constitution to be read with Section 21 of the Local Government Structures Act no 117 of 1998 which sets out the qualifications required to be a Councillor.
          "You will note," he went on,"that there are no restrictions or prohibitions relating to literacy for Councillors and the legislation referred to is silent on this matter."         
          That’s the longest "No" I’ve ever heard. Heaven help us if every Councillor answers a simple question in this long winded fashion. Is that why they get paid such huge salaries?                             
          Not surprisingly the money’s running out. The Times reported that 20 ANC run municipalities have gone bankrupt; 30 ratepayer groups have refused to pay something like R10-million in rates and taxes because their basic services are collapsing.
       Realistically all that South Africa needs is a Parliament of 50 and Cape Town and all the other cities should have no more than 30 Councillors with the smaller places having proportionally less.
          Whatever party our rulers belong to you won’t hear even a whisper among any of them suggesting that we have far more MPs and Councillors than we can afford at prices that are ludicrous.
          WAKE UP! Can’t you see your taxpayer’s money is going down the drain faster than the sewage at a lot of municipalities? And the stink can be smelt internationally.
          Tearfully yours,
          Jon, Member of the Packing for Perth Party.
Note: This was first posted  on 31/5/2011 but I have updated it slightly as the 5% salary increase has been proposed.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sunday Times' phoney morality

Dear Joe Latakgomo Ombudsman for the Sunday Times and The Times,
          This must be unique. How often does one Ombudsman complain about another one?
          As the Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman I feel I have to congratulate you on the one hand and reprimand you on the other.
          In a spat between Radio 702; Yusuf  Abramjee, head of news at Prime Media the owners of 702; Katy Katopodis the station’s News Editor and The Times and its big sister the Sunday Times you made a ruling for once. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t this the first ruling you have made since you were appointed the Avusa newspaper group’s Ombudsman or Public Editor as they fancifully dubbed you, more than a year ago?
          You took up an entire page of The Times to tell us that in an editorial and a subsequent column in the Sunday Times by Phylicia Oppelt, the editor of The Times, there was no justification for the attacks that had been made on Abramjee, who also happens to be Chairman of the Press Club, Katopodis and John Robbie, one of the station’s presenters.
          They had been accused of behaving unethically in connection with a story about a police unit having been disbanded, although it had had some success in curbing the activities of car hijackers that were masquerading as policemen in the Johannesburg area.
          In giving your decision you said that journalists must always be fair and honest in their reporting and dealings with those with whom they interact. You added that they must rise above their personal perspectives.  
          This prompted me to ask: Have you lived up to these high ideals yourself in dealing with my complaints to you regarding the Sunday Times.
          I’m referring here to Jim Jones, the former Editor of the Johannesburg based Business Day, who as a freelance has been the willow-the-wisp of the business section (Business Times) of the Sunday Times ever since a damning Noseweek article in October 2009.
Now you see his byline now you don’t.
Noseweek's Report
This investigative magazine revealed that he had been fired by Alec Hogg’s Moneyweb and had then written a scathing article in the Business Times for which the paper had to apologise.
At the time Hogg had this to say: The full might of the Sunday Times was brought to bear on our small company with falsehoods published as fact and not so much as a suggestion that we be asked for a response to some outrageous claims.
My initial thought was to ignore the nonsense. Surely people would see through the axe grinding of a former employee who was forced to repay R200 000 that he stole from our company.
At the time of the Noseweek article Jones’ reports were all over the Business Times together with his impressive byline. Then it got smaller and smaller and disappeared for a time only to reappear now and again at bigger and bigger intervals, but still in its hardly noticeable form.
In one of your general columns in the Sunday Times of 1 July this year you told readers that the Media must stick to nothing but the truth and that it derived its moral authority from being trusted.
It was ironic therefore that in the following week’s Business Times the Jim Jones byline should reappear.
And in an email to you I asked: Is this the kind of standard the Avusa Group sets? Can one trust a newspaper that continues to employ someone it knows has a record of this kind, especially in the Business section of a national paper?
You didn’t even have the courtesy to reply to me. Do you only consider complaints when they involve big names and ignore all the others?
So much for that reliance on that moral authority to be trusted that you talked about and being fair and honest with those with whom you interact.
There’s one thing about being a journalist from which there is no escape. You can’t claim you were misquoted if it’s there in print under your name.
So if you are going to continue telling us how the ideal journalist behaves in Heaven the least you can do is practise what you preach.
That’s my ruling.
Yours suspiciously,
Jon, who once thought he was wrong, but he was mistaken.

P.S. As you know the Sunday Times doesn’t easily admit its mistakes as my post noseweek exposes dearjon letter shows. So that’s why people have to rely on an Ombudsman, who should be impartial.

