Global advice from pop stars? No thanks

They're back. Those half-forgotten hounds of that benighted decade, the 1980s, have returned, and this time they're out to change Western foreign policy.

Do as you would be done by

Guy Ramsay's plaintive refrain about the rarity of oral sex in this column last week reminded me of a survey conducted a few years ago by one of those men's magazines (read: pornography for straight men). In it, 100% of respondents moaned that they weren't getting enough head. I repeat: 100%.

A triumph, but not a turning point

Zackie Achmat of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) is literally fighting for his life -- as well as for the lives of the roughly five million South Africans infected with HIV/Aids. Achmat has vowed to forgo using anti-retroviral drugs until they are more widely available to poor South Africans.

SA’s necessary evil

A year ago in Stockholm an audience of government representatives and environmental groups applauded enthusiastically as Kjell Larsson, the Swedish Environment Minister, announced that a United Nations treaty banning or restricting 12 toxic chemicals, known as the dirty dozen, had been adopted.

Name-change or game-change?

A delegate at one of several pre-conference conferences on the African Union asked the obvious question: ''So the OAU will drop the 'O' from its name at the Durban summit. What else will change?'' Depending on the commitment by African leaders it could transform the rules of the game.

Highway robbery

Even though you arrive on the scene hours after the highway robbery, your heart still quickens at the sight. It's dawn, it's cold and the air is thick with steam rising from car exhausts. The flashing lights on the police cars greet your eyes, the yellow-and-white tape stretched across the road.

Looking a gift blow in the mouth

So Jacob Zuma thinks oral sex is ''unnatural'' and ''wrong''. One man's wrong might be another man's right, but he's on to something with the ''unnatural'' thing. When wonderful things happen to me for no conceivable purpose and for no reward, I'm inclined to think of them as unnatural.

A bad case of Paradigm Lost

Liberalism is not really the subject of Richard Calland's latest exhibition of shameless schadenfreude. The piece is of the same order as his notorious confession of ''joy in pain'' at the World Trade Centre massacre.

Land invasions are inevitable

South Africa's tiny propertied elite heaved a sigh of relief this time last year when the government dispatched the ''Red Ants'' to forcibly remove the thousands of poor and landless people who had occupied the Bredell land.

Under the rug

The gods' landscape architects must have been on strike the day they created that little corner of the Sahara where 150 000 refugees huddle in tents and mud houses waiting to return to their promised land. Locals call this part of the Sahara hamada, Arabic for ''unfruitful''.

Show us your form

A rather pompous and arrogant Englishman once expressed the following view of football and females: ''Why do you women even bother, you can never fully appreciate football. You don't even understand what the offside rule is all about.'' But many women appreciate ''poetry in motion''.

Boys to men

At the end of the World Cup, South Africa will complete a decade of playing international football since readmission into the international sporting fold. It has been a decade in which the team showed promise and remains capable of so much more.

A nice show, but not much substance

The African incarnations of the World Economic Forum -are a bit like beauty pageants for folk from Uglyville. Lumpy African leaders parade wearing their best ''to-know-me-is-to-love-me'' smiles and all tell how much they adore the free market.

A refreshing willingness to engage

''Do you have Aids?'' I asked. Most politicians would have slammed the phone down, but not Peter Mokaba. No, he said, he was the victim of a propaganda plot by drug companies. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Scant respect

Not since Superman wore his on the outside was there so much debate about a man's underwear (though South Africa later scooped the world by becoming the first country to have a pair of Y-fronts as its national flag). So why so little discussion of what men wear?

Without leadership, reform will fail

The relatively unscathed passage through Cabinet of the proposals of Minister of Education Kader Asmal's National Working Group on higher education opens up the most far-reaching restructuring of the sector since Hendrik Verwoerd's initiatives in the 1950s and 1960s.

What’s it really like to emigrate?

Shall I stay or shall I go? To be specific, shall I go to Australia? And should it be Sydney or Perth? What's rent like, and house prices, salaries and medical care, and how much are the movies and eating out? What's it really like to emigrate?

Yes, there are alternatives

Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel has said with regard to Zimbabwe: ''They say quiet diplomacy has failed. Should we act like Ariel Sharon? Should we? Should we just go in there; kick butt; blow them up; drive over their cars; should we send in our tanks?''