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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)

Bracing for the comedown

''South African rugby is feeling rather buoyant at present, and there's good reason for this. Apart from the usual management scandals and a little car trouble, it looks like fair weather and plain sailing -- unless you count the fact that the All Blacks are waiting at Newlands on Saturday,'' writes Rob Davies.

Colour, class and culture

It's okay for Marc Lottering, to trade in coloured stereotypes, but, if outsiders make jokes or generalise about that group, they run the risk of being taken to the Human Rights Court, writes Mike van Graan.

A searing experience for SAA

My always reliable mole in high places has told me that South African Airways is about to introduce what is described as an ''unavoidable'' 10% levy on all air tickets. This levy has become necessary in order to fund the lifestyle and management needs of SAA's chief executive officer, Khaya Ngqula, and also to pay for all future enormous double-page SAA apologies in the Sunday newspapers.

Obi Wan Majola

As Gerald Majola demonstrated this week, the trouble with Jedi mind tricks is that you need to be a Jedi master before you can pull them off. Otherwise you just end up looking like a chubby bloke in a suit wafting your fingers across people's faces. Groping in vain in his cassock for the reassuring feel of his light-sabre, Majola said that media predictions of financial disaster in the sport were ''absolute nonsense''.

The making of a murderer

Once again, much of the media have been milking the Leigh Matthews story. Nothing wrong in that. It's been a gripping saga, made important to many of us. The recent narrative resurrects and then builds on the emotionalism of last year's coverage. Back then, we had frenzied reports on the search for the abducted university student.

Nedbank talks, who is listening?

Recently, Nedbank took time off to ask black customers to accompany it on a rather interesting journey. The bank launched its client empowerment share scheme, Eyethu (Zulu for ''ours''). Starting in August, the scheme will see the bank sell 2,17%, or 9,5-million shares, of its issued share capital to black -clients.

Constant craving

My French teacher was 50, short and wore thick glasses. He had a shiny pate, suits to match and smelled so strongly of garlic that kids would swoon when he leaned over to correct a subjunctive. The weakness in my own knees was something different. I was 13 and totally smitten.

Getting into Google and Microsoft

South Africans, by and large, have been reluctant to invest offshore while the South African markets have been relatively strong and the rand staged an amazing recovery, making it one of the strongest currencies in the world over the past three years. Recent rand weakness will have tempted some investors to look offshore again, but investing offshore is not just about hedging your rand bets.

Relics, racquets and rackets

When I was last in Budapest (this is going back some years now -- before the Coca-Cola signs went up) I was drawn into the extraordinary world of relics, icons and iconography. Hungary had gone through several revolutions by then -- some successful, some not. I am not talking about revolutions that followed the Russian Revolution of 1917, nor necessarily of the Hungarian Spring of 1956.

Fat and fatuous

If you are bored with being the irregular dependent of a funding agency and want a secure future with a suburban subsidy and medical aid to cover the costs of garlic, the department of Arts and culture is the place for you, writes Mike van Graan.

New adventures on the Highveld

''In rugby, like in business, location is everything -- something all South African rugby supporters are well aware of, given the poor record local sides have when travelling. Happily, the reverse is also true,'' writes Rob Davies, who predicts the Springboks will be more dangerous this weekend than last.

Enter the (friendly and humanitarian) Dragon

Democracy is a ­lascivious cad. An incorrigible dandy, he struts through the poorer neighbourhoods of the world, ­twirling his moustache and hopping deftly over cowpats, all the while sizing up the blushing, naïve ­daughters of dictators and tyrants, until he spies one who watches too long, smiles too widely. Come with me, he whispers up to her window, and I will give you the world.

SA’s tabloids rise in the ranks of journalism

After strong debate, South African editors last week embraced the rise of tabloid journalism in the South African newspaper industry. This unusual step came at the annual general meeting in Cape Town of the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef). A press statement described the tabloids as ''a vibrant element of the changing media landscape''.

Are we infringing on children’s privacy?

Does criticism of the minister of education for sending her children to private schools infringe the children’s rights to privacy? A reader brought this question to the attention of the ombud in the context of a column that laid into Minister Naledi Pandor for a hypocritical lack of faith in the system she oversees. The Democratic Alliance has also been beating this drum.

Take me for a spin

I'm irritated partly on aesthetic grounds. Have you seen these things? More often than not, they're an emetic purple and bring to mind nothing so much as a deformed limb. And that's if you're lucky. Increasingly, sex-toy production seems to be under the influence of some kind of paraphiliac dadaism.

Three bits and a piece

I am enraged at the utter crassness, crudity and weapons-grade stupidity of whatever organisation now manufactures and sells the almost immortal game of Scrabble. I went to buy a new Scrabble set the other day. The box was marked Original Scrabble and, like a fool, I took that on trust.

Homely affairs

Since Lemmer discovered that he is married to Mrs Glenda Sherman of Nutcracker Grove, and that he has been deceased since August 1986, he's been waiting to see if any public apology was going to be issued by the improbably inept Department of Home Affairs. So it was gratifying this week to see the department take time off from its busy schedule to ask forgiveness in the television advert.

Dog day revisited

So there's this Indian chap who goes to dog training with us on Sundays when everyone else is in church. His wife, who is not Indian, sends him there. She has put him on the 20-week dog training course to punish him for his regular Saturday night binges, which leaves him with a Sunday morning hangover and what one might politely call dog breath.