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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)

Will Kortbroek run?

These past couple of weeks have been absolute hell for dedicated Kortbroek- watchers. And the next 13 days of the floor-crossing window aren't going to be any better as we wait, our hearts in our mouths, to see where the country's favourite one-size-fits-all politician next peddles his loyalties.

What has changed in SA journalism?

A new book on South African journalism launched by the Human Sciences Research Council, Changing the Fourth Estate: Essays on South African Journalism, covers both preservation and transformation in South Africa's media -- in a disturbing dichotomy. But an analysis of the contributors leads to a problematic situation.

Rites vs rights

As a cheese-eating, toyi-toying teenage ''activist'', I remember chanting ''Nonsexism! Nonracism!'' And a third chant of ''Nonhomophobia'', which was a lot harder to get my tongue around, and even harder to argue to my sometimes socially conservative comrades.

Making movies with samoosas

I've always wondered how the Department of Arts and Culture actually comes up with the amounts allocated to the National Art Council or any other institution. They often appear to be arbitrary, bureaucratic thumbsucks, writes Mike van Graan.

Bionic defence and the curse of Carisbrook

Pretty it certainly wasn't. But it did send a tingle down the spine and had the synapses firing all over the place, didn't it? Saturday's win over the Wallabies in Perth saw the Springboks roll over a side that have, in the past six weeks been mauled and battered so badly that one could justifiably feel a little sorry for them.

The flop ten

Mike van Graan brings us the the top ten contestants of i-Dolts, the unreal TV series hoping to find the best exponents of mediocrity in a sea of talent.

Beware of unecessary extras

The Credit Bill, which is currently being tabled before Parliament, has highlighted the practice of credit life insurance when purchasing a vehicle. The aim of this insurance is to pay out the outstanding debt on the vehicle should you die or are unable to make some of your repayments, either through disability or retrenchment.

When spies spoil news media

Revelations in Zimbabwe about spy shenanigans in the privately owned press there revive distant memories of South African equivalents -- and point to what's needed for the future. An article in the Zimbabwe Independent last week disclosed that the country's Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) seems to have secretly taken control of three papers.

A licence for violence?

Women's month is a good time for us guys to strike back at that part of the women's movement that says it is acceptable for women to slap men who have made them sufficiently angry. For a society striving for less violence, it is amazing how blasé we are about women smacking men who arrive late, cheat on them or generally behave like assholes.

Banking out of the box

It would be a mistake to view the recent launch of MTN Banking as simply another banking channel. It is the first step towards true cellphone banking where bricks, mortar and tellers could be relegated to the history books. It is not about a bank offering cellphone banking, but rather a cellphone company offering banking.

All that red tape

Politicians spend a great deal of our time and money passing myriad laws aimed at making us think they're very busy people. The Law of Conservation of Energy states that energy may neither be created nor destroyed, so they' re obviously putting lots of effort into converting worthwhile tasks into bullshit just to impress us voters.

Absolut Zwelethu

Up there in the vicinity of the Arctic Circle, the various ways of keeping warm keep you busy, I guess. Producing and consuming vodka seems to be a critical part of all of this. The Siberians originally set the pace, with the colonial Russians hard on their heels. You could say that the Siberians refined the rough art of turning potatoes, or whatever else was lying about, into blood-curdling alcohol.

Sick to death of unnamed sources

Imvume Management, the company at the centre of the Mail & Guardian’s Oilgate exposés, has focused its counter-attack on the question of the newspaper’s sources. It has asked the Johannesburg High Court to force the paper to disclose where the information came from.

Investing in a hot market

With the JSE Securities Exchange galloping past the 15 200 mark after another meteoric rise of 22% so far this year, one has to question whether it is wise to be investing in shares at the moment. Or is the market reaching the sort of temperature that could cause burns?

Free lunch — and pudding

According to Visdorp mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo, this week's taxpayer-funded R200 000 makietie for women in the city's administration was all about empowering the fairer sex. Empowerment is a crummy job but someone's got to do it, and luckily our Nomaindia's been empowering people for years.

Burn, baby, burn

I was watching a programme on Ghengis Khan recently, and with Women's Day having just passed, it made me realise that at least in some societies women have made tremendous advances. In Khan's day, 800 years ago, women captured in battle were part of the spoils of victory. Khan's first wife and mother of three of his sons was one of these spoils of battle.

Life industry in for an overhaul

The Pension Funds Adjudicator recently ruled on three types of cases with regards to retirement annuities . The first relates to the value of paid-up policies, which currently involves six separate cases. One that made headlines was the Da Sousa case against Liberty Life's Lifestyle retirement annuity fund where, after fees, the paid up value fell from R37 983 to R5 439.

Saint dad

A recent British Equal Opportunities Commission survey found that four out of five working men would be happy to swap their jobs for the role of main child carer. Fair enough, and clearly a step in the right direction, but -- and I hate to break the news, guys -- there's a catch, and it's halo shaped.