Monday, 30 April 2007

South Africa and Iraq: the missing example David Mikhail - openDemocracy

Hmm; an interesting, thought provoking article. But I do feel that the author slightly underplays the significance that the world's only living statesman played in all this: Mandela (or Madiba, as he is affectionately known by all here).

South Africa and Iraq: the missing example David Mikhail - openDemocracy: "The successful transition to democracy in South Africa could be an inspiration to Iraqis struggling with their own legacy of violence and dictatorship, says David Mikhail."

Kwikspar Abuses Parking Reserved for Disabled Motorist

This was kindly sent to me by Willie Bosch. I have left his words untouched.

Apart from the fact that parking for disabled is allocated close to the entrance of shops, they are designed to be a minimum of 3.5 meters wide.
The space is needed for the disabled persons car door to be fully open so that a wheelchair may be moved close to the seat for the person to climb or slide over to the wheelchair or the door must be fully opened for a person on crutches to be able to get out
In most cases the parking are designed with two bays next to each other, (as per above drawing) the one with the wheelchair sign on it where the vehicle should park and the adjacent bay, clearly marked in yellow with a cross through in the middle, where the wheelchair can be wheeled in for the driver or passenger to transfer to.
Should any other vehicle be parked inside the area allocated for parking for disabled motorists, there will be not enough space for the disabled motorist to get out of their car.
At the shopping centre in Seaview, there is a parking reserved for disabled motorists allocated in front of Seaview Kwikspar, but unfortunately a disabled motorist will never be able to use such facility because a silver Mercedes is parked there every day all day long.
After receiving complaints from disabled motorists that there is always a metallic silver Mercedes benze parked in that parking daily and they note that the car does not display a parking sticker for disabled motorists on it, I decided to find the owner of the Mercedes and politely discuss the problem he or she is creating for disabled motorists by parking his/her car there every day.
On Thursday (5/04/07) at Seaview Kwikspar, I was referred to a Mr John vd Berg and when I introduced myself and said that I wish to talk to him about his car parked on the parking reserved for disabled motorists, he immediately went into defence, saying that he can park where he wants and by parking there, he leaves the other parking open for his customers.
I explained that I am also a customer in his shop but I cannot use the parking allocated for disabled motorists, he replied that it must be four months since he had last seen me in his spar, but he knows who I am (he reads the w/post) and that I should leave him alone as he has work to do.
I informed him that I have parked my car in the parking for disabled and requested if he would accompany me to my car so that I could demonstrate to him that I cannot open my door fully and show him what problems he is causing by parking his car there and that a disabled motorist could bump his car with their door should they open it fully.
Mr John vd Berg replied that if that happened, he will respray his whole car and sue for expenses and that I must please go he is busy.
I explained to Mr John vd Berg that if he does not want to listed to reason (and I had even brought the attached drawing for him to see) then I will have no alternative other that to ticket his car with a R200:00 fine and let a judge decide who is right and wrong.
Many persons are under the impression that one may not enforce the law on private property. All traffic laws may be enforced at any property that has free access to the general public except where there are controlled access such as entrance booms etc, but then again if the landlord requests the traffic department to enforce the law on their property, it will happen.
The landlord of the Seaview Shopping Centre, Mr Leonard told me he has had numerous complaints about Mr John vd Berg parking his car on the parking reserved for disabled motorists but has had no joy when asked not to park there.
The above photo`s will show you my LDV parked next to the Mercedes and as you can see there is no space left for a disabled driver to get into a wheelchair
It is a shame that the management has no compassion for his clients that are disabled and would rather use our parking to give more space to his other clients that are not so disabled

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

BBC NEWS | Business | Africa aid target 'may be missed'

Credit where it is due (pun intended!); we may argue that 0.51% is too small... but at least one country made it; pity a few more could not achieve the same...

BBC NEWS | Business | Africa aid target 'may be missed': "The European Union (EU) set a target for its 15 established members to give 0.51% of Gross National Income (GNI) in aid by 2010 and 0.7% by 2013.

In 2006 the UK provided �6.85bn in aid which amounts to 0.52% of Gross National Income."

