I signed up for Twitter several months ago and, in trying to ‘get Twitter’, followed a handful of Twitterati such as Robert Scoble, Guy Kawasaki and Dave Winer. Trying to digest the deluge of tweets from this lot really didn’t get me any closer to getting Twitter – I could vaguely see how it might be useful, but I no more wanted to be overwhelmed by tweets than I would want to subscribe to an RSS feed of all of Google.

Imagine my surprise when both Robert Scoble and Guy Kawasaki decided to follow me – and without me having emitted a single tweet. I figured they were just going to try and sell my Twitter ID to some spammer king so I blocked both of them right there and then and, for good measure, I stopped following them too. Anyway, what’s with this numbers game? If there is going to be any value in Twitter for the user, it’s going to be in the quality and not the quantity of the information.

Since I installed TweetDeck a couple of weeks ago Twitter has started to make sense though. Having a number of finely tuned searches running together with a stream of those you follow and the ability to jump into any conversation at any time with minimum effort without being overloaded by detritus has lead me to some amazing and often unexpected links to the rest of the net and to the world at large. Now all I can hope for is that no-one ever finds a way of monetizing Twitter – I’d hate to have to click through an ad every time I follow a link. Ugh!

For me too, Peter Hain was a hero – I well remember how he helped to fan the flames of hope in South Africa in the early seventies while I was being brought up there. He was in a pantheon that included Nelson Mandela, Joe Slovo, and Robert Mugabe whom he bombastically criticises these days! Ironic then that the older, lesser Hain has become cowardly and treacherous while Mugabe has remained a staunch opponent of perfidious Albion!

While I would feel sorry for most politicians who lose their jobs over a party funding incident, Hain is not one of them. His demise simply means, if I ever came across him in a dark alley, I’ll be better equipped to resist the temptation to kick him in the, err, …shins.

A kind of Hello! magazine of African politics? In the latest issue (AC Vol 49 No 1)  its glee at the imagined prospect of Robert Mugabe’s imminent ousting is barely disguised. Its update on Zimbabwe starts with, “Political plotters in Harare and Johannesburg are injecting some excitement into the run-up to this year’s elections in Zimbabwe with talk about a ‘United Front’ against President Mugabe and the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.” (my italics)

At a time when the worst floods for many years are causing havoc in all of Southern Africa, including the deaths of at least two dozen people in Zimbabwe with many homes, villages and crops destroyed, Africa Confidential prefers to see the funny side:

“At least it rained a lot over the New Year holiday, so the currency crisis, which meant a disastrous start to the year, may be followed by a comforting harvest.”

Could their source be the celebrity reporter, John Simpson? Are we to read about “Mugabe’s floods” in the next issue?

Dave Winer is right

1 August, 2006

Israel is wrong” is a very important post and I’m grateful Dave has put it back after what must have been some pretty ferocious flaming. For a non-politician Dave’s analysis is clear and incisive – perhaps because he is not a politician….

Despite its military strength and the help it gets from the world’s only superpower, Israel is going straight down the path of self destruction. Apartheid South Africa, then also a nuclear capable Goliath, was eventually brought to its knees as a result of the military defeat it suffered in 1988 at Cuito Cuanavale in Angola at the hands of the Cubans.

In 2000 Israel was defeated by Hezbullah in the south of Lebanon after it had occupied that terrain for around two decades. What Israel should have realised is that oppressed people will eventually always rise up to overthrow their oppressors because there comes a point when they have nothing worth losing anymore. This time Israel has made sure both the Lebanese and the Palestinians have nothing left to lose and everything to gain in a bloody war. (Bush has done the same to Afghanistan and Iraq and is planning to do the same to Syria and Iran. Poor world!)

I predict that very soon the name Hassan Nasrallah will be revered as much as the name Nelson Mandela is today.

“There are millions of people who are not particularly interested in politics. People who don’t read much other than a daily tabloid. People who have heard over and over again, year in and year out – and in the vilest terms – what a nasty piece of work George Galloway is supposed to be. On the whole these people watch Big Brother – at least the daily digest, often more. No matter how disinterested they might be in politics, no one is ever going to be able to persuade them again that George Galloway is evil. And the next time Galloway makes an “important political speech” it is likely to be listened to with more interest and less cynicism than that of perhaps any other politician. Then Galloway will truly look like the cat that got the cream. Power to the people!”

I participated with these words in the Telegraph’s debate on George Galloway. Neil Williams very kindly commented here and contributed to the debate himself.

A while ago, in response to this post by Kathy Krajco, I left a comment on her blog asking her a few questions because, while she was appealing to the reader’s sense of the blatantly obvious in an attempt to demonise George Galloway, she seemed oblivious to one or two axioms herself. I was also somewhat irritated by her infantile reliance on seeing the world divided between good guys and bad guys.

Unfortunately my comment was deleted within about 24 hours after posting it so I cannot recall my exact wording but what I asked was roughly this.

“Are those who illegally invade another people’s country not terrorists? Are those who defend themselves against the subsequent occupation not the good guys and are the occupiers not the bad guys?”

Ms Krajco’s little attempt at censorship indicates to me that she had difficulty in answering my questions. However I am grateful to her because it was this incident which got me thinking that I should perhaps start blogging beyond issues strictly related to Really Learn Spanish.

“US air marshals yesterday shot and killed a passenger who claimed to be carrying a bomb in a bag, as he run [sic] down a mobile jet bridge from a plane just after it landed at Miami International airport.” My italics.

Rupert Cornwell,
the Independent’s embedded reporter in Washington, happily cites no source for this assertion. It reminds me of when the British police recently shot dead an innocent Brazilian public transport user in London. Then, many of Mr Cornwell’s colleagues uncritically reported that the victim wore a suspiciously bulky jacket and jumped a ticket barrier when confronted by the police.

It was subsequently admitted by the police that he was not wearing a jacket, he jumped no ticket barrier and he was not confronted by police until one of them pumped eight bullets into him while another of his colleagues had him pinned down.

Do these “journalists” have no shame?

PS This post like the one before it originally appeared on my other blog, Really Learn Spanish. I believe the title of this post mirrored that of the article cited above. However the article’s title now reads “Passenger shot dead in airport bomb drama” and the content may also have changed – I don’t know because now one has to pay to read the complete report – not the case when I first came across it.