QA 31. Dec 2011. Class system is off the rails

This was published in the Cape Times as “Time to make one class fit everyone on Metrorail and get rid of snobbery between coaches”, 5 December 2011. (Apologies to non-South Africans for local content. Will return to more universal matters in the new year. Promise!) I’m glad I can use the train for my daily…

QA 29. The national question, or We we we all the way home?

(This is the original of an opinion piece published as “Identity does not depend on race” in the Cape Times on 11 October 2011) Who are we? is the question posed in a timely series presented by the Cape Times and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. Really, it’s incredible. If “I am because we…

QA 25. (Oct 10) How to raise better politicians

The Cape Times (Cape Town) published an edited version of this as “If we are cynical about our politicians, we will get the leaders we deserve”, 1 November 2010 Against the horizon of the media tribunal disputes here, I have been thinking about how we chatterers create the conditions for the political leadership we get,…

QA 22 (Mar-Apr 10). Three book reviews (1)

Three recent reviews published in the Cape Times (Cape Town, South Africa) 1. Re-imagining the Social in South Africa: Critique, Theory and Post-apartheid Society (Jacklin and Vale, eds) 2. Nurtureshock: Why everything we think about raising our children is wrong (Bronson & Merryman) 3. Africa: The Politics of Suffering and Smiling (Chabal) Re-imagining the Social…

QA 22 (Mar-Apr 10). Three book reviews (2)

Nurtureshock: Why everything we think about raising our children is wrong Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman Ebury Press Reviewed by Helen Douglas (Cape Times, 12 February 2010) It’s a close call to say whether Nurtureshock manages to be more informative than it is annoying. The first irritant has to be the subtitle. To whom is…

QA 22 (Mar-Apr 10). Three book reviews (3)

Africa: The Politics of Suffering and Smiling Patrick Chabal UKZN Press and Zed Books Reviewed by Helen Douglas (Cape Times, 8 January 2010) As a Canadian immigrant to South Africa, I have struggled mightily to understand post-colonial African politics. I have a feeling I’m not alone. (Colonial politics may have been horrific, but at least…

QA 19. (Nov 09) What’s fundamental?

From the Cape Times, 1 December 2009, in their series on “The Next Economy” No wonder they can’t fix it: it doesn’t exist Helen Douglas It’s another day in the global financial crisis and I’m looking at the front page of Business Report: “Worse still to come, says economist”. The article offers three expert opinions….

QA 16 (July 09) “There was this goat”

What do you do when someone says something to you that you don’t understand? It happens all the time. The someone may be someone we know or a stranger. The event might be inconsequential or it might be important. It is always unsettling. The usual, easy choice is to let it go by, hoping that…