Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Trapido: South Africa and Australia must exploit the potential of sex workers - Sheep in the City?

Once in awhile I am afforded the opportunity of bringing South Africans and Australians closer together in the interests of both countries. While this doesn't occur often - yesterday I was heartened to see an article on IOL headed - "Guess what Australia's skills need is... " - which got me thinking that perhaps we could assist them in their quest.

"Sydney - A lobby group for brothel owners on Tuesday demanded a skilled migration stream for foreign sexworkers because Australia's booming economy needs more sexworkers just like it needs more doctors, plumbers and welders. "We're seeking a human-rights approach to labour migration generally, so that any labour migration policy can include a non-discriminatory approach to sexworkers as well," Scarlet Alliance spokesperson Elena Jeffreys told national broadcaster ABC."

Of course the bit about "human-rights" used in conjunction with "Aussies" and "sexworkers" threw me completely. My understanding of the average red-blooded Australian male and his idea of a good roll in the hay has nothing to do with human-rights or, to be frank, humans at all.

So it's a good thing that I saw the article or those poor buggers would have landed up with some of our belters with the odd Russian bride thrown in - no good to them at all.

No it's sheep they're after and where better than South Africa to source the blighters? We've got loads of 'em scattered around the country and at the price these cobbers are prepared to pay for their sexworkers, most farmers I spoke to said they didn't believe their "ladies" were doing anything in particular next Friday.

Don't let me catch any of you lot sniggering...there's a lot to be said for dating across the species line - Most of it in court ...but I digress.

Jeffreys argued "that the millions of dollars a year the immigration department spent raiding brothels and deporting illegal workers would be saved if sex workers could apply for visas under the skilled migrant category."

I always thought that they only deported these "sexworkers" if they had Bluetongue, Indigestion or Q Fever but there you go. Mind you I can just imagine the disruption to their brothels every time there's a raid - what with hordes of men in asbestos suits (in case of foot and mouth) those poor ewes bleating and the cobbers under the bed in case their bosses find out .

"If human rights can be broadened to include migrant sexworkers in Australia, then people have got a better chance of stopping exploitation before it happens," she said. Immigration officials have already rejected the proposal, saying that sexworkers, like would-be fruit pickers, did not qualify for working visas because their level of skill was too low".

I wouldn't be so quick to judge if I was one of those immigration officials - Given the choice between an Aussie or a Redhead Persian to call on "Who wants to be a millionaire?" and I'd go for the sheep every time.

Our sheep must have every chance of cracking those visas and voila we're in bed with the Aussies!

Or at least our sheep are.


Posted on behalf of Michael Trapido.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Things to do in Rosebank - Part 1

Do you know your stuff? Do you really? Well then, what better way to spend a Wednesday night, than to tickle those braincells into action at the Bulldogs Pub in the Rosebank Mall. They have a trivia quiz run by Quiznite. There are approx 20 teams in the league currently and there is always place for newcomers.

The format of the quiz is as follows:

10 rounds of 5 questions each

Each round comprises a different subject i.e. History, Science and Nature, Music, Art and Literature (Culture), Riddles, Sport and Recreation, Geography, Film and Entertainment, Guest Section (different each week), Current Affairs

Within these sections there is 1 picture section and 1 audio section. (These change weekly)
Teams need to opt for a joker section i.e. a section they believe that they will do the best at (they will be awarded double points in this section)

There are 3 “Bonus” questions. 2 of these are spot questions where teams are required to solve a problem and a lucky draw is held with the first correct answer drawn winning a prize. The 3rd bonus question is a blindingly obscure question where the team closest to correct (typically numeric) answer receiving 2 bonus points
10 rounds of 5 questions each

If you are wanting to take part in this, remember that there is a max of 4 members per team and that you need to book at Bulldogs for the quiznite.

If you want to try some brainteasers, try these:

For more info on this quiz:

A few ideas on suburbs and social capital

Do suburbs contribute or detract from social capital?  

Social capital is generally referred to as the levels of trust and reciprocity in society.  Trust is enhanced through openness and connectedness.  One can think about connectedness on very different levels, such as the physical and psychological levels.  

Social networks are good for you and is an important component in economic development. It increases a society’s resilience to shocks. The existing of social networks and community involvement have also been linked to positive health implications

The questions is whether suburbs help achieve social capital or by nature of their character tend to destroy social capital.  Suburbs are physically far away from work and cultural centres and residents just do not have the time to spend in the locality. Suburbs tend to reinforce cultural disconnect as the same kind of people tend to cluster together in the same kind of suburbs.  People come and go in suburbs and so-called ‘bounded communities’ are rare.  Children play in private gardens and visit selected circles of friends with little opportunity to connect beyond. Think how difficult it sometimes is to just get the football back from the neighbours.

