Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Idler, Friday, March 1, 2019

Let's make

it three in

a row!

"WHEN he heareth the trumpet, he saith ha,ha, he smelleth the battle afar off, the encouraging of the captains, and the shouting of the army …"

This description of the biblical horse in the Book of Job more or less coincides with the sentiments of rugby fans in anticipation of tomorrow's clash at Kings Park.

It's Black Panthers versus Thor, if you're in the Superheroes mode of thought; Natal versus Western Province if you're a diehard traditionalist; and Sharks versus Stormers if you're in the Super Rugby mould.

Whatever, this should be a humdinger. The Sharks have shown flashes of brilliance and adventure mingled with consistency in the two opening matches. So far unbeaten. Will this continue? Control of the basics, breaking out when there's a chance. A great season could lie ahead.

The Stormers have been up and down like a yo-yo. They'll be desperate to get it right this time.

Mercifully, this time it's a 5pm game as things are beginning to cool down. A great spectacle surely lies ahead.

See you in the Duikers afterwards! 'Erewego, 'erewego, 'erewego!


ARCHAEOLOGISTS from Newcastle University, in England, are studying rock engravings in an ancient Roman quarry in the Forest of Gelt, in Cumbria, according to Sky News.

They were made by Roman soldiers quarrying rock in 207 AD for repairs to Hadrian's Wall, which was built to keep out Scottish barbarians from this northern outpost of the Roman Empire.

Soldiers will always be soldiers. One of the engravings discovered so far is of a phallus. Another is an unflattering caricature of the soldiers' commanding officer. (The two engravings are apparently not conjoined).

Also engraved are the words: "Publius Aelius Hadrianus est hic." This doesn't mean "Hadrian has hiccups after ale in the pub", it simply means Publius Aelius Hadrian is here."

But those archaeologists must persevere. They might find the original engraving of the famous exhortation that has survived from Roman times right up to the present: "Nihil illegitimae carborandum est – Don't let the bastards grind you down!"


A FAT rat had to be rescued by firefighters when it got trapped trying to climb through a manhole cover in Bensheim, Germany.

An animal rescue group came to its assistance but the rat was firmly wedged, according to Huffington Post, and firefighters had to be called in to remove the manhole cover.

People might have an aversion to rats, the animal rescue folk explained, but there were occasions when there was nevertheless a moral duty to assist an animal that was in trouble.

They posted the incident on social media and the thing went viral. It might have been an overweight rat but it also was kind of cute. (Actually it reminded me of someone, though this is no time to get into politics).

Removal of the manhole cover did the trick and the fat rat was released … not to the wild exactly but to the sewer.

Yes, there's something decidedly odd about this whole thing.

A PSYCHIATRIST shows a patient a series of ink blots.

"What does this remind you of?"

"A naked lady in a bath."

And this?"

"It's a girl taking off her bra."

"And this?"

"A huge pair of boobs."

The psychiatrist sighs. "I'm afraid you're a sex maniac."

"Me a sex maniac? I like that! Who's showing the dirty pictures?"

Last word

The grass is always greener once you don't have to mow a lawn anymore.

Randy K Milholland

The Idler, Thursday, February 28, 2019




A HISTORY lesson from America is sent in by reader Beau Lintner. It arose during the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, during which home-owners had to prove title to their property, sometimes reaching back hundreds of years. It could be complicated.


A lawyer sought a Federal Housing Administration rebuilding loan for a client. He was told the loan would be granted upon submission of satisfactory proof of ownership of the parcel of property as it was being offered as collateral.

It took the lawyer three months, but he was able to prove title to the property dating back to 1803. After sending the information to the FHA, he received the following reply

"Upon review of your letter adjoining your client's loan application, we note that the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral property back to 1803. Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin."

The lawyer's response.

"Your letter regarding title in Case No.189156 has been received. I note that you wish to have proof of title extended further than the 206 years already covered in the present application.

