Monday, October 02, 2006

It has bucketed down with rain for the past couple of days so I've been forced to stay inside and do some tidying (no bad thing). We've had a quote for a built-in bookshelf upstairs in our guestroom, so that gave me the excuse to go through my entire collection downstairs and weed out children's and adult fiction (happy sigh), which have all been relocated to their new abode. I hadn't realized just how many favourite children's books from my childhood I'd managed to amass: the fabulous Elizabeth Enright books, Anne of Green Gables, What Katy Did, Fattipuffs and Thinnifers, Bottersnikes and Gumbles, anything illustrated by Victor Ambrus, etc. So much pleasure in just dipping into them.

Staying inside also meant more focus on clearing my impossibly rapidly filling email inbox. I am subscribed to too many things is the problem. The African news feed supplied on the right of my blog is from the South African Mail & Guardian. In the bad old days (I'm thinking 1980s, although there were plenty earlier than that too), the M&G was then called the Weekly Mail and was notorious for thinking up clever ways to irritate the Nationalist government. When the Government banned people they were then not allowed to be quoted in the press because of their status as banned persons, or persons under house arrest. Since we also frequently lived in a government declared "state of emergency," the press was also restricted in what and how it reported the news. I have distinct recollections of the dear old Weekly Mail printing page after page blacked out, pointing out to their readership there was much to report, only they couldn't report on it. An alternative reportage style was to report meeting with [name blacked out] who said [answer blacked out], and including a photo, blacked out. Outrageously delightful - and also got them repeatedly banned from publishing, I might add.

They got us through a really difficult period in South Africa's history, trying to retain integrity. These days, the M&G still irritates people, and I still retain a soft spot for it. Getting paper copies in the UK quickly is difficult, but they have a great website and send out news digests by email. Triaging my emails today brought up some choice tidbits from the past week or so:

Apparently a movie about the trade in blood/conflict diamonds is due out at Christmas and diamond jewelry giant De Beers is so anxious to protect itself from possible negative publicity that it plans to spend $15 million on an ad campaign this autumn. The movie apparently stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a South African (I'll be interested to hear the accent!). More details here.

Donald Rumsfeld is keen to establish a US military command for Africa.
Rumsfeld said he and Marine Corps General Peter Pace, chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have pressed the military for six months for a proposal on setting up a command focused solely on Africa. Pace said Rumsfeld is due to receive a formal recommendation within a couple weeks.

"Pete and I are for it," Rumsfeld said during a question-and-answer session with Pentagon employees.
Save us. Read more here

I loved the Chavez Boosts Chomsky Sales headline, which has been quite widely covered. If you haven't seen this story, read more here.

And a charming tale of a previously unpublished Robert Frost poem found after 88 years of mouldering. Lovely serendipity! Read more here.
It is still raining. . .


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