Suburbs are also home to churches, sports clubs, libraries and centres of learning. Although these institutions do provide the much-needed injection of connectedness in suburbs, these communities in suburbs are often very organised and much less spontaneous. 

Connectedness is also associated with increased risks of the unknown. It is probably exactly for this reason that suburbs are associated with families and many of the suburbs services, as opposed to the city-centre, are directed at children.  One study in Ohio found that a sense of community is strongly correlated with a “perception of walking”. Strolling trips, or walking for pleasure, are positively associated with community.  Suburbs are havens for families and any social capital formations strategies need to take this fact as a starting point.

Suburbs are part of our reality. They do not necessary destroy social capital, but have a lot of inherent weaknesses in spontaneously creating a sense of community and thus built social capital.  Some of these weaknesses are by design, no doubt about that, but many of the bottlenecks towards the formation of social capital in suburbs are upheld by a lack of safety and security. 

If suburbs can start facilitating the spontaneous play of children, and be safe enough to be walkable, we would go a long way towards restoring some of the preconditions of social capital formation.

What does this mean for places such as Rosebank? I'll save that for another day.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Don't stop believin', Hillary

Run, Hillary, run.

Run in Guam, run in North Carolina, run in Indiana. Run in each and every one of the nine contests that are left.
Then make some states do their contests over.
Should Barack Obama's victory in Vermont really count? I don't think Vermont is actually a state. I think it is technically a socialist republic. Have somebody check this out.
And Obama's victory in Alaska? Are you kidding me? They let caribou vote in Alaska.

Read the rest of Roger Storm's article here.

My Rosebank: Although in the scheme of things it probably doesn't matter who is America's next prez (their options are becoming limited by the day), the American public can probably do better than the current fella in the White House, but somehow I would prefer that that person NOT be Hillary Clinton. Someone was saying that if Clinton does win, power will have been in the hands of two families in America for something like 20 years. Obama will be a refreshing change, but as much as I'd like to see him win, my money is on McCain.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

We need LOTS of these in Johannesburg

So we have one pifly project called the Gautrain that is not ready now, and might be ready in another 18 months. In the meantime, there's a lot we can do. For starters, we can get more bums onto public transport, and less one-car-one-idiot scenarios. We can no longer afford not to do this.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Does Joburg Need To be Any Greener?

Any question like that is becoming increasingly silly. We can no longer afford to ignore the environment (as a source of food, fuel and bad weather). Johannesburg is the world's largest man-made forest. Think that's enough? At home I have coughed up black gunk, which I'm guessing is car soot. We can do a lot to look at our pollution; not only on our highways, but also from SASOL.
Efficiency is important, but changing how we consume, changing our lifestyles is the way we can affect real change. The latter though is harder, and requires sacrifice.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sights of Seoul (PHOTOGRAPHY)

The tollgate has ten lanes approaching...

Iran says oil price too low at 115 dollars a barrel

Late last year, Iran announced that it had stopped carrying out its oil transactions in dollars.

"At the moment, selling oil in dollars has been completely halted, in line with the policy of selling crude in non-dollar currencies, " Nozari was quoted as saying in December.

"The dollar is no longer money, they just print a bunch of paper which is circulated in the world without any commodity backing," he said.

My Rosebank: It's probable that this alone is a crucial reason why we're seeing oil prices break loose. Despite what we may want (and in particular what we want to hear in spite of reality) , it is actually true - oil prices are much lower than they need to be for this precious commodity.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

International Terminals Are Ready

South Africans should not be too quick to judge the state of our airports. The International Terminals are a different world altogether. I experienced this today flying to Singapore, and I am pleased to say our terminals at OR Tambo compare favorably with Changi in Singapore - and that is a huge compliment. Having said that, our domestic terminals still need some work, along with security and few other do dahs.

I will post some pictures I took of the terminal and some of the big birds in a few days.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Points People In Rosebank Today

There were points people manning three intersections today up Glenhove (and the road it becomes as it crosses Oxford). It makes a huge difference. I hope this will become a regular thing on load shedding days like today.

The Lotto Line

After work yesterday I went to the SPAR to buy a few days supply of food. There's quite a bottleneck of office workers who do exactly the same thing. What surprised me as I walked up the ramp, was a long line of people snaking from well outside the shop, all the way to the lottery kiosk. More people were converging on the line as I tried to get to the door, some of them with so many lottery tickets it looked like a pack of floppy cards.

One thing I also noticed was the smell of alcohol permeating at least some members queuing up. Later yesterday evening, on the Afrikaans news there was a story about poor Afrikaans whites, and someone throwing around a figure of 430 000. If I hadn't seen what I had seen earlier in the evening, and Norwood isn't a derelict shipwrecked part of Joburg's suburbia by any means, I would have called those figures fanciful.

