Sunday, December 19, 2004


I watched Alexander, and I don't quite know what to make of it. It's disjointed, weird and long-winded, but oddly compelling.

Alexander sounds like George Bush (or a neocon) when he explains his reasons for invading Asia and bringing civilization to its tribes.

I have to admit that I snickered after hearing the narrator say that "Babylon was a far easier mistress to enter than she was to leave".

Alexander's bisexuality, as depicted in the film, was not particularly disturbing and it was tastefully handled. That sort of thing was probably an accepted part of Greek culture back then. On the other hand, his (possibly incestuous) relationship with his mother, played by Angelina Jolie, was disturbing.

I'd give Alexander 6.5/10 .

Links - 19/12/2004

Friday, December 10, 2004

IQ testing and employment

I have written a few IQ tests. I wrote one in standard 4, and I never found out what my results were.

My parents also had me tested when I was 6, by a psychologist. I found the report recently, and it showed that I was far stronger verbally than I was non-verbally.

I also wrote a few free internet tests, which produced absurdly high results, but I took those with a pinch of salt.

Earlier this year, I was interviewed for a position at a software development company. I thought I had the job in the bag (I aced the interviews with the company). I was then sent to a psychologist for assessments. The personality assessments were fine, but I totally screwed up the intelligence tests. I didn't get the job.

Unfortunately, I can't get the results unless I pay the shrink, something I won't do (a bit of a rip-off, and dubious ethically IMHO). I do have a vague idea of which sections of the test I screwed up on -the stuff about completing patterns and sequences (I was tired when I took the test, as I had come back from a holiday the day before, but I doubt that my tiredness accounts fully for my poor performance on the test).

I did a few IQ-type tests for potential employers after that, as well as skills-based assessments and personality tests, and I have resolved that, if I decide to go job hunting again, I will refuse to take anything resembling an IQ test.

I don't mind personality assessments, and tests that measure specific skills, but I fail to see how figuring out what shape comes next in a sequence would make one a better developer (I think the situation is more complex than all that). (See also this.)

I avoided writing about the topic which I was job-hunting, because it might have seemed like a case of sour grapes, but since I now have a great job, I thought I'd raise the topic. (One of the things that may have landed me my job was this blog. It showed I was savvy enough to pull together a website and that I was relatively clued up on the world around me. The blog certainly didn't hurt my chances.)

The validity of Intelligence tests (euphemistically called "learning ability tests" by some companies) is debatable. Especially since such tests, including "culture-fair tests" are often accused of culture bias. Indeed, the inferior performance of some population groups on intelligence tests has provided fodder for a generation of racists., despite other explanations for these differences.

I haven't done much research into the topic, but I think that the validity of intelligence testing for employment purposes, particularly in South Africa, needs to be examined.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

"Democratic Centralism"

...doesn't seem to work without a gulag.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Nokia 6230

I got a Nokia 6230, and it's a nice little phone. I'm experimenting with J2ME programming, and I may post on that soon.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Windows XP reinstall

My desktop computer was becoming very unstable, so, after four years, I decided to repartition (bye-bye Linux!), reformat my hard disk, and reinstall Windows XP. My previous installation was over Windows 98, so it will be interesting to see whether a fresh install is more stable than an upgrade.

My data is backed up to CD-R's, and most of my correspondence is done using webmail, so there were no problems there.

I also use Gmail to archive my important documents, as I trust the people at Google to look after my data far better than I ever would.

The only thing I lost were my RSS feeds (which I forgot to back up), although I did export the list of subscriptions, I just have to find them. I think I'll start reading RSS feeds using an online service as well, for the reasons listed above.

Half-Life 2

Some colleagues have commented that Half-Life 2 is an excellent game.

I'm seriously considering buying a new PC, so that I can play it.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Gauteng Street Atlas - 3rd Edition

I bought the third edition of the Gauteng Street Atlas (sold at R179,00) produced by GeoGraphic Maps cc, because it covers most of the urban areas in Gauteng in one book, something which rival companies like MapStudio don't do yet.

There are problems with the maps, with some glaring spelling mistakes ("Centurion" is sometimes spelled "Centurian", and "Brits" as "Britz"). I have noticed accuracy problems, with at least one four-way stop represented as a traffic light, and the traffic lights at the entrance to one township (Olievenhoutbosch) being omitted, along with the rest of the township. Airforce bases are mislabelled as "airports". Metropolitan route numberings are also missing on some pages, which might be a problem for some people. The pages are also quite cluttered with on-map advertising. However, this advertising has a positive side-effect - it can be used to derive landmarks.

