Monday 7 December 2015

The ADHD child and the law, in the South African classroom. #ADD #Hyperactivity

Knowledge is a fickle spotlight. It opens the young, eager and ready human mind to the complex world, and enables a person of little sophistication to perform the vast feats of society's wise and ancient giants. By it, much is gained. By a lack of it - in a refined, ready to absorb, usable form - a poverty of potential menaces to escape and wreak terrible havoc upon the futures of those it sadly abandons.

Yet, even as education is the foundation of granite upon which our nation competes, today's education system is hardly a skeleton key. It is not always the foundational upliftment of every mind it so benevolently aims to empower. Due to forces beyond the control of their young, eager minds, many a child is terribly denied the sharp cutting edge of a refined scientific, linguistic and mathematically sound world view. Many children struggle to make sense of sentences and life giving lessons, amidst the echoes and mere wisps of the well meaning words which often occupy a classroom. For some disadvantaged souls, the classical method of education feels like tight restraints, tying them up and holding them back from actual learning. The sounds about them distract and pull attention as though they were the screech of nails upon a chalk board, as noise and light distract with the sort of diverting siren pull which the modern mind might only associate with ancestral figures witnessing the battle cries of mythical, or primeval creatures... the sort of seemingly dangerous distractions which, in ancient times, were thought to be conquered by heros of wit and learning.

Most schools will create ramps for the physically disadvantaged, and account for the diverse cultures and religions their pupils hold dear. Many also heed the government's herald call to adapt to the needs of a variety of different but equally dignified minds.

An education system created so many centuries ago, however, does not - and in fact can not - account for the needs of many a modern child. One such group of exceptions, often left in the shadows as their fellow students' learning styles are quickly accounted for, are children who suffer from the brain difference colloquially referred to as hyperactivity. It is these particular children, and how the law relates to their rights, and their needs, that I have chosen to write about in this instance.


Specifically, I will look into the topic of the rights of ADHD children in the classroom, in more general terms. Specific structures at various schools are likely unique. The legal advice of a well briefed attorney in a specific matter will be of use to a parent in a specific matter. I have provided details on how this may be procured by people of various income levels, which I have spoken of below where I set out the general legal framework. I have also quoted from and referred to parts of Law of South Africa (LAWSA), a legal encyclopaedia published by LexisNexis.

Language Used

While in medical circles, politically correct language, such as referring to children as differently abled, and so forth exists, the rights of children and adults who are differently abled, come from the rights of the disabled, namely the rights to equality and to dignity. A parent of an ADHD child may not view their child as having a disability, and in particular a learning disability, but this is where their rights emerge from.

The Law in general: a balancing of rights, interests, and reasonable measures

It is important to make note of the fact that rights relating to the disabled, often take the form of positive rights rather than the prohibitions of negative rights. When dealing with positive rights, matters become less absolute. Reasonable attempts to accommodate the disabled are required in order that they may not be discriminated against, however there is not an absolute obligation to accommodate all forms of disability all of the time.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), is a medical condition. It tends to relate to a deficit in relation to attention, and can manifest in sometimes disruptive hyperactive behaviour. Due to the nature of the condition, children with ADHD often struggle in an ordinary school environment. There are methods for dealing with the issue, and educational campuses such as that at Wits, do teach educators how to deal with a diverse classroom. While the rights of the child are paramount, reasonability of measures to accommodate ADHD children, and the balancing of their and other students’ and schools’ rights must be entered into when dealing with the needs of an ADHD child.

Public Schools versus Private Schools' obligations

A robust system to deal with children with disabilities exists in government public education, and in the special schools’ system run by the state. More general legislation dealing with discrimination applies to private schools, which can be attended at a parent or guardian’s own cost, and should have comparable or better education standards than public schools, but which are less affected by legislative cover which places a higher burden on public schools to deal with children with disabilities.

The Constitution and the United Nations

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, in the equality clause of the bill of rights, forbids unjust discrimination against people with disability. Discrimination, directly or indirectly by the state or any person against the disabled is automatically presumed to be unfair. It is thus up to the perpetrator of such discrimination to prove that their actions are justified. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which South Africa is a signatory, sets out rights to education and health, and ‘an adequate standard of living and social protection, including public housing, services and assistance for disability-related needs, as well as assistance with disability-related expenses in case of poverty’ (LAWSA).

Legislative Framework

However, it is in the form of legislation rather than that of the Constitution and treaty based rights, that rights are generally enforced. The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act forbids discrimination against the disabled among others. Forms of discrimination include: ‘failing to eliminate obstacles that unfairly limit or restrict persons with disabilities from enjoying equal opportunities or failing to take steps to reasonably accommodate the needs of such persons’ (LAWSA). Note the standard of reasonableness, it is not an absolute command to accommodate.

According to LAWSA:

'282 General Although South Africa does not presently have a centralised piece of legislation (unlike the position in countries such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom) dealing with issues of disability, various other statutes make reference to matters of relevance to people with disabilities. For example:


'The Mental Health Care Act1 provides for children who have severe or profound intellectual disabilities.


'The Children’s Act2 brings South African child care and protection legislation for disabled children in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006. The Act states, for example, that in any matter concerning a child with a disability, consideration must be given to enabling the child’s participation and providing the child with conditions that ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate active participation in the community.


'The Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act3 requires institutions (organs of state) to determine their preferential procurement policy and to implement it within the framework provided by the Act. The Act requires that a preference point system must be followed for certain contracts, and provides examples of specific goals that may be set in matters involving procurement, including contracting with persons, or categories of persons, historically disadvantaged by unfair discrimination on the basis of race, gender or disability.


'The Local Government Municipal Systems Act4 outlines mechanisms, processes and procedures for community participation, taking into account the special needs of disadvantaged groups, among them people with disabilities.'

Public Schools' Obligations and Special Schools

In accordance with the Public Schools Act, public schools are required to admit students and to meet their educational needs, and to not discriminate as they do so.

According to LAWSA:


'92 Classification The broad classification of schools in terms of the South African Schools Act1 is into public schools and independent schools.2 However, the need for making provision for learners with special education needs is recognised in broad terms in the national legislation.3 In the provincial legislation specific classification of schools is still made to a greater or lesser degree. While the provincial Acts reaffirm the general principle as laid down in the South African Schools Act that every public school should attempt to accommodate the needs of any learner who attends such school, they all contain specific provision with regard to learners with special education needs.4

'Some provincial Acts make provision for age requirements5 and determine the steps to be taken regarding admission of a child with special learning needs to a special school, at the request of a parent.6 Provision is also made for assessment by the principal or head of department and placement of such child at a special school after informing the parent.7'


'86 Membership of governing bodies The South African Schools Act1 provides for the membership of governing bodies for both ordinary public schools and for public schools for learners with special education needs. With regard to the former, the governing body comprises elected members, the principal in his or her official capacity and co-opted members.2 The latter do not have voting rights3 and are members of the community, co-opted to assist the governing body in discharging its functions.4 The elected members must come from the parents of learners, from educators as well as staff members who are not educators and from learners in grade eight or higher at the school.5 The latter must have been elected by the representative council of learners.6 Where the school is an ordinary public school that provides education to learners with special needs, the governing body must co-opt a person with expertise regarding these needs if this is practically possible.7 With regard to the number of elected members and the categories of persons they represent, the respective MEC responsible for education in the province must determine a formula to be published by notice in the Provincial Gazette which provides for a reasonable representation for each category and which would be applicable to the different sizes and circumstances of public schools.8 However, the number of parent members must comprise one more than the combined total of the other members with voting rights.9

'In a public school for learners with special education needs the governing body must comprise not only the categories of persons already mentioned, but in addition experts in appropriate fields of special needs education. If applicable, the disabled persons and representatives of organisations for the disabled, of the parents of learners with special needs and of sponsoring bodies must also be represented on the governing body.10'


Classing ADHD as a disability, reasonable efforts should be made to accommodate children who display this different form of learning ability. However, reasonableness calls into account a balancing of rights and duties.

Enforcing A Child's Rights

It is advisable that parents or guardians of ADHD children attempt to work together with education providers in order to attend to the needs of their children, and that they seek out schools and educators who have a preparedness to assist in the growth and development of their child, with mind given to that student's different form of learning ability. Persuasion can be a powerful tool and allows a soft touch approach in relation to the rights of a child with ADHD. This, however, is not always possible, and sometimes the assistance of a legal professional is required.

Procuring Legal Advice

Please be aware that the afore stated look into the topic of the rights of ADHD children in the classroom, does not constitute legal advice. Please consult your lawyer in relation to your individual legal needs. Please be aware also that the Law Society of the Northern Provinces provides an hour free consultation with an attorney they choose, in order to determine if you have a case in a matter. Please further be aware of Legal Aid’s 'toll free' legal advice phone line: 0800 110 110. In Gauteng, registered law firms taking cases for profit may be found for each area at the link: . Legal Aid may be contacted at their website, here: .


