There’s nothing snippy about ‘the snip’

Abstract: there are certain leading figures in South Africa who could prove their manhood by having a vasectomy... Recent events in South African presidential politics got me thinking about vasectomies and how some people, maybe many, might benefit from some people having it done. Of course, the age-old arguments against it still persist in some cultures, and normally hover around misguided notions that having the snip removes a man's masculinity. This is of course, not true. In fact, the very opposite could be argued: that only real men have 'the snip'. Walk into a crowded bar and shout "Hey, who here's having a baby soon?" and proud hands will reach for the sky. Walk into the same bar and shout, "Hey, who here's had a vasectomy?" and the chances are few, if any, would raise their hands. And it's not just a 'guy' thing. A

Reality check: The world isn’t binary

Abstract: Binary thinking is a devastating human weakness... You can bet your next Christmas bonus that George W. Bush will never be included with Mandela, Lincoln and Churchill as a political figure with the capacity for inspirational, statesman-like oratory. However, there remains one speech he delivered where he, albeit unwittingly, managed to encapsulate the reason there's a propensity within the human condition for social upheaval, the likes of which we should expect closer to home in the period leading up to elections. In the days that followed the 9/11 attacks, the world scrutinised Bush for leadership and direction; and he replied in force on 20th September 2001 with a rally of fighting talk before a joint session of congress in which he drew a line and laid down the parameters for his war on terror. The standout message was the following: "Either you

The sometimes bitter side of allowing sport players to glorify alcohol

Abstract: When the Proteas take to the pitch they become unfortunate Lords of a war where only innocent people get killed... Watching the Proteas in action in Australia I am struck with a feeling of utter disappointment; not because of how they are playing, but because they have been dragged into peddling misery, injury and even death. There's a remarkable opening sequence in the recent Nicholas Cage film Lord of War. As the credits are fired onto the screen, the viewer follows a single 7.62mm round from its birth to a death. We see it manufactured in a grimy Russian factory then sorted, boxed, delivered via ship to a war-torn African country, selected by a drugged-up soldier, pressed into the magazine of his AK47, loaded into the rifle's chamber and then fired at a target. It misses, and instead you see it smashing into

Stop worshipping false idols

Abstract: Whether we like it or not, Idols makes idiots of us all... The joke goes a little like this: How do you know when Idols is on M-Net? When your dog scrambles under the sofa...Like Idols, there's a faint touch of reality to this joke. Apparently, dogs panic at the sound of other dogs howling in pain. Tomorrow, we know, about 3 000 children in sub-Saharan Africa will die of malaria. South Africa rather wants to know who's going to win Idols. The word 'perspective' pops into mind. I have been following the developments in Idols with disinterest. So called 'reality shows' just don't do it for me. Maybe it has something to do with the blatant lack of reality, or because my hackles rise whenever someone tries to dress up a Yorkie as an attack dog. But then I remind myself it's all

Who really killed the radio stars?

Abstract: Something that fits in your pocket did, and something else in your pocket might bring them back... For some reason the original title was abandoned in favour of Networks killed the radio star, iPods might bring them back. For me this is like going to see The Empire Strikes Back and the guy in front of you telling you that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father. Quick...name me ten top stars of South African radio. I'm not surprised if you're battling a bit, although I should be. Johannesburg has more radio stations with more money being thrown at them than any other city in this country. Most of the so-called big name radio personalities are on Johannesburg-based radio stations. So we should all know who they are. But we don't, and the reason why we don't fits into your pocket. It's money. Over the past

Can we hear the death knell of radio?

Abstract: the biggest challenge to radio as we know it is here in the palm of our hands. As far back as June 2006, I prophesied in my column in the Saturday Star that commercial radio was about to be revolutionised by a small device that fits into the palm of your hand. I was right, albeit a little conservative in my analysis. This device has indeed brought about dramatic changes, but to the extent that traditional radio as you and I know it could very soon be over. The device is the iPod and its family, which, since my column has now grown to incorporate the iTouch and the iPhone. They are, as you know, personal music players, but the latter two, and their imitators are the ones that really threaten the traditional role of the commercial radio station. For what is going to

The digestive tract of love

Abstract: "Love you with all my heart"? A scientific impossibility, I'm afraid... One of the downfalls of being brought up in a home that embraced the pursuit of knowledge through robust and empirical scientific process is that I find this time of the year really gets up my nose. And I'm not talking about hay fever. My father was, during the 1960s, one of Europe's leading scientists. He was, by all accounts, something of a genius. Computers were his area of expertise, but his real love was scientific enquiry and the quest for logical thought. And he shared it with me in his own special way. He explained why Spock was the coolest character on Star Trek because he was purely logical in his thinking and didn't let piffly little things like emotions get in the way of his duties as First Officer on

So you’re a systems engineer? So what’s that?

Abstract: SKA Africa employs systems engineers. So what do they do?... Carl Sagan was probably the world's greatest systems thinker. Over the course of 13 episodes of his seminal 1980s TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage he managed to weave a thread through the billions of galaxies, the billions of neurons in the human brain, and everything in between, and in the process make us wonder about our purpose in the universe. If he were alive today he'd see those connections taking shape at SKA Africa in the minds and work of the systems engineers. According to SKA Research Professor at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and Chairman of the SKA Cosmology Working Group, Roy Maartens, researchers at SKA Africa have "devised a means of using the world's largest telescope in new ways that will help shape the future of cosmology". That

Hearts on our sleeves

Abstract: How can we expect to win by 'working together for a better South Africa'? We each need to take our respective bows... As far as international sport is concerned, August was a month of mixed blessings for South Africa: We were emasculated in Sri Lanka; in Athens we scored what SABC radio news called a 'haul' of medals (less gold medals than a single swimmer - Michael Phelps - and only a few more in total than we collected 12 years ago in Barcelona); and yet we powered our way to victory in the Tri-Nations. Does this mean our cricket team are pathetic, our athletes kind of so-so, but our rugby team are kings of the world? No. But it does convey the impression that magic muti works. Think about it. Other than sheer bulk, what is it that our rugby team had

Women’s Day? Shame.

Abstract: It's a pity that women feel they need a Women's Day... Women are amazing. History has seen them inspire great poets, rouse battles in their favour and heal the wounds of war. They give birth and they can multitask. All this and do men's stuff too! The South African woman of today is a far cry from the undemanding hostess of 40 years ago whose sole purpose was to adore and adorn her husband and make him a father many times over. She has been liberated by medicine and the march for freedom to a point where she now has control over her body, her mind and, thanks to Dr Phil, her soul. She is no longer emotionally or financially subservient to any man. In fact, she has the tools to make herself more powerful. Walk into any newsagent and you will