NOTE: Before I posted this I sent it to Joe in the interests
of FAIRNESS so he could make any comments he wished.
I got no reply.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Good Service Gems

Dear Good Service Lovers,
Good service is an increasing rarity in business these days so it’s a pleasure to put the spotlight on some of the good service gems in Cape Town’s Deep South – around Fish Hoek and Simons Town.

The Smile that could Sell Anything
That’s the perfect description for Rene van der Walt, the 36 year old mother of three, who makes her business look as simple as pie. But it’s not all just making dough.
Running a King Pie franchise at the entrance to Pick n Pay in the Longbeach Mall can’t be that easy, especially when you have one year old Steven hanging around your neck a lot of the time.
Rene is always ready to offer a customer the choice of a better deal than the one they have chosen and when it comes to service she sets the bar sky high for her staff of two to emulate.
She and her husband Riaan have another King Pie outlet in Wynberg, which he runs while she looks after the Longbeach one that they have had for six years. Between serving pies the two of then take care of two more boys aged 11 and 9.

Good Deed Man
          In the plumbing world Wally Poole is the good deed man. And although he was tragically struck down with multiple sclerosis three years ago 64 year old Wally has perpetuated his philosophy through his son-in-law Donny Siebritz.
          He and Donny have established a reputable name for a prompt, very reasonably price service that has resulted in them working for the same builders and businesses for more than a decade.
And what must be particularly appealing to the ordinary householder is that they do not charge a call our fee where as most plumbers sting you for R400 or more just to turn up.
A call out fee is daylight robbery, said Wally. I have never charge that even in the middle of the night or at weekends.
I spoke to him when he was lying in bed at his Ocean View home, so it was a pleasant surprise a day or two later when I saw him helping to clear a blocked drain. Even though his disease is incurable he does go out on jobs now and again.
The plumbing world badly needs a lot more Wally Pooles.

Car Repairs with a Difference
Dick Albertson’s car repair business Glenhoek Motors in Fish Eagle Park on the Kommetjie road specializes in helping retired people.
 It’s a two man business; himself and his assistant Rob Sylvester and they will fetch your car from your home, leave one of their cars there and return yours, so you never have to worry about how you are going to get your vehicle to them.
And best of all their service is excellent and unlike some repair shops they don’t rip you off.
Seventy year old Dick has been in the Fish Hoek Valley for 30 years and for the last 16 years he and Rob have been working together.
So they must be doing something right.

Pleasant and Very Helpful

That’s Peter’s Electrical in Irene Way Industrial Park, Sun Valley to a tee. All that needs to be added are that his rates are very affordable.
Sixty five year old Peter Jurd, who was born in Cape Town, runs the business with his 34 year old son Andrew and a staff of six. The workshop is usually full of cars which is a testimony to a well run business.
Peter’s business has moved three times in the 22 years he has been operating in the area, but hopefully after five years in its current location he’s there to stay.

Go to Man
Ex Royal Navy radar engineer Roger James is the man you can get to repair just about anything. Years ago he came from Britain to work for the South African Navy.
Then he took his expertise into the commercial world and in 1991, shortly before our present Black Government came to power the enemy was legalized as he put it. So as his radar knowledge was no longer needed he started working for himself from his home.

Now he does general plumbing, electrical repairs of just about anything in the home, fixes TVs and cars. There are probably a few other things I haven’t mentioned but you’ll have to ask him about those.
Apart from the fact that he does a good job, the most impressive feature of his repair business is he might spring a very pleasant surprise on you. He came to our house once to fix a light and as it only took him about five minutes he walked out hurriedly saying, No charge.
He’s another person who makes those call out fee merchants look sick, sick, sick.

We’ve had lots of compliments about him
That’s what the manager of the Clicks pharmacy, health and beauty store in Longbeach Mall said when I told him what a service gem Wesley Corona was.
Don’t’ take my word for it; experience Wesley’s way of making a mundane job into something special yourself when you are next in Clicks. He’s easily recognizable as the only white teller.
Wesley is a part timer who has been working at Clicks for between four and six days a week for the last nine months. His father sadly passed away and he lives nearby with his mother.
He plays the guitar and is hoping to study music.
But if you asked me Wesley’s forte could be better utilized teaching tellers in all kinds of businesses just how the customer should really be treated. There are far too many of them who are so like robots they do nothing to encourage customers to return to the shop where they work.

Congratulations to you all on setting the kind of standard that should be emulated by everyone in business and Government.
Jon, the Consumer Watchdog, who doesn’t only have a nose for the Bad but who can sniff out the Good just as well, especially if it happens to be a steak and kidney King Pie.
Buy my book 'Where have all the children gone' on  It's a thriller with an underlying live story that defied generations of prejudice.