I was very much pleased to read the information LAWSA has on the following topics, while I was researching this broad outline:

- LAWSA on schools
- LAWSA on disability
- LAWSA on Children and Family

Wednesday 2 December 2015

The Strange and at Times 'Unsettling' Tale You Haven't Heard - of Gender's Winding Path in Western Culture.

Gender in global and western history – an 'unsettling' and winding tale of mismatching changes.

The image is bizarre. If I did not know that it was President Franklyn D. Roosevelt, I would naturally presume it was an infant little girl. The child wears a pretty dress and fancy shoes. It is dressed up for the photograph.

By today’s standards the image is unsettling. It was a different era, one in which people picked up a trade journal and were told that they should dress their young boys in pink and their daughters in blue. Pink was a vibrant, masculine colour, they were told… it would be a while before our cultural obsession with the colour pink would emerge. In those days, boys were often dressed in female attire until age six or seven, when they could wear their big boy pants.

Boys in pink little dresses, girls in blue.

Pants? The attire of a horse rider, and these days of a man. When boys reached a certain age, they too could wear pants. There is a reason the feminist movement loved the idea of abandoning dresses for trousers… a sign of majority, of the full citizen of the western society.

High heels have the same origin. They were worn by men, who wore them and tights. Imagine that, men wearing high heels, while women don’t. The higher the high heels, or court shoes, the wealthier the man. It was a show of indulgence. It however originated as a form of cavalry shoe.

Women are always quick to adopt fashions, and women soon wore court shoes too, and shoe designers set about making them even more elaborate and feminine than they already were when worn by the men. The French revolution struck, and court shoes, a sign of opulence, quickly went out of fashion.

It was not until the advent of the poster girl that heels made a return. Pornography and the fantasy girlfriend industry of the Second World War discovered that high heels accentuated women’s long legs. After that, the shoes made a return with women, not men.

Cheerleading was similarly once a man’s sole domain… when women tried to enter it, sports authorities tried to ban them, but alas, watching women cheer men on in short skirts was much more interesting, and male cheerleaders have become an aberration in the sport: rare, uncommon. It is no longer a career to launch a young politician’s career, and cannot catapult a man to the office of the President of the United States of America anymore.

What about dresses, you might ask? Jesus likely wore one. Though he might have called it a robe, or in the fashion of the Romans, a tunic. Pteruges, or the leather or cloth skirt, was a popular attire for Roman soldiers to wear.

Surely there must be a domain of femininity that was not once male? What about ear rings? History records these to be worn by both sexes for thousands of years. Makeup? Many a man wore this item during the enlightenment. Long hair? Images throughout history display men with rather long hair. Men in England would even wear majestic long wigs as a sign of high prestige.

One need only view a film or television show from another culture, and the men look strangely feminine, and display mannerisms and facial expressions that a western child is taught to suppress if they are male. In the western world, women go first, in parts of Africa, men go through the door before their feminine companions.

In Europe, women covered their bodies extensively in centuries past, and as a result, their facial features became delicate and beautiful in order to gain a mate. Feminine facial features in some other parts of the world were less important, as more of a woman was visible, often parts taboo in western society. In some Asian cultures, men look intricate and feminine, while the women have a masculinity per the western mind set. In America, breasts have always been rather important to mating, and thus are often large, as are female bottoms. In Italy, a man’s fashion sense features strongly, and men are known for wearing intricate outfits. In parts of the middle east, only a woman’s eyes are on display, and this can result in women with the most beautiful eyes becoming most successful at reproduction. In the modern western world, a woman’s hair gains a significance in a sense it did not have in some past times when hair was covered. Scientists have shared a belief that the more angular faces men often have, are better reinforced against facial blows and were likely to have been beneficial in environments when men competed via physical aggression. Such a face can better take a blow from a well aimed punch.

Scientific study of static MRI images of human brains shows that while some features are more often present in women, or in men, brains are very rarely solely purely male or female… maybe 6% are. Studies looking at brain sex, or abilities and competencies often associated with women or men, have found the same. Men are more likely to be mechanical, and like the monkeys in a rather famous study, a boy is more likely to play with a toy car than say, a Barbie doll, but that is only a general occurrence. Many boys will be feminine in this regard, and many girls would prefer to play with the toy car. The culturally acceptable toy doll for a boy to play with is an ‘action figure’.

Sex consists of the DNA, and the sexual organs a person is endowed with… Except when boys are born with a certain gene, which causes their sex organ to only grow when puberty hits. We all start life as female. In the womb, testosterone does its magic for most boys… except it doesn’t for the Guevedoces or (loosely translated) ‘boy at twelve’ exceptions. In Las Salinas, Dominican Republic, about one in every 90 boys is reportedly a sufferer of this exception. The genes which usually cause a boy to grow a certain appendage in the womb, do not kick in until his parents expect him to be growing breasts. A wise name change usually follows the discovery of the unexpected anatomy. Until such time, the boys in question are exposed to life as female. Afterwards, they usually insist that they didn’t like being a girl anyway. Fascinatingly, the said appendage grows just in time for when boys gain a sexual ability and likely sexual desire… nature seems to view sex as based in its general but not absolute slide towards reproduction.

Then there are intersexed individuals, people who present with sexual organs of both sexes… naturally mind you. The practice tends to be to get rid of the part which least consists with the internal parts of such a child, though some prefer to leave their child as nature created them. Intersexed individuals always tend to be more one or other gender internally.

Professional athlete, Mokgadi Caster Semenya, of South Africa, is one such person. She caused great controversy during her career as a runner, winning with times a male would gain in sport. She is also reportedly a lesbian, which international media found to be something of note amidst the controversy of her running career.

Gender consists of the expectations surrounding a person of each sex in a given culture. It is a combination of the rules, and customs ascribed to each gender. Men used to variously wear dresses, high heels, and wonder around with makeup and long hair at various intersections of history… but should a man do so in today’s world, in a western nation, he would likely be viewed as a cross dresser, or transsexual or pansexual. In today’s world, men wear rather specific clothing, while women also adhere to clothing customs. These customs are important, as they help differentiate the sexes, which assists heterosexual individuals to mate, continuing the species. Dress also seems to play a part in connecting individuals of non-heterosexual orientations.

Sexual orientation, something which used to be strongly associated with gender, is rather unique from it in today’s western world. In Iran, homosexuals are allegedly made to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Famous code breaker, Alan Turing, committed suicide, likely as result of being convicted of homosexuality in Britain, and given hormones to sterilise him, which caused him to grow female sex organs. For him, the loss of his masculine figure was said to be too much. Many men who find women attractive, seem to think that they themselves are female inside. They undergo a risky and very expensive process involving hormones and then surgery, to change their outer appearance. Like Alan Turing, the process effectively sterilises them.

The idea of men being sterilised to gain acceptance or advantage, is not unheard of in history. Eunuchs famously cut off their manhood in order to gain positions of prestige, wealth, and high standing in government. In contrast, a Eunuch was to be outcast in ancient Israeli culture.

Gender is rather important to modern society, and transsexuals, people who aim to transition from one gender to another, make up a disproportionate proportion of people below the poverty line, and are also far more likely to contemplate suicide. They are also often expelled from their familial and social networks. Parents tend to want grandchildren. Transsexuals often tell of how their parents and friends accuse them of murdering the person they had known before. Their position is one which is precarious, even in cultures that claim to accept them.

In robotics there is a concept known as the uncanny valley. The closer a robot looks to being human without quite being so, the more disturbing it is, it elicits a strong reaction of disgust. The same concept applies to cartoons and graphics. Something which is obviously not human, but which has aspects of humanity is viewed as wonderful. That which is just off elicits strong reactions of disgust. Transsexuals are often just off expectations of male or female, with drastic results for their life and career prospects. With modern gender expectations, the idea of a born male individual appearing as almost female is one which has been met with great and terrible violence. Such people are often murdered or in the least bit discriminated against. They are also often viewed as sex objects and harassed. They are strongly encouraged to undergo expensive hormone treatments and then surgery. They are told that to have the rules and customs of the other gender apply to them, they must do so. When they do however, many discover the meaning of hell on earth. Just as liberal civil rights supporting Americans are against racism in their words and beliefs, but have been shown to show strong bias and discrimination in person, even the most accepting cultures tend to strongly discriminate against transsexuals in person.

A study of penguins was once thought too rude to publish. It found that male penguins would attempt to mate even with a dead female penguin. There was enough there to ignite its instincts. The study was censored to protect polite society at the time.

The parts of the brain which cause a man such as myself to find a woman sexually attractive, can also appear in a female brain. The same processes are as fallible as those of a penguin. The overall evolutionary intention of continuing the species is there and present in enough individuals to continue the evolutionary line, but a small portion of the population does not find the opposite sex attractive, or finds their own sex attractive. Some even strangely find inanimate objects, animals, or persons who are not yet capable of consensual reproduction to be sexually attractive.

Sexual attraction however is distinct from sexual orientation. Orientation consists of a choice, a life direction. People have been found to be sexually aroused by primates mating, and there is recent academic literature which claims that women find sexual images of other women arousing. A mere arousal however does not make a sexual orientation.