Labour on defective lifts and buildings in Durban

When one realizes that a defective lift can be a complete barrier to access for many people with disabilities, or worse, if they are defective then potentially they could strand people on upper floors, with no means of escape; then we should be absolutely horrified at this finding. It is essential that action is taken by the authorities to address this serious, dangerous problem. this work was done in Durban, but I am sure other cities in South Africa would be no better. I will follow this with great interest.

Labour on defective lifts and buildings in Durban: "24 April 2007

A random survey of buildings in parts of Durban's inner city and surrounding suburbs shows that 67% have lifts that are defective or not functioning.

The findings of the study also show that a total of 33 buildings out of 49 have lifts that are not functioning or defective. Sixty seven percent of the buildings' lifts have broken down completely, stalled frequently or are defective.

Fifty three percent of the lifts were not functioning at all from less than a year to 20 years. Approximately 20% have not worked for a period of between four to five years, and 8% between 10 to 11 years with complaints by residents disregarded by the owners or bodies corporate."

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

BBC NEWS | Health | Research opens way for bionic eye

A long way off yet, but fascinating nontheless:

BBC NEWS | Health | Research opens way for bionic eye: "Research opens way for bionic eye
A bionic eye could potentially restore sight
US scientists have opened the way for the development of a 'bionic eye'.

They used electrodes to stimulate an area of the brain that processes visual information, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported."

Monday, 23 April 2007


this is really worrying; I love rugby, even though it was the root cause of me becoming a wheelchair user. But this tells me that there is something really wrong with Rugby in South Africa. Some of the stories that are coming out are really frightening & I do feel that something needs to be done. I have heard of horror stories from my sons' schools of coaches playing injured players, suggesting that children take substances to 'improve their body mass' & even paying students to injure opponents on the field. I don't think that it is so much a problem with the laws (Rugby has laws, not rules) of the game; but more an attitude problem which starts at school level, and permeates through the whole Rugby culture here.

By Kashiefa Ajam, Melanie Peters and Tash Reddy, Pretoria News online

Rugby in South Africa is in danger of becoming a "paraplegic factory". The rugby season has only just begun, but already serious on-field injuries have cost one player his life.

Sunday, 22 April 2007 South Africa: 2010 Or Bust (Page 1 of 1)

My point exactly; let us host the 2010 at Newlands and spend the necessary on our transport infrastructure. South Africa: 2010 Or Bust (Page 1 of 1): "Fifa was quite happy with Newlands, and that way Cape Town would save hundreds of millions of rands to spend on worthy causes -- and still get the tourists even if it failed in its bid to host a semifinal."

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

I had posted previously that South Africa were one of the movers, and first signatories to this convention. I feel that this convention should have far reaching effects, but I also feel that the actual implementation will prove to be difficult for many countries to acheive. I know DPI have put together a toolkit, and I will unpack that in a later post. But I want to include an email that I sent which was part of a discussion with other interested parties here in South Africa. I think it is important that we do discuss this, and ensure that our countries' obligations are not swept aside. I feel that an African Employers Forum on Disability would be a vital input source to this process. This is my proposal, in answer to an email calling for a Disability Indaba or Conference:

I feel that the DPI toolkit is a useful addition to the process. While I agree that there is a need for dialogue on these issues, I fear that we presently have more of a monologue in South Africa at present. If there is any Disability workshop or indaba, then who generally comes? People with disabilities mainly along with junior representation from a variety of HR departments, and we end up “preaching to the converted”, but not actually putting anything into action. There is a (quite natural) level of ignorance in the general public (and by extension, politicians too), on the sort of issues that people with disabilities face.
Any indaba, or conference, has to have clear, stated goals and targets of implementation that are published well before the event, and then the whole conference has to be geared towards producing these outcomes. There is nothing more frustrating (for everyone concerned) to have the expense of attending or speaking at a conference where the vast majority of delegates are people with disabilities attending in a personal capacity, and very few decision makers from the spheres of business & government. If these people are invited to speak they tend to speak historically; “this is what we have achieved”, or “this is the policy that we have signed”. They may give loose ideas of where they may be headed in the future, but very rarely do you hear clear commitments and promises (and I would include myself in that criticism!). It is much easier dealing with historical facts, than setting yourself up for a potential fall. But we do need to put together a safe, but constructive, atmosphere, where the various stakeholders (politicians, business, public sector, the Disability sector, and people with
disabilities) can work together to produce a clear, agreed framework of implementation (with goals, targets, deadlines, responsibilities, reporting procedures, budgets, etc).

