Cadre Deployment must go

I’m on leave. I don’t usually talk about politics, but since this is my blog, I’ll write what I want to.
We’ve had load shedding. A lovely euphemism that means that power had to be cut to areas in rotation to ensure that the entire grid didn’t go down. What made it even worse is that Tshediso Matona, CEO of Eskom, denied that there was a crisis.
If the emergency generation capacity (diesel generators) was being fully used and power still had to be cut to prevent the grid from going down, then yes, there is most definitely a crisis. Hiding behind semantics won’t change that, and will just annoy everyone.
The courts threw the case against Shrien Dewani out. For the benefit of those who don’t know, in 2010 Shrien Dewani and his wife Anni were honeymooning in South Africa when Anni was murdered in what was thought to be a random criminal act. Then strange facts started to emerge about Shrien, like he was bisexual and hitting up gay dating sites during his honeymoon. When the accused were arrested, they claimed that Shrien had been forced into the marriage, and had asked them to set up a hit and disguise it as a robbery gone wrong. Eventually, after years of wrangling, Dewani was returned to South Africa and put on trial. After the prosecution put forward its case, the defence team applied for a discharge. High Court Judge Jeanette Traverso granted it.
I’m not a lawyer, but as I understand the discharge, after the prosecution put forward its preliminary case and before the defence had a chance to attack it, the judge was asked to assess the case and, if the case at that point was insufficient to secure a conviction, the discharge would be granted and the accused set free.
What is annoying is that for years, the authorities insisted that Shrien did it, and that they would prove it in court. Yet they were so inept at investigating and assembling their case that when the time came for them to present it, they failed utterly. Shrien is back in the UK and it looks like there won’t be a second bite of the cherry.
SARS is in the middle of a huge fight. Two high-ranking officials were suspended and have had their suspensions overturned. There are claims that the reason for the suspensions is that a large amount of excise duty was not paid for the importation of shirts bought by the ANC and branded with that party’s colours.
There is one thing that links the three things above together: political interference. More to the point, the illegal action known as cadre deployment. That’s the policy of making political appointments to non-political positions. The courts have declared it illegal, but our “don’t give a damn” government has persisted with it.
The problems with cadre deployment are obvious. Firstly, because political considerations trump professional ones in filling the role, the deployee is frequently incompetent. We have seen this over and over in state owned enterprises. Secondly, and far more dangerously, political concerns trump professional ones in the actions taken. The result is choices are made to benefit the ANC, not the country as a whole. There have been claims that areas that voted against the ANC experienced service cuts; claims I find plausible.
One of two things needs to happen. Either the ANC needs to accept that cadre deployment must be abandoned; or it must be voted out.

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About my birthday and other thoughts

This is a free-flowing post. Forgive me if it is a little disjointed.
Yesterday I turned 38. Yes, I share a birthday with Winston Churchill and Albert Kesselring, among others. My father has his birthday on December 3, so we had a joint birthday celebration. It was lovely. I received a number of lovely presents, and we had sushi and pâté followed by a braai. Several guests attended, including my sister and her family, an uncle and aunt of mine, and some of my parents’ neighbours.
One historical figure who was believed to be autistic is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I’m not convinced. The evidence I’ve seen supports a diagnosis of Tourette’s Syndrome, not autism. I’m aware the two conditions are often comorbid, but I think it unlikely that Mozart was autistic.
And now onto the big one: Bill Cosby has been accused of sexually assaulting women for years. So far, over 20 women have come forward to accuse the comedian of rape. Cosby’s case has sharp parallels with that of another person.
Jimmy Savile was a celebrity noted for his charity work, especially with vulnerable children. But after he died, a shocking truth emerged.
Behind the carefully cultivated façade, Savile had used his name to gain access to, and sexually exploit, the very children he was supposedly advocating for. On several occasions, people had tried to expose the truth, only for Savile to threaten and intimidate them into silence. Only after his death were people comfortable enough to come forward.
Cosby’s charity work in education is known. He has raised literally millions for universities. When an accuser took her story to The Enquirer, Cosby (it is claimed) used his status to get The Enquirer to drop the story. Years ago, Cosby faced a lawsuit by a woman alleging sexual assault. The case was settled out of court.
Is Cosby a sexual predator who used his name and reputation to shield himself? The evidence is looking very strong. Rape is known to be very underreported and when a rapist’s victim steps forward, it can give his other victims the courage to do the same. It would appear that, yes, for years Cosby preyed on women. The difference between him and Savile is that Savile died before he was exposed. Cosby was exposed while still alive.