Just as the human brain can be a mismatch of features, likewise the body can be also. So called femboys, or feminine males, are men who have facial and other features that resemble those of women. In the modelling industry, such individuals have been known to thrive. The presence of feminine features can also cause such individuals to be sexually attractive to members of their own sex. However, as violent incidents involving such individuals would suggest, orientation is not the same as attraction.

Attraction can often be further refined, and at times may be influenced by culture. Many men have an orientation to women of a certain race, hair colour, body type or facial features. In some cultures, overweight women are seen as most eligible. In others, a thin body is. In past times, good birthing hips were seen as very attractive. I know that as a man, there are many women in the world whom I do not find at all sexually attractive. I am certain they are found to be attractive by some men, just not me. I also suspect that my genetics and upbringing have heavily influenced which women I find attractive. Men in certain cultures find a woman attractive based on her buttocks and her bosom. I usually don’t even notice either until I accidentally discover they do indeed exist. For me, the thing which causes a woman to be attractive to me, is her face. Following that, are her legs, and her body health. Of course, a beautiful voice, high level of intelligence and attractive accent are also a must for me. Glasses are also something I like on a woman; I am not certain why.

Studies have found that children who don’t have a mother and a father can suffer anything from teen pregnancy (from a bad relationship with their mother), to jail and poor grades in school (from a bad relationship with their father). Fathers who become a primary care giver tend to display some of the same brain changes as mothers who do likewise. However, something either absolute or gender based seems to be at play in children. Somehow the gendered influence of both parents is important in our society. Perhaps it has to do with life experience. Men are more likely to land in jail or get poor grades in school, and are thus more likely to guard a child against these. Women are more likely to get pregnant… much more likely in fact.

Gender consists of the rules and customs that cultures create around people of various sexes, and in some cultures people born one sex seek acceptance as a member of the other gender, or for some or all of those rules and customs to apply to them. Gender develops both from the physical attributes of the sexes, such as male strength, or the female ability to give birth, and from life experience and demographic likelihoods. It is a complex system, which is ever evolving. What it has at its centre, is the result of the reproductive ability and nurturing capability of the human person, and the many complex results thereof.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

The Dalai Lama says not to pray to God... should we listen to him?

The Dalai Lama says not to pray to God, because humankind created terrorism... is he saying we should pray to God over hurricanes because those are not humanity's fault... or are all problems our doing in some form or other? Is he saying we should be deeply cruel to others because no semblance of justice, of comeuppance exists? That is a dark and scary God he seems to believe in: one who condemns us for any human mistake, judges all humanity not as individuals but in one brush and as one whole, and won't lift a finger to help the innocent under any circumstances. Yes, I know unimaginable evil is commonplace in this broken, ragged world of ours, but that does not mean we should not speak against it... in our minds, with our words, with our actions, and our very lives. Even small babies and animals screech into the nothingness when threatened with evil... should humanity not follow the course of all living things and beg the hinterlands of consciousness for help?

This is very similar to those who ask others not to show solidarity to France, because their actions might not have an effect. Perhaps they will not have an effect, but telling people not to object to evil, even in the far flung nether regions of their mind: is telling them that evil is not to be mourned, and that only the powerful deserve a voice.

The fact of the matter is that if there is a God, he is interested in humanity, likely in even the smallest of things. After all, we all obsess over our own creations, and have you seen the undue attention we all - myself included - give our pets, and parents give their children?

I believe in an all powerful God who acts subtly through humanity. One who should be prayed to and who works all to the good of those who love him - in the end, even if there are very dark times in between. I think that even if prayer is to the void, it is a good thing: it makes us contemplate suffering, realise that we are small in the scheme of things, and causes us to contemplate others and to consider what behaviour is good and what is evil. The people praying for Paris, for France, are doing something truly selfless, even if it is as worthless as the Dalai Lama claims it to be. That good faith towards people we do not know, is the bedrock upon which all society rests. Whatever God someone worships, prayer is good. It is an act of humility and in the very least helps us order our thoughts from the perspective of one who is not us. I also believe in a God who answers not just my prayers but the prayers of all who pray in the nature of God: for those things which are good, though God is far wiser than I and works in ways I do not have a capability to understand. Just because my pet cat wants his food when it is not dinner time, does not mean that I will feed him, but I will comfort the little creature, and perhaps point out if there are still scraps of what he ate the last meal remaining in his bowl.

So, please, do not stop praying for the good of others and for the world, our thoughts and words guide our actions... prayer for others, even if God were to not exist or were to not care about humanity... imbues a good faith in humanity... and permeates us with a care and connectedness with the world... a love... one for another.

Do what you can with what you have in the world. That is a message that transcends so much else... if all you can do is...

Posted by Marc Evan Aupiais on Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Sunday 15 November 2015

There is a lot of folk wisdom at play with Twitter - about when, where and how to tweet. A more exact science exists.

There is a lot of folk wisdom at play with Twitter... about when, where and how to tweet. An easier approach might be to see how your actual tweets do with your actual audience. It is something LinkedIn is rather good at, and Twitter has introduced it as well. You can tell at a glance how your tweets are doing, whether your profile is being visited, and things such as which are your top mentions.

For instance, the top mention of my profile on Twitter this month, has had 28.8K engagements, was retweeted 592 times, and was hearted 117 times. It also happened to be in French.

So how do I, this great Oracle of Delphi know all of this vital information about the management of my brand? The truth is, you can know these secret arcana about your profile too.

Log onto Twitter for a start, and follow the easy enough instructions, dear padawan.

Click your picture in the top right corner, and select analytics... easy enough, really, but it adds a lot of insight into your Twitter.

You will see a screen with your statistics. Mine looks like this:

For instance, with only 16.9k impressions in the last 28 days, my Twitter impressions are 18.9% down... I am of course tweeting about 16% less, so there is that.

I can also, quite importantly, tell how each individual tweet is doing, by clicking on the bar graph image next to the heart on each tweet. This option appears on each actual tweet you post, and does not require that you visit Twitter analytics.

If you do visit Twitter analytics, clicking on 'Tweets' on the top of the page, will tell you how your various tweets have done at a glance.

Clicking on 'Audiences' will for instance tell you who Twitter estimates your followers and organic audience to be, and what they - each respectively - tend to be interested in, as well as where they likely live, and in the case of your organic audience: their income level demographics.

Saturday 14 November 2015

How to temporarily change your profile picture to one watermarked with the French flag, to show your support #Paris

To create a watermark of the French flag over your profile, is easy.

You go to the page of Facebook as a brand (if you are in Africa, click the link to get you to the actual Facebook page). Then, go to their current leading post, and click the 'Try it' button.

Otherwise, just click try it, in the embed of the post below:

We stand together. #JeSuisParis

Posted by Facebook on Saturday, 14 November 2015

Vive La France! And Hey Presto, you are there.

Foul Grim reapers have attacked not just France, but civilization #PrayForParis #JeSuisParis #ParisAttacks #France

It is not France alone, which is attacked by foul grim reapers. Those hunting the souls of the French people, sought to destroy a potent symbol of the aspirations and of the otherly striving of the core of the ever living heart of the very human race.

Few nations are more symbolic of civilisation and of the measure of progress and culture and of the more widespread holding of an often rarefied nobility of mankind, than the French nation. Whatever God, whichsoever forces, beings or divinities, you may worship, think of Paris, should you pray to them, this day of November.

We, but a human race, but a planetful of peoples, stand firmly but swiftly in unbreakable human solidarity, with France, a symbol of the civilised world, and with empathy we endure, with her, her heartache and mourn with her, a sister by our human genome, as the sun has risen if not solely for its rays and brilliant light to touch upon and witness great and terrible tragedy, as the sorrow of a united humanity is laid as libations of tears and blood and as burning, living sacrifice, upon the altar of all its gods.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Universities risk their degrees becoming worthless paper, in South Africa. #FeesMustFall #FeesRiots

I was excited, but also somewhat terrified. The buildings at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, glared down upon you as though they hid some secret. Perhaps the answer to death, or the secret of eternal life. Certainly, they seemed to promise wealth, a Midas touch founded upon a scroll of paper called a degree. I'd attended Wits, as a student of the place for the first time, for the entrance exam of my year. I had just recently graduated from Matric. There was doubt in the eyes of the University, as to whether the masses they had accepted were capable of passing University courses. Maybe less than a quarter of us made it through to the end of our degrees, despite the introduction of tutorials and classes on basic computer literacy, and on... studying.

The University was already quite clear about something. We were twice the size of previous groups. Throughout my time at Wits, new buildings cropped up across the myriad campuses. Venues were often not large enough for our classes, resulting in students having to stand rather than sit (I often sat with my laptop on the stairs next to lecture benches), and inevitably we were forced to also have lectures on East Campus. Many of the swiftly-hired, often-foreign lecturers were sub par, and there was always the chance of whatever subject you were taking being cancelled and moved to another year. Students from different classes would swap notes, and rightly so, as some lecturers became known for most of their students failing. I was often certain to get notes from what I thought were the most book smart students in other classes, and it paid off when I landed with the unfortunate black hole known as a fail lecturer - I was not surprised by the unexpected content of exams when I had not been taught a syllabus to pass them.

