Bert Olivier

Does homeopathic medicine work (at least for some people)?

There is a huge, and unjustified, prejudice towards homeopathic medicine in contemporary societies, and I suspect that it is driven by the financial interests of what is colloquially known as Big Pharma, of which medical doctors are the involuntary, if not unwitting agents every time they prescribe some or other mainstream medication. Don’t get me…

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Human ‘nature’ as explored in a riveting television series: ‘The 100’

The question, what is dominant, human ‘nature’, or ‘nurture’ (culture), has been the motivating force in a debate that has waged since at least the 18th and 19th centuries — for instance in the work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (see his prize-winning Academy of Dijon essay on the question, whether human morals had improved by, or…

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‘Aquaman’ and American superheroes

On the way back from a conference in Berlin just before Christmas 2019, I was catching up on movies on Qatar Airlines — a carrier with exceptional leg-space in economy class, so I could sit comfortably, at least — and I managed to select a number of excellent recent films, including Marc Webb’s Gifted (2017)…

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Trump: The Emperor without clothes

Everybody knows the story of the emperor’s new clothes — where a vain emperor contracted two so-called ‘tailors’ to make him a new set of clothes, not knowing that they were con artists. By flattering the emperor about his handsome appearance in the supposedly new clothes, when in fact there was nothing, and assuring him…

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Modern architecture in Berlin

When one finds oneself on a busy street in modern Berlin — capital of a reunified Germany since June 20 1991 — it is difficult to believe that it has grown into this city in the course of seven centuries, at least as far as its written history goes. The latter records that in the…

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Searching for a new political cosmology

This morning my eye caught a report about Brazil’s climate-change denialist, neoconservative president, Jair Bolsonaro — evidently in an attempt to divert attention from his own egregious responsibility for the fires that rage unabated in (what is rapidly ceasing to be) the Amazon rainforest — accusing Leonardo DiCaprio of ‘paying’ non-governmental organisations to set fire…

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Walls and razor wire, or acceptance of different others?

Two days ago, November 9 2019, marked 30 years since the fall of the Berlin wall, and the irony has not escaped some people, that today one witnesses walls going up again everywhere. Nick Miller, in the Sydney Morning Herald (November 2 2019), for example, writes: Thirty years ago the Berlin Wall fell, pulling the…

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South Africans should stop thinking in terms of race

It was with a heavy heart that I read the news, first, of Herman Mashaba’s resignation from the position of mayor of Johannesburg and from the Democratic Alliance (DA), and soon afterwards of that of both Mmusi Maimane (leader) and Athol Trollip (chairman) from their respective leadership positions in the DA, and from the party…

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Criminality of the brutal variety

By the term, ‘criminality’, I don’t simply mean the perpetration of crime, or criminal acts; I have in mind something far more fundamental, even primal, in the sense of that which remains behind when criminologists, sociologists, psychologists and psychiatrists have exhausted all avenues of causal explanation when it comes to the ‘grounds’ or causal antecedents…

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Panayza Lesufi displays his lack of understanding of what a language is all about

I feel sorry for the ANC, to have an MEC for education in Gauteng who displays his ignorance of what a language is, fundamentally, for all and sundry to see. As has been widely reported, he has opined that the establishment of a Solidarity and community-funded Afrikaans-medium university would “perpetuate racist agendas”, and would be…

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