Bloemfontein strikes me as a major area of poverty since there are so few employment opportunities. Industria - an area on the East side of Naval Hill, was once dedicated to Spoornet's railway workers. Well the railways died and those communities have struggled on.

The good news is, the railways in South Africa are being resuscitated, and in the years ahead, if the intelligensia of this country (is there such a thing) know their stuff, railways will be turned around into something like what they were in their heyday. The days of one person, one car, are fast becoming unaffordable. And the psychology of 'something for nothing', gambling one's existence on a lottery, even less so.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What have you done?

Yesterday I was asked what I’ve done to help the electricity problem and also global warming. This got me thinking to what I have done, and what I have not.

So far, I’ve changed all lights to energy saving ones, changed the electric stove into gas, stopped printing emails that weren’t necessary, drive a small car – much to the laughter of the “IT” crowd with their 3.0l cars.

But is this enough? What else can be done? And what have you done?

Why are you here at 5am?

So I am at Melrose Arch gym, and it's cold and dark. How come the place is full of people running, swimming, cycling and gyming. Why aren't they curled up at home sleeping?

See I have a good reason to be here. I do a sport. I'm trying to improve my performance. But what about these wives and husbands, some are even pregnant mothers. Why are you here? Surely it's not so important to have to be up at the crack just to...look good.

Well, I believe the answer is 'looking good' has never - in the past - been more important to us than it is now. If I can make a prediction, it will never be this important again.

Points People Work Better

Who had the crazy idea to use traffic lights rather than points people in the first place? If you have a look, one ant [my pet name for a points person regulating the flow of human ants] can regulate the flows of traffic much better than a programmed three light box. Especially during Peak Traffic when you have variable traffic flows, and you sometimes need an open conduit that can be regulated to optimal efficiency.

Driving through Illovo there was a nice smooth run into Rosebank, as opposed to the gruelling shuiffle up Glenhove, where there are no points people in place.

In South Africa there are plenty of people who don't have jobs. My suggestion is we train a small force of points people, and permanently shut down our traffic lights at biggish intersections. That way more people are working, and more people can get home and to work faster than they otherwise would. Just an idea.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Trapido: The Government on driving

Mrs Traps, to anyone who knows me, is called "the government" and not without good reason. You mess with the missus - who is as good as a mile - at your peril ; Woe betide anyone within the family who dares to question her authority - no quiet diplomacy there!

Anyhow - a couple of months back it was Mrs Trap's birthday and with her incredible ability to drive a motor car I went out and bought her a book : "Welcome to the wonderful world of second gear!" ; Not that I'm suggesting that she only uses first gear - she often puts the car into reverse - it's just that I figured that if I introduced her to another gear....

Mind you she learned how to drive from her mother - The Eddie the Eagle of the Misscar circuit (like Nascar but a far more religious experience for the passengers). Who will ever forget the day that mom-in-law, waved the government goodbye, put the car in reverse and backed out of the driveway? A superb manouvere and but for the fact that our gates were still closed at the time when she plowed into them......

I really shouldn't complain - no genuine I really shouldn't because if the government ever gets to read this I'll be neutered and then put down by our vet.

I have to tell you that there is nothing finer than flying down a hill in first gear - the engine screaming - the family screaming even louder ...trying to be heard above the noise - the government moaning about being given a car that can't top 90km/h even on a steep downhill!

The woman's a legend!

All of this however pales in comparisson with her parking. You've heard of drinking your date lekker - now meet paraletic parking ; the gentle art of drinking a parking lekker. It doesn't matter if the government is driving an Uno and the parking is the size of Loftus Versfeld there is no way that she is going to be able to get in there. Unless her blood-alcohol level is around .12 that space appears to be miniscule, hardly worth bothering about. We need a parking that you can drive into bonnet-first.

So we circle the block - in first - trying to find a shpot where we can park the car - screaming at each other above the engine - the kids davining in the back - until eventually we see one on the other side of the road. The government, regardless of any cars, swings out accross the road and nails it.

Then she turns off the car - which takes about 10 minutes to get over the shock ; all you hear is the fan and other unexplained noises - flames creeping out from under the bonnet. Time for the government to let us have it :

"There was that so hard?! You know what really makes me cross?! You carrying on like a backseat driver. Do I ever complain when you are driving?!"

The kids and I are saying Mourners Kaddish for the car.

We'll be sitting shiva this week - next week there are prayers at our house - she's getting a new car!

The prayers are for you.

By Michael Trapido, Thought Leader blogger.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Famine in South Africa - Preposterous (or is it?)