Lecturers told us that the government was forcing them to double their intake, and to often take on students they wouldn't otherwise accept. They did not believe the schools which students attended were in any way preparing them for University work. The high school I attended, fortunately, put great emphasis on what would be required to graduate university, and on average, many of our marks were about twenty percent higher when we took the IEB exams in Matric, which had been far easier than the in house ones we had taken.

Due to the high failure rates, foundations of South African law, and customary law soon disappeared from the syllabus. A spoon feeding of legal concepts was often adopted, and now the iconic LLB itself has been replaced.

Universities such as Wits rely on subsidies from government, which are consistently falling. They are also almost always under construction as the government has begun to view a degree not as something difficult to achieve and of real worth as an experience, but as a certificate every student must aspire to.

Like producing the Model Ts of Henry Ford, the government believes that if you follow the same process, no matter how many people you push through, you will always get the same results. Unfortunately, many students need something extra that their school education should have but did not provide. They do not receive a quality of education at University to uplift them from the poverty of the laxity of government education standards. Like sardines, they are shepherded to classes, and inevitably burn out: but not without becoming the victim of their student debts.

Like the consistent push to expand the electricity grid, without also pushing to build upon its foundations, the government has insisted on increasing university pass levels without increasing the standards of basic education. The result is both a dumbing down of education, and a scenario where most of the students who enter University will never graduate.

Even if it means that fewer students graduate, Universities should either have higher subsidies, or reduce intake to levels to where they are able to deliver a decent University education. Until the government allows either, we are stuck with the same scenario every year.

Every year I was at Wits, fees were raised, and there were mass and often violent protests, and the students who protested were excluded from campus. For the first time, with the latest fee increase, students have truly mobilized. They are violent, but unusually organized. However, their approaching of parliament and of the ANC is the most appropriate thing they have done yet. If fees are not raised, but subsidies are reduced, then so will the education level of our professional class.

They are South Africa's bare branches: with nothing to lose, but everything to gain. Like so many others, they have taken to the streets, and have adopted the same methods of protest that they have seen on television, and heard about on radio. The violence of the Rhodes Must Fall protests, gained the response they desired. Like a dry run, with an easier objective, student leaders no doubt saw those protests as a proof of concept.

There is a reason protests were able to spread so swiftly from Wits to the rest of the country. Especially in the bone dry economy South Africa currently faces. Lack of a degree in this economy can result in a lifetime of underemployment. Yet, if fees are not raised, and government continues to reduce subsidies, University degrees won't be worth the paper they are published upon.

I still believe that I gained a good knowledge of law when I attended Wits. I bought every one of the expensive text books, and took full advantage of the resources I was provided with.

I also greatly benefitted from English being my first language, while many students struggled to understand often foreign lecturers with strange accents that they could not quite comprehend.

I believe that the current graduating class remains on par. Those who do manage to pass final exams are as proficient as those who always have... but many burn out before that stage, and often these people had great potential. My parents paid for my education. Inevitably, those who like me, did not have to work to afford fees, and who like me were privileged to have attended a top private school, and to have resources to help them at home, were there on graduation day.

For many others, struggling to support themselves as they attended, it was a great and powerful achievement when they walked up to receive their bizarrely shaped degree on graduation day. The problem however, is that a good education costs money, money on all levels. If the government is not prepared to invest on all levels, then inevitably education becomes a commodity, or a sham, a scam to take the few pennies of people who if properly invested in, would surely join the best of our professional class.

Whenever the fees protests happened while I was on campus, the non-participating students had always viewed them as the protestors' last hurrah, a last loud noise before the protestors returned to their previous lives outside of Wits. This year may be different... but only if the government plays their part, and invests a bare minimum of tax money in Universities.

Sunday 18 October 2015

It is a violation to deny gay couples communion - Catholic Archbishop personally invited by Pope Francis tells press

The Vatican is undergoing a synod to discuss the topic of the 'family'. At the opening of the synod, a top Vatican official - Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith - declared that he was not only gay but had a long term same sex partner. He was fired for not adhering to the discipline of priestly celibacy. His statements however have caused many to remember the media-alleged reason the previous pope, Benedict XVI, resigned from his position. The Vatican rumour mill at the time claimed that the Vatican gay lobby had ousted him, and wanted to appoint the man who is now known as Pope Francis, to replace him.

Benedict XVI, of course, before he became pope, was instrumental in the creation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and was one of the bishops at Vatican II. He gained the nickname of 'God's Rottweiler' for his insistence on obedience to the dogmas of the Catholic church.

Butler's Lives of Saints, an old Catholic work, refers to the Catholic religion as the 'ancient religion', a reference to the founding tenant of that faith, that dogma cannot change, and that the church of Jesus' time, is the church of today. Part of that core of beliefs, centres around the provision of communion bread, which the early apostles taught, was only to be given to those who adhered to the gospel which they had preached. In the biblical letters the apostles wrote, they go so far as to claim that their readers should reject even their own statements if they contradicted what they had said originally. Taking communion while in a state of so-called mortal sin, was compared to re-crucifying Christ by early Christians. Among the other older Christian religions other than Catholicism, which do not have concepts such as mortal and venial sin, these still have sins that warrant a person not taking communion until they engage in a ritual known as confession.

Vatican English Language attache, Father Thomas Rosica, earlier this month, said that the synod fathers are supportive of 'an end to exclusionary language' and place 'a strong emphasis on embracing reality.' He states 'we do not pity gay persons but we recognise them for who they are: they are our sons and daughters and brothers and sisters.'

Following this press statement earlier this month, the Archbishop of Chicago Blase Cupich, who was personally invited to the synod by Pope Francis, has also now stated to media that pastors must give communion to homosexual couples, saying that their choice to take communion was from conscience and inviolable. Cupich has been fast tracked to his position as Archbishop of Chicago, and as he states, was personally appointed to the Synod on the Family by Pope Francis.

He also stated:

'In Chicago I visit regularly with people who feel marginalized: the elderly, the divorced and remarried, gay and lesbian individuals and also couples. I think that we really need to get to know what their life is like if we’re going to accompany them' and 'I think that gay people are human beings too and they have a conscience. And my role as a pastor is to help them to discern what the will of God is by looking at the objective moral teaching of the Church and yet, at the same time, helping them through a period of discernment to understand what God is calling them to at that point,” he said. “It’s for everybody. I think that we have to make sure that we don’t pigeonhole one group as though they are not part of the human family, as though there’s a different set of rules for them. That would be a big mistake.”' ('Archbishop Cupich lays out pathway for gay couples to receive Communion at Vatican press scrum ' by John-Henry Westen and Pete Baklinski at Fri Oct 16, 2015 - 11:51 am EST

During Vatican II, the Catholic church dogmatically declared homosexual acts to be sinful, while classing the attraction itself not to be. If the dogma of the church were to change as a result of Pope Francis' synod of the Family and subsequent declarations, it would be an unusual event in the history of the hitherto largely unchanging beliefs of the Catholic church.

Cardinal Sarah, who at the last synod meeting blasted Pope Francis in his opening remarks, arranged for the African bishops to meet in his country prior the Synod, in an attempt to prevent the church from changing its dogma. He has stated to media that he believes that most of the bishops are on his side. Cardinal Napier has expressed similar sentiments. The pro-dogma camp seem convinced that a repeat of the previous meeting, where a group personally placed in their positions by Pope Francis, drafted a document based on the meeting, which bishops later said had sorely misrepresented their statements.

On his trip to the USA, the Pope met briefly with a woman who was imprisoned for refusing to issue documents for gay weddings. The Vatican later stated that that was not an official meeting, and that the only official meeting at that location had been between the pope and a former student who is gay.

Patrick Archbold and a number of other well known traditionalist figures in the blogosphere, recently launched a petition calling the synod a sham and asking any 'faithful' bishops to walk out if it broke from tradition:

It states:
'Therefore, we faithfully request that each and every faithful Catholic bishop at the Synod, having made every effort to resist these attacks on Christ’s teaching, if its direction remains unaltered and those faithful voices remain unheard, do his sacred duty and publicly retire from any further participation in the Synod before its conclusion so as to prevent greater scandal and confusion.'('Synod Walkout' by Patrick Archbold et al at

Some traditionalists have begun quoting what they claim to be a quote from a mystic known as Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, which quote sedevacantists often use in their opposition to Vatican II, namely:

'Then I saw that everything that pertained to Protestantism was gradually gaining the upper hand, and the Catholic religion fell into complete decadence. Most priests were lured by the glittering but false knowledge of young school-teachers, and they all contributed to the work of destruction.'

Which comes from a longer passage credited to the mystic, namely:

'Among the strangest things that I saw, were long processions of bishops. Their thoughts and utterances were made known to me through images issuing from their mouths. Their faults towards religion were shown by external deformities. A few had only a body, with a dark cloud of fog instead of a head. Others had only a head, their bodies and hearts were like thick vapors. Some were lame; others were paralytics; others were asleep or staggering.