Despite the negatives, the book is very useful, and I have replaced two old MapStudio guides (Witwatersrand and Pretoria) with the Gauteng Street Atlas. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to find their way around Gauteng, and doesn't have the money to shell out on MapStudio guides.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Mabopane Centurion Development Corridor

The website of the Mabopane Centurion Development Corridor, which will hopefully develop the neglected western parts of Tshwane.

Now for some pedantic whining:
Some people still don't know the difference between Pretoria and Tshwane. Here, is a page that explains the difference. Pretoria is one part of Tshwane, Centurion is another part of Tshwane. Centurion is not part of Pretoria, it is part of Tshwane. It hasn't been part of Pretoria for years. The people who do the traffic at 94.7 Highveld Stereo should take note of this.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


If I was an American voter, I would have voted for John Kerry. It was in America's interest to kick Bush out of office. The big spending "conservative" who panders to religious fanatics, and lied his country into war did not deserve a second term.

But I'm not an American voter, and I am actually quite pleased with the result . To South Africans, the election result didn't really matter. In the Middle East, it's unlikely that Kerry would have done anything different to Bush. Indeed, Kerry would probably have been goaded into aggression, in order to prove that he was not "soft".

My only regret about the Bush victory is that I was deprived of the opportunity of watching the extremist Bush supporters who frequent parts of the internet melting down. Pity.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Bollywood on SABC 3

While recovering from the flu last weekend, I caught the second half of a Bollywood movie on SABC3, called Lajja. It explored the oppression of women in India, and it didn't pull any punches.

Despite having a contrived plot, sometimes-sloppy subtitles, and awful music, it was entertaining, and I watched it to the end.

If you are stuck at home on a Saturday night, check out the Bollywood movies on SABC3, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bush supporters on Bush

This woman seems to think that being critical of George W. Bush is "... a slap in the face, not only to George Bush, but if we truly believe what the Bible says . . . our Heavenly Father just got a whack in the face, too..." [via LRC]

Also check out this...interesting.... Flash animation that glorifies Bush (large download).

Friday, October 15, 2004

Links 15/10/2004

I have the temporary use of a digital camera. I'll probably spend the weekend fiddling around with it.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Links - 3 October 2004

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

I watched Fahrenheit 9/11, and I wasn't particularly impressed, since it didn't cover much new ground.

It's propaganda, and it has strong anti-capitalist, populist themes.

The last part, which covers the war on Iraq is probably the most effective. The visit to the White House of the grieving mother who lost her son in Iraq was gut-wrenching.

Ironically, despite the film's attack on the PATRIOT act, the movie's very existence indicates that the culture of dissent is alive and well in America. I got a fairly good impression of the American system, and it was reassuring to see that some of America's flag-waving patriots are quite unlike the cretins who inhabit parts of the internet.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Daily Links - 25/09/2004

I wanted to use Blogger's spellchecker, so I clicked on the icon to "temporarily enable popups" in IE. Clicking it wiped my post from the here's what I could salvage from memory:

Thursday, September 23, 2004


If the traffic over the last few days is any indication, the airshow this long weekend at Waterkloof Air Force Base will be very well attended.

Some friends phoned this evening, and asked if I wanted to go with, and I am seriously considering their offer. I've seen some of the rehearsals, and the SAAB Gripen will probably put on an amazing display.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Daily Links - 17/09/2004

I'm swotting for a test, so blogging will be light for a week or so.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Bonus Links - 11/09/2004

Weekend Links - 11/09/2004

Friday, September 10, 2004

Living near an airport

As an aviation enthusiast, I always thought that it would be kind of cool to live near an airport....I found out today that I was wrong (I had to attend a gathering near the airport). The ear-splitting noise of jets taking off is very disruptive.

One has to wonder how the people who live in Kempton Park cope with the noise.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Daily Link - 02/09/2004

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Administrative notice

Looming full-time employment (and a significant daily commute) mean that blogging could become less frequent.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

XP SP2 free CD

If, like me, you are stuck on a dial-up connection, and need to get a copy of Windows XP Service Pack 2, you can order it on a free CD from Microsoft.


I have been intrigued by team handball ever since I watched it on TV (I think it was during the All Africa Games held in Johannesburg).

