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Thought Leader

Pestilence, war and famine: relic of the Middle Ages?

We cannot afford to be swayed by rumour and fear-mongering as we were centuries ago. We must think carefully before we act, share emotional opinions, or start burning witches (or malls)

Getting the private investor on to the JSE

South Africans are lagging far behind the Australians when it comes to investing directly into shares on the JSE. In South Africa about 200 000 private investors invest directly into shares rather than through mutual funds or pension funds. That figure for Australia is 5,7-million. There are many lessons South Africa can learn from the Australian stock exchange.

See how Robert climbs

After all the flak he's taken, all the direct hits, all the shrapnel he's absorbed over the years, it is quite amazing that Robert Mugabe hasn't stepped out of the firing line, retreated even a little tactical distance. But he feels no pain. He doesn't even shudder when a bomb goes off right under his feet.

CGT is starting to bite

Capital gains tax (CGT) will have been in effect for four years next month, and people are starting to feel the effects of the tax on their profits. ''In the first few years asset prices had not risen that much, but now we are seeing a boom in both the property market and the share market and the capital gains are much higher,'' says Tony Barrett, regional manager at BJM Private Client Services.

‘Whites only, please’

''The last time I suggested someone try online dating, she replied: ''I'm not that desperate, you know.'' Mere seconds before, she had been asking that terribly hard question: 'Where on Earth can I meet a nice man?' Her distaste at my suggestion surprised me,'' writes Goda Ellis.

Darkness and light beneath the veil

Thanks to the Three Continental Film Festival two documentary films give us a rare look beneath the chador that has generally kept these cities and the people who live in them hidden from our curious, Hollywood-besotted eyes. Prostitution Behind the Veil takes a close-up look at what Tehran has become since the fall of the Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi of Iran.

Boksburg blues

As with our sports teams, we expect our artists to practise excellence while we put up with the profound incompetence for the practitioners of those who govern these respective areas, writes Mike van Graan.

Heeding the blast of war

''South Africa's two greatest rugby rivals square up at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, and what a humdinger it promises to be. A dozen Springboks will be chomping at the bit to get stuck into opponents who, a couple of short weeks ago, shared the green-and-gold jersey,'' writes Rob Davies.


For some reason this year I didn't mind getting into my swimming togs. How did that happen? It did feel slightly freakish, just getting into my togs for the the first time in -- count them -- 29 years. Hello legs. Hello knees. I blame the yoga, which seems to help you live in what you've got -- but maybe it is just middle age.

Calling all criminals

According to Dorsbult's new konstabel, Tiger Brands Mswati, the South African Police Service is taking civic awareness and service delivery very seriously. Which must be why this week the Visdorp Fuzz sent a very helpful and considerate heads-up to all criminals in the Mitchells Plain area, disguised as an official statement for the community.

Sailing the choppy waters of news-gathering

So, a freelance cameraman films a National Women's Day address by Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. He captures people protesting in favour of her predecessor, Jacob Zuma. South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) news fails to broadcast the incident.

The Cinderella myth

In that pleasant land, the universal myths of Cinderella and Peter Pan -- the woman who marries up and the boy who does not want to grow up -- are re-enacted collectively every year in one of Africa's most beautiful and heartfelt pageants: Umhlanga, the Reed Dance, in Swaziland.

Consolidating debt to save money

Until recently, only the privileged few who earned enough to belong to the private bank club received the benefits of debt consolidation. Debt consolidation is basically the consolidation of one's debt into a single account, which usually forms part of your home loan and therefore attracts lower interest rates. Several banks have launched debt consolidation products for retail clients.

Passengers can now be bored at Gate 1 …

''Emergency assembly in the control tower!'' snapped the manager of Bhisho International airport into the microphone. ''This is not a drill. I repeat: this is not ...'' He paused, listening. The wind hissed softly across the great concrete steppes of the runway. He sighed, and trudged to the open window of the control tower.

The secret life of a house dad

What's it really like to be a stay-at-home dad? If you believe Steve Cochrane, (''Saint Dad'', August 5) fathers who become the prime caregiver have halos the size of pizza plates. I have been a ''house husband'' (yes, I loathe the term too!) for nearly 14 years, so, welcome to the secret life of a house dad.


When Lemmer checks his e-mail he expects the usual advertisements for (entirely redundant) penis enlargements -- ahem -- and the odd somewhat creepy briefie from Sannah Hanna-Hanna, his recently divorced childhood sweetheart, asking him for directions to Dorsbult. So, when he got spam of a different nature this week it was such a delightful change that he actually read it.

Has Google lost its ‘ooooo’?

No one is quite sure when it happened. One day there was no Google. The next day there was, and everyone was using it. Somewhere between September 1998 and December of the same year, it crept into our consciousness and went from being a garage-based start-up to one of PC Magazine's top 100 websites of the year.

Unexpected thrills

It was hailed as the biggest contraceptive revolution since the invention of the Pill. ''Johnny's had a sex change,'' went the publicity strapline, and in the eight months preceding its 1992 launch in Britain it had generated articles in the press and TV and radio features.

I’m so lonely …

Nobody, give or take the occasional blues musician, likes to admit to being lonely. People who study loneliness, like Harvard University psychiatrist Jacqueline Olds, typically have to rely on anonymous surveys to gauge the size of the problem. On the Internet, though, anonymity is the default position, which explains the extra-ordinary story of what happened on the website