'I saw what I believe to be nearly all the bishops of the world, but only a small number were perfectly sound. I also saw the Holy Father– God-fearing and prayerful. Nothing left to be desired in his appearance, but he was weakened by old age and by much suffering…

'Then I saw that everything that pertained to Protestantism was gradually gaining the upper hand, and the Catholic religion fell into complete decadence. Most priests were lured by the glittering but false knowledge of young school-teachers, and they all contributed to the work of destruction.

'In those days, Faith will fall very low, and it will be preserved in some places only…'

Pope Francis, himself, is preparing the church for his statements following the synod:

'The Holy Father went on to say that each and everyone has a place in the Church, and that the key to journeying well together is listening. “A synodal Church is a Church of listening,” said Pope Francis. “It is a mutual listening in which everyone has something to learn: the faithful, the College of Bishops, [and the] Bishop of Rome; each listening to the others; and all listening to the Holy Spirit, the ‘Spirit of truth’ (Jn 14, 17), to know what he ‘says to the Churches’ (Rev 2: 7).”

'“The Synod of Bishops,” continued Pope Francis, “is the convergence point of this dynamism – this listening conducted at all levels of Church life,” starting with the people, who “also participate in Christ’s prophetic office” and who have a right and a duty to be heard on topics that touch the common life of the Church. Then come the Synod Fathers, through whom, “[T]he bishops act as true stewards, interpreters and witnesses of the faith of the whole Church, which [they] must be able carefully to distinguish from often shifting public opinion.” In all this, the Successor to Peter is fundamental. “Finally,” explained Pope Francis, “the synodal process culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, called upon to speak authoritatively [It. pronunciare] as ‘Shepherd and Teacher of all Christians’: not on the basis of his personal beliefs, but as the supreme witness of the Faith of the whole Church, the guarantor of the Church’s conformity with and obedience to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ and the Tradition of the Church.”' ('Pope Francis marks 50th anniversary of Synod's institution' Vatican Radio 17th of October 2015

Whether this case of confusion is a case of the notoriously bad Vatican Press officials, who regularly 'clarify' statements, or a case of the direction of the synod being shown, is uncertain. What is known is that the figures who were placed personally into the Synod by Pope Francis, tend to agree with the proposals of Kasper and Marx, that dogma must either change or be ignored in practice. It will be interesting to see where the synod goes from now, and whether or not the synod and its follow-up result in a split like that which occurred after Vatican II, given that opposing forces in the Catholic Church have rarely been so vocal.

Either way, Pope Francis has noted that while he will listen to the synod, it will not be binding on him, rather he will need to be listened to after it, and obeyed. Some think he means to make a from the chair statement after the synod concludes, other simply believe he is stating that whatever the synod decides, he will still make his own voice heard, and it will need to be heard above it. Very Vatican I of him, isn't it? (Vatican I defined Papal infallibility as a doctrine.) As for whether a two millennia old Church will de facto or - per the change camp - dogmatically change its views on sex and reproduction and on whether it is sinful for communion to be taken when in 'mortal sin'... we the spectators wait with baited breath.

Friday 25 September 2015

French Animal Rights Activists violently 'steal' destitute immigrant's dog, are selling it for almost R 3 000.00

It is uncertain if it is the visibly destitute man, or his tiny dog, that is howling.

He has nothing, and has been assaulted. What little he has, he leaves on the side of the road - in a moment and with no hesitation. He leaves all he has, unattended - in a desperate attempt to get his beloved puppy back. The dog does not appear malnourished, nor do the attackers claim it was.

His attempt to rescue what seems his only friend in the world, is doomed to fail, as pedestrians pass nonchalantly by.

One witness, however, videoed the brazen incident, one which the bold and proud perpetrators performed with no fear of any punishment. There is no talk of charging them for their profitable exploit against a member of a vulnerable minority group.

The indigent man had been mercilessly assaulted, and wrestled to the ground, as the two men and a woman collaborated to remove his dog from him. The group the trio represent, have since offered the dog for 'adoption', for One Hundred and Seventy Five Euros (which at present exchange rates is: Two Thousand, Seven Hundred and Seventeen Rands), according to the Daily Telegraph.

Towards the end of the footage, by-passers simply keep walking, as though nothing has happened.

The group responsible, Cause Animale Nord, has consistently emphasized that the man they took the small puppy dog from, was a Roma, the official word for a member of the Gypsy ethnic group.

Caritas Internationales, the word's largest charitable umbrella body, has consistently noted that gypsies are often targeted by citizens and governments alike to suffer under hate crime, in Europe. Just recently, mass sterilization campaigns and other attempts to ethnic cleanse the group have emerged to daylight.

Some in France compare the Gypsies to stray dogs, but it seems even stray dogs are not to be owned, or for that matter, cared for, by the down and out members of the group.

Cause Animale Nord, according to the Daily Telegraph (25 September 2015), took to Facebook to say:

“We intervened because it was an urgent situation for the animal. There was no violence at any moment.”

“The person had thrown himself to the ground, crushing the puppy. The puppy was stunned, had dilated pupils and was staggering around,” it went on in a post.

"We took (the dog) away from a Roma who was using it for begging. The police don't do anything, we act,"

In other words, they claim to have taken the law into their own hands. However, if the animal had dilated pupils, perhaps a picture of this claim should have been used to back it up.

The animal does not look stunned in the video, and it can either be stunned or staggering around, not both.

Furthermore, they claim there was no violence, and yet the destitute gypsy has clearly been wrestled to the ground - which cannot be defined as anything but violent. Why would someone throw themselves onto the ground? It seems odd. With the puppy up for adoption for almost Three Thousand Rand, the enterprise is definitely profitable for the animal rights group in question. Some want their use of their finances to be reviewed.

It seems no criminal investigation is pending against the group, despite over One Hundred Thousand signatures to a Change Dot Org petition to bring them to account for the incident.

[URL of a Video on YouTube of the Incident (It adapts the video originally posted to Facebook) : ]

Saturday 12 September 2015

Calm your horses, before they trample you!

I wanted to run. I wanted to get up and rush to the exit, maybe I'd get away, perhaps if I sneaked. They said boredom never killed anyone, but I didn't want to take any chances. I am sure school assemblies were similar for you. Fortunately, neither of us raised our backsides from the chair and fled those monotonous voices... Not in high school anyway... in Grade 2 I had decided enough was enough, and landed in trouble. As adults, we know the importance of self control. Children don't quite yet have the potency of will.

In the adult world, though, the same sort of urgency is still common enough. It is just generally better justified, latent, or expertly hidden. People get this sense of urgency, urgency becomes desperation, and keeps its annuals in stress. Whenever I have done something I whole heartedly regret, that urgency egged me on. I am told I am calm in most emergencies... I certainly didn't used to be. I thought self control would be a useful skill to master. I didn't realise quite how difficult it would be until I realised that I had never been guilty of a faux pas without that nagging sense of urgency. Patience is not merely a virtue, it is the power by which self control has a foothold in our lives.

When you want to do something you shouldn't: to eat that creamy chocolate cake that calls your name during a diet, to respond to an insult when you just know it would cause a fight... to say things you really shouldn't say... have you ever done anything you regret that was not accompanied by an unusually potent sense of urgency?

There are times for urgency... it might be wise to run if you are late for an important exam. It can be pretty urgent to get out of the path of an elephant or of an out of control truck. Urgency has a place, but generally its place is limited. When I am about to make a mistake, I might not realise that I am being foolish at first. What is always obvious to me is that sense of urgency. I just have to do it... I must... When my thoughts become urgent, I take a slow deep breath and ask myself if there is any real reason to be urgent... usually there isn't, and once calm, I see the fault in my thoughts.

Some of the more famous saints of the Catholic canon are famous for doing all sorts of exotic things to maintain their self control. Scary things, like jumping into a painful thorn adorned bush to undo their naughty lusts. I imagine they transferred the urgency they felt to do naughty things, upon an urgency to jump into a nest of thorns. No doubt that pretty lady who wanted them, noticed their passion, and regretted asking a monk to coffee or a date. The same desperation for company redirected, caused the painful jump, and with their desires cleansed, they limped away from their floral friend. Thomas Aquinas, who every lawyer learns about, was among such saints... when his family hired him a prostitute against his wishes, he directed his excess passion to chasing her out of his chambers with a fire poker... yes, that Aquinas, every lawyer learns about. And yet, in a non-medieval society, it is not socially acceptable to jump into someone else's perfectly pruned roses, or chase our fellow man with a fire poker... Deep breathing exercises and logic will have to suffice for the modern professional.

They say the wolf you feed is the one which grows. Over the years, a focus on calm and patience has truly reduced my levels of stress.

