Writing about the ANC’s perspective on power

More equal than others

The ANC’s response to the Public Protector’s report on the Nkandla controversy highlights its twisted perspective on its position as ruling party. I had to express my outrage and did it on Medium in an article titled “More equal than others“. Here is how it begins:

If you have paid much attention to the ANC’s responses to controversies it has been embroiled in (usually due to its leader and current South African President, Jacob Zuma), it should be pretty clear to you that, with the ruling party’s reaction to the Public Protector’s report on the president’s Nkandla compound development, the ANC has left our reality and its claim to power seems to be based on a modern version of the ancient Divine Right of Kings.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier preview through its soundtrack

I am a bit of a music soundtrack nut (the instrumental soundtracks, not the pop music compilations) so I am frequently more excited about the soundtracks for upcoming movies than I am about the movies themselves. Soundtracks usually give me a great feel for the movie itself before I watch the movie and, this afternoon, I’m listening to Henry Jackman’s soundtrack for Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

I’m still working through it for the first time and it hasn’t really grabbed me yet. The title track, “Captain America”, is probably a nice representation of what I have heard so far:

I think I prefer this to Alan Silvestri’s score for the first Captain America movie but neither are as stirring as my current surprise favourite: Steve Jablonsky’s soundtrack for Ender’s Game which has been on repeat for about a week and I still love it. Jablonsky also did the Transformers soundtracks which are also better than their movies. One of my favourites from the Ender’s Game soundtrack is “Dragon Army” (difficult to pick a favourite, they are almost all fantastic):

When will we stop using cash?

Commercial and Agricultural Bank of Texas $3.00 (three dollars) private scrip

When will we stop using paper money (and coins)? Doesn’t it strike you as wasteful and risky? I love the idea of virtual wallets which you can use to pay anyone for anything but we seem to be quite a way away from that. One of my pet hates is the ubiquitous parking paypoint we see in shopping malls and almost any other place parking is managed by someone else.

I just read an interesting article titled “The disappearing paper: Why cash is a dying payment method” which touches on this question and raises a couple really interesting points about cash money. To begin with:

The arguments for ditching notes and coins are numerous, and quite convincing. In the US, a study by Tufts University concluded that the cost of using cash amounts to around $200 billion per year – about $637 per person.

This is primarily the costs associated with collecting, sorting and transporting all that money, but also includes trivial expenses like ATM fees. Incidentally, the study also found that the average American wastes five and a half hours per year withdrawing cash from ATMs; just one of the many inconvenient aspects of hard currency.

Cash is expensive, inconvenient, wasteful and unhealthy – it’s time to call it quits with physical currencies.

The one challenge to the proposition that paper money and coins be replaced with some sort of digital equivalent is that lower income groups and small businesses often rely on cash quite heavily but there are a couple digital wallet/payment options which are being developed which are designed specifically for these consumers and business owners. At least one of the more interesting ones I have seen uses USSD which works on every mobile phone.

An interesting consideration that I haven’t come across before is that cash keeps us relatively honest. Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, conducted a study on this:

Even more worryingly, a study by Dan Ariely, a Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics, found that transacting without cash makes us less honest.

Subjects in Ariely’s study had to report – honestly – how many maths questions they were able to solve from a test sheet, receiving a reward per correct answer. Those rewarded with tokens (which could be exchanged for cash) were twice as likely to lie about the number of questions they answered than those rewarded with hard currency.

Ariely concluded that although the tokens had an equal monetary value to the cash, subjects perceived a lesser value – and so were more likely to lie – because it was not actual money.

I really don’t see cash being around for very long. The cost benefits and convenience of using digital wallets and payment options must prevail over what will probably amount to legacy attachments to cash at some point. Well, hopefully.

Load shedding is probably imminent

Update (2014-03-04): Load shedding has started so check the schedule and plan for the interruptions:

If you haven’t heard already, load shedding is probably on its way. Eskom has declared a power emergency:

You can check the load shedding schedule on Eskom’s load shedding page. It’s worthwhile making sure you have emergency lights and plan for the possible load shedding timeframes. Keep your devices charged and scout out take out spots and stores that will be open and have power if your power goes out.

My curated #OscarPistorius Twitter stream

Update (2014-03-03): I’ve embedded the eNCA video feed too:

Tracking one of the hashtags being used for the Oscar Pistorius trial is going to be overwhelming pretty quickly so I opted for a Twitter list which I have added a number of journalists and select profiles to instead. This might be helpful. Let me know if you have any good quality Twitter profiles I should add?

Wolfram Language for legal frameworks

I just watched the demo video for the Wolfram Language and although I don’t understand a fair amount of what was demoed in the video, I wonder how this could be applied to legal frameworks?

It’s a symbolic language and integrates with a vast amount of knowledge and recognises plain language queries in addition to its own syntax. What could that mean for legal knowledge workers?

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