We need to empower the decision makers with the right information; “right we have signed this piece of paper – but what does that really mean for us?”
Each person attending should be fully conversant with all the various documentation.

1. Why is this convention necessary?
2. What are our collective responsibilities under this convention?
3. What legislative changes will have to be made to ensure compliance?
4. What is the timeline for the different events?
a. Ratification
b. Adherence

This then gives us the information to tackle the various issues arising from the convention:
1. How are we going to implement our commitments?
2. Where is the money coming from for implementation?
3. Who is responsible for each stage (Government, Public Sector, Private Sector, commercial, Disability sector, etc.?)
a. How do we educate these people of their responsibilities?
b. How do we ensure that these people have the necessary tools to comply?
4. What reporting procedures are there for each phase?
a. What penalties or recognition is there for non compliance or compliance?
b. How will different parties measure compliance? (in house, or external)
5. How are we going to ensure compliance to any legislation? (We all know how useless any legislation is, if it is not enforced).
6. What support measures need to be in place to assist all the different parties are equipped to comply?
a. Who will provide these support measures?
b. Where will the budget come from?
7. What are the various targets and deadlines for each phase, to ensure that we meet our overall commitment?
8. What structures do we need in place to ensure that these targets can be met?
9. What skills shortages can we identify?
a. What plans need to be put in place to rectify these skills shortages?

This should give us a clear road map of implementation with achievable goals and signposts along the way. There needs to be a monitoring / policing procedure built into each stage, and the results have to be published. As we are not the only signatories to the convention, we should also be able to gauge our progress against other countries, and share our collective experiences of implementation. We are part of a global village, and there are a huge number of signatories to this convention, it therefore makes sense to have close ties with other countries and international organisations during implementation. Here would need to be clear avenues where these lines of information can be fed back to the necessary parties.

We can only achieve this if we can ensure that we have the right decision makers from the different sectors. This cannot be achieved by one group of stakeholders alone, but will need a detailed public / private partnership arrangement. We have to ensure that there are enough high level decision makers from each sector, so that they can agree to the basic road map, and assign the necessary resources to each phase to ensure that there is adequate funding to achieve compliance. To give yet another conference without these players would be a waste of everyone’s time. We would need to set up working groups to be able to reach conclusions, within those groups there has to be representatives from the different stakeholders that have real decision making authority. I think we shall have to conclude some agreements / arrangements that would allow each sector to have different representatives that are empowered to make decisions on behalf of the sector that they represent. The challenge is to get the right players – I don’t think that another conference packed with individual PWD’s & junior members of different HR departments will work. The conference would have to be aimed at executive level.

Friday, 20 April 2007

BBC NEWS | Technology | Users force Dell to resurrect XP

Wow! I know that Microsoft were aiming for the Wow factor; well, it has worked here! Wow!: how bad is the Vista experience for customers to want to have 'old' software instead of the latest versions? How does Micrsoft hope to get people to convert (at huge cost) to Vista, when this sort of thing happens? There are many aspects of Vista that I think would be useful to my (mostly pen-based) computing, but I am not jumping to change just yet. I am hoping that Mac will bring out their long awaited Tablet PC eventually. That way the competition should improve the experience...

BBC NEWS | Technology | Users force Dell to resurrect XP: "Responding to customer demand Dell has restarted selling new PCs with Windows XP installed on them.

The decision reverses a policy begun in January that meant Windows Vista was the only operating system available on almost all new home machines.

The change came after Dell's feedback site was swamped with calls for the return of the venerable software."