Even when urgency might be warranted, I find a calm has come over me... the less you stress, the less you are controlled by it. A few years ago I was halfway up a steep staircase, and saw what looked like paper on the step above me. I started to bend down to throw it away... next I knew, I was a few steps up, staring down at a snake... no paper had rested on the stairs. My voice sounded like that of a little girl's, but I stuck it out, just out of reach of the serpent, waiting for help without letting it out of my sight. If I had not learnt to fight urgency in my daily life, I might have run... and lost sight of my nemesis, the snake.

There is a place for urgency, but it is a very limited space.

Next time you feel just a bit too much stress, the child of urgency, ask whether the urgency is warranted... if it isn't, take a few deep breaths, calm yourself down, and passively continue with your day. I find that when I shelve undeserved urgency, I get far more done during any one spin of the earth around its axis.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Easy statements: how to damage your reputation overnight. (Unfortunate #Nedbank and #BudgetInsurance ads included.)

The annoying song blasts from the speakers. Advertisers purposely use annoying tunes, in hopes an earworm will play their song as you sleep. Computer generated cartoons prance about as Budget advertises their insurance product.

Buy the wrong insurance, and when something goes awry, you may be left in the deepest of dark holes. People I know, people you no doubt know, have experienced this. Insurance comes down to trust in a provider to be that safety net. I don't know much about Budget, I am sure I could look them up at the CIPC, the FSB, or the Who Owns Whom database, but their actual business is not what I am discussing here. I will note that the unfortunately ruined people I know were not insured with them, however, with the consequences of any doubt in the reputation of an insurer, their advertisement makes a terrible mistake, which harms their credibility in a field where trust is everything... they make an unnecessary absolute statement, which is easily verifiable as entirely wrong.

It swiftly reminds me of a Nedbank campaign where a well-spoken voice, seemingly of a white male, tells you, and newly wealthy black Nedbank client, Eugene, to be 'more savvy' with your money... The phrase 'more savvy' is far from unused, and does appear in a number of newspaper articles. A search of all major dictionaries via a specialist search engine, only sees the phrase appear in quotations on news media (3 results) in one specific online dictionary, namely, and in Wikipedia entries. A search for use of this phrase in the Oxford Dictionary of English, however, turns up no results whatsoever, suggesting it is not proper English in regular usage. Oxford Dictionary of English would have us use the generally accepted word 'savvier'... in their advice on word use.

Clearly the advertisers thought they were being clever, and maybe they were: people I met suddenly began to speak of being 'more savvy'... rather than being 'savvier'. As for the Budget advert... the dreadful cacoffiny of the horrendous commercial always ends with the same phrase: 'nothing rhymes with premiums'. Absolutist statements are fine if they are verifiable and correct. Unfortunately, very many words rhyme with premiums. I will list some of them for you a bit later, below.

Either way, many would be loath to do any business with either Budget Insurance or Nedbank... brands in industries requiring extensive trust from their customers... for the simple fact that they made statements which in hindsight should have nothing to do with their ability to do their business.

The world is filled to the brims with armchair experts, and bush enthusiasts. Experts are usually loath to give an opinion on anything they have not researched. The law changes so quickly, that unless you carefully monitor it, or have a specific area of practise, utter caution is often much needed. I pay a lot of money every year for access to up to date information of various areas of law, as do many in my field. A mere ill thought tangent can permanently damage your brand, even if it is an ill-conceived statement which is entirely unrelated to your field... This mistake has been made by many an architect commenting too rashly on car design, or lawyer - on stock picks.

Personally, one of my favourite things to do is to research and authenticate information. When I speak, I have usually read up on what I am saying. Often, I have consulted the word of an expert or two. The process of finding out the truth gives me a bit of a rush, especially if the real answer is unexpected. I have gained access to many specialised search engines, tools, programs and databases, some I have made myself... just to satisfy my own curiosity. A proper fact check via sources not every Joe knows how to access, can be mightily fun to do.

It is, however, essential to do some basic research into what you are saying before you attach your integrity and your brand to an ill begotten mast.

Below are two advertisements from the respective campaigns, and explanations as to some of what is wrong with their presentations.

Nedbank "Savvy"

URL for the video of the offending Nedbank advertisement:

The Budget Insurance advert, and below it, words that rhyme with premiums:

URL for the video of the offending Budget Insurance advertisement:

Take a quick gander at a list of 31 words, which in British (and South African) English, rhyme with premiums (from the phonetics program, PhoTransEdit). I imagine that advertisers couldn't complete their rhyme, and so decided to make up their absolutist claim:

premiumsː ˈpriːˌmɪəmz

compendiums /kəmˈpendɪəmz/
condominiums /ˌkɒndəˈmɪnɪəmz/
craniums /ˈkreɪnɪəmz/
crematoriums /ˌkreməˈtɔːrɪəmz/
delphiniums /delˈfɪnɪəmz/
emporiums /ɪmˈpɔːrɪəmz/
encomiums /ɪnˈkəʊmɪəmz/
euphoniums /juːˈfəʊnɪəmz/
geraniums /dʒəˈreɪnɪəmz/
grahams /ˈɡreɪəmz/
graham's /ˈɡreɪəmz/
gymnasiums /dʒɪmˈneɪzɪəmz/
harmoniums /hɑːˈməʊnɪəmz/
honorariums /ˌɒnəˈreərɪəmz/
hyams /ˈhaɪəmz/
idioms /ˈɪdɪəmz/
mediums /ˈmiːdɪəmz/
moratoriums /ˌmɒrəˈtɔːrɪəmz/
museums /mjuːˈzɪəmz/
pandemoniums /ˌpændɪˈməʊnɪəmz/
planetariums /ˌplænɪˈteərɪəmz/
podiums /ˈpəʊdɪəmz/
praesidiums /prɪˈsɪdɪəmz/
presidiums /prɪˈsɪdɪəmz/
prosceniums /prəˈsiːnɪəmz/
requiems /ˈrekwɪəmz/
sanatoriums /ˌsænəˈtɔːrɪəmz/
sealyhams /ˈsiːlɪəmz/
stadiums /ˈsteɪdɪəmz/
symposiums /sɪmˈpəʊzɪəmz/
trapeziums /trəˈpiːzɪəmz/

Oxford Dictionary is clear on the related forms of the word 'savvy', 'more savvy' is not among them:


savvy (noun)
savviness (noun)
savvinesses (plural noun)
savvy (verb)
savvies (third person present)
savvied (past tense)
savvied (past participle)
savvying (present participle)
savviness (verb)
savvinesses (third person present)
savvinessing (present participle)
savvinessed (past tense)
savvinessed (past participle)
savvy (adjective)
savvier (comparative adjective)
savviest (superlative adjective)
savviness (adjective)

Sunday 23 August 2015

Our moral compass defines our identity (to others) - science.

It seems obtuse at first. As it comes into focus, it still appears somewhat off. People are shown other people - walking. Those who walk at the same pace as the crowd are seen as smarter. The slower and faster walkers are looked down upon. If I told you this was the basis of all laws, regulations, and of government itself, you might look at me slightly strangely. After a while - much against your better judgement - you'd start to agree.

When people are asked to judge another's intelligence, they tend to look at Emotional Quotient (EQ), not Intelligence Quotient (IQ).

People walk at many different paces. No crowd walks as one body. People's behaviour within the crowd is... random. When, however - a crowd becomes one mind, as they do during specific incidents of rioting... or some protests, its members can become as synchronised as a primitive tribe. When a crowd is walking at one pace, a custom is created. EQ is heavily associated with an ability to abide by custom. High EQ is also associated with the ability to intentionally disobey customs. The person who wears a shirt with the word 'costume' on it to Halloween is perceived as smart. The one who steps too far off the mark, or unintentionally flouts custom, is a different story.

Morality and custom have a lot in common. People who act in a predictable way, by obeying customs, are less likely to unexpectedly harm us. The man who opens the car door for his woman, and regularly buys her flowers, is more likely to be perceived as marriageable. After all, he obeys customs gentlemen might.

There is such a swathe of pseudo-science out there, I thought that what I am about to tell you - might just be that. It isn't. It turns out that friends and relatives of neuro-degenerative patients, only tend to feel that they no longer know the mind-loss victim, when their morals decline or their speech becomes impaired.

Researchers firstly did something abstract: something along the lines of... is your friend still your buddy old pal if they suddenly turn into a jerk. Many people would say no.

One might well add real world examples to that: Is your husband still the person you knew if he murders your sister? Most women would say no. The neighbours saying a serial killer was quiet and kind, are asserting their reliance upon neighbourhood customs. How could a good neighbour be a serial killer? Yet, every so often... they are.

Because we define others in a way that facilitates our own survival, it seems our judgements of whom other people are - centre not on their intelligence, their memories or so much else - but rather upon their moral compass. It makes sense. If someone wouldn't murder, they wouldn't murder us.

To get to know someone, is to know what direction their hidden moral compass points - whether we recognise its clear components, and how close to your own true north it rests.

It is just one study I am referring to from this point of the article. It is perhaps one of a kind, a fluke - it is walking in a different direction from the centuries old philosophy crowd. However, it makes sense, and as such I think it worthy of discussion.

