Skip to main content

Past Update

I've been here almost a month, which is nuts. It seems to be simultaneously forever and only a day since I arrived. Nothing has changed much as far as training, though the quality of presentations has improved a bit. A week from Saturday we go to visit our permanent site which will be somewhere in Northern Cape or Northwest province.I taught a couple of sample grade 12 classes over the last couple weeks in maths and physical science, which went surprisingly well. Students (or learners, they call em) are so polite here! Thus far anyway.

Last weekend we went to Johannesberg (or Joberg), which is the largest city in South Africa (about 10 million--bigger than New York!). We visited the apartheid museum, which was a wrenching experience, and went to a mall, which was about the same. It's a shock going from bucket baths to good ol' American-style nihilistic capitalism. I ate a sandwich with avocados, which made me feel better. Joberg has kind of a war-zone feel to it--all the residences and businesses are heavily fortified with concertina wire, 27 kV electric fences, burglar bars, and uzi-wielding security officers. About half paranioa and half crime, I'd say.

Things are still going well with my host family. The kids are getting more comfortable (read: more irritating), so I'm brushing up on how to say "stop that!" in Setswana. The language is tough, but not as bad as Zulu or Xhosa because you don't have to click as much. I'm proud to have carried out a bread transaction at the shop the other day entirely in Setswana (though most people, especially youth, speak English fairly well).

One thing I'm learning is to not trust the Peace Corps schedule very much. Things have been all over the place as far as time, and this isthe first time I've gotten to use the internet since my last message.The Telkom workers seem to be still on strike, so I went ahead and bought a cell phone, but I haven't figured out how to make it workyet. It's free to recieve calls here though, so if you want to give me a call you might head to and see if you can get one cheap for South Africa. I'm still very short of cash here--they're giving us R100 per week, which is about $14. Once we move to our site I'll have a lot more money and time, and I'll most likely have internet through a cell phone as well.


Popular posts from this blog

Why Did Reality Winner Leak to the Intercept?

So Reality Winner, former NSA contractor, is in federal prison for leaking classified information — for five years and three months, the longest sentence of any whistleblower in history. She gave documents on how Russia had attempted to hack vendors of election machinery and software to The Intercept , which completely bungled basic security procedures (according to a recent New York Times piece from Ben Smith, the main fault lay with Matthew Cole and Richard Esposito ), leading to her capture within hours. Winner recently contracted COVID-19 in prison, and is reportedly suffering some lingering aftereffects. Glenn Greenwald has been furiously denying that he had anything at all to do with the Winner clusterfuck, and I recently got in an argument with him about it on Twitter. I read a New York story about Winner, which clearly implies that she was listening to the Intercepted podcast of March 22, 2017 , where Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill expressed skepticism about Russia actually b

Varanus albigularis albigularis

That is the Latin name for the white-throated monitor lizard , a large reptile native to southern Africa that can grow up to two meters long (see pictures of one at the Oakland Zoo here ). In Setswana, it's called a "gopane." I saw one of these in my village yesterday on the way back from my run. Some kids from school found it in the riverbed and tortured it to death, stabbing out its eyes, cutting off its tail, and gutting it which finally killed it. It seemed to be a female as there were a bunch of round white things I can only imagine were eggs amongst the guts. I only arrived after it was already dead, but they described what had happened with much hilarity and re-enactment. When I asked why they killed it, they said it was because it would eat their chickens and eggs, which is probably true, and because it sucks blood from people, which is completely ridiculous. It might bite a person, but not unless threatened. It seems roughly the same as killing wolves that

Caffeine Is Not a Bioweapon

I got into a discussion with Yves Smith about caffeine here , and somehow my comment got eaten, so I'd like to finish it up here. She said about this Raw Story piece about a girl who allegedly died from drinking two Monster drinks in two days, "The FDA lapse here is terrible. Caffeine is extremely toxic. We just happen to get highly diluted doses in coffee and tea." I commented: Yves, your implication about caffeine is incorrect on several levels. Most Monster drinks have about 10 mg of caffeine per fluid ounce, which is much less than even drip coffee (18 mg/oz) and WAY less than espresso (51 mg/oz). ( Source ) The whole idea of dilution is misguided in any case. The relevant measurement for caffeine intoxication (and most poisoning generally) is the total amount taken, not the concentration. Concentration is something to worry about, as it can make a lethal dose easier to take on, but the main concern there is pure caffeine pills, not energy drinks which are mostl