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The SA Communist Party, still taken seriously here in South Africa and in the midst of many political spats, though, I’m told, many ANC officials drive government-provided Porsches and BMWs.

The British Empire’s heritage of kippers, baked beans and grilled tomatoes with your eggs for breakfast. When I lived here as a child, you could also get baked haddock for breakfast in British-style hotels that had no en-suite bathrooms, as they are called here, and therefore had chamber pots under the bed.

5-day international cricket tests — terrific. Much better than baseball, one-day cricket matches, Twenty20, or attenuated Rugby Sevens, all bastardized. But they now have instant replay on cricket to settle catches or LBWs, which seems fair to me. But it’s strange to see how they use simulation into the future to project the path of a ball that hit the pads and then judge whether it would have hit the wickets. They must be using Newton’s laws, I assume, but they can’t really know exactly what the spin of the ball is based on the video. But then, neither did the umpire. How long can it be before all calls get settled by electronics in all sports? I think that’s an OK solution.

Not speaking ill of the dead: The ex-minister of health here under Mbeki just died while awaiting her second liver transplant. There is a tempest in a teapot here over the fact that obituaries have sometimes resentfully written about the fact that she and Mbeki were responsible for over 300,000 deaths from AIDS by their espousing a cure of beetroot, garlic and lemon juice — taken internally, I must stress, rather than applied externally (which come to think of it might indeed successfully prevent AIDS, conception and everything leading up to it). I don’t see why one shouldn’t speak ill of the dead if they deserve it. For an interesting summary of the origin of the phrase, see…. It isn’t biblical at all.

Speaking of the dead:

There is an interesting article in the latest NYR of Books by John Richardson about Francis Bacon. I never cared much for his butchery paintings, and reading the article made me no fonder of them. If you look at art about “perversion”, by which I mean sadism and masochism and not homosexuality, then Bacon’s painting seem to my relatively untutored eye narrow and narrowing, whereas Nabokov’s Lolita, also about perversion, is somehow redeemed by a transcendence and a widening.

Finally, if you want to see a good anachronism about political behavior that forgives enemies and is unexpectedly entertaining, I sort of recommend Invictus. Mandela seemed to understand that politics was about leading rather than following the masses. And I’m impressed by Matt Damon’s flawless impersonation of an Afrikaner.

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