The abstract of the study, appearing in the journal, Psychological Science, states:

'There is a widespread notion, both within the sciences and among the general public, that mental deterioration can rob individuals of their identity. Yet there have been no systematic investigations of what types of cognitive damage lead people to appear to no longer be themselves. We measured perceived identity change in patients with three kinds of neurodegenerative disease: frontotemporal dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Structural equation models revealed that injury to the moral faculty plays the primary role in identity discontinuity. Other cognitive deficits, including amnesia, have no measurable impact on identity persistence. Accordingly, frontotemporal dementia has the greatest effect on perceived identity, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has the least. We further demonstrated that perceived identity change fully mediates the impact of neurodegenerative disease on relationship deterioration between patient and caregiver. Our results mark a departure from theories that ground personal identity in memory, distinctiveness, dispositional emotion, or global mental function. ' ('Neurodegeneration and Identity' by Nina Strohminger of Yale School of Management, Yale University and Shaun Nichols of Department of Philosophy, University of Arizona, published August 12th 2015 c.f. )

Nathan Collins, writing for the Pacific Standard ('Identity Is Lost Without A Moral Compass', Quick Studies Series, 18th August 2015), puts it this way:

'In previous work, she and co-author Shaun Nichols found that moral traits, such as empathy or politeness, seemed to be the most important component of identity. But that research focused on hypothetical situations—if a friend became a jerk, would he or she still be the same person you knew before? The new study "is an expansion of that work that aims to see if this privileging of moral traits extends to a real-world example of radical mental change, neurodegeneration," Strohminger writes.

"Contrary to what generations of philosophers and psychologists have thought, memory loss doesn't make someone seem like a different person."

Strohminger and Nichols focused on three neurodegenerative diseases: frontotemporal dementia (FTD), Alzheimer's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS served as a control since it primarily affects movement, and not memory or moral behavior. Alzheimer's, for its part, primarily affects memory, but also has some impact on moral behavior. Of the three, FTD is the one most likely to have a moral impact—its symptoms include a loss of empathy, poor judgment, and increasingly inappropriate behavior.

'Next, Strohminger and Nichols recruited 248 people from online support groups for friends and family of patients suffering from FTD, Alzheimer's, or ALS, and they asked questions like, "Do you feel like you still know who the patient is?" using five-point scales. Friends and family of ALS patients averaged about 4.1 points on that scale, but the number dropped to 3.8 for Alzheimer's and to 3.4 for FTD, suggesting that morality was at the core of how people conceived their loved ones' identities, perhaps even more than memory.

'Following up with a more detailed analysis, Strohminger and Nichols discovered that symptoms of declining morality were strongly associated with the perception that a patient's identity had changed, while failing memory, depression, and more traditional measures of personality appeared to have almost nothing to do with a person's identity. The only other symptom that had any discernible impact on identity was aphasia, a language impairment' (c.f. )

Monday 17 August 2015

Women rape men... often - crime statistics. #Sociology #Demographics

Reading certain newspaper articles leaves a surreal taste. Perhaps it shouldn't. Inevitably though, it tends to. New statistics suggest that we shouldn't be quite so surprised when women rape men.

Perhaps it is that manly world view, which struggles to accept statistics from America of all places: where 38% of reported sexual violence incidents recorded in their government's National Crime Victimization Survey- were against men. Just maybe, it is a result of our men-are-tough mentality, that we ignore that 46% of sexual crimes against men in that placid western nation, were performed by women.

Some examples of alleged rape by women - appearing in South African media, might include:

Terrified men are reported as claiming gangs of rough and ready women performed unwanted sex acts upon them, before fleeing in getaway cars.

Strange tales of men being stalked late at night and forced to perform at knife point - by otherworldly not-quite-femme-fatales . The men find themselves ridiculed in comment boxes and on radio shows.

Rapes of men by women - also take place in social contexts, and in schools, colleges and in the home, the Pacific Standard is quick to assert. Use of alcohol or drugs by women to rape men, is even common enough to have historical references. Lot was famously raped by his daughters in a cave, if we are to accept the biblical record of his tragic life.

These sometimes almost sensationalist tales are the sort that make for headlines by the media, however - statutory rape of men, performed by older women is also a matter that evokes perhaps misplaced disbelief. Sober sources state that even if a relationship seems fine at first, long term damage can be done upon the underage gent. Abandonment issues emerge when the lax lass inevitably breaks the arrangement to shreds.

As legal practitioners and members of the public, sometimes we need to be reminded that rape is not a crime with only female victims. Men may not quite so often come out and say it, but they do report being raped often enough to the police to cause just a bit of concern.

As girls, women are as violent as men are. Society rather than genetics is responsible for reduced physical violence among women. Passive aggressive behaviour such as false compliments, and rumour mongering often replace aggression among women in socially sensitive scenarios. This is why men far outnumber women in jails. However, a statistically relevant portion of sexual crimes continue to be committed by women.

This article was inspired in particular by an article in an American sociological magazine, the Pacific Standard. That specific piece of journalism opens with the bizarre headline 'Young Men and the Unspoken Danger of College Campuses', and was written on the 10th of August 2015 by a David L. Bell.

Sunday 9 August 2015

Cloud 10 and a half... I'd thought 11 at least... oh well... such is life.

I thought I had doubled in girth until I noticed the horrid new scale had accidentally switched to pounds. It explained why I was now 5 something centimetres tall. Make that 5"10... wait... aren't I 5"11? Turns out not. I entered my height on the internet: 179 CM... 5"10.5... existential crises looming. "Is 5"10 short?" I asked that annoying Jeeves, Google. Turns out 5"10 is the height anyone below 5"10 pretends to be. Women like their men 5 inches taller than them... It explains why that monstrously tall Kenyan lady called me short. 5"5 ladies, here I come.

I am 1 cm shorter than 5"11, and three below 6 foot. With shoes... 6, maybe... perhaps if I gel my hair up, but generally I don't.

So that means my future wife will be 5"5 or something? Not that I know anything about heights. I must've worn socks when I thought 5"11... that could be it.

Worse still, my new scale says I am 0.7 kg heavier than the old one says, but it is glass and the old one is wood. There is something scaly about a glass scale, isn't there? Maybe I should boycott the scale, tell it men don't weigh themselves, or something... and shoe it into the darkness where truth tellers in Africa are sometimes exiled to?

I measured my height four times that day, just to make sure. 1.79 m. Every time. I even enlisted help, the result was the same. Perhaps with socks I'd be 5"11, who knows? I almost considered it, but who has the time to put on socks for a self put on? I resigned myself to my height. I fit just under most doors and chandeliers. I can sit up straight in my car without hitting my head... perhaps 5"10.5 is okay... I didn't know.

In the old days men were uber short. That knight in his overly shining armour, he was a squirrel riding a shetland poney... no wonder they thought monsters roamed the earth... meeting me at 5"10.5, they'd think goliath had friends over for dinner... poor short men. Short men are thought to sometimes have a short man complex... Napoleonic like or whatnot... but the average man is below 5"10, so I am quite, it seems, alright. Not that complex, I am not short... shorter than I thought, but not a big deal... 5"10... okay then. I am a centimetre above the height everyone below 5"10 pretends to be on online dating sites, the internet said... and with that I am somehow now alright... as for my new scale's uncertain fate... we'll have to wait and see. It might be an activist telling only slightly tall tales, but it would weigh heavily on my heart if I gave it the boot.

Saturday 8 August 2015

Donald Trump is pulling an Obama... in all the wrong ways...

Obama was known largely as an election winner, a writer of a book where he admitted chowing on dogs was not a tasty use of free time, and as little else. He promised hope and change, with few clear campaign promises, populist jargon, and sound bites insulting enemies of his political campaign. Donald Trump is doing likewise minus the chowing on dog meat, and with the help of Liberal Media, he is the most talked about Republican candidate.

His insulting statements about non-Americans, harsh criticisms of woman kind, and outright outrageous attacks on anyone who does not tow his line, make him dangerous. Anyone who insults Trump has their integrity called into question by him. This mimics Obama's style of vicious, acidic attacks on any who dares to slightly criticise him. Obama famously placed a British teen on the No Fly List for his sending an e-mail critical of the President. Trump no doubt would do much worse... one hopes he does not set up as Judge Judy of the White House.

At his announcement, I had thought Trump's business experience and his well-known status could make him presidential. Over the past few weeks, he has acted more the toddler than the president-in-waiting. If poll numbers are anything to go by, Trump has a good chance of winning the Republican primary. But a President Trump, could further the disasters Obama has wrought for America on the world stage. If I were an American voter and had a choice between Trump and Hillary: the bombast bamboozler and the questionable former secretary of state... I would be highly disappointed. One is suspected of peddling influence, the other speaks as though he were under the influence. Neither are presidential in the statesman sense. Though Hillary is less likely to cause World War III than Trump, while in office, I also suspect she might sell Alaska back to Russia if it best suited her purse strings.