Take action: Stop harassment of activists in Zimbabwe - Amnesty International

Why is the world not interested? I know that the South African government is trying to work quietly with the regime in Harare, but there needs to be more peer pressure from different leaders. I am appalled when Mugabe is treated as a hero, or when he is criticised it is some form of racism. Those that know me, know that many of my heroes are African...and I firmly believe that the only living world statesman is South African - Mandela, but the African Union needs to be more public and strong in its condemnation of Mugabe, or we shall all ultimately lose out.

Take action: Stop harassment of activists in Zimbabwe - Amnesty International: "Take action: Stop harassment of activists in Zimbabwe

On 11 March 2007, about 50 activists were arrested in Zimbabwe after attempting to attend a public meeting in defiance of a three-month ban imposed by the authorities. The activists, including leaders of the main opposition party in Zimbabwe -- the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) -- were severely beaten during arrest and later tortured while in police custody.

Police shot dead one of the activists, Gift Tandare, the youth chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) local structure in a Harare suburb."

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Alan Johnston banner
Doing my little bit, and showing my the hope that they may still find Alan Johnston alive. I use the BBC extensively, for news, and research. I believe that they offer a valuable, relatively unbiased report on most news events. I wish that people would realise that a free media is a prerequisite for a free world. Without reporters like Alan Johnston, we would not be able to learn about a whole raft of different issues. Somebody, and possibly some organisation knows...we can only hope that enough pressure can be applied, not just from politicians, to allow us to find out what has happened, and hopefully find Alan alive.

Friday, 13 April 2007

BBC NEWS | Business | Pressure grows on World Bank boss

This is the quite dreadful neo-conservative who was foisted on the World Bank by the Bush administration to deal with the perceived corruption within that organization. Is this a case of gamekeeper turned poacher? I believe that it is yet another example of cronyism and blatant corruption within the neo-conservative ranks of the present White House administration. Their arrogance and hypocrisy never fail to amaze (and shock) me. Shock and awe indeed!

BBC NEWS | Business | Pressure grows on World Bank boss: "In an editorial, Britain's Financial Times newspaper called for Wolfowitz to step down.

'If the president stays, (the World Bank) risks becoming an object not of respect, but of scorn, and its campaign in favour of good governance not a believable struggle, but blatant hypocrisy,' it said."

Another car parked in an accessible bay

Fri 13/04/2007 12:27 13042007338 Of course, any of these may be legitimate, but if they are not displaying a "Blue Permit" then it is fair game. I know that sometimes I forget to put my own up in my car, or sometimes I may have say left my car (with permit) in an accessible parking bay at the airport, and then hired a car at my destination (and so will not be able to display in the hire car). But even so, I would consider myself to be fair game to be tagged by someone else. After all I have nothing to hide, and would not mind having my car photographed in an accessible parking bay. If anyone recognizes any of the cars that I have tagged (or moblogged - is that a new word?) & you know that the person has a valid reason to be parked in this bay, then please let me know.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

More access issues around Greenmarket Square

Wed 11/04/2007 11:22 11042007322 This is another photo of issues in Cape Town. I did ask the cafe to move the furniture, which they did. But the next day I was there they were back blocking the route. Look how the umbrella is positioned to block the kerb cut out.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Getting in Touch: Virtual Maps for the Blind: Scientific American

Another take on novel navigation methods for people with sight impairments.

Getting in Touch: Virtual Maps for the Blind: Scientific American: "Researchers in Greece have developed a new system that converts video into virtual, touchable maps for the blind. The three-dimensional maps use force fields to represent walls and roads so the visually impaired can better understand the layout of buildings and cities"

Monday, 9 April 2007

Building a Tower!