The first time I read this comment my mouse was hovering over the delete button. My thoughts were that this was written by a foreign woman with no clue about the real situation in South Africa. Then a few thoughts filtered through - at first random thoughts. One was of the murdered girl who had visited her murderer (and been sexually abused for months) in order to get food. Then I started to think about crime in general (in South Africa) as the simple process of the disenfranchised poor reaching out and striking out with all the pent up rage that comes with the travails of being poor. Here is the comment in full:

The WC2010 in South Africa is going to be a huge flop mainly because of the growing famine in that country. In its entire 150-plus years of recorded agricultural history, South Africa has NEVER suffered famine - and was a major food exporter to the rest of Africa.Now many malnourished children are treated in hospitals countrywide - and SA has to import many tonnes of grains because they only have 9,000 of the original 85,000 'white' commercial farmers left to produce excess-food - on only 0.76% of the entire land surface. More than half of the 47m population can't afford even a loaf of bread a day.
Then 350,000 tourists will descend on them like locusts and eat up their food supplies. I predict massive food-riots and attacks against football-tourists. Many whites now are already attacked for their food supplies, like this Pretoria woman this week. See the Alerts - famine' and "Boer genocide' pages on:

Obviously South Africa doesn't have empty Supermarkets like Zimbabwe, but it is true that we (like many other countries) are now net importers of food. Obviously tourists coming here don't compete for basic foodstuffs - they'll be eating in restaurants. But the food-riot future is not paranoia, it's already happening all over Africa, and COSATU is mobilising to get our own people marching too.

How does this affect me in my Rosebank? Well think about it. As more and more people can't afford basic foodstuffs, how do you think that will impact on urban and suburban crime (already at unacceptable levels).

Of course protesting doesn't help. What they [COSATU] should be doing is frogmarching people to patches of land and giving them bags of seeds.

Where to drink coffee in Rosebank

The first time I went to Vida-E was in Greenpoint, Cape Town, the day before the 2007 Argus. Since then I've seen this great new brand take the country by storm. It's pricey, but tasty, and the coffee is bakgat. Rosebank's Vida-e is situated close to Woolworths, opposite the Standard Bank ATMS. The construction going on alongside can't be great for business, but I was there as recently as Thursday and really didn't mind eyeballing all the activity revolving around this corner shop.

Friday, April 11, 2008

How to park - a video guide

Parking Technique - The funniest movie is here. Find it

Meet your neighbours

This is Rose (appropriately enough). She is both the Rose of Rosebank and Soweto. She demanded that I give her R50 for taking her picture. If I wasn't marginally wealthier I might have been able to meet this price. Rose is one of those people who must now pay that little bit more (which is a lot more for them now) just to get here by minibus, and more for bread and milk, electricity and all the rest. The money people give to the poor tends to get less when costs go up, which makes survival doubly hard.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rosebank (Photography)


I have had some crazy crazy nights there. Met people from Africa-wide, and probably still have their business cards stuffed in some bling handbag. I know I have danced like a fool and probably have come close to falling off the smooth-covered stools as I attempt perching in glamour.

But my best moments there have always been spent just like yesterday evening was. A surprise last minute meet-up with a good mate, on Capitols expansive couches, hypnotised by the '70s shine decor, and "two double gin and tonics please" just as Rosebank night life gets pumping....!

JSE property index hit by global woes

GLOBAL market woes and local interest and inflation rate uncertainty continue to dampen the listed property sector, with the South African listed property index recording a negative total return of - 4 % last month writes Nick Wilson.


My Rosebank - if you're wondering what the good news is, well, this is it (and only for some). With prices of food and fuel and electricity going up, suburbia is in less demand as a project (more expensive to get to, more expensive to pay off). This follows a trend that is well underway in the US, and recently underway in the UK.

For the first time recently I heard the words: 'global recession'. You'll be hearing them more often, and bankers will still be in a fugue about what's causing it. Those traffic jams to petrol stations on the eve of fuel price hikes are a clue. Traffic jams in general are too. I hope you live close to work.

You Have to See This

Next time you’re in Rosebank, take a little walk past the entrance of Woolworths to where The Firs used to be. Turn right along the alleyway with the building site on your left and up onto the pedestrian walkway over Oxford Road. And look down three stories at the men and machines who at work on the beginning of the Gautrain tunnel.

Why? Because it’s awesome.

Those pillars. Like Karnak. I would suggest, in fact, that it should be a Joburg’s number one tourist attraction. Someone should put a coffee shop up there.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My Rosebank, My Rosebank

Sitting in "It never rains in California" California, watching the rain come down has me thinking back to the second last day I spent in South Africa.

Sitting having coffee between The Zone and the Rosebank Mall, watching people go by with their lives.

The animation and friendliness is what makes me crave "Home" so much.

There's a saying of "You don't know what you've got, until it's gone". Never a truer word spoken.

The power that is Rosebank, the power that is South Africa is one that no one should under estimate, and I hope to return soon to my Rosebank!