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On Court Cases and a successful vaccine programme

This week was a good week.
In 2009, South Africa introduced vaccination against pneumococcal diseases. Here are the money quotes:
“The vaccine has been so successful it has reduced cases of pneumococcal disease in adults who were not immunised, due to the overall reduction of the disease and transmission from children.”
“Cases of disease detected before the vaccine were almost 700 a year in children under the age of two, and after the vaccine down to [fewer than] 74 cases in 2012.”
That’s an almost 90% drop in just 5 years. Once again, a disease rate falls off a cliff after a vaccine is introduced.
In Italy, the geologists convicted of manslaughter for failing to correctly predict an earthquake have had their convictions overturned. I raise this as the Italian Courts have also returned a verdict that the MMR vaccine caused autism, and hopefully that will also be overturned.
Finally, another Court Case, but much closer to home.
A man by the name of George Prokas put up a banner labelling the Cell C cellphone company as the worst service provider in South Africa. Annoyed, Cell C went to court to get an urgent interdict to force Prokas to take down the banner. They lost the case with costs. I’m with Cell C, and unfortunately I can vouch that Cell C needs to jack up their act.

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A bad week for vaccines, a dreadful one for autistics

Last week was bad. The best part of my week was work.
I’m part of a team that’s working on a web-based HR Management system. The go-ahead for the release we tested has been given. Also good, I’ve been mentioned in the project emails as one of the two most productive testers. YEAH!!!
And now for the bad.
Researchers have discovered a strain of polio that has mutated to the point where the vaccine is less effective.
Gigi Jordan has been convicted of manslaughter for killing her autistic son Jude. She faces up to 25 years in prison.
And now the worst: Jillian McCabe threw her autistic son London off a bridge to his death. She has been charged with aggravated murder and manslaughter.
When will the murders stop? When will people realise that a child’s autism is not an excuse, let alone a justification, for murder?

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Autistics Speaking Day: skills every autistic should have

This is my post for Autistics Speaking Day. I realise I’m a bit late, but here goes anyway.
There are things that each of us wishes we knew when we were younger. As an autistic, what did I wish I knew, and what would I tell young autistics today? I came up with a few things, but they all apply to neurotypicals as well. I just think that autistics will benefit disproportionately.

Item 1: get organised.
There were times in my life when I was very well organised. It’s a skill that can be learnt and practised. It’s also a skill that can be weakened through non-practise. Being properly organised helps you get things done, and not get into a flurry when things threaten to overwhelm you, not least because it stops the buildup.

Item 2: be willing to try new things.
There is a saying that regret is worse than failure. This is certainly true. Autistics like routine, but some of the most fun I’ve had was when I was prepared to try something new. And some of my biggest regrets are because I never tried things that I could have when I had a chance.

Item 3: learn Martial Arts.
I learnt goju-ryu style karate for 5 years. I had to stop because the kicking gave me a bone spur on my right knee that’s still there. It’s very disappointing, because I would have continued and would probably still be doing it today.
Martial arts are disproportionately beneficial for autistics, perhaps more so than anything else. They are good for fitness, balance, coordination, self control, and dealing with bullies.

There are other things, but those are my top three things that autistics should do.

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Happy birthday to Dr. Jonas Salk

Google is set as my landing page at work and at home. Today, when I opened it, the Google Doodle showed that Jonas Salk was born 100 years ago today.
Jonas Salk invented the Injectable Polio Vaccine (IPV) that is in use today. It’s safer than Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) but slightly less effective. Typically in a country, OPV is used until the infection rate drops below a certain point, then the injectable vaccine is used until polio is eradicated. As I mentioned before, we were so close.
Many antivaccinationists attack vaccine advocates by accusing them of being in it for the money. In Salk’s case, this is demonstrably false. He never patented his vaccine. Had he done so, he would have earned around $7,000,000,000. No, that’s not a typo. He would have been one of the richest men in history. Instead, he let everyone use it for free.
Happy birthday Dr. Salk.

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Kelli Stapleton sentenced

Kelli Stapleton has been sentenced to 10-22 years for trying to kill her daughter Issy.
Grands Rapids Press via MLive
CBS News
Traverse City Record Eagle

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