Lifestyle

A lesson from the zoo biscuit in declining quality creep

Do you still remember the zoo biscuits of your childhood, as I do? These were special treats, handed out as rewards for good behaviour or on special occasions. There was a ritual around their consumption, first a delicate negotiation among siblings as to who got the lion and who the ostrich. Then there was the…

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Litter, a social ill with big implications

I cannot count the amount of times I have walked around either at university, at work, or even in shopping malls and have seen people callously, without thought, chuck a piece of paper on the floor. There is not even a hint of resignation. The wrapper comes off the chocolate, cigarettes, or other random item…

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Finding nirvana in the bosom of the mountain spirit

It is our second visit to Korea, less than two years after the first, and my initial (favourable) impressions of the country have been confirmed on more than one occasion already. I have been invited here by a colleague to present a paper at a conference on science fiction, but because we wanted to investigate…

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Vapid political posturing…

We all do it, some more so than others; but everyone has at some point, at least once, googled the name of a person that they haven’t seen in a while. It’s a strange, almost intrusive habit that we of the internet age have picked up. In more primitive times such individuals would have simply…

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A sangoma should lead prayer at president’s inauguration

Every five years the residents of Pretoria are treated to the likes of Robert Mugabe and his rather peculiar scarecrow-like amandla fist-pump. Every five years our eyes are trained on that Herbert Baker monument that is the Union Buildings. Every five years we put on an august show that is a representative manifesto of our…

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It’s time to challenge our assumptions about domestic work

Growing up in South Africa I don’t think we realise just how accustomed we are to the sight of domestic workers, nannies and garden workers; people who work for low wages taking care of and cleaning up after individuals that are wealthier than they are. When travelling and experiencing other cultures, this subtle exploitation, which…

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20 years on: A short guide to being white around black people

It’s been 20 years and my how times flies. So much has happened and in the midst of it all people have continued to try and exist within the paradigm of a “rainbow nation”. This effort has come off less like the Mrs Balls advert where everyone really loves chutney (and each other) and more…

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The National Drug Master Plan: More bark than bite?

In August of last year the department of social development released the latest incarnation of South Africa’s National Drug Master Plan, the NDMP 2013-2017. The national press responded with deafening silence. Considering, however, that it will play a central role in both defining and guiding the South African government’s responses to the production, distribution, and…

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New weird adventures in internet dating

It was short and to the point. As was: Yes, I’ve recently had another crack at internet dating and yes, it can be depressing. Though this did make me smile: Right now, I probably know more about internet dating than anyone else, because recently I spent 10 days procuring four consecutive dates on one day….

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Spaces of power and spaces of gentleness

Today we experienced two kinds of space that are diametrically opposed, or mutually exclusive. The first was the palace and gardens of Versailles, known as the residence of a succession of French kings, of whom Louis XIV and Louis XVI are probably the best known (the latter with his equally well-known queen, Marie-Antoinette, who was…

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