Building a Tower!
Originally uploaded by dissol2.
Mon 09/04/2007 14:08 09042007321 Rob & his pal, DJ building a tall tower. It is built from just wooden blocks (slightly larger than Jenga blocks). It is amazing & pleasing to see just how much fun 'simple' toys such as this can give such pleasure to kids.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Religious right launches rival to 'un-American' Wikipedia

This is so funny! I use Wikipedia a lot, and find it a very useful resource. On one level, I think it is hilarious that the American religious right wing feels so threatened by "non American" spelling of words... That would be the correct way then?? (Try being a "real" English user, and the battles we have with the stupid spell checkers with Microsoft...yes, I know we can change to English (UK), but it keeps changing back to English (US)). But on another level, I do find this quite disturbing; if they are so insecure, and bigoted then we should only expect more trouble from them. This is designed to be a project for home-schooled children, and they hope it will become the "largest & most reliable" online educational resource of its kind...I sincerely hope not, and I hope enough people see this silly, zenophobic, racist project for what it really represents.

Religious right launches rival to 'un-American' Wikipedia: "DINOSAURS. They may not exist, but they're just launched their own online encyclopaedia. Conservapedia claims to be 'a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American.'

Rather than having anything as mundane as posting rules, Conservapedia has Commandments. The first Commandment is ' Everything you post must be true and verifiable.' Strange that, I always thought it was 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' But Conservapedia is 'the encyclopedia you can trust' – apart from knowing how to spell 'encyclopaedia', obviously – so I must be mistaken. Oooh, hang on, Commandment Five says that American spelling of words must be used. And as everyone knows, both Jesus and his dad were born in the USA.

Coming back to Conservapedia's First Commandment, it will be interesting to see exactly how any reference to the Bible will be verified as fact. Obviously, as a new site, many subjects have yet to appear, or are in need of expansion. This is the full article on Iraq, for example:

A Middle-Eastern country, currently occupied by U.S. Troops.

We feel sure that all God-fearing INQUIRER readers will step up to the plate and fill in a few of these gaps for them. If you don't, the turrists will have won"

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Jan Smuts

Jan Smuts has been a fascinating historical character for me, and the more I learn about this fascinating man, the more I am in awe of him. Not only did he write the preamble to the League of Nations (which went on to become the United Nations), but if he had been allowed to implement the results of the Fagan Commission, then Apartheid may never have happened. In my former career, I came across his name many times, as I was researching different African plants as he was a world renowned botanist.

Lord Todd, the Master of Christ's College (Cambridge University) said in 1970 that "in 500 years of the College's history, of all its members, past and present, three had been truly outstanding: John Milton, Charles Darwin and Jan Smuts" | news | special reports | 2010 soccer world cup | news 2010 prostitution 'not discussed'

Hmm... What is Jackie Selebi thinking?? I have seen at first hand the effects of alcohol on England thugs...believe me, you don't want to make alcohol any more accessible for those people. And legalising prostitution??? In a country where 20% of the population is HIV positive?? I wonder what the rate is amongst prostitutes?? Perhaps Selebi is taking a long term view on this...and the two measures combined will remove the future problems of soccer hooliganism?? | news | special reports | 2010 soccer world cup | news 2010 prostitution 'not discussed': "As part of the safety campaigns for 2010, Selebi proposed to the safety and security committee in parliament last week that prostitution and public drinking be legalised."

Friday, 6 April 2007

Sweet Photo

This is a sweet photo - found on Flickr. Well done 'Light Saver"!

Stemblog � What YOU Can Do!

I really hope that the Bill passes through this time with enough of a majority so that the Idiot in Charge cannot veto this again, and limit this really important research. I hope that there can be enough public support, and people do contact their senators in the States to get that important 66%.

Stemblog � What YOU Can Do!: "We need the Stem Cell Research Enhancement to pass, and to pass with a 2/3 majority, because President Bush has declared that he will veto this bill, once again."

South African Police Service members deployed to assist with security at Cricket World Cup

I really feel that this move is rather silly, given the rising crime in South Africa. I do believe that we have international obligations...and should be providing support to many international efforts, especially in Africa, but I cannot see that this is needed.

South African Police Service members deployed to assist with security at Cricket World Cup: "Today National Commissioner Jackie Selebi met with a contingent of South African Police Service members who are about to depart for the Caribbean to render operational assistance during the super 8 series, the semi-finals and the finals of the Cricket World Cup 2007 in Grenada, St Lucia and Barbados."

Some Access issues in Cape Town.

