jump to navigation

Nelson Mandela – Released February 11, 2010

Posted by baldricman in News.
Tags: , , , , ,
1 comment so far

Today marks the day, 20 years ago, that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was released after 27 years in prison, most of which was spent at Robben Island. Now there are probably a thousand articles and blogs describing this, and I don’t feel up to the challenge of trying to match the depth of knowledge and research and journalistic skill that is out there today, so I thought I’d just share a few of the things I’ve come across already.

Firstly, while listening to the radio on the way in, the presenters played a short montage of various interviews and old archived radio/TV broadcasts, from around the time of  Mandela’s release, and all the unrest before and after. After some quick googling, I came across http://www.mandelahistory.org/, and from there found NPR’s “Remembering Nelson Mandela’s Pivotal Moment”, which contains some of these excellent and very, very interesting audio montages. You’ll hear Mandela himself, Dr Verwoed, Winnie Mandela in a telephone interview (while under house arrest), live recordings of police dispersing riots, and numerous other, very familiar voices. A lot of work as clearly gone into these, and I highly recommend you fire them up (they are streamed), and listen to them while you’re at your desk. I find it’s amazing how much of the detailed memories during that time come flooding back, with a little reminding.

Also, check out Madiba’s Release Remembered, and perhaps most vivid of all, IOL’s gallery here.

Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.

– Refusing to bargain for freedom after 21 years in prison, as quoted in TIME (25 February 1985)


My Preciousssss – 2010 Ticketsess February 4, 2010

Posted by baldricman in Baldric-Man, News, Sport.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Yes!! I won, I won! A little while ago I applied for World Cup 2010 tickets to several games here in Cape Town, and this morning I checked my ticket application status (for the umpteenth time, let me tell you), and lo and behold, this is what greets my tired eyes:

Those little green ticks, dear friends, mean “Congratulations Awesome-Person, you have successfully applied for tickets!”

So in a little over 126-odd days, I’ll be heading off to the Green Point Stadium to watch Uruguay thump France! Yeah!!

The Urban Astronomer January 11, 2010

Posted by baldricman in astronomy, News.
Tags: , , ,

The more observant among you may have noticed a very recent addition to my blogroll, of The Urban Astronomer, the recently birthed brainchild of Allen, my older brother.

For as long as I can remember, Allen has been passionate about everything in the night sky (except perhaps clouds), and his enthusiasm certainly rubbed off over his younger two brothers. But now, he finds himself in deepest, brightest suburbia, with little time for astronomy… But he says:

How to keep the passion alive in a suburban backyard, with no telescope, trees blotting out most of the sky, and bright security lights drowning out the stars?  Check my updates regularly and find out how I do it!

Now I know I may be biased, but I have to say, I’ve found the site and its articles very interesting, as well as quick and easy to read (perfect for at-your-desk browsing). It is one of the most consistent and engaging sites on the topic I have seen, and it is written in a manner that is completely non-threatening to the amateur or aspiring astronomer, no matter how “un-scientific” they may feel. And yet, (and this is my favourite part) you’ll be hard-pressed to find any bias, nor any irresponsible over-simplification and outdated information that most sites (and even a few books) are just too lazy to explain properly, verify, or update with new theories or research.

But seriously, take a look at it, bookmark it, whatever, if you’re even the least interested in science, astronomy, or the universe.

Spectacular Meteor November 25, 2009

Posted by baldricman in astronomy, News, VOTD.
Tags: ,
1 comment so far

Wow. It really takes a spectacular cosmic event to get me to blog….. Luckily for me, last Saturday, 21 Nov, there was a very bright meteor seen streaking across the skies of northern South Africa. I first was made aware of it by my brother Allen (who is “into all that stuff”), when he started trying to collect eyewitness accounts on Facebook. He had written

A spectacular Fireball over South Africa, visible from Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumulanga lit up the sky like daylight for a few seconds on Saturday night. Anybody who saw this, please message me with details? We’re trying to gather as much information as possible. I need to know time, your location, and what you saw. If you saw the actual fireball then I’m especially interested!To learn more, check http://www.planetarium.co.za