Friday 26 June 2015

I, artificial-intelligence-lawyer

Panic is ensuing. Lawyers are scared. Aren't they always? The same fears the Luddites had during the Industrial Revolution are sweeping many more industries than ours. In one sense, the Luddite mill workers were not incorrect: many lost their jobs, wages did not improve for them, and rich landowners benefited while workers did not. A hundred years later, wages had increased, and the improved efficiency of machines had created jobs no one could imagine existing. The job market grew because of machines, eventually.

Most large commercial aircraft could fly themselves. In fact, most of the time they do. In the age of Twitter, news media very seldom break a story. However, the news has not disappeared, at least not yet. Social media users fall prey to a hundred thousand different scams. The knowledge and skills of the journalist, in providing an authentic and verifiable voice, are indispensable in a world of disinformation.

Do-it-yourself (D.I.Y.) legal contracts had been available for years from Horters. Sage Pascal has now entered the same business, with their LegalWrite software platform, offering over one hundred contracts to laymen seeking to avoid a visit to the office of an average lawyer. I went through every one of these contracts in preparation for one of my board exams. As I read through them, I could think of a hundred scenarios where something could go wrong if a lawyer did not in the very least bit read through the final contract with the knowledge of the person's circumstances.

Many lawyers fear that clever AI (that is, artificial intelligence) will replace them as legal advisors, contract drafters, researchers, and as the writers of wills. And yet, for the same reason that large commercial aircraft companies still insist on pilots in their planes, and that news media still exist despite Twitter, artificial intelligence will not take the jobs of lawyers.

Laymen have drafted their own contracts for many years. Much of litigation is thanks to this practice. A nonlegal mind is often unable to adapt a contract to their inevitably very specific circumstances. Even if an artificial intelligence, or pro forma contract could be adapted to every circumstance, people would still require lawyers for the same reason that they require pilots. My suggestion is that artificial intelligence will not take our jobs as lawyers, but that it might automate some of our processes, speeding up our ability to do our jobs. People go to lawyers, because they want to be absolutely certain that their interests, embedded in their contracts, will stand the test of time. Even if machines land up drafting our contracts, legal eyes will still need to read over the contract, and edit it where necessary.

What once took a lawyer six hours, might, within coming decades, take a lawyer six minutes, with the help of a deep learning machine to draft the actual contract. However, the same product would be bought from the lawyer, namely an ability to properly interpret the law, foresee pitfalls, and ensure the quality of the contract, the requested will, or of a memo giving legal advice.

Just as the Internet adage goes, that a product which takes a person fifteen minutes to create, and cost an absolute fortune, is worth a fortune. What is being paid for, is not the fifteen minutes it took to create the product, but the many years of study, skill, and experience required to make the product in fifteen minutes.

What is likely to happen, is that, over time, legal services, with the help of deep learning machines, will reduce radically in cost. This is what happened with the Industrial Revolution, in relation to blue-collar jobs that did not require much thinking. What also happened, is that demand for the products of the machines increased. Every person wanted to own a cotton shirt, several if possible. If anything, the deep learning machine revolution, will allow legal services to be more swiftly and easily provided by expert lawyers. With less effort required by the lawyers providing the services, fees will likely go down. With fees going down, more people will be able to afford legal services, more of the time.

Economics being as they are, the advent of personal computers, meant to reduce the effort and work human beings have to put in, in doing so, increased their workload. If anything, with the aid of deep learning, artificially intelligent machines, lawyers will have more work than they ever have. The deep learning machine industry, furthermore, will impact all other areas of the economy, where human intelligence is currently required. If your architect does not have to draw the plans, but merely go over them to make sure that they are safe and accurate and compliant, more people will be able to employ architects. Intellectual services that once only were available for the elite, could suddenly become available for everyone. If anything, the future holds the potential of more jobs for lawyers, not less. It also holds the potential that what money these lawyers earn will get them further than ever before.

So fear not, my colleagues. The machines are not out to get you. Like a personal computer, and that brilliant invention known as email, they are merely here to increase your workload.

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Smile if you want to be happy.

I am, alas, an unfortunate fan of sociological magazines, such as the much trumpeted: Pacific Standard.

Such high brow publications always talk about these obtuse studies, where people are asked to think or write about some distant past situation, in their short and no doubt meaningful earthly existence. The unwitting-subjects-of-these-experiments' subsequent decisions? They are compromised by these purposely engineered prior thought crimes, and sociological conclusions are quite rapidly drawn on everything from social exclusion, power and poverty to the effectiveness of game theory.

Think about a time when little old you were... gasp... socially excluded, and you, yes, you - with the crooked smile and the coffee stained teeth, are statistically likely to become... wait for it... more likeable.

Think about when you were weak, and you will gain empathy for those in a pinch.

People who think of others as their superiors - are better able to read their emotions. When told a picture is of an inferior, it becomes perplexingly difficult for the people - inevitably called 'subjects' - to read the emotions of the lads and lasses in those same pictures.

Think about yourself as smart, and you lose intelligence in subsequent test results, but think of your humble little muggins as trying hard, and always doing your best, and your results in tests somehow go up.

When, as a young boy, I moved to a new school... I moved from the government syllabus to the posh IEB, and along with it, to a school outsiders called... 'snobbish' - at the best of times. It was not a pleasant shift, needless to say.

One of the girls in my class once did a thoroughly boring prepared-speech on none other than 'happiness'.

She said that smiling itself caused the systems in the human body to magically release those special chemicals that cause happiness. I left that class with a fake smile, and faked happiness that day, until I was a happy lil' chap.

Life being as it is, I soon returned to blank expressions, and held to that for a few years, way back when... but c'est la vie, especially when moving to a different school.

Besides, I prefer to see my emotions as alarm bells, warnings of something that my subconscious mind has secretly picked up upon, and that poor old inobservant me just hasn't picked up yet... I would rather be genuinely sad, than peppy happy, any day of the week except Sunday. I do believe I am genuinely happy, but that does not mean a few thought crimes don't sometimes help me become better at what I need to achieve.

Actors will teach you something similar, they say that if you want to be successful, pretend you already are. Your posture changes how you view the world. It also changes how others view you in a given moment. The most annoying opponent is one who smiles when they lose a game. The absolute worst, is one who encourages you when you miss the ball, and insists on wishing you the best of luck.

Returning to those ridiculous, yet bizarrely effective, thought experiments that the inevitable sociology obsessives gravitate to...

Put a pencil in your mouth, so as to force yourself to smile. You will be less critical of what you are reading or being told at that moment... try doing so while reading this very article, and await that spinning wheel television shows portray as hypnosis. You will be an optimist, or more so, if you insist upon a breakneck speedy smile.

P.S. dear reader, you being less critical at such a critical moment, will not prevent your nearby colleagues from being critical of you, for your use of a pencil (hopefully your own): as what they might, for-some-unknown-reason, perceive as a chew toy.

Frown heavily now, and you will spot far more errors. I often enjoy a hardy frown, and a bit of bitter coffee... when it comes time to edit my tremendous or horrendous prose... it works wonders that a smile never could.

So, back to those lessons that unfortunate aspiring actors do get at sub-par-and-above schools of the arts...

By mimicking powerful or successful people, actors do something they don't even notice at first. Think of the first time a beautiful lass or two said she loved you (or, for the ladies, and those so oriented, the first time a lad did... mutatis mutandis, and all). Your posture will straighten. You will smile from ear to ear.

Just, as going to sleep at a certain time, will set and reset your biological clock, smiling from ear to ear, even without those champagne bubble memories, and standing up straight - along with that - will undoubtedly affect your internal confidence and happiness clocks.

The saying that you should treat everyone you meet as an old friend, in order to curry their favour (stop being so diabolical, dear reader) - also seems to ring true. What we think, and the way we behave, influences our mind and the behaviour of others.

So, if you are not feeling particularly confident, after you phoned up that first girl... or lad - who ever said s/he loved you - and s/he quite politely told you that s/he just isn't whatsoever interested in you anymore...

Pretend you are a puppet on a string, being held up by the top of your head, or that you are hanging on for dear life - by a wooden beam between your teeth.

Mind you, in the second example, don't put your teeth to the sky: have your face at exactly 90% from the ground... otherwise, it just looks a tad strange. In fact, so strange, that you might be socially excluded by your colleagues... priming you effectively for the coming example about social exclusion.

On that sour note, read on, to just another sociology topic...

When you next meet someone new, think of a time your were socially excluded from some portion of society - one that you so desperately wanted to be included with... statistics analysis suggests you will be more charming as a result.

Perhaps, you might be thinking to yourself - you should have done so before you called up that first lass/lad/etc who - once upon a blue moon - said she... or he... or s/he... loved you. Maybe you would have been just charming enough to reignite the inexplicable spark she... or he... once somehow - for no reason you can ever seem to comprehend - felt.

So, sit up straight in your chair, and pretend you love your day job as much as you love hearing other people say they love you. You might just become more focussed on your work, and you might just get that promotion you always wished you had. You might also not, but isn't it worth a try?

In the very least, you might find that you visit your physiotherapist or chiropractor just a pinch less, and are far happier now that you have that extra bit of cash to spend. Sitting up straight can, somehow or other, do wonders for your posture.

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