More information, and the Wikipedia article.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

eBucks password

I have a valid eBucks pin. However the eBucks website requires a password. I've been battling to figure out how to get from my pin to my password. I'm probably missing something obvious, but this is driving me crazy. If anyone knows, please email me, and I'll post the solution here.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Daily Links - 27/08/2004

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Daily Links - 25/08/2004

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Pressure question answered

Colin at the corner office, has answered my question about the effects of altitude and air pressure on the transporting of goods:
To answer GP's question: it is a transport issue. My aunt's sister and her hubby did a stint a few years ago as truck drivers in the USA. Transporting packets of potato chips (crisps) from California to elsewhere can be a problem: if trucks take the mountain passes to get inland, the packets explode at high altitude, due to the much lower atmospheric air pressure. If I remember their story correctly, potato chips have to be transported around some of the mountain ranges, so's to keep the chip packets intact.

Daily Links - 24/08/2004

Monday, August 23, 2004

Daily Links - 23/08/2004

Saturday, August 21, 2004

The memory game

Via PZ Myers, a profile of Elizabeth Loftus, a research psychologist who has done much to debunk 'repressed memory syndrome'.

Weekend Links - 21/08/2004

I' m working on a project proposal, so blogging will be light for the next few days.

Friday, August 20, 2004


On Wednesday, a petrol tanker crashed into a bridge on the R21 airport road (northbound) near the Olifantsfontein offramp.

I drove past on Friday afternoon, and traffic was slow near the scene of the accident, so that the amateur civil engineers who drove past could inspect the damage to the bridge for themselves. Idiots.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Tshwane and Ekurhuleni

If you are unfamiliar with the names check out the following pages that list the towns that constitute these huge municipalities:

Traffic jams [inane ramblings 2]

I noticed that the SAfm traffic report today had information about three big Gauteng municipalities (Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni), Durban and Cape Town.

It got me wondering...are there rush-hour traffic jams in Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth, East London and Pietermartizburg?

Daily Link 19/08/2004

South African Inventions [via Way South]

There appears to be some controversy about who actually invented the dolos. See this.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Daily Links - 18/08/2004

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Daily Links - 17/08/2004

Monday, August 16, 2004

Daily Links - 16/08/2004

Psychology dropouts

  • They think that UML is a programming language.
  • They think that "JAVA" is an acronym.
  • They think trigonometry is taught as a separate subject at university.

Scary how little employment agencies that "specialize in IT" really know.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Random observations

The Simpsons episode where Homer got a chat show and spoke about inane stuff inspired this post.

  1. I have noticed that when I go down to the coast, my half-used shampoo bottle (I use Johnson's Baby Shampoo) is crushed. When I open the lid, it pops back into shape. Presumably, this has something to do with altitude and air pressure differences between the coast and Gauteng. It could also have to do with my poor packing technique, but I doubt it. Do manufacturers have to take this into account when transporting goods? I shall do research and post feedback to this blog.
  2. There are few things more annoying than having car hooters or emergency sirens in radio commercials. There was also the Wheatus song, Teenage Dirtbag, that included the sound of a car accident - very distracting when driving. Another annoyance is doorbells on television.

Daily Links - 13/08/2004

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Commentary has lots of new content, which I am catching up with now.


Col Lounsbury has a detailed analysis of the situation in Darfur.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Daily Links - 10/08/2004

Monday, August 09, 2004


The traffic back from Durban was hectic.

Friday, August 06, 2004


Back next week.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Daily Links - 05/08/2004

Monday, August 02, 2004

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Daily Links - 29/07/2004 & 30/07/2004

Daily Links - 29/07/2004

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


Laurence Caromba has a post about the situation in western Sudan. Interesting stuff, but the "black" versus "Arab" take may be problematic. Check out this article [via MOSTLY Africa], and this post by Col Lounsbury [previously linked to here], on that issue.

The Gadaffi angle is also interesting:
characterising the Darfur war as 'Arabs' versus 'Africans' obscures the reality. Darfur's Arabs are black, indigenous, African and Muslim - just like Darfur's non-Arabs, who hail from the Fur, Masalit, Zaghawa and a dozen smaller tribes.

Until recently, Darfurians used the term 'Arab' in its ancient sense of 'bedouin'. These Arabic-speaking nomads are distinct from the inheritors of the Arab culture of the Nile and the Fertile Crescent.

'Arabism' in Darfur is a political ideology, recently imported, after Colonel Gadaffi nurtured dreams of an 'Arab belt' across Africa, and recruited Chadian Arabs, Darfurians and west African Tuaregs to spearhead his invasion of Chad in the 1980s. He failed, but the legacy of arms, militia organisation and Arab supremacist ideology lives on.