Naturally, my curiosity was aroused. Friends started responding, and most recently Allen has pointed us to this site here, which gives several excellent descriptions of people’s experiences of the phenomenon. I highly recommend you check out that site, which is where I found this video, taken from a security camera in Midrand:


SA 2010 – Soccer Stadium October 26, 2009

Posted by baldricman in News, POTD, Sport.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Always a fan of the SA Good News site (though not the most regular visitor, to be fair), a friend sent me a link to them again. So after some browsing, I came across this nice little collection of photos showing the progress of some of the soccer stadia being built in South Africa, in readiness for next years FIFA World Cup. So, here is one picture – click on it to get to the rest, and I highly recommend a tour around the site, it really is good news!

Moses Mabhida stadium, Durban

Moses Mabhida stadium, Durban

Anna Paquin & The Brothers Streep (on Graham Norton) October 12, 2009

Posted by baldricman in Baldric-Man, music, News, VOTD.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Anna Paquin

Anna Paquin

I blogged briefly about Cape Town comedy band, The Brothers Streep (of Steri-Stumpie fame) a few weeks back, and today, while checking my facebook feeds, I noticed a high volume of posts about their Anna Paquin song (they have a barely-healthy obsession with the actress, it would seem).

So I faithfully checked it out, and found that their antics had not gone unnoticed! Graham Norton of the Graham Norton show on BBC 1 found the song, and played a portion of it during an interview with Anna. Then, to top it off, he managed to rustle up the band on a Skype call during the show (how the bandwidth held out is another question), and an extra verse was then performed.

So why am I posting this? Well, I kinda know one of the guys in the band, so that kinda makes me a bit of a celebrity, and I thought you should all know.

VOTD: Obama calls Kanye a “Jackass” September 18, 2009

Posted by baldricman in News, VOTD.
Tags: , , , , , ,

Haha, classic stuff. For those who don’t know, at the last MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye West hopped up on stage at the beginning of Taylor Swift‘s acceptance speech (for “Best Female Video Award”), stole the mic, and basically told everyone that Beyonce deserved to win, instead of her. As can be expected, there has been a major outcry, lots of opinions, apologies, analysis, blah blah blah. Really, I don’t care much at all, apart from some Springeresque entertainment value. And that’s where today’s video comes in. US President Barrack Obama was about to give an interview (I don’t know the details, and again, don’t really care 🙂 ), and the cameras picked up some pre-interview chit chat. CNN subsequently aired it.

Classic stuff, he seems like a really funny guy. I loved the “come on guys, cut the president some slack” part!

For anyone who’s interested, check out the original Kanye West VS Taylor Swift clip below. What I find impressive, is Beyonce’s response to it all 🙂

District 9 August 31, 2009

Posted by baldricman in News.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

There has been a lot of excitement around the release of the new Sci-Fi movie, District 9, over the past few weeks and months. A lot of the hype stems from, in my opinion, 2 things: the first, that the movie has been created on a remarkably low budget (around $30 million), and the second, that both the director and the lead actor are South Africans. Directed (and written in part) by Neill Blomkamp, with Sharlto Copley taking the lead role as Wikus van der Merwe, the movie is glaringly short on big-name Hollywood “talent”. Yay!D9-1

District 9 grossed around $37 million on opening weekend. It is interesting to note that Transformers 2 grossed closer to $100 million, but its production budget was double that. (Oh how it pains me to even compare the two films…) Part of District 9’s success has been attributed to the very clever viral marketing campaigns, started back in 2008. Giant signs (such as the “For Humans Only” sign pictured here) were erected in public areas, long before the movie was released.

So anyway, I managed to go and watch District 9 this weekend with wifey and friends, and I must admit, I went in very critical and demanding like many South Africans do, when watching any “local” TV or film. I was also trying to ignore all the mixed reviews I had read snippets of (I hate reading reviews before a movie: I think reviews prescribe opinions too much) However, now that I’ve seen it, here are some of the reviews I thought had merit:

a sharp-edged science fiction parable that mixes metaphor and violent action with such dizzying confidence that you leave the theater feeling charged and alive – James Kendrick

The film’s message, that compassion and humanity extend far beyond our own species, isn’t subtle, but it is effective. – Robert Roten

Copley’s wild-eyed performance as the luckless Wikus has a lot going for it. The fact that he’s so ridiculous — and so dogged — adds to the pathos, for it’s patently clear Blomkamp has no taste for easy endings. – Sandra Hall

So, what did I think?

