OUT TO LUNCH
Have you noticed how much negativity there is around today? People are not happy. They’ve lost their confidence in politicians. They fear for their future and the future of their children. And that’s just the UK, the United States, Brazil, Russia, Hong Kong, Italy, France, Germany, Greece, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Every weekend brings more news of mass protests, many of them turning violent, as people realize that their political leaders are either screwing them over or are completely ineffectual.
Fortunately I am a positive kind of guy and am at one with that radical feminist writer, St Julian of Norwich. Despite the rather confusing name, St Julian (or Mother Julian) was the author of the earliest surviving book in the English language to be written by a woman and came up with the cheery reassurance that “All shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well” which was pretty upbeat for someone who lived during the Black Death and witnessed its terrible aftermath.
Of course, when it comes to being a glass half full or a glass half empty person I cheerfully admit to being a glass half empty person because that’s the only way to get the waiter to top up your wine glass. If you’re a glass half full person you’re going to spend the entire evening nursing some warm chardonnay while everybody else is having fun.
The real problem with negativity though is that it is the only commodity the media now deal in and that’s why there’s so much of it about. The British press is full of the dire consequences of a no deal Brexit. There will be 100 kilometre lorry queues at all the ports, food stocks will run low, medicines will be unavailable and the army will have to be on the streets to keep law and order.
It will be just like the Y2K threat back in 1999. With hindsight, it’s hard to believe that we fell for all that hogwash. The story put about by computer nerds was that all our computers would give up the ghost because they hadn’t been programmed to recognize the start of the new millennium. So files would be lost forever and aircraft would have nowhere to land because air traffic controllers the world over would be looking at blank screens.
Any evidence of bank deposits would be wiped out at 23:59 on December 31st 1999 and the world as we knew it would come to an end. The media went along with this nonsense because it generated readership. Companies spent fortunes bringing in experts to make sure they were Y2K compliant (whatever that was supposed to mean) and, for a brief period, geeks ruled the planet.
I spent New Year’s eve 1999 at a spectacularly good dinner party. I hadn’t even bothered to back up my computer but when I got home in the early hours of January 1st I couldn’t resist turning my laptop on and, sure enough, the correct date appeared and all my files were perfectly intact. The only downside to everything being fine post Y2K was that it meant the media had to look for something new to spook the people.
Here in SA I am convinced that news desks now have a dedicated team to look for “inconsequential racial incidents”. The employment brief for new interns probably reads something like this:
The successful applicant will be a woke self starter and will be familiar with all forms of communicating inconsequential racial incidents, including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. On quiet news days the successful applicant will be expected to invent credible racial incidents with a view to diverting reader’s attention from the real problems in the country. We are an equal opportunity employer which means don’t even bother to apply for the job if you’re the descendant of a land thief.
Last week the nation held its breath in horror as one of our news sources revealed yet more evidence of the racial intolerance which is stalking the country. Some girls at a school were allegedly told that they couldn’t wear their hair in an Afro style because it made them look like trees. Cue social media outrage. As with most things in our media today, the story was ludicrously exaggerated and inaccurate but I’ve no doubt it allowed a few talk show hosts to demonstrate their righteous indignation. How dare racist teachers tell school children what they must wear, when they are allowed to go for smoke breaks and how they can wear their hair.
The wisest course these days is to disregard much of what appears in our newspapers or online because it’s nothing but sensationalist click bait. It doesn’t matter how many times the SA Institute of Race Relations share research demonstrating that race is well down the list of concerns for the majority of South Africans because that doesn’t work for the main stream media narrative. What they want is sensation and, as Nickolaus Bauer of eNCA so ably demonstrated, if it can’t be found then it can be manufactured with a quick visit to the photo archive.
The Bauer approach to news is very simple; think of a denouement that will make somebody like Helen Zille look bad and then construct the story leading up to that denouement. And never be afraid to let your ill informed political prejudices get in the way of the story.
Fortunately the majority of people aren’t stupid and there is a growing distrust of the mainstream media across all race groups. It probably has very little to do with fake news although that is a factor.
It’s more a case of realising that so many of our “journalists” are politically embedded. But, be honest, if you were receiving the equivalent of a year’s salary from a politician’s slush fund in return for writing nice things wouldn’t you be tempted?
Like a good citizen I went off to the bank to pay my provisional tax for the first half of the 2020 tax year. I prefer to use cheques when paying the taxman. That’s partly because I grew up in an era of cheque books and partly because I have a healthy distrust of online banking which, I’m convinced, is open to abuse. But that just may be me being a Luddite. So be it.
Anyway, I went to my bank on August 22nd with my cheque and the teller refused it. Apparently SARS is unable to process cheques if the amount is more than R50000. I remonstrated and showed proof to the cashier that the account was able to cope with the withdrawal. But the answer was the same. I would need a cheque for R49999.99 and another for the balance.
My understanding is that SARS want people to pay tax on time which I have always tried to do. So why make it so difficult? If my cheque bounces it’s me that has the problem not SARS. Mr Kieswetter….please see to it.