"I was unaware that any educated person in this country, particularly those working with real property, would not know that Louisiana was purchased by the United States from France in 1803 , the year of origin of title identified in our application.

"For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to US ownership was obtained from France, which had acquired it by Right of Conquest from Spain. The land came into the possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the Spanish monarch, Queen Isabella.

"The good Queen Isabella, being a pious woman and almost as careful about titles as the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold her jewels to finance Columbus's expedition.

"Now the Pope, as I'm sure you may know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God, it is commonly accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume that God also made that part of the world called Louisiana.

"God, therefore, would be the owner of origin and His origins date back to before the beginning of time, the world as we know it, and the FHA. I hope you find God's original claim to be satisfactory.

"Now, may we have our damn reconstruction loan?"

The loan was swiftly approved.



SLOGAN displayed at the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties: "Join the three days of challenge! No alcohol on February 29, 30 and 31!"



A RECENTLY divorced man is attending an alimony hearing to determine payments.

The judge: "After considering the matter, I've decided to award your former wife R10 000 a month."

"That's jolly kind of you. In fact I'll chip in a few bucks myself when I can."

Last word

Making duplicate copies and computer printouts of things no one wanted even one of in the first place is giving America a new sense of purpose.

Andy Rooney


The Idler, Wednesday, February 27, 2019


of lingustic


PRESIDENT Donald Trump and North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un meet in Hanoi today for their second summit. Will it be another photo-opportunity or will they this time get down to brass tacks?

The Korean peninsula and its complexities are unfamiliar territory to many of us. It has some hideous verbal contractions. What, for instance, is the DPRK? How does it differ from the ROK?

The DPRK is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, what most of us call North Korea. The ROK is the Republic of Korea – South Korea.

Sky News has put together a glossary of jargon we are likely to hear a bit of in coming days. They include:

·        USFK - United States Forces Korea, 28 500 of them.

·        The 38th Parallel - After World War II, Korea was freed from Japanese occupation and divided in two along the line of lattitude at 38 degrees north, with the Soviet Union occupying the North and the US the South.

·        DMZ - The Demilitarised Zone is the border between North and South Korea, established by the Korean Armistice Agreement in 1953, and, ironically, heavily fortified.

·        End of War Declaration – This is  a potential concession in current negotiations. Though hostilities ended in 1953, the Korean War is theoretically still on.

·        Peace Regime – This would be an agreement to formally end the state of war on the Korean peninsula and attempt to create a full political settlement.

·        Panmunjom Declaration – This is the agreement signed by South Korean president Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un in April 2018 at Panmunjom, in the DMZ. They agreed to promote common prosperity and the reunification of Korea, to eliminate military tension and the risk of war, and to establish a permanent peace regime on the Korean peninsula.

·        Byungjin Line - In 2013, Kim Jong-un announced the Byungin Line, a policy of parallel economic and military development.

There you have it. Get to know your DMZ from your USFK.


MEANWHILE, the summit is also a meeting of the world's two worst haircuts. A barber in Hanoi has taken up the theme, according to Huffington Post, offering customers free haircuts in the instantly recognisable coiffure of President Trump and the just as remarkable high-cut of Kim Jong-un.

"I feel happy with this haircut because people will think I look like the leader of North Korea," said 9-year-old To Gia Huy, who chose the Kim style.

"I like Donald Trump's haircut. It looks great and it fits my age," said 66-year-old Le Phuc Hai ."I'm not afraid of this bright orange hair colour because after this promotional campaign, the hair salon owner said he would return my hair to normal."

A couple of years ago, somebody used photo-editing software to give Kim's hair to Trump and vice-versa. The results were unnerving:



DOG-WALKERS in Arlington, Texas, were surprised to encounter in the park a fellow wearing only a gold speedo and smeared from head to toe with peanut butter.

The dogs took to him right away, licking him all over.

The fellow explained that he was a college student and he'd lost a bet. This was his penalty for losing – 10 minutes in the park, thus garbed and smeared.


