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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)

Fame! Remember my name

Vrot Snoek was loitering outside at the African National Congress national general council last week, waiting to see if he's going to have to dump the ''100% Mbeki'' T-shirts he's been printing. That's where he heard a nearby police walky-talky crackle, ''Car for Minister van Schalkwyk.'' The fuzz holding the receiver looked nonplussed. ''Wie?'' he asked.

Women-led weddings: No big deal

The big deal about the fact that a woman officiated at our Islamic wedding ceremony was that virtually no one thought it was a big deal. Apart from an impressed Jewish friend and a concerned Muslim cleric who asked whether there was a precedent for this.

On the road to a single future media market

South African media marked two junctures this week -- one at the tech high-end of the industry; the other related to traditional small-town newspapers. In the first case, an innovative website was launched to cover the National Arts Festival under way in Grahamstown.

Happily never after

It was the tale of Bluebeard that scared me to death. The tale of the wife unable to resist the temptation of opening the forbidden door at the end of the gallery and finding beyond it a room lined with the mutilated bodies of former wives and -- a nice touch, this -- ''clotted blood all over the floor'' shook me more than somewhat. And I was 24 at the time.

The politics of change

Coming back from Sekhukuneland earlier this week I was surprised at how much things in South African rugby have changed. The Springboks are riding the crest of a wave after a through dismantling of a lethargic French side in Port Elizabeth last weekend.

You saw nothing

When the Dorsbult Bar regulars switched on the SABC on Youth Day, only to see S'bu Ndebele cowering under a table while being pelted with bottles, they were confused. Even more so when Ndebele was given airtime to explain that the incident had never happened.

Hot passions and cold feet

Women may fool their sexual partners by faking orgasm, but their brains cannot lie. Reaching a proper sexual climax is, for women at least, a mind-blowing event. Large parts of their brains that deal with emotion and fear appear to shut down so that they can enjoy the thrill.

Nursing the RA, a very sick patient

The ongoing fracas around the retirement annuity business will no doubt have a deeply negative impact on our savings rate. Currently, South Africa's savings rate is among the lowest in the world at just under 15% of gross domestic product a fraction of the 36% savings rate of South-East Asia.

‘A time of grey’

Despite the vast changes that have occurred since 1994, the us-them narratives have remained comfortable laagers to understand and engage with the world, writes Mike van Graan.

Smoke and fire…

Maybe Lemmer's been watching too many crime dramas, but when rumours of a poisoning start doing the rounds in connection with the death of the young Queen Modjadji, and almost immediately her coffin mysteriously catches fire, Oom Krisjan smells a rat. Or petrol and Blitz firelighters. The official cause of the fire? No one is sure, but the ancestors seem to be a top contender.

SABC on steroids

The South African Broadcasting Corporation is almost too bulky to run and now it's going to get even bigger. The 900-pound gorilla gained formal approval from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa last week to put on extra weight. Thus, implementing government policy, the regulator has given the green light for SABC TV 4 and 5, pending funding -- probably from Parliament.

Oh Father, go back to sleep

The trouble with middle-class celebrations of middle-class values is not that they invariably devolve into orgies of materialism and one-upmanship, but that they unblinkingly reveal middle-class prejudices. Valentine's Day is a repulsive kangaroo court where paramours are tried and convicted on the weight of their wallets.

Getting down with dirty

Ha ha ha. Men and women are different. Men are messy and women are neat. It's such a tired joke, yet it keeps filling theatre seats. From Punch and Judy to Defending the Caveman, to a new Cape Town production, Train Your Man. Surely there are other things to find funny?

Boks aim for the great comeback

''And so it all starts again. New season, new faces and new expectations after the usual bout of sulking, slandering and speculating. Clearly, not much has changed in South African rugby since last year's Boks topped the charts for a few weeks.'' Rob Davies looks at what this weekend's rugby Test really means.

Free speechless

It is time to vote for parties who declare their financial contributors -- at least we'll know who and what we are really voting for, writes Mike van Graan.

Copying an awful recipe

The most ominous thing about the judicial censorship of a report in this newspaper last week is the virtual silence that has been the response from the African National Congress. Asked by a weekend newspaper for comment, Smuts Ngonyama, head of the ANC presidency, declined to say anything. He didn't even duck behind one of the usual threadbare excuses of the ANC.

Fat daddies, old mamas

My friend in Mutare, Zimbabwe, writes me an e-mail: ''The roses are blooming in the garden, my German shepherd sleeps under the window and my young lover is back in my arms.'' Sounds like bliss. They were together in 2000, split, and hitched up again this year. My friend is 53 and he is 33. How does tiny Mutare react to them?

Sipho had a little goat

The fact that our economy needs maths and science conjures up images of a factory churning out grey suits with glasses, unable to relate to other people, writes Mike van Graan.