Give Us Cyclists a Break

Drivers often moan that cyclists run red lights, and cite this as a reason/justification for playing target practise with riders. If you're a rider, you don't have to read this. If you don't cycle, this is for you:

One of the reasons cyclists are loathe to come to a full stop is because they use clipless pedals. This means their shoes are actually locked into their pedals. While it is often simple to unclick to disengage, sometimes this can take a few tries. When it goes wrong, the results are comical to watch (if you're a driver), and pretty unpleasant as a rider.

Today I suffered this fate at a busy Norwood intersection. The rider in front of me slowed down, I did too, but the wait was so long I had to disengage as I had come to a stop. I wasn't able to get my foot out of the pedal, even though 99 out of a 100 times this is a snip. So what happened? I fell in the road. If you want to know what that feels like - tie your feet together, stand on something the height of a shoebox and with hands on your chest, allow yourself to fall over.

If you see a rider going through a red light, try to remember that it's not sheer cheekiness. There is a risk to himself to stop dead, and it makes sense to avoid this if possible. I am not condoning running red lights. If cars do it, riders can easily be slaughtered in the early hours of the morning. I am just communicating the reason why cyclists sometimes choose to go through.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Is this the mayor of Rosebank?

Bones in Lay's Chips

True Tales from the Crypt
Last night close to the bewitching hour I went to a nearby garage shop. One of the items I bought was an orange packet of Lay's - I think it is the Thai-Chilli flavour. Back at the ranch I'm absently gobbling up chips. I get to the last handful and am about to swallow when - HORROR. Something long and odd shaped is crawling in my mouth. With a growing sense of revulsion, I put my fingers into my mouth, feeling between mushy chip crumbs, and pull out a stick-like object plus a shorter, stubbier version. My guess is that it's a chicken bone, but it's definitely not a chip. I felt pretty nauseous afterwards. What if it is diseased. A rotting piece of some animal thrown into a chip packet as a prank?

I immediately called Lay's/Simba's customer service helplines (both of them) and there was no answer at midnight. Then I took these pictures, placed the choke-apparatus back into the bag, and sealed it in a plastic container before inserting it into the freezer.

Lay's say they will come and pick up the sample tomorrow and have it checked out. I'll let you know what their examination turns up. Suffice it to say I'm not impressed. At lunch guess what was on the menu? Chicken. No thanks. And I think I'll be steering clear of crisps for the next 20 or 30 years.

Every 2nd Monday

After this morning's yucky drive to Rosebank (5km in about 45 minutes), I'll be running to work every 2nd Monday. I don't see the point in crawling around suburbia when I live just around the corner. I've run to work before and there's no better time than now to get into the habit. Whose coming with me?

Meanwhile the picture above is from my bathroom. After the light shorted, I installed a candle, and haven't bothered to replace the light. So here's my ongoing commitment to saving electricity. It's quite romantic at night, but twice so far I have forgotten the candle was burning, and returned home to find a home (rather than cinders).

Fingers crossed, and legs running...

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Meet your neighbours

Introducing Kat, one of the residents in our area.

House price growth continues on downward spiral

THE Absa House Price Index rose to 360,6 last month from 358,9 the previous month, data released on Friday showed. Absa said in its commentary that house price growth is slowing down further, with nominal house price growth of 8,7% year-on-year recorded in the middle segment of the market last month, compared with a revised growth rate of 9,5% in February.
Average nominal house price growth came to 9,5% in the first quarter of the year compared with 12,4% in the final quarter last year.

Go to the rest of this I-Net bridge story on Business here.

My Rosebank: Standard Bank says it is already going backwards, that a house worth R550 000 last year would be R520 000 this year. Something like that.

The risk with buying a house, and usually you don't even have to THINK about it, is that you can buy a house Worth, say, R750 000 today, and pay X interest on it. Then the market can turn, you sell the house (say for R600 000) but you still paying off your mortgage and probably at a higher interest rate.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Exercise: Tying Neighborhoods to Fitness Efforts

Researchers have found that poorer people are less likely to exercise. But a new study finds that the neighborhood they live in may play just as big a role as their income.

Neighbourhood Deprivation, Social Capital and Regular Exercise during Adulthood: A Multilevel Study in Chicago (Urban Studies)Writing in a recent issue of Urban Studies, researchers say they found that people were less likely to exercise in neighborhoods that were poorer and less educated, and where women were more likely to be raising children without fathers. The lead author was Ming Wen of the University of Utah.

The researchers drew on a variety of data for neighborhoods in Chicago, including census information and surveys of residents about how they viewed their communities and how much they exercised.

By ERIC NAGOURNEY, for the New York Times.

More here.

My Rosebank: So the question is - does an attitude that leads to consistent exercising (and fitness) also lead to wealth [my guess is yes], or is overweightness an emotional weakness as opposed to a defective intelligence/motivational construct?

