Kanthan's blog

’No flags were harmed in the making of this ad‘

10 May 2024 — I have pictures of family members in my home; among these, many who annoy me intensely a lot of the time, and others who do seriously embarrassing things at other times. The pictures are a recognition that I love them in spite of their shortcomings. I have my country's flag...

Thoughts on the Ukraine and Israel conflicts

16 October 2023 — Most of us react emotionally to war. We want to discuss it in terms of good and evil. We want to declare who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. And we want referees to enforce rules. War is not a football match. War is a very rational act. The object of war is to...

The back story to the Russian 'coup'

25 June 2023 — In Frank Herbert's "Dune" series of novels, Salusa Secundus was the ancestral homeworld of House Corrino, the ruling family of the Padishah Empire. Then came the Butlerian Jihad, a great war fought against thinking machines. "AI" in modern terminology  Salusa Secundus was...

The Saudi-Iran deal — 10 things you need to know

10 March 2023 — Yesterday, an overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans in the US House of Representatives joined forces to call for regime change in Iran. Today, China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran issued a joint communique announcing normalising of diplomatic relations between the...

A 10 point history of nuclear arms treaties between the US and Russia

1 March 2023 — Russia’s president Vladimir Putin announced last week that Moscow was suspending participation in the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (“New START”), a pact signed with the United States in 2010, which put limits on the number of strategic nuclear warheads. US Secretary of...

Ten things you need to know about Nigeria's upcoming elections

23 February 2023 — Nigeria goes to the polls this weekend. Here are ten things you need to know about the issues facing Africa’s most populous country: Free and fair elections: Nigeria has a population of 220 million people but only 93.5 million registered voters. Security: Nigeria has...

Monetising the blue ticks on Twitter

1 November 2022 — Self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur and angel investor”, Jason Calacanis, is running a poll on Twitter. The question: “How much would you pay to be verified & get a blue check mark on Twitter?” Possible choices: “$5 a month”, “$10 a month”, “$15 a month”, “Wouldn’t...

Time to buy oil from Russia?

10 August 2022 — Over the past week, Trade and Industry minister Ebrahim Patel dropped “dumping” duties on imported chicken. It’s a good decision, reversing a disastrous policy put in place by Patel’s predecessor Rob Davies in 2013. I said at the time that lower-income groups would pay...

Today is a good day to talk about nuclear war

6 August 2022 — Today is 6 August. On this day in 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima in Japan. Between 70,000–80,000 people were killed by the blast and resultant firestorm. I’ve no doubt that the use of nuclear weapons would have become a regular...

Remembering Dr Aadil Moerat

2 August 2022 — R60 was worth around $12 US in early 1998. It’s a sum that’s worth noting because on the evening of 21 January 1998 at around 6 pm, three armed men walked into the packed waiting room of Dr Aadil Moerat’s surgery in the township of Gugulethu, Cape Town. Minutes later, Dr...

Measuring the cost of justice

1 July 2022 — I’ve had a basic internal rule in place over the years whenever I began a new position — I would make sure that I paid back the cost of my salary to my employer in the shortest possible time. “Paying back” in this case in this case is not a once off thing, but instead refers to...

How can 190 000 Russians win against 700 000 Ukrainians?

25 June 2022 — Established military wisdom has it that an invading army needs to outnumber defenders by a 3:1 ratio. (This makes sense to me. A dug-in defensive unit is able to fortify itself, supply itself with food, water, and munitions.) Ukraine deployed 700 000 combatants to fight...

Happy birthday President Mbeki. Now get your A into G…

18 June 2022 — I have said it before and I will say it again – Thabo Mbeki was the best president in the world at the time of his sacking. (It's at this point in the conversation that most people huffily declare: "How can you say he was the best in the world?!!!" My response is simply, "Tell...

Be careful what you wish for

3 June 2022 — One of the questions we should always ask ourselves is "what if we get what we want?" Let me give you some examples. Many people wanted Donald Trump impeached as US president. If they had succeeded, Mike Pence would have become president. From a liberal POV, Pence is far...

Raising interest rates — bad idea

20 May 2022 — Yesterday, in response to rising inflation, the South African Reserve Bank raised interest rates by 50 basis points. Once cannot really blame the team at the SARB who voted unanimouslyThey differed only in the quantum — one wanted a 25 basis points increase. in favour of...

