Kanthan's Blog

Up in my air balloon, air balloon...

Whenever I watch "Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade", I'm filled with longing for the majestic beauty of airships.

Three times longer and twice as tall as a 747 – to put that in perspective, the Hindenburg class machine was as long as the Empire State Building is tall – these magnificent machines had 25 cabins (yes, cabins) holding two passengers each, a dining room, a passenger lounge with a piano, a writing room, a smoking room.

Biting the bullet butter

A monk pours butter tea in Tashilhunpo Monastery, Tibet.

"Have you got any butter?" I asked the barista at the Slow XS Lounge in Lanseria. He had just passed me a double espresso. "Sure," he said, and passed me a couple of single serve tubs. He then watched in fascination as I tipped both into the espresso.

"I bet you've never seen this before," I said. He shook his head slowly.

"Is that Bullet Coffee?" asked the woman in line behind me. "Sort of a poor man's version," I said.

"Why?" asked the barista.

"It stops you getting hungry," said the woman. "Exactly," said I.

So Ramaphosa delivered, sort of...

Yesterday, I said there are three very simple things President Ramaphosa can do today that will immediately give an uptick to our economy:

  1. Let SAA fail
  2. Take the money that would be spent on SAA and use it to upgrade Metrorail rolling stock and stations
  3. Hand over control of Metrorail to the municipalities of Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban

Here's what he said in the State of the Nation address:

A key priority this year is to fix commuter rail, which is vital to the economy and to the quality of life of our people. 

My wishes for the State of the Nation Address tonight

There are three very simple things President Ramaphosa can do today that will immediately give an uptick to our economy:

  1. Let SAA fail
  2. Take the money that would be spent on SAA and use it to upgrade Metrorail rolling stock and stations
  3. Hand over control of Metrorail to the municipalities of Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban

That's it.

I could ask for an end to EWC, NHI, cadre deployment, PIC stealing workers' pensions, but I've learned to lower my expectations. 

The William Nicol interchange looks good, but it sucks

When the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project trotted out the new interchange at the intersection of the N1 and William Nicol, there were many oohs and aahs around how beautiful it was.

Actually, it's stupid. It is responsible for creating what is possibly the single biggest logjam on the road from Cape Town to Beit Bridge.

Here's the problem: Any intersection with traffic lights can only allow cars to pass through as lomg as the light is green.

(Minibus taxis have their own rules. We're not talking about them.)

RIP, Mad Mike

Mike Hoare, from his book

I found out this morning that "Mad Mike" Hoare had passed away on 2 February, aged 100.

The unraveling of the EU begins today

By Krd - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74929363

In October 2018, German Chancellor Merkel announced that she would not be standing for reelection as leader of her party, the Christian Democratic Union.

In the December election that followed, Merkel's protégé, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, (Germany's current Minister of Defence) was elected leader of the CDU by a narrow margin.

Today, CDU insiders have confirmed Kramp-Karrenbauer will be resigning her position as CDU leader this year and will not put her name forward to take over as chancellor in the 2021 federal election.

Why does this matter?

The erotic allure of unfamiliar books

There's a pile of books on my bedside table in various stages of being read; ditto the guest bathroom at my home which doubles as my personal reading room every so often. 

But you will still find me prowling second hand bookshops looking for things that pique my curiosity. This is how I acquired some of David Bullard's "Out To Lunch" compilations which are long out of print.

Second hand bookshops are doomed to extinction in my country because of aliteracy – unwillingness to read even though one is able to do so.

The virus and the pangolin

Pangolin (Manis temminckii), Madikwe Game Reserve

When you see one strutting along on its hind legs, you might be forgiven for thinking this is a baby tyrannosaurus. 

When it rolls up into a ball, it looks like a projectile from a medieval version of pelota designed for the Spanish Inquisition. 

And then it puts forward something that looks like an earthworm the length of a domestic cat, which you realize is its tongue.

Pangolins are amazing creatures. They're mammals with scales, and they can swing from trees by their tails. In the wild, they are pretty much invincible.

To boldly go where no woman has gone before...

Christina Koch official portrait in an EMU - NASA/Bill Stafford

7 February 2020 - 7:00am

Barely 24 hours ago at 9h12 GMT, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Christina Koch safely parachuted down in Kazakhstan.

She had spent 328 days (including her 41st birthday on 29 January) on board the International Space Station. During that time, she and fellow astronaut Jessica Meir made history with the first all women spacewalk.

Then on 28 December 2019, Koch set another record; the longest continuous time spent in outer space by a woman,

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