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Tag: Society

As a South African living in the Netherlands, one of the first questions people often ask me when they meet me is “So, do you like Die Antwoord?” This highlights everything that is wrong with the world.

Die Antwoord (translated as “The Answer”) consists of Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek, and I am pretty sure that there is more musical talent in my goldfish in my fishpond than there are in these hacks.

Now, I don’t mind that the band exists, or that there are people who would want to listen to them. Everyone is free to enjoy whatever music they like, no matter how bad it is.

What I do mind though, is that suddenly all good taste in the world seems to have disappeared and this band is now the most recognisable – and popular – band coming out of South Africa, causing a global sensation. They have even had a world tour.

It gets worse than that though. The Guggenheim Foundation – who apparently know what good contemporary art looks like, but I am not so sure anymore – voted one of their videos one of the top 25 internet videos in the last 2 years”.

Seriously? Was the rest of the millions of videos so bad that they had to include Die Antwoord? Heck, I would even count Rebecca Black as being more talanted than these guys.

I have been unable to sit through an entire music video of their’s, fearing that my IQ would suffer a permanent drop after listening to Ninja and Yo-Landi’s whiny voice singing those white-trash lyrics.


Spring has sprung, birds are chirping, flowers are blooming…. and tomorrow our clocks need to go forward an hour.

Seriously, what is the entire point of having daylights savings time? It just makes no sense at all to me.

South Africa makes no use of daylight savings, which means this having to remember to change my clocks every six months is new to me, but it still doesn’t make any sense.

I have heard many theories, such as it was for farmers to have more light, for example, but seriously, we are living in the 21st century, and we are not limited anymore by daylight hours.

All this does for me is complicates having to remember the time difference between places.


Over the last few weeks, there has been a vigorous debate surrounding the truthfulness of the coriolis effect in context of bathtubs and sinks.

It is a widely held belief that water always flows clockwise down a drain in the southern hemisphere, and counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere, with a load of YouTube videos, and sly scammers preying on tourists “proving” this.

The real truth of the matter is that, while the coriolis effect is real, it is far too weak to affect the fow patterns of a sink of water. It requires vast ocean-sized areas in which to work. The shape of the container, and how the water is moving has far greater effect than the coriolis effect.

Now, you would think that sound reasoning, as well as being backed up by scientific literature, it amazes me that people are far more willing to believe the lie, than accept that what they believed is false.

In my experience, it is very easy to get someone to believe something that they hear for the first time, but after this first encounter, it is excrutiatingly difficult to get them to change their world view, if the first explanation proves to be invalid.

This goes for other things too. Take the story about the PowerBalance bracelet that claimed to give you more strength and healthier body because of a small holographic device. It turned out to be a completely bogus scam, but I still heard people claiming it worked even after the scam broke!

There are so many pseudoscientific claims out there – such as ESP, UFOs, Velikovsky, astrology – that you could write many thick books discussing, and debunking them, but sometimes, I just wish people would wake up and think for themselves a bit.

That may sound a bit idealistic – the realist in me knows that people will be people, and that pseudoscientific nonsense will never go away. The claims will change but there will always be willing people to fall for them.


The world is going to end soon, or so the growing Mayan hysteria would have you believe. The Mayan calendar supposedly ends on the winter solstice of 2012, thus heralding the end of the world.

Fortunately, real scientists are little bit more level-headed in the face of doomsday predictions.

One such scientist, is Dr Vincent H. Malmström, Professor Emeritus of Geography, from Dartmouth College (whose homepage can be found here). He has published a paper, The Astronomical Insignificance of the Mayan Date, completely debunking any significance of this particular date in 2012, providing ample reasoning to back up what he is saying.

Now I wonder if this would have any impact on those loony doomsday prophets….


The world has changed, and the average man in the street can now leverage more power than ever before, thanks to social media.

I could site hundreds of examples, but one of the most fun is one happening right as I type this.

It all started with a woman called Monica, who published an article online about apple pie, which got stolen by a magazine, Cooks Source, who edited the article slightly and published it, all without the knowledge or consent of Monica.

As soon as Monica found out from a friend, she contacted them, and got an arrogant reply back from one of their editors.

She posted her full story online, and it appeared on Reddit, where I first saw it, and suddenly the world went mad…

Cooks Source’s facebook page went crazy with people expressing their disbelief in the magazine’s blatant intellectual theft. This can only have negative impact for the company, as any Google search reveals dozens of blog posts, tweets and other articles taking the company to task for what they did to poor Monica. Somehow I think it will be difficult for them to recover from this one little incident.

The lesson to be learned here – Even if you try and take advantage of a seemingly insignificant person, the power of the social internet can come down on you in a big way.


A few days ago I tweeted a thought that occurred to me on the way home from work.

In the middle ages, the Vikings invaded large parts of Europe and generally caused two centuries of chaos. In many modern history books, they are considered savage barbarians looting and pillaging.

Now, what then can we say about the European “colonial” powers that emerged from the late 1400′s onwards? Weren’t we just as savage?

Think about this for a bit. For a period of about 400 years, most of the world was partitioned off to a few European countries. Spain focused on the Americas, Portugal on bits of Africa and America, France on Canada and Africa, Netherlands on Asia and the West Indies, Belgium on the Congo, and the English on just about everywhere.

All of the territories claimed by the countries listed above were claimed as colonies, and the history books denote explorers from these countries as being the first to “discover” them. Never mind that there were actually people already living there – some of which even had fairly sophisticated cultures.

Countries like Russia and China also expanded rapidly during those periods, but they merely conquered surrounding lands. They may have had the might to overcome their neighbours, but they at least did not hide behind the excuse of “colonialism”.

When the world was colonised by Europe, it was not done in a simple peaceful manner, but rather led to largescale destruction of the local population and their culture, by direct methods such as genocide (as happened in the Congo, for example) as well as indirect methods such as western diseases.

To add insult to injury, the colonisers had the audacity to believe that their way of life and religious views were superior to that of the people which had lived on their land for thousands of years. Christianity was forced upon entire continents.

One particular example of the destructiveness of this is that a vast majority of the Mayan writings were destroyed by Spanish missionaries trying to convert the local people to Christianity, and in the process losing much of the knowledge we could have of the Mayans.

Being European myself, these atrocities were committed by some of my ancestors, but I am not trying to apologise for our behaviour. I just am trying to get across the message that men are all the same, no matter where in history, or heights of civility we are.

We are no better than the marauding Vikings, and I certainly think it would be foolish to believe that we have learnt any better in our modern age we find ourselves now…