Holiday gifts: For the intellectual

Still trying to figure out how to tackle your giftlist? Top tech writer Phillip de Wet and fashionista Bianca Resnekov have recommendations.

Lots of books
You could go with the latest Chomsky or a classic Camus, but that’s the problem with intellectuals: virtually the only thing you can buy them is books, so everybody does it. The only safe way to go is vouchers, but even that isn’t as simple as it seems. E-book readers just aren’t a mature technology yet , so your choices are between real-world bookstore vouchers (at Exclusive Books or a local independent store, especially if it has a large second-hand collection; don’t even dare think of the CNA) or the virtual kind. If your intellectual isn’t afraid of the internet then consider Barnes & Noble (at www.bn.com) rather than Amazon.com. B&N has a better non-fiction selection — a little exclusivity goes a long way. — R50 to R100 000

Brain training
Sometimes your pet intellectual finds you — and the rest of the world — boring. That isn’t the real problem, though. The real problem is that, unlike those bodybuilders at the gym, your intellectual can’t exercise the only muscle that counts. Unless you take the initiative to solve both problems at once. Go all out with a Nintendo DS handheld (from R1 700 at any good electronics store) plus R400 for Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training software, a vigorous but hugely entertaining regime that does exactly what the name suggests. Or, for something a little different, R100 will buy you a roll of sudoku toilet paper from www.gadgetshop.com. — R430 to R2 100

An unusual clock
Precision and beauty or mental superiority? Once you know which of these is more up the alley of your intellectual it is obvious which of these unusual office timepieces to go with. The Can You Imagine Time Machine Tabletop Clock (through Amazon.com) drops a chrome ball on a multitiered rack every 60 seconds. The clunking sound it makes every time and the sheer mechanical precision will be a joy to anyone with an engineering mindset. The Anelace binary clock (from www.realnerds.com) looks even less like a timepiece, with only six rows of lights in a seemingly random pattern. It’s actually easy to figure out and read the time, but to the uninitiated or those not so hot on pattern recognition it just looks like a device to show pretty lights. Which is the point, of course. — From R260 plus shipping and duties

Professor Tawana Kupe: dean of humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand


What was your best December holiday?
At my parent’s house in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. They threw a party to celebrate their children’s academic achievements and many relatives I had not seen for many years and did not know turned up.

What are you doing this year?
I actually have not thought about it! I am extremely busy now trying to end the year properly. I also hate travelling during holidays to places where everyone goes only to find the crowds have beaten me there.

What was the best holiday gift you received?
Several books.

What do you want this year?
I want a lot of books, in particular recently published biographies of prominent political figures across the continent. – PdW

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Phillip De Wet
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