Carmageddon may be coming – but what about wetsuits?

1996 Honda Ballade

The Honda waits in the driveway for its next mission. Picture: Jack Seddon

When a friend shared an article entitled Carmageddon is Coming on Facebook, I read it with interest, and some irritation.
The sub-heading of the article says humanity is “on the cusp of the fastest, deepest, most consequential disruption in transport history”. Writer Angus Hervey lays out what he thinks is going to happen to the transport industry over the next few years, courtesy of three technological waves:
• Our ability to summon a car and a driver with our smartphone
• The arrival of the electric vehicle
• “Artificial intelligence, which paves the way for autonomy” – in other words driverless vehicles.

Says Hervey: “Within a few years, electric vehicles are going to be cheaper, more durable and more reliable than petrol powered cars, autonomy will be good enough that you don’t need human drivers and everyone will be able to hail a car on their phone… we don’t have to wait for people to get rid of their old cars; they simply walk out their front door one morning and decide they would prefer to hail an autonomous, electric vehicle.”

Charming as this vision of carless freedom is, I had a question: Would I walk out of the front door with a child, a school backpack, a model of the Taj Mahal made of matchsticks, a cricket tog bag, my own lunch bag, the office’s new coffee supplies and the cake dish I want to return to a friend on the way home and then decide the thing I want is to hail a ride? Perhaps not. Continue reading

Good taste does not equal good governance

This is going to be a very irritating few days – on Facebook at least.
On Friday, Donald Trump is going to be inaugurated as United States president. Barack Obama and family will take their bows and move on with their lives. My Facebook echo chamber, populated with journalists and eco-warriors and people of a politically correct persuasion, will be filled with shared photo essays of the gorgeous Obamas and many, many WTFs as our favourite American news websites (think Washington Post here) document all the varied failures of The Donald and his flashy family.
Here’s the thing though: the whole thing makes me uncomfortable. Continue reading

Moments of joy, found on a wall

Cat On A Warm African Night

Cape Town – A long time ago I bought a painting.

It was hanging in a small shop in Muizenberg village, and was called Cat On A Warm African Night. I fell in love with it instantly but it cost R850, a great deal of money at the time. I hummed and hawed but I had to have it. Eventually I bought it (all this time later I can’t remember where I found the money as it was certainly before I had a credit card). It has hung on the wall of all the places I have lived since, casting its benevolent gaze over my life. Every time I see it, my spirit lifts.

Last weekend, I bought another painting. Continue reading

Saving the world, one dog at a time

A dog of uncertain mind and big heart.

Cape Town – A long time ago I copied down something out of Time magazine, from an interview with the Dalai Lama.

This is what he said: “Whenever I leave a hotel room, I always try to switch off the light. In a way, it’s silly. But if another ten persons follow my example, then 100 persons, there is an effect. From that point of view, I believe that constant effort, tireless effort, pursuing clear goals with sincere effort is the only way. It’s the only way! The bigger nations and more powerful leaders are not taking care. And God is also somewhere asleep, I think. So we poor human beings, we must make the attempt.”

This last week I met some people who are making the attempt. Continue reading

Dinner, with a side order of story

Cape Town – “So,” said the rather vexed voice, “they’ve moved in, with two cats.”

“Of course,” she continued, “my father-in-law can’t organise anything at all.”

The cashier wanted my card, so I missed the answer.

The same cross voice continued: “And he’s started drinking again.”

I missed the next bit as my shopping was handed to me.

“We must do lunch,” said another voice.

I had to stop myself from going over and asking if I too could come to the lunch. Why, I wanted to know, were the cats such a problem? What had the father-in -law failed to organise? And who, for the love of all that is holy, had started drinking again?
Continue reading

Welcome to my Great Big Bad Hair Life

Cape Town – When I was at school, there was a girl who had shiny, straight, black hair.

I wanted her hair more than almost anything.

Mine was (and is) an unmanageable mess – a wavy, frizzy, bumpy, boring brown mass of hair. Short or long, it has kinks and cowslicks and crinkles, and a tendency to go to dreadlocks if I neglect to brush it with great fierceness at least twice a day.

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Why we love Lego, kits and all

A Lego creation

A Lego creation

According to British TV presenter Ben Fogle, Lego is a Bad Thing.

Apparently Fogle is an adventurer (though perhaps not as well known in South Africa as Bear Grylls), and he had a rush of blood to the head at the annual conference of the Boarding Schools’ Association in Manchester.

Oddly, as he was once a brand ambassador for Lego, he is reported to have told the gathering that modern Lego is harming children’s development and stifling creativity because of the rise of prescriptive build-it-yourself kits.

Continue reading