Beware the dead camels, and please pass the salt

Abstract: There's a new threat we need to talk about: dead camels... Dinner conversation is drying up. And the culprit? So few new topics. When we chat animatedly over our lamb cutlets we prefer a subject that can be expressed as a word or phrase so it can be neatly packaged and passed on to the person sitting next to us - "what do you think of this Zuma thing?" or "isn't crime getting out of control now?"
The reality is that 'the Zuma thing' is getting boring and 'crime' is offering few new twists to spark any discourse over dinner (unless of course you've just been robbed at a restaurant). While we're at it 'the war on terror' has dragged on too long and 'HIV/AIDS' seems to be under control (as much as any rampant, ineptly addressed epidemic can be). So

Should editors be our moral arbiters?

Abstract: Are TV news editors really qualified to determine what we watch? On 20th October 2011 Muammar Gaddafi was captured by rebel soldiers, taunted, beaten and shot. His body was then publicly displayed and abused. You will remember it because it was shown on TV. It savaged some of the fundamental moral guidelines of broadcasting, but was considered justified for reasons that are dubious. It deserves re-examining now because South Africa is, unfortunately, being increasingly riddled with such 'Gaddafi' moments. Shortly after the murder of Gaddafi I had the opportunity to challenge a professor of journalism and one of the UK's most respected authorities on issues around morality in the media why the local TV stations aired footage of his capture. I asked him who makes the decision whether or not I, as a viewer, should witness Gaddafi's obvious distress. He missed the broader

Where truth is a valuable commodity

Abstract: There is big money in finding the liars out there. Even a cursory glance at our daily newspapers would give credence to the opinion of the famous poet and essayist WH Auden that politics cannot be a science because "in politics, there is a distinction, unknown to science, between Truth and Justice." However, the race is on in science to design, manufacture and roll out what would be the greatest threat to politics as we know it: an accurate lie-detector. With the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, it is neuroscience - the study of the brain and the nervous system - that has been dubbed 'the new genetics'. Like the world's oceans, the brain remains largely unexamined - something of a mystery - and this is why neuroscientists are busy trawling through reams of studies in an attempt to get