Kanthan's blog

Let's take a break from the war and talk sci-fi

3 March 2022 — In 1991, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, took to the screens. This would become William Shatner’s final voyage on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise as Captain James T. Kirk. The premise of the movie is that the Klingon moon Praxis, a key energy production facility...

The UN Votes: vox populi vox dei

2 March 2022 — The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution today demanding Russia immediately end its military operations in Ukraine. The resolution won overwhelming support from 141 of the 193-member body. It demands Russia “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its...

Is this 'systemic racism'?

1 March 2022 — I tend to collect random bits of data which I parse at a later date in my quest to seek enlightenment. Today’s candidate is a report from the American Heart Association titled 2022 Heart Disease & Stroke Statistical Update Fact Sheet Black Race & Cardiovascular...

Explainer: Russia's Riches to Roubles story

28 February 2022 — When I moved from the United States to Italy in 1992 to start work as a senior research scientist at the Centre for Advanced Studies, Research and Development in Sardinia , I thought I was getting an excellent deal. My new salary was a substantial improvement over what I...

Dreams die in times of war

27 February 2022 — Around 2017, One of my closest friends and I planned a road trip. The idea was to fly to Vladivostok on the east coast of Russia, buy a car, and drive from there largely following the route of the Trans-Siberian Railway across to Moscow. We would then sell the vehicle in...

Functional illiteracy sucks...

26 February 2022 — I visited South Korea little over a decade ago to visit Samsung’s headquarters near Suwon. Serendipity struck in that an old friend and former colleague from Durban circa 1995, who had moved to Hong Kong, happened to be in the capital Seoul at the time. So I took the 94...

Five questions, five answers

25 February 2022 — This from a chat group today: Five questions I have been asking myself that I cannot seem to find addressed by the Media and its plethora of Investigative Journalists: 1)  Has Russia forfeited its place on the UN Security Council, and Putin as its current President? 2)  ...

The problem with y’all…

24 February 2022 — I got gently berated by a reader today: “Kanthan I love your tweets but please cut out this terrible y'all term. It grates.” I sympathise; it can trigger a stereotype (accurate in this case) of the American South, as noted here: Whenever someone wants to make fun of a...

Sanctions will hurt the US more than Russia

23 February 2022 — Putin is in a far stronger position than Biden. There are only two things we need to know to understand why, but I’m going to give you eight reasons. 1. The price of oil. Oil and natural gas are the biggest revenue drivers of Russia’s economy.  For the longest time,...

The Ukraine conflict explained in one minute

22 February 2022 — As a species, we’re programmed to take sides; even when we have no skin in the game. I know lots of people who will see a sporting event on TV involving people or teams they know nothing about and will immediately start rooting for one side. If we understand how that works...

Don't wait! Eat that marshmallow!

21 February 2022 — 50 years ago, Stanford University psychology professor Walter Mischel ran an experiment to test the concept of delayed gratification in children. Basically, Mischel left a marshmallow in front of a child and told the child that he (or she) could eat the marshmallow, but if...

Have you seen a scaly anteater? Me neither...

20 February 2022 — Yesterday was World Pangolin Day and here’s what’s going down with our neighbor, Namibia. Namibia has recorded 320 cases of crimes involving pangolins since 2017 Authorities had confiscated 1 505 pangolin products, including 15 carcasses; 81 live animals, 193 skins;...

India's millionaire class — average age 35

19 February 2022 — The Hurun India Wealth Report 2021 was released yesterday. This report is the second annual birds-eye view of India’s wealth landscape. The Hurun Research Institute surveyed 350 dollar-millionaires. Their average wealth was US$ 6.7 million with 12 percent of them worth...

Why doesn't Zimbabwe use South Africa's currency?

18 February 2022 — I’m sitting in a hotel room in Harare, Zimbabwe, and engaging in a bit of a gedankenexperiment. Here’s the scenario: 1. Almost 10% of Zimbabwe’s official GDP comes from expat remittances; most of this from South Africa in rands. 2. In spite of this, the Zimbabwe economy...

Some things just don't feel right...

17 February 2022 — An upsetting story from Reuters yesterday. “Two years after she went missing, a 6-year-old girl has been found alive and in good health in a makeshift room underneath a staircase in a house in New York state…” Now you might well ask why I find this upsetting? You need to...