Is poverty vs wealth a factor of lower motivation or lower intelligence, or both? (and if both which is more relevant to solving the poverty problem?)

Rosebank (Photography)

Places and people you've never seen in Rosebank (and didn't know they were there) - PHOTOGRAPHY

Joburg this morning

Cycling this morning at 5am was chilly; chillier than normal. We saw some cranky drivers revving around us (we're a group of about 12), angrily swerving because they had to leave the lane and come back in. I am always fascinated by this:

1) Someone in a car only has to move the steering wheel a few centimeters one way and then back - that effort compared to pedestrians scrambling across a road, or cyclists working hard to keep left is negligible. Yet drivers carry on as though it's this huge inconvenience, like you're asking them to run a marathon.
2) It gives the impression that drivers think roads are designed for cars (and belong to cars). Sorry, no. They were designed for everyone, and obviously the most frequent users are cars. But let's be clear - roads belong to people. People in cars, people on bicycles, people walking.

Jeepers, someone in a car has a tremendous advantage, a tremendous amount of lethal power. Please don't provide those not in cars with demonstrations of how annoyed you are. Rather be gracious and gentle; allow those who might be killed by a reckless driver's actions a right of way even if they don't deserve it, or have not earned it.

In the end it is people caring about people, and if it was your son or daughter out there, you'd like someone to err on the side of being more considerate rather than less.

Securing our Neighborhoods and Keeping Our Families Safe is our responsibility

We've heard it many times now that murders and rapes in South Africa are more often than not perpetrated by people close to the victims. This appears to be the case in the Estee van Rensburg murder - the suspect was 'a trusted employee and well liked by the residents of Faerie Glen, where he worked as an armed reaction officer'. The same is true of little Sheldean's murderer - in fact the little girl often visited him, ostensibly for food.
Anthony Altbeker, in his book (A Country At War With Itself) describes how difficult it is to crack down on crime when it is essentially happening spontaneously, in homes, between people who know each other. These crimes are fairly easy to solve, but to pre-empt and prevent is well-nigh impossible.

This means we need to be vigilant and suspicious (unfortunately), but hopefully not at the expense of walling up and dividing the community. These seem to be mutually exclusive objectives. However, if you REALLY get to know the people around you (as you do your own family) I suppose you can start to smell a rat. This requires effort. Making the effort to speak to people around you. Seeing how they operate. Understanding their motivations and frustrations, and in particular, their beliefs. It's either that or hoping the police are going to chance upon someone in some random suburb.

If we care we have to care actively in our communities - by taking care of (and paying attention) to others, we also take care of ourselves.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Is Leon Schuster in Rosebank/Houghton?

On my way to work I drove past a movie board with the word 'BONES' written in large red letters. This was signposted some way up on Glenhove Road, on the boundary between Houghton and Rosebank.

Coincidentally (?) there have also been posters popping up on Oxford Road of a Schuster-like character claiming "I ARE GUILTY", promoting some show on MNET.

A Dysfunctional Living Arrangement

The struggles behind suburbia's closed garage doors and driveways may appear to be invisible, but not seeing (think Horton and the Kangaroo) is still believing. And what we're not seeing is what is happening in the streets of London, Paris, New York and Tokyo. Well, believe it or not, it's not much of a stretch - what's happening here, is happening there, in fact it's happening everywhere:

With gas costly, drivers finally cut back

Click here for this story.

And we see the implications each day when we watch TV tunes or listen to the radio. Prices, all prices, are on the up and up.

That means behind closed doors, father's must explain to their children that they can't eat out as often, and they will have to wait 'a while' before they can get a new cellphone/doll/computer game/pair of shoes/tin of beans.

The end of suburbia means the beginning of something else. Essentially it is a more European, more village-scale style of living, with less driving and more walking. Most buildings are three stories high, and multi-purpose (store on the ground floor, living and offices immediately above).

What we are already seeing is a new kind of urbanism developing and people are actually willing to pay a premium for these. These are walkable communities, not entirely functional or plugged into organic systems, but integrated and at least friendlier than traffic based systems. Over time we will see parking lots converted into something more functional for people, and less functional as large temporary storage spaces for motor vehicles.

Visit a valuable resource on this subject - The End of Suburbia.

Learning to become good neighbours (again)

Pop quiz hotshot. What is the name of your next door neighbour? And across the road? If you're like me and plenty of other suburbanites, you've probably not met or spoken much with your neighbours. Or worse, with your colleagues. This isn't your fault (well it is, but you have mitigating circumstances).

Because of the chase to work, and the rush home to live, there is very little time for the touchy feely stuff (like smelling flowers and inviting the neighbours for a cup of tea).

