Black and white (and red all over).

There has been a lot of buzz and even vitriol lately about Rachel Dolezal, the white woman in Spokane, Washington, who has been passing herself off as a mixed-race black woman for the past few years. Mostly the talk has been about the disbelief that she would falsely claim black heritage. But the one part that is almost always overlooked is her dubious claim of Native American ancestry. She even claims to have been born in a teepee in Montana. Because Indians were still living in teepees in Montana in 1977, apparently. Continue reading “Black and white (and red all over).”

The machines have already taken over

The 1984 film Terminator, and its subsequent sequels, explores a dystopian world in which the machines have become our masters. Sadly, that world is no longer one of science fiction. While the nightmarish scenario of a single-minded T-800 Terminator cyborg relentlessly pursuing its pre-programmed prey (Sarah Connor? I’ll be back) has thankfully not come to fruition, we have indeed become slaves to our machines in many ways.  Continue reading “The machines have already taken over”

Monkey Love

I could write a book about misheard song lyrics, and maybe someday I will. From Jimi Hendrix’s “excuse me, while I kiss this guy” to Dylan’s “knock knock knockin on Kevin’s door.” But one of the most persistent misheard lyrics in my mind has been the Rolling Stones song “Bitch.” Which says “must be love, it’s a bitch.” For many years, in fact until only recently, I heard “monkey love, it’s a bitch.” Granted, monkey love makes no sense, but I was greatly disappointed when I learned the true lyrics. Such a letdown.

I have no great love for the monkeys of the Grand Palm Hotel and Casino in Gaborone, Botswana, however. They are menacing little terrorists. Continue reading “Monkey Love”

How Soon is Now?

At risk of sounding curmudgeonly, the world is speeding up and I don’t like it.

Our human ancestors walked out of Africa, and eventually walked all over the entire planet. Or built boats and floated to the parts they couldn’t reach on foot. Granted, it wasn’t one continuous trip, it took millenia. But they were in no particular hurry. Those bipedal hominids’ feet were made for walking. And that’s just what they did. Today we express surprise when someone walks a 10K race for charity. Yet our earliest ancestors did nothing but walk. They had no alternative. Continue reading “How Soon is Now?”


The heat portends rain. It’s stifling, calm, sweltering. The kind of heat that leaves you with no recourse but to take a mid-day nap under a fan that languidly stirs thick simmering air but provides little relief. You wake up sweaty and confused. By late afternoon dark clouds loom on the eastern horizon; edging slowly closer, accompanied by the distant and low rumble of thunder and the far away flash of lightning against the gray-black sky. The sun is soon overpowered by the darkening sky, creating an early false sunset. Confused birds fly into the treetops to roost prematurely. A squawking ibis flies overhead announcing her displeasure. Soon the fanfare begins. Loud kettle drum crashes of thunder follow short on the heels of brilliant flashes of lightning that streak from sky to horizon. Continue reading “Pula”

!It’s all in the name#

This story from the South African Associated Press syndicate about Namibia renaming a town really rubs me the wrong way. (Update: The original story has been taken down, but here’s a similar one from The Guardian) ABC news in America picked it up and posted it under their “weird news” category. Because a sovereign nation choosing its own appropriate place names is so weird, apparently.  Continue reading “!It’s all in the name#”

Some thoughts on sexism, xenophobia and the media

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. And I’ve been thinking about the sexism that is still pervasive all around us. One of the most visible examples I’ve seen in recent news headlines is the way the media are covering the so called “jihadi brides” story. Which is both sexist and xenophobic. If you’re not familiar, here’s one particularly egregious example from the British press. “Desperate women” who are “besotted” with love for handsome jihadi fighters are flooding the internet with marriage proposals in their desire to marry a potential martyr. It’s nauseating. Continue reading “Some thoughts on sexism, xenophobia and the media”

It’s the simple things

I was mildly scolded by an older Motswana lady in our office this morning for not going around to greet everyone when I arrived. I had come in, gone straight into my office and turned on my computer and started work. Much as I have done almost every day for the past ten years in DC. But Gaborone is not DC. And Batswana observe protocol. And the common courtesy is to acknowledge everyone in the office each morning when you arrive. She was sweet about it, and the way she said it was cute, like, “oh we didn’t even know you were here today, because you didn’t come greet us when you arrived.” But her point was made. In her own subtle way she was informing me that I had been rude. Point taken, Mma. Tomorrow I will issue a Dumela Mma when I arrive. And she will smile and give me a hearty Dumela Rra in return.  Continue reading “It’s the simple things”

What you think you know about Botswana is probably wrong

My impression is that few people in the US know much about Botswana, and if they are familiar with it at all it is probably because of the #1 Ladies Detective books and TV show. Or Animal Planet shows about the Okavango Delta. Neither of which is a realistic representation of this funky little landlocked nation. The Ladies Detective thing is cutesy and quaint, but it is as realistic a representation of life in Gaborone as the TV show Northern Exposure was of life in Alaska. In other words, not very.  Continue reading “What you think you know about Botswana is probably wrong”