A good news story out of Kenya

16 February 2022 — Here's a stat that Unicef trots out almost every year: Every two minutes, a child under five dies of malaria. In 2019, there were 229 million malaria cases globally that led to 409 000 deaths. Of these deaths, 67% (274 000) were children under 5 years of age. This...

Thoughts on the passing of P.J. O'Rourke

15 February 2022 — I'm wistfully saddened at the news that P.J. O'Rourke died today — wistful because I always wanted to meet him but never got down to doing something about it. His writing was the single reason I subscribed to Rolling Stone magazine in my student days at Princeton in the...

If Uriah the Hittite had lived, what would have happened next?

14 February 2022 — So here I am, after a fabulous dinner, trying to make coherent sense around the nature of the world (which, truth be told, is no different from most days). And the core idea today is what if things don't go the way you expect them to? Hence the opening question which was...

Most people know what's news; most journalists don't...

13 February 2022 — This from Elon Musk last week: "Why is the 'traditional' media such a relentless hatestream?" He went on: Most news outlets attempt to answer the question: “What are the worst things happening on Earth today?” It’s a big planet! Obviously, some bad things are happening...

The price of doing business…

12 February 2022 — An acquaintance of mine has become the southern African partner for nice piece of European technology in the off-grid energy space. He asked me whether I would be willing to spread the word to potential customers, and I responded: "Sure. What's the entry-level price per...

'Sources reveal sinister Russian plot to clone French President'

11 February 2022 — France’s president Emmanuel Macron and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin met in Moscow. They were pictured sitting at opposite ends of a long table which immediately reminded me of the adage that he who sups with the devil should have a long spoon. Today, Reuters reported...

A lesson in intellectual humility I cannot duck…

10 February 2022 — Duck l'Orange is a favoured dish at Chez Pillay which is generally reserved for those rare occasions when Dr B and I have the house to ourselves. So, there's usually a pack or two of duck breasts in our freezer. One such rare occasion manifested itself last weekend, and so...

I thought Alibaba was a big company but...

9 February 2022 — All I knew about Maersk until today is that most of the shipping containers on trucks travelling Africa’s longest dual carriage freeway from Durban to Johannesburg bear their logo. Then I saw the announcement of their financial results for 2021. Copenhagen - A.P. Moller -...

The man who saved Kyle Rittenhouse

8 February 2022 — Yale Kamisar passed away 30 January 2022 aged 92. He was an American legal scholar and writer and Professor Emeritus of Law at the University of Michigan Law School. Most of us have not heard of him, but his impact on the legal world was ground-breaking. He is known in legal...

Matthew 7:3-5 (just because it resonates)

7 February 2022 — I made one of my occasional forays into Facebook earlier today and was prompted with a memory of a post I shared 5 years ago. It was written by Scott Mednick , when a Facebook friend told him, "We suffered for the last 8 years. Now it’s your turn.” (This, of course, as a...

Canadian trucker protest is a gamechanger for Crypto Crowdfunding

6 February 2022 — Before we get into the gist of what I'm talking about, here's an executive summary of what triggered this thought process: Last month, the Canadian government announced that truck drivers crossing into Canada would have to be fully vaccinated. In protest, truckers...

How to judge Biden?

5 February 2022 — United States president Joe Biden has been making a lot of noises about appointing an African-American woman to the country’s Supreme Court1 ; this after incumbent Justice Stephen Breyer recently announced his intent to retire at the end of the court’s current term. It was...

Ignorant glee is a thing

4 February 2022 — There was much schadenfreude among financial journalists this week after Facebook’s holding company’s share price dropped by 26%. “Zuckerberg loses $29bn in a day,” yelled one headline which went on to say: “Mark Zuckerberg lost $29-billion in net worth in a single day....

Why we all should support Aung San Suu Kyi: Part 3

2 February 2022 — Pause for a moment with me and just imagine: One day, you’re at your ailing mother’s bedside; 24 hours later, you’re thrust with the burden of noblesse oblige as the daughter of the man who freed your country from colonial oppression, and you find yourself flagbearer for a...

Why we all should support Aung San Suu Kyi: Part 2

1 February 2022 — One year ago, today, 1 February 2021, the democratically elected government of Myanmar was deposed by the country's military. Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the ruling National League for Democracy and de facto Prime Minister was arrested along with other leaders of her...