Cynical quotes and facetious asides: an attempted antidote to the twin plagues of pompous banality and gruesome brutality

Perhaps you are a journalist covering the May 7 elections or the Oscar Pistorius trial – and will soon be immersed in Shrien Dewani’s adventures in our specialist niche of the honeymoon-tourism market. You might be a TV continuity announcer-cum-journalist, circling endlessly between serious discussion about bone fragments, Nkandla’s fire retarding swimming pool, Numsa’s endless exit  from CosatuContinue reading “Cynical quotes and facetious asides: an attempted antidote to the twin plagues of pompous banality and gruesome brutality”

#mansplaining listicles and click bait

This is a quick and casual aside as I await the more weighty matters of Pravin Gordhan’s medium-term budget policy statement at 14h00 today. For various reasons* I attempt to keep abreast of the rapidly evolving technological and cultural aspects of what we call ‘social media’ New cultural trends drive developments in language and thereContinue reading “#mansplaining listicles and click bait”

Are we in the predator’s labyrinth?

Nedbank chairman Reuel Khoza provides the lead headline in today’s Business Day as “warning of a rogue state future for SA”. So imagine if you could, for a moment, that you are playing a sports game. As in a dream, you suddenly realise you don’t know the rules; you don’t know how to score, who’sContinue reading “Are we in the predator’s labyrinth?”

Greeting – and a few thoughts of home – from Belgrade

I am in Serbia on a social visit and I thought I would record here some of my initial observations about stuff we might learn from this country about some aspects of SA politics and culture. Cultural Betrayal Firstly, I am in Belgrade – a city of 1.6 million people built on the confluence ofContinue reading “Greeting – and a few thoughts of home – from Belgrade”

Nationalisation revisited revisited … if you know what I mean

In case anyone was wondering if I had disappeared into the ether: I have been seriously busy and have had no time to post on the blog. If you were paying extra attention, you may have noticed that a post reviewing the nationalisation of mines debate appeared and disappeared a few weeks ago. My mistakeContinue reading “Nationalisation revisited revisited … if you know what I mean”

Neither the best nor worst of all possible worlds

Arrived late last night in New York from London (and Edinburgh and Frankfurt)  and the lag means I am only going to want to fall asleep at exactly the time it will be most unsuitable to do so. I have been travelling (for Indian owned Religare Capital Markets, where I have a new berth) withContinue reading “Neither the best nor worst of all possible worlds”

The limits of politics

I think both the DA and the ANC might be on the verge of an evolutionary spurt that will change what they are and thus see them shifting into new ecological  niches in our political landscape. I also think that the landscape itself changes much slower than we think or hope. Voluntarism is a termContinue reading “The limits of politics”

Some observations about the election lead-up

I am feeling the welcome pressure of a flood of paid work. The only drawback to this happy state of affairs is I have not been able to put as much effort into updating this website as I would like. In future I will generally be posting the quirkier side of politics and investment riskContinue reading “Some observations about the election lead-up”

Because I thought it might brighten your day

Our leaders dancing for our votes reminds me of a poem Michael Ondaatje wrote called The Elimination Dance. A version of this dance appears in cultures and countries around the world. The rules are that a caller shouts out particular categories of people or people who have undergone a particular experience. When you are called Continue reading “Because I thought it might brighten your day”

Egypt, my Egypt

I am clicking “Publish” in a rush … I suspect I will come to regret this later. Anyway: The popular mobilisations in Tunisia, Egypt and a swath of authoritarian North African and Middle Eastern states are interesting and important for more reasons than can be named, let alone examined, here. But the aspects that haveContinue reading “Egypt, my Egypt”

Winning, losing and declaring a truce in the battle of ideas

Jacob Zuma’s decision to meet with Gareth Cliff and Woolworths’ decision to put Lig, Juig, Joy and Lééf back on the shelves makes me wonder about the rules of engagement in the battle of ideas in the age of celebrity and social media. In the 1980’s those of us connected to the ANC in theContinue reading “Winning, losing and declaring a truce in the battle of ideas”

Is the ANC really beyond redemption?

It is difficult not to imagine the tearing of some deep and important ligament in our body politic in the tone and content of this debate that starts in The Times, ostensibly between Pallo Jordan and Justice Malala and ostensibly about media freedom. The battle is joined – and complicated – by the ANC inContinue reading “Is the ANC really beyond redemption?”

If you’re winning and you know it clap your hands, clap your hands

Reading Stephen Grootes’ tweets this morning while Jacob Zuma was delivering the Political Report at the ANC NGC was a little like listening to soccer on the radio – you had to rely on the noise level to guess at what was happening. Grootes’ excellent commentary during the presidential address gave lots of attention toContinue reading “If you’re winning and you know it clap your hands, clap your hands”

Jeremy Cronin – the acceptable face of the Media Tribunal

Jeremy Cronin’s light defence of the proposed media tribunal couldn’t have come at a worse moment – a few hours before the showy arrest of the Sunday Times journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika. That’s a pity, because his comments were more sensible and readable than those of his comrades – although still misguided and, ultimately, dangerous,Continue reading “Jeremy Cronin – the acceptable face of the Media Tribunal”

Parastatals: fleshpot flashpoint

How to explain the decision to start a review of the parastatals by a presidential committee just as Public Enterprises minister Barbara Hogan was busy with that job? When anything in our country seems confusing it is always useful to abide by the famous injunction from Watergate’s ‘Deep Throat‘: follow the money. The raison d’êtreContinue reading “Parastatals: fleshpot flashpoint”