I’m calling BS on this ‘loadshedding’

16 May 2022 — We can all understand “loss of generating capacity’. Units go out of service, the grid gets overloaded, etc. etc. But why would “loss of generating capacity” kick in only between 17h00-22h00 every day and be perfectly functioning for the other 19 hours? Especially as by 17h00,...

Explainer: Why does Russia now want payment in rubles?

23 April 2022 — For decades, Russia has been selling natural gas to countries in Europe. Initially, those countries would pay Russia in their own currencies (Example: Germany using Deutschmarks). In the modern era, those payments have been made in Euros. This year, after Russia began its “...

When incompetent journalism has financial consequences…

22 April 2022 — Two days ago, Netflix posted its first quarter results for this financial year. The share price plunged 31,5% — the biggest one day fall in over a decade. If you want to know why, consider these headlines: Netflix Loses 200,000 Subscribers, Counts Password-Sharing as...

Finland and Russia... "It's complicated"

21 April 2022 — Finland’s government is toying with the idea of joining NATO. And the decision will be made in weeks, not months, according to Prime Minister Sanna Marin. Finland has worked closely with NATO since the organization was founded in 1949, but has not made overtures to formally...

Is the Shanghai lockdown really about COVID?

20 April 2022 — There are some interesting words in the English language. Take the case of the verb “shanghai”. The word is derived from the name of the city on the east coast of China. In the late 19th century, there was frequent shortages of sailors willing to crew ships to far off...

Full cream versus low fat: the winner is...

19 April 2022 — Is low fat milk is healthier than full cream milk? If you’re fanatical about this because you think one is healthier than the other, let me set you straight: 1. Whole-fat dairy food intake is inversely associated with obesity prevalence. "Odds for global obesity (body mass...

IMF World Economic Outlook, Summary: 'We're Screwed'

18 April 2022 — The International Monetary Fund has released the April 2022 World Economic Outlook. Unsurprisingly, the ongoing Ukraine conflict is front and centre. Let me quote: War slows recovery The war in Ukraine has triggered a costly humanitarian crisis that demands a peaceful...

For womb the belles toil…

17 April 2022 — The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function, F Scott Fitzgerald said. And as I recalled those words, it sparked a David Bowie ear worm: 'Tis a pity she was a whore 'Tis my...

A brief history of our national roads

16 April 2022 — Many people will be travelling back home this Easter weekend and that sparked a thought rabbit hole about how our national roads have changed over my lifetime. So I went looking and found a Department of Transport map of our national road network from 1959 which confirmed a...

KZN Floods: A tale of four bridges

15 April 2022 — Durban, like many great cities around the world, is built on a river. The mighty Umgeni runs some 230 km from the Natal Midlands down to its estuary in the Indian Ocean (which Durban natives like me know as “The Blue Lagoon”). The Umgeni literally cuts the city in two. To...

KZN Floods: The cure for high prices

14 April 2022 — There’s a quote from one of my favourite books : “When I have water, I must drink wine; but when I have no water, I must drink water.” I arrived in my home town, Durban, Tuesday night, 12 April. Earlier in the day, eight weather stations in KwaZulu-Natal recorded new highs...

KZN floods: The world is melting!

13 April 2022 — The world is melting! The planet is breaking down! The outpouring of hysterical headlines over the devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal have been enough to make a jackal puke.This was a favourite expression of my late friend and mentor Deon du Plessis. Let me take y’all back...

So, who is your favourite diplomat?

12 April 2022 — When I was a kid, someone told me that “a diplomat is a person who can tell you to go to hell in such a tactful way in such a way that that you’ll look forward with pleasure to making the trip.” I thought of this earlier today watching yesterday’s press conference with US...

What about whataboutism though?

11 April 2022 — There are a number of ways we shut down conversations as human beings. In recent years, we created a term for one of those. We call it whatboutism or whataboutery (or variations on that theme). Example: “Black lives matter!” “What about Arab lives?” “That’s whataboutery....

No, I don't work there anymore...

10 April 2022 — Five years ago today, I stepped down as MD of the Yired group of companies and Chief Executive of YFM. It was a symbolic departure date exactly 10 years to the day I had started, 10 April 2007. I probably would have forgotten about this if not for that fact that a former...