"WHAT do you think our husbands talk about down at the pub?"

"Probably the same as we talk about."

"What? The dirty-minded blighters!"

Last word

The best measure of a man's honesty isn't his income tax return. It's the zero adjust on his bathroom scale.

Arthur C Clarke

The Idler, Tuesday, Febryay 26, 2019

The great

Punch and

Judy show

THE Brexit process in Britain begins to take on all the subtlety of a Punch and Judy Show. Theresa May negotiates a Brexit deal with the EU that is so manifestly faulty it's overwhelmingly rejected by parliament.

Does Theresa May temporise? No, she drives full speed for the cliff-edge, daring her MPs to stick to their guns and plunge the country into the chaos of a no-deal exit, sticking grimly to the totally arbitrary exit date of March 29.

Whoa! A whole lot of her MPs – including members of her cabinet – say: "Put on the brakes!" .Tomorrow a cross-party motion in parliament could take the final decision out of Mrs May's hands, taking "no deal" off the table as an outcome.

Enter Mr Punch with a cudgel to take to the head of Judy, er Theresa May. Will this be Boris Johnson, arch-Brexiteer? Jacob Rees-Mogg, also known as the Haunted Victorian Pencil?

Mr Punch leads the group of Tory Brexiteers who are by no means dismayed by the prospect of the cliff-edge departure, in fact relish the idea. They say they will bring down Theresa May's government if she fails. But do they really have the numbers?

This is a Punch and Judy show of high drama, immense stakes.

You think Cyril Ramaphosa has problems?



OVERHEARD in the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties: "Have you noticed that most of the household cleaning agents are Mr Min, Mr Muscle, Mr Sheen, Mr Clean … yet women complain that men don't help around the house."



A LOST parrot has been reunited with its owner through recognition of the Slovakian language, according to Sky News.

It happened in Ireland where immigrant Lubomir Michna had taught Hugo, his female African Grey parrot, a few words in Slovak.

But then Hugo disappeared one day. She was found at Dublin airport, wandering along the main runway.

This was no place for a parrot. Airport staff rescued her and put her in the care of an animal sanctuary.

The airport and a supermarket teamed up to locate her rightful owner through social media. This sounded to Lubomir very much like his parrot, so he recorded an audio clip in Slovak and sent it in.

Listening, the parrot was electrified to hear her owner's voice speaking Slovak.

"She became visibly excited," says Dan Donoher, of the Kildare Animal Foundation. "She reacted instantly and became animated and excited."

"When Lubomir arrived to reclaim her, Hugo jumped onto Lubomir's arm and cuddled into his neck. It was lovely."

Lubomir said he was happy to get back "his baby" after being separated for several days. He did not explain why a female African Grey is called Hugo. It's a Slovakian secret.



STILL with Sky News, a fellow in Basildon, Essex, in England, got a fright when he went into the toilet and was hissed at by a 1.2m snake, which then slithered up into the cistern and, eerily, turned blue from the cleaning products.

It turned out to be a rat snake, non-venomous, harmless and almost certainly an escaped pet.

They should have tried a few phrases in Slovak to find out more.



WHY are married women heavier than single women?

Single women come home, see what's in the fridge and go to bed. Married women come home, see what's in bed and go to the fridge.

Last word

The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be.

Paul Valery

The Idler, Monday, February 22, 2018


in the


CYMRU am byth – Wales forever! There's singing in the valleys, boyo, at the way they dished it to England in the Six Nations on Saturday. What a game! England's hopes of a Grand Slam are dashed, though they could still win the competition if Wales come unstuck some way down the line. But indeed to goodness, it's the Taffies who are now on course for the Grand Slam.

And great stuff by the Sharks at Kings Park. Most encouraging. But heavens – how can blokes be expected to play rugby in that kind of muggy heat? Water stops every 20 minutes, but the guys looked finished, both sides. They were sweating buckets - it would be interesting for each individual to be weighed, before and after.

