Aakash Bramdeo is a former colleague from e.tv news who moved on to the SABC before being offered the editorship of Post in Durban — which was the newspaper which published my first story back in 1980. Before accepting the job, Aakash picked my brain as to what he could do to make the paper relevant to a wider readership. "Get a columnist who reflects the audience you're trying to attract," I said.

Shortly after accepting the position of editor, Aakash called me and asked, "when can you start?"

"View from the Top" ran in Post every week from 1 May 2011 to 9 April 2014 (which coincided with Aakash's departure from Post to edit the Sunday Tribune).

Enjoy the money but beware the dark

30 November 2011

IN THE first half of the 20th Century, malaria wreaked havoc through much of the new world. Some 21 000 people were hospitalised with malaria during the construction of the Panama Canal from 1905 through 1910. The United States plan to build a hydro-electric dam across the Tennessee River in the southern part of that country in 1933 was hampered by the fact that 3 out of 10 people in that area were infected.

And many of the US soldiers being trained for World War 2 in southern military bases from 1942 through 1945 succumbed to the disease.

2011 blitzed past with blinding speed

14 December 2011

THE breakfast team at my radio station have a weekly feature called “Ask the CEO”. They call me, live on air, and ask me to answer random questions on just about anything in the world. It’s an interesting challenge for them and me – they are needing to constantly come up with a diverse range of topics while I am needing to keep my own knowledge base suitably broad to be able to answer their questions.

Without facts, nobody really knows

21 December 2011

South Africa, like most other countries, has a routine notification system for reporting certain medical conditions. The 2003 Health Act lists the conditions that need to be notified to the National Department of Health, how soon after diagnosis, and the information required for each condition.

The notification system helps the Health Department and other relevant authorities to monitor disease trends over time, which in turn allows for evaluation of the effectiveness of promotional and intervention strategies.

Here’s what will happen to Zuma

28 December 2011

The question was posed to me earlier today: “Do you think Zuma will get a second term?”

Incredible as it may seem, four years have elapsed since the tumultuous events of Polokwane 2007 which saw the most popular president in our history being dramatically ousted from the helm of the party he had steered with rigid determination for close on a decade.

Mbeki fell, and the NGOs, the unions, the unemployable youth, and the media rejoiced.

Sharing a windy spot with strangers

4 January 2012

If you’ve ever driven the N3 from Durban to Johannesburg, some 2,5km before the town of Van Reenen is a severely potholed unmarked exit on the left.

It was in the early 1970s that I first heard about the “Villiers route” to Johannesburg from my father who had taken that route (and broken a stub axle along the way). Up until that time, the N3 to the Transvaal wound its way up through Ladysmith, Newcastle, Volksrust, Standerton, Balfour, and Heidelberg – a route still largely followed to this day by passenger trains between the Highveld and the coast.

Road carnage? Here’s how to fix it

11 January 2012

If two minibus taxis each travelling at 60 kilometres per hour in opposite directions have a head-on collision at the top of a blind rise after one of the drivers has chosen to overtake a stream of vehicles behind a slow-moving truck, how many passengers can we expect to survive the crash?

I ask this because of the 16 major fatal crashes from 1st through 27th December 2011, 13 were head-on collisions. Most of these deaths involved public transport vehicles, specifically minibus taxis.

Hurling money at it won’t work, Blade

18 January 2012

Not many of us today remember the name of Samuel Pierpont Langley who was born 1834 and died early 1906. Langley was an American academic, astronomer, physicist, inventor of the bolometer who attempted to make a working piloted heavier-than-air aircraft – what we today call an airplane.

Langley’s first success came in May 1896 when a model flew slightly more than a kilometre after a catapult launch from a boat on the Potomac River -- a distance ten times longer than any previous experiment. On November 11 that year another model flew more than 1,5 kilometres.

Striking a deal can be sole-less . . .

1 February 2012

Welcome, class, to the start of another school year. I’m your substitute teacher for this week. Today, we are going to start by doing a very simple exercise in arithmetic. “Arithmetic” means “the branch of mathematics dealing with the properties and manipulation of numbers”.

Let us pretend that there is a company making shoes; which is run by a lovely woman named Angie and has an equally nice group of employees whose spokesman is John. Angie is currently paying John and his friends R100 000 per month to make shoes.