But whether we like it or not, we will be meeting our neighbours in the future as our lifestyles and workstyles become increasingly local.

What is the force driving localisation (as opposed to globalisation). Well, simply skyrocketing resource and in particular expensive energy prices.

People are increasingly going to have to make do with what they have closer to home. Additionally, there is going to an increased demand for walkable communities, and urban design that facilitates both car free environments (bye bye ugly parking lots) and more urban diversity. After all, while we may not care how far we have to drive, when you walk you want somewhere (nice) to walk to...

The real world plugging back into the environment is underway, moving gradually. This is also well underway virtually, where social media is resuscitating to some extent the stagnated social networks that suburbia promised (but never delivered).
The thing that basically prevented people from talking to each other is becoming increasingly troublesome, and some feel that it faces some kind of obsolescence. That thing is the motor vehicle. It is a thing that insulates and isolates, people see and move by each other behind tinted glass shells, each box allocated a number, each box a separating entity.

For too long we have been not real communities living without any kind of social networking. Suburbia promised country living, but it has always been a mockery of the benefits, with all drawbacks and even curses of city living (crime, pollution, stress, health impacts, costs, distance from relatives etc).

We can start this process of redeveloping social networks online, but really, it needs to be lived out there, in places like Rosebank and those areas we call home. Home needs to be a place for ourselves and our neighbours, and our neighbours (tray of cookies and a Labrador in tow) need to come knocking on our doors too.

The Unintended Behaviour Manifestations caused by Load Shedding

If you're like me you've also approached a traffic intersection and when the car in front of you pulls away, so do you. You're in this automated mindset of being 'pushed-around', a sheep being shepherded by converging fences and walls, bosses and barriers.

Then you realise - hang on, I'm in a really long traffic jam because all these intersections are four way stops. STOPPPP!! Hooting, angry sputterings, a 'sorry' wave. So now you've stopped and let a few cars pass. It's difficult to keep count, especially when there are double lanes involved, with some cars pulling up just before or after you.

Then you realise that it is actually part of the program. Under normal driving circumstances you don't think. It's the program called 'crawling home'. The rules are: 'follow the car's bumper in front of you, but don't get too close'. And so here you were trying to hitch onto the back of the car in front as per normal. But duh! - this isn't normal.

Driving in Jo-burg is all about grabbing the gap, taking chances, pushing your weight (I'm not conding it, or supporting it, just reporting it ;-)

So this morning I headed to the ABSA bank at Rosebank, and then hesitated to graciously allow two people, a couple, to go ahead of me into the glass security cubicle. The next thing they are staring back at me, and I realise they are blocked on their end, because I've caught the door (grabbed the gap after giving it) and was about to follow them in.
Ooops. I stepped back and waited my turn.

Hmm. Interesting. That pause allowed me to collect the thought that was building up in a small cartoony cocoon above my head.

Load shedding does that. It turns us into robots, but then also asks us to wake up out of the automaton mode. When the lights are off we are to some extent programmed to follow power on/power off personal processes. Some of it is automatic and machine like, such as what we experience at work and in traffic. But some of it, the crucial part, asks us to be creative. Do have you candles in your bathroom, the braai set up ready for when you can't kick the micro or stove into dinner making mode. This requires an 'Oops' response. They can be positive - going to gym when the TV returns a blank stare - or they can be negative - waiting for it to come back on, going hungry until we can get what we want, how we want it, even if when is being delayed.

In the middle of difficulty - someone wise once said - lies opportunity. Let's seize it, and enjoy it. Share your ideas here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Book launch/signing in Rosebank

Jo-Anne Richards is an internationally acclaimed author of three novels and five collections of short stories. She has worked as a journalist for a number of local and international publications, and is now a lecturer of journalism to Honours students at the University of Witwatersrand.

About the Book
My Brother’s Book tells a story of betrayal and atonement that spans the lives of two siblings from their nomadic childhood in the Eastern Cape in the 1960s, to their adulthood in 2004 in Johannesburg. While the nation struggles to come to terms with its past, Lily struggles with her guilt about her careless betrayal of her brother, Tom, which destroyed his life and their relationship. Tom confronts this fraught past by writing a memoir. But both Lily, and Tom’s former lover Miranda, take issue with the way his book remembers their shared pasts. The two women begin to unravel "the way it really was". They tell a story of love and loss, of revolutionary fervour – and failure.

Jo-Anne Richards has written a poignant and evocative tale of the ways in which seemingly minute choices can destroy lives and relationships. My Brother’s Book explores the most intimate aspects of betrayal and deception set against the backdrop of a nation striving to understand the consequences of its terrible and traumatic past. My Brother’s Book is both tragic and intensely hopeful as it charts its characters’ paths from guilt and betrayal to atonement and redemption.

Above text from a press release.