Maybe the Sharks and Auckland made up for it in the pub afterwards. Maybe even a bit of ribald song. One hears this is an area of rugby that has been virtually killed by professionalism. Could it be re-asserted by thirst?



TECHNLOGY of the fifties… the Orgone Accumulator was a device sold in the 1950s by an inventor who claimed that a person sitting inside it attracted orgone, a massless "healing energy", according to an item that comes this way.

The Accumulator attracted the attention of the US federal authorities. Investigators noted that one purchaser was a college professor who said he knew it was phony, "yet useful because his wife sat quietly in it for four hours a day."



INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener notes in his latest grumpy newsletter complaints triggered by plans to split SAA into three parts (as with Eskom) by those who fear their sinecure is about to be exposed and they will be required to deliver for their salary.

"Unfortunately, the argument about and execution of this proposed rationalisation of the national airline will probably take ages and certainly cost money. Whether or not this is the right remedy should not anyway be something for our government to decide upon.

"There is already ample evidence that they are hopeless at running most things – in particular, they are lethally bad when it comes to potentially profitable enterprises.

"Just sell the darn thing now and let the buyer decide if there's any way to revive the albatross.

"And while they are about it, sell the airports too. ACSA seems to charge a great deal for allowing a plane to land".



DURBAN poet Sarita Mathur takes a look at the story of humanity

Yes, we are all stories,
One needs to read underneath
The covers.
All is not what it seems.
Complex is our journey.
Though simple it may seem.
On the surface. 
We are all stories,
Our story needs to be told.



A woman and a baby are in the doctor's examining room, waiting for the baby's first examination. The doctor arrives, examines the baby, checks his weight and - a little concerned - asks if the baby is breast-fed or bottle-fed.
"Breast-fed," she replies.

"Please strip down to your waist."

She complies. He pinches her nipples, presses, kneads, and rubs both breasts for a while in a very professional and detailed examination.

He motions to her to get dressed and says: "No wonder this baby is underweight. You don't have any milk."

"I know. I'm his grandma. But I'm sure glad I came."


Last word

England and America are two countries separated by a common language.

George Bernard Shaw

The Idler, Friday, February 22, 2019




HERE'S something that for absurdity beats Brexit and the Great Wall of Mexico rolled into one.

The states of southern Africa have  90% plus of the world's rhino population, a responsibility that runs into millions upon millions every year in terms of financial cost and has also cost the lives of many hundreds of rangers.

Yet the means of carrying out this responsibility, which in essence is to ensure the survival of the species into the 21st century and beyond is decided not by the states of southern Africa but by the rest of the world.


In 1977 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) with the best intentions voted for a ban on international trade in rhino horn. Forty-two years later, that ban is still in place. It's had a disastrous effect on the rhino population of southern Africa, where deaths at the hands of poachers now exceed births, meaning the rhino is headed for extinction.

Rhino horn has always had a cultural and medicinal value in the Far East. Prosperity in countries like China and Vietnam has increased demand exponentially. Rhino horn is now valued higher than gold. The demand drives a massive illegal trade that funds poaching (and corruption) on a scale that outpaces the efforts of field rangers and conservation bodies.

Hence the crisis of rhino survival. And here lies another paradox. Various NGOs thrive on crisis. They raise funding from governments and other wealthy sources to protect the rhino. They lobby for the ban on the legal trade to remain in place. It will happen again at the next Cites conference in May.

The anger and frustration were palpable this week at a gathering at the Pretoria Country Club of LTRS (Legal Trade for Rhino Survival) where environmental scientists and others put their case for a lifting of the ban so that a strictly controlled legal trade in rhino horn (of which there is a huge stockpile from natural attrition) can be used to rescue the species – without killing a single rhino..

Foreign diplomats were present. Eswatini (Swaziland) and Namibian government delegates expressed support for a lifting of the ban. (The South African Government's stance, astonishingly, appears ambivalent).