Daily Links - 27/07/2004

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Weekend Links - 24/07/2004

Friday, July 23, 2004

Daily Links - 23/07/2004

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The Leigh Matthews case

The kidnap and murder of Leigh Matthews is big news around here. Very sad, and I hope the scum who carried out the crime are caught.

The kidnap-murder has received lots of media attention. If Leigh Matthews had been, say, a middle-aged Chinese refugee, instead of a nubile rich white girl, her killing would probably not have received the attention that it has.

An article in the Mail and Guardian online speculates about why this particular case has grabbed the media (and the public's) attention.

Update:Check out The Fishbowl for a post on the ANC's reaction to the crime.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Daily Links - 21/07/2004

One more link -
Andrew Black at Southern Cross comments on the dearth of South African public intellectuals.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Daily Links - 20/07/2004

I mistakenly used Internet Explorer to write yesterday's Daily Links post, and it crashed just as I was about to publish. So today's post (written with Mozilla Firefox) will have a few extra items:

Monday, July 19, 2004

Shooting update

The Durban shooting that I blogged about yesterday, made today's paper. Utterly senseless murder:

...a Chinese family currently on asylum in Durban are mourning the loss of a family member, who was killed for an empty lunch box at the intersection of Albert and Queen Streets.

Police said De hua Lin, 48, had been walking with his brother-in-law, Mokung Chen, from Chen's clothing shop in the Berea Station when they were attacked by two youths on Friday evening.

The youths had tried to grab a plastic bag from Lin but he refused to let go of the bag, which contained an empty lunch box and papers. One of the youths shot him in the face killing him instantly.

The robbers discarded the plastic bag after discovering it contained nothing more than an empty lunch box and papers.

Sunday, July 18, 2004


Some observations:

  1. The N3 is an excellent road.
  2. The Free State needs better FM radio stations.
  3. Durban is a nice little city, though a chap was gunned down on Friday evening while walking in the city centre during rush hour, when I was buying food nearby. I couldn't find any references to the murder in the papers, when I searched using Google News. Depressing that this sort of thing isn't apparently considered newsworthy anymore. I suppose the body count wasn't high enough [link via Jo'blog].
  4. Blogger has improved its HTML editor. Spell checker still needs some work.
  5. Everything in Durban is a short drive away. Very convenient.
  6. First time I saw the University of Natal Campus - it's pleasantly situated.
  7. Some women are nothing but trouble.

Saturday, July 17, 2004


Had to go to Durban for a family crisis. Blogging should resume next week.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Daily Links - 15/07/2004

Update: One more link (11:15 PM)
Col Lounsbury's Moroccan secretary seems to be trying to snare him. It's not unusual for Moroccan girls to want rich foreign husbands, from what I know of them.

Daily Links - 14/07/2004

Although I've had Mozilla Firefox installed for some time, this is the first post which I'm writing from that browser. I have no choice because my copy of Internet Explorer, apart from having lots of holes, keeps crashing. I'll have to get another RSS reader as well...

I've been busy with some studying, but here are some interesting things that I've found on the web:

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Weekend Links - 10/07/2004

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Schooling in South Africa

Southern Cross has a post on South Africa's unequal education system.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Daily Links - 07/07/2004

I got tired of chasing plumbing faults in SimCity 3000, and, in any case, I achieved my goal of a million sim population. Back to surfing the net:

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Sim City 3000

I just got SimCity 3000. I know it has been out for a long time, but I never played it, and I am having fun building a metropolis. Regular blogging will resume shortly.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Friday, July 02, 2004

Bonus Links - 02/07/2004

  • AmbiDextri links to stories about the South African football match-fixing scandal
  • War Nerd column on torture

Weekend Links - 02/07/2004

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Daily links- 01/07/2004

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Daily Links - 30/06/2004

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Daily Links - 29/06/2004

Admin notice:
I probably won't be able to easily connect to the Internet for a few days, so blogging will be light from tomorrow till around the weekend

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Weekend Links - 26/06/2004

Update- 01/07/2004: Slate explains that the condensed Clinton autobiography was pulled after the publisher claimed that it infringed copyright

Friday, June 25, 2004

Daily Links - 25/06/2004

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Pascal loops

For the cousin who phoned earlier, asking for help with Pascal loops, check these links:
  1. Link 1
  2. Link 2
  3. Link 3
  4. Link 4
  5. Link 5
I haven't thoroughly checked these sites out, but they seem OK at a glance.