Date: 9 April
Venue: Exclusive Books, Rosebank Mall
cONTACT: Exclusive Books on 011 447 3028
or email:

Weekend Hotspot: Colosseum Luxury Suites and Penthouses

Work Shop Play

Find it
The Colosseum is situated on Sable Road, just off the N1 on the Cape Town side of the Century City megacomplex. Across the road is Ratanga Junction. Canal Walk, Africa’s largest shopping mall, is a 3 minute stroll away. The hotel is just 10 minutes from Cape Town’s CBD, and 30km from Cape Town International Airport.

The Colosseum is one of Century City’s flagship buildings, with scenic views of Table Mountain. Looking down, the extensive tumble of Century City’s square red roofed buildings and the distant domes of Canal Walk evokes a charming and magical European setting. Prague? Istanbul? Nice? On the ground floor skirting the hotel entrance are elegant restaurants and coffee shops. A 24 hour Virgin Active, the first of its kind, is under construction (due for completion in November) diagonally across from the hotel, and on the Sable Road side, a new BMW Pavilion is also under construction. Both sites are far enough to be seen from the Colsseum, but not heard.

Owned by the Singer Group, the Colosseum is operated and serviced by Protea Hotels. As such service is professional, friendly and generally superior.
Les Harbottle of Plan One has introduced tasteful modern interior design, with a touch of whimsy. Whorly black and white patterns on undulating walls and sensual cocoon – sometimes star-shaped light covers – add a sense of humor to the clean private spaces. I found the modern design stylish and functional, complemented by the high-tech plasma screens and broadband internet connections. Rich wood panes in the living room area warm up your space with large windows that bring striking outdoor vistas in cinemascope – these views may compete with the satellite TV on offer.
While I liked the open plan of bathroom and bedroom in my suite (you can also watch TV from the bath), conservative couples might find the sharing of space a tad too generous.
Suites range in size from 40m2 to 65m2, while penthouses vary from 111m2 to 174m2. Most fourth floor units and penthouses have private balconies.

The breakfast buffet is more than adequate. On my first morning the fruit tasted a bit off, but top marks for everything else, especially the three different cold fish meats on offer, and their fresh muffins. The Crystal restaurant is capable of producing 11 course banquets, so be sure not to miss one of these during your stay. Lunches are individually served and plated. If Fish and Chips (and plenty besides) from room service doesn’t satisfy you, the restaurants at nearby Canal Walk certainly will. The first one across the bridge with excellent pizza and is Colcacchio.

Where to start? In the hotel itself don’t miss the Sound Room. It’s situated beside the Cocktail Bar, hidden cozily behind the staircase. This is the perfect place for a small group of people to enjoy a raucous rugby game together. You can choose your favorite movie (from 500 titles) and enjoy it in excellent surround sound and picture quality. 500 metres from the Hotel’s doorstep is a Golf driving Range. Gambling at Grand West Casino, the beach and shopping, of course, are all conveniently situated. A fully equipped gym with 25 metre pool is available at the sister site – The Island Club – across the road. The Colosseum is the perfect venue for busy businessmen who want to treat their wives as well as themselves.

Tel: 021 526 4000
Fax: 021 526 4001

Note: This article was previously published in The Times.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Load Shedding Schedule for Rosebank

Today (Wednesday), right now there is no power in Rosebank, and this pattern is likely to be in place for some time. We are in area 1B (Rosebank East) and 2B (Rosebank West), which means load shedding from 6am - 10am (for both areas). Rosebank East (which includes the AVUSA offices and Rosebank Mall) will experience load shedding on Wednesdays one week, and Mondays and Fridays every second week, at these times. Rosebank West (closer to Jan Smuts avenue and the Mail & Guardian offices) will experience load shedding every Thursday one week, and every Tuesday and Saturday on alternate weeks.

To find the load-shedding schedule for your area, go to, and click on Load Shedding Plan. Right now it's difficult to access the site, possibly because everyone has woken up this morning to a more expensive commute via blank traffic lights and culminating in dark offices.

Another Hotel rises in Ro- er...Siyadlala, I mean Lendaba...sorry it's Ayikho

The Gazette's front page today refers to proposed name changes for Rosebank. These are critically important issues right now, and ought to be given priority over road maintenance, poverty and keeping the lights on. And it will be great for foreigners, mostly English speakers, who arrive at the airport and say, "I need to go do you pronounce that...okay hang on, take me here, I can pronounce that..."

This Site Will Be Closed Between 10:00 and 14:00 due to high traffic volumes today

As a result of the traffic to the post Could this happen to Rosebank? the server at Rocketboy Media is taking severe strain, and this site will have to be shutdown for maintenance. Please come around later this afternoon when we've created additional bandwidth. Also a note to contributors: please take it easy sending in those contributions. The internet is only so big on April 1st.-)