I liked it. I liked it a lot.

It was funny, intense, and shocking. Funny, because of the simple-Afrikaner that Wikus was. Intense, because there wasn’t much room for reflection during the storyline, never time to think over what has just happened. (Just how Wikus felt, I’m sure). And a little shocking at times mostly because of the realism added from the documentary-style, and the very South-African-ness of it all (it didn’t feel like a movie a lot of the time)

The acting was great (with very few exceptions, perhaps such as Wikus’ wife), and the effects were top-notch too, in my uneducated opinion. (They didn’t look like effects at all 🙂 ) I think one of the things I enjoyed most in the movie was the sound. The music was quite subtle most of the time, and very South African, but the sound of the helicopters and vehicles was just completely and entirely real, and loud, and immersive. It didn’t sound like a typical Hollywood action flick with “enhanced” sound and extra bass added to every thing. It just sounded like there was a frikkin helicopter landing in the cinema.

Was it a socio-political commentary? Did it descrive the human condition? Did it ask tough questions? Yes, to all three. But, before we get too carried away on whether this was a ground-breaking, maiden-head of the genre, I’m not convinced there is a whole lot of depth to it. Which is why I want to go and watch it again, soon.

Check out the official site for District 9, and once you’ve seen the movie, read some of the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.

D9 - 2

Discovery and ISS Docking Visible this Weekend August 28, 2009

Posted by baldricman in astronomy, News.
Tags: , , , , , ,

nasa-discovery-launchThanks to Allen for sending me an excerpt from the JHB Planetarium newsletter, telling us about the docking of the space shuttle Discovery, to the International Space Station, on Sunday. And, it should be visible from South Africa.

The International Space Station (ISS) passes directly over South Africa on Sunday evening (Aug 30th) – possibly accompanied by the shuttle Discovery!  Discovery is scheduled to launch Friday evening (SA time) to deliver crew and equipment to the orbiting station, but has been delayed twice this week due to a technical problem.
The orbit of the ISS takes it over southern Africa a few times each month.  On Sunday, it passes directly over Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Gauteng, moving towards Zimbabwe.  Start looking for it at about 6:48pm if you’re near Cape Town, 6:51pm for  Gauteng. Look towards the south-west, for a very bright “star” that is moving slowly up over your head, if you are under the path of the ISS. If you’re to the north of the path, the ISS will appear in the south-south-west, and will move upwards across the sky to your left. If you’re to the south of the path, the ISS will appear in the west-south-west, and will move upwards across the sky to your right.

Below is an image from the Planetarium website, showing the path of the ISS (click the image to see the full version):


Moon Rock – Who Wood a Guessed? August 28, 2009

Posted by baldricman in astronomy, News.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

A piece of moon rock held by the Dutch National Museum has recently been found out to be nothing more than a lump of petrified wood. (See News24 article here)

The rock was originally, and supposedly, given by the 3 astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission to the then Dutch prime minister, Willem Drees, in 1969. After the PM’s death in 1988, the rock was then donated to the museum. The rock, not on permanent display, was seen in 2006 by a “space expert” (who knows….) who immediately pointed out the unlikelihood of it’s authenticity. Researchers from Amsterdam’s Free University quickly confirmed the rock as a fake.

AP: "Moon rock", with note to PM

AP: "Moon rock", with note to PM

So what does this mean? Did the yanks hand over a fake as part of some twisted cosmic-frat-boy prank? Is this finally proof that the moon-landings were faked, and a piece of petrified-wood was the best they could come up with for a cheesy (pun-unintentional) “moon-rock” gift, on short notice? Or does it prove my long-held theory that there have long since been trees growing on the Moon?

Either way, the good news is that the Dutch museum will be keeping the piece, as a curiosity.