I got the links from this Google search.

Call me on my cellphone if you need more help.

Daily Links - 24/06/2004

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Daily Links - 23/06/2004

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Daily Links - 22/06/2004

Monday, June 21, 2004


Here's a site that rates national flags.

An alphabetical list of flags and ratings can be found here. South Africa's flag scores 85/100.

[via LRC]

Daily Links - 21/06/2004

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Daily links - 20/06/2004

Saturday, June 19, 2004

The Huguenot Toll Tunnel

Here's an interesting press release describing the Huguenot Toll Tunnel in the Western Cape, on the South African National Roads Agency Limited's website.

By the way, there is a proposal to rename the tunnel after Dullah Omar, the late minister of transport.

My own opinion is that renaming a tunnel is a fairly harmless waste of time[1] - the business impact will probably be negligible, since confusion is unlikely to arise. Of course, renaming towns and streets is a more troublesome, because it makes navigation more difficult.

[1]I'm not a conservative, but if I was, I'd welcome the idea of politicians wasting time on meaningless activities.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Daily Links - 18/06/2004

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Bonus links - 17/06/2004

Daily Links - 17/06/2004

South Indian culture in South Africa

Rethabile at On Lesotho links to the story about a Zulu man who went to India to study South Indian classical music, but has had a hard time getting to perform back in South Africa. This story was also linked to by Murray at Southern Cross, who believes that the singer is a victim of anti-black and anti-Indian prejudice.

While prejudice may play a part in the lack of interest in Patrick Ngcobo's music, something that may be overlooked is the attitude of South Africans of South Indian descent toward their culture.

For example, there was an outcry by some South Indian community activists when SABC3 decided to show some Bollywood (North Indian) movies. Yet, according to SABC 3, the South Indian community seems to show little interest at the box office in South Indian movies.

According to these letters, attempts by Ster Kinekor to show South Indian movies, and South African South Indian satellite television and radio channels seem to have flopped, due to a lack of interest.

The South Indian community has been in South Africa for more than 140 years, and I would guess that Ngcobo's predicament is less a symptom of racial prejudice than a simple (and understandable) lack of interest of South Africans of South Indian descent in "their culture"- a culture that they have not been a part of for about five generations.


I was pleasantly surprised to see that I received an invitation to sign up for a Gmail (Google's new email service) account when I logged in to Blogger. Apparently, it's quite difficult to get a Gmail account, with people willing to do strange things, and pay significant amounts for one.

I'm experimenting with Gmail, and I think that the most appealing aspect of the service is the 1GB space limit, which trounces Webmail's puny 10MB. It means that I can store as many photographs as I want to, without worrying about running out of space (although 100MB should be more than enough for me). The built-in search facility is useful.

While there are privacy concerns about the Gmail service, which searches the text of emails to display advertisements, I'm not really worried, since most of my email can already be intercepted by human beings, as it travels across the net. A machine scanning for words is far less threatening, in my opinion.

I'll probably post some more about Gmail, but for now, it's greatest impact will probably be felt by users of other email services, like Yahoo, who will find their storage space increased.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Daily links - 16/06/2004

I'm playing with my newly received Gmail account (more about that later), so there aren't many links today:

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Daily Links - 15/06/2004

Monday, June 14, 2004

Daily Links - 14/06/2004

Internet Explorer crashed as I was about to publish my daily here's what I could salvage from memory:

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Shilowa outlines programme

Although it's a bit of a fluff piece, this article discusses Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa's plans for the province.

The emperor from Algoa Bay

While reading the comments on Crooked Timber about the crowning of the Messiah [see previous post], I found this link, to a story about a man, called Joshua Norton, who declared himself Emperor of the United States, and apparently became quite popular in San Francisco.

The local connection: Norton's parents were 1820 Settlers, and he moved to the United States in 1849 from [what is now] South Africa:

At the pre-emptory request of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last nine years and ten months past of San Francisco, California, declare and proclaim myself the Emperor of These United States

US Congressmen crown the Messiah

I've linked before to stories about the influence of religious fringe figures on the US government. Here's another example: Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church (the "Moonies"), was crowned the Messiah in a US Senate building. Pictures here. See also this. [via]

Update: Kieran at Crooked Timber seems to have also just noticed this story.

Friday, June 11, 2004