Dr George Hughes, a former CEO of the Natal Parks Board (now Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife) sketched how various species in Natal had been rescued from extinction since the 19th century. The method: sustainable use of wildlife, as demanded now for the rhino.

But will it be allowed? Or will the countries of Southern Africa break away from Cites? It's a real problem.



INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener notes in his latest grumpy newsletter that state capture seems to have faded as an issue.

"Despite the much-trumpeted extradition treaty agreed with the United Arab Emirates last year, it seems that the police need no longer hang around OR Tambo International waiting for the incoming Dubai flights.

"Astonishingly, the cases and allegations against the Gupta brothers have now evaporated. So still we wait for the arrest of someone – anyone—who stole all our money."



LAWYER: "The blood tests are back. I've got good news and bad news."

Client: "OK, what's the bad news?"

"Your blood type matches that found on the murder weapon and in the getaway car."

"And the good news?"

"Your cholesterol's down to 130."

Last word

I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I'm in a cabinet meeting.

Ronald Reagan


The Idler, Thursday, February 21, 2019


scrape the


AS THE Brexit deadline approaches, are the Brits summoning up The Spirit of the Blitz?

The countdown is becoming alarming. Honda are closing their car manufacturing plant at Swindon, which means the disappearance of more than 3 000 highly skilled jobs – probably 10 000 in the town as a whole when you take into account the supply chain.

Mercedes Benz are making worrisome noises.

The major banks are hightailing it from the City of London for alternate facilities in Europe.

And now the farmers say they haven't a clue as to whether they will still have their markets in Europe after Brexit; nor whether they will still be allowed to use European farmworkers to gather the harvest and tend to the livestock.

Not to mention the Northern Ireland border, to which nobody seems to have any sort of answer and which could lead to a resumption of sectarian violence, or Northern Ireland's withdrawal from the United Kingdom, or both.

All of this is, of course, totally self-inflicted. Yet the Brits are showing signs of summoning up the right spirit for this self-inflicted blitz. It seems they accept that belt-tightening lies ahead.

Prime Minister Theresa May is reported in the London Daily Mail to have addressed her cabinet on the need to avoid food wastage. She apparently gave them some valuable advice.

When she finds mould on a jar of jam, she said, she doesn't throw the jar away, she scrapes off the mould. The jam beneath is perfectly good to eat. (Nobody has denied the report. It's caused quite a stir.).

That's the spirit! We'll fight them on the beaches, we'll fight off the mould on jam!

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic a TV figure has caused another stir by telling viewers he hasn't washed his hands in 10 years.

Fox News host Pete Hegseth said on Fox and Friends – apparently President Donald Trump's favourite programme - that he has not washed his hands for 10 years because "germs are not a real thing".

Germs could not be seen with the naked eye and therefore did not exist, he said.

Will this be reflected in future White House policy on health matters? It's too early to say. But perhaps, in the interests of the Special Relationship (which is under such strain today), Hegseth could be persuaded to cross the Atlantic and add his voice to the "scraping mould off jam" rhetoric, providing useful advice on the avoidance of wasteful expenditure on soap.

Yes, the Spirit of the Blitz will get them through.


A COUGAR was spotted perched high in a tree in San Bernadino, California, according to the BBC.

Was it one of these cougars who haunt our rightspots, slightly older women looking for toyboys? Was it poised to spring on its prey from a height?

No, this was the other-type cougar, an actual mountain lion, strayed out of its normal territory. Firefighters rescued it and returned it to the wild after the vets had taken a look and given it the OK.

Phew! Only a mountain lion! The other cougar would have given them real trouble. Yum, yum! Nothing like a toyboy fireman.



PATIENT to dietician: "Help! This diet you've put me on makes me very irritable. Just now I bit somebody's ear off."

"Oh dear. That's a lot of calories."

Last word

What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left.

Oscar Levant