Some Access issues in Cape Town.
Originally uploaded by dissol2.
Thu 05/04/2007 12:56 05042007308 While many of my photos are of Cape Town & area, it does not mean that that Cape Town is particularly bad, it just happens to be where I go. This photo shows a poor road surface immediately in the path of the kerb cut-out. This is along the route around Green Market Square, an important Tourist Venue in Cape Town.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Yet more accessible parking abuse at CPT

Tue 03/04/2007 08:58 03042007303
The authorities at Cape Town airport really need to start to monitor & police these bays. I witness abuse nearly every time I in to the airport & I have never seen any action taken against these idiots, even though I have made repeated requests. All too often the culprits are hotel & travel agent taxis. This particular vehicle appeared to be a hire car or courtesy car.

Parking bay abuse outside Cape Town Airport

Tue 03/04/2007 08:56 03042007302
The usual atrocious accessible parking bay abuse at Cape Town airport. Although I tried, I could not find a single official who was willing to take any action.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Devizes to Westminster Canoe Marathon

Good luck to all the competitors in this year's D-W race! I (and David Williams) completed the event back in 1981. It is a tough race, and something I am immensely proud of having completed.

Devizes to Westminster Canoe Marathon: "devizes to westminster canoe marathon

6th April 2007–9th April 2007
Devizes to Westminster

River Thames

Hundreds of kayakers will participate in the UK’s toughest, open to all endurance event – the annual Devizes Westminster Canoe Marathon – over the Easter Weekend.

It’s 125 miles along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Reading, then down the Thames to Teddington ending in Westminster. Most eventers complete the race in around 24 hours, fighting fatique and sleep to complete the course. Now in it’s 59th year, the event takes paddlers to the limit of mental and physical endurance in what is the longest non-stop kayaking marathon in the world.

The finish line is Westminster Bridge in the shadow of the Houses of Parliament, where relatively small boats complete their winding journey along the historic Thames.

Open to anyone over 15 years of age – many schools take part – although you’ll need to train for at least six months if you’re a new to paddling. Previous participants include Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Rebecca Stephens (1st British Woman to Summit Everest), Lord Paddy Ashdown and Guin Batten (Sydney Olympics Team GB Silver Medallist)."

CYCLING; Cycling Race Says It Failed To Test for EPO - New York Times

This is bizarre at best, but it is also completely crass. Drug taking has spoiled the enjoyment for me of many (most?) sports. Now, whenever a sports person manages to pull off an amazing feat, or struggle through adversity, there is always the nagging doubt that they could have cheated. I remember watching Landis after his 'victory' on that stage in the Tour de France last year. He looked like he was "on" something: his eyes were darting all over the place, I could not believe it. I even said to my wife at the time, that he looked really odd, and that I guessed he was taking some drug. Yes; I think he is a cheat. I am also suspicious of Armstrong too. And I hate being suspicious of sportsmen and women like that. Sport should be inspiring and uplifting, but in recent years, first the communist blok countries, and then so many different sportsmen and women (predominantly from the USA) have been caught cheating. The US officials have an appalling record of hiding the results of doping tests, and allowing this systematic cheating to continue.

CYCLING; Cycling Race Says It Failed To Test for EPO - New York Times: "And now, organizers of the Tour of California, who boasted after last year's race that no riders tested positive for banned substances, have acknowledged that riders were not tested for what has become the sport's most abused drug -- the blood booster known as EPO.

That failure is more surprising because the lead sponsor of the Tour of California is Amgen, the California biotechnology company that produces the genetically engineered version of EPO, which is sold primarily to help cancer and dialysis patients battle anemia."

BBC NEWS | UK | Heart valve grown from stem cells

I try to track confirmed news about Stem cell research and developments, as opposed to the many unconfirmed claims that appear on the Internet from time to time. This is a very exciting development, and I expect to see more of there developments in the next few years.

BBC NEWS | UK | Heart valve grown from stem cells: "Heart valve grown from stem cells
Entire organs could be grown from stem cells
British scientists have grown part of a human heart from stem cells for the first time.

Heart surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub, who led the team, said doctors could be using artificially-grown heart components in transplants within three years."

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