I have decided to start a new blog. More on that on blogging.This blog will come in sections. There is the typical daily that you will find below. Alternatively, you can go to one of the topical sections to see what I have written over time on these topic:
Cape Town - Church - Electronic Age - Economics - Environment - Entertainment - Health Related - In the news - Journal - Personal - Politics - Religion - SA Politics - Thoughts - Travel - Trivia - Trump
I plan to move old daily material into topical areas whete appropriate. I also plan to create daily links to topical areas to indicate what is new. Enjoy. And please let me know how I can improve the reading experience for you.
You are very welcome to e-mail me at mvanbreda at me dot com. (I tried the discussion panel add on and got flooded with spam!) I will happily append your comments to my blogs.
Just when I thought that knew it all, along comes Claire Thompson in the latest Stanford magazine (September 2017) to tell me that paper bags “must be reused at least three times to negate their higher climate-warming potential (compared to that of plastic bags).” Even worse “a cotton bag would have to be reused 131 times to break even with a plastic bag.” What is a fellow to do?!
The Guardian has an article about how self drive trucks might destroy the occupation of many. It is one of my nightmares about the future.
While South Africa grapples with the heritage of Cecil John Rhodes, America grapples with the heritage of Christopher Columbus.
Nicholas Kristof writes in the New York Times: “Since 1970, more Americans have died from guns (including suicides, murders and accidents) than the sum total of all the Americans who died in all the wars in American history, back to the American Revolution. Every day, some 92 Americans die from guns, and American kids are 14 times as likely to die from guns as children in other developed countries, according to David Hemenway of Harvard.”
Bernie Sanders points out that the rich have a lot more wealth than the rest of us. The Washington Post comments, correctly, that he compares apples with oranges. On the other hand, his main point stands – some people have a lot more money than the rest of us!
Back in 1972 HP and Casio brought their electronic calculators to the market. When doing financial calculations, one would get 10 million and one cent and the other would get 10 million and two cents. Not content to focus on the 10 million, folks wanted to know why the one cent difference. HP Johannesburg spent a day on the phone to HP Menlo Park but, apparently, the fellow who had written the program for their calculator had left and HP had no idea how their calculator did bond valuations. I was teaching at the university in Johannesburg at the time and had a visit from HP to ask whether I could help. I said that I would try. They asked my price. I told them that I had just had an invitation to go to Stanford University but had no cash and needed the airfare — my price, I said, was a one-way ticket to San Francisco. I figured the calculator out by doing a series of weird computations, HP bought me my ticket, and I got to the United States.
I might just add that my colleague was a distinguished statistician, older than me. He wouldn’t believe that the calculator could do calculations that quickly — and get them right. So for several months, he would do a calculation on the new-fangled device and then he would check its answer on paper. It took him two or three months before he believed the calculator.
Our kids and grandkids just have no idea of the fun that we old-timers had!!! Remember log tables?!
Andreas responded to my story with one of his own.
A little story from my Claridge's days in London: an elderly couple visited the hotel twice a year, staying 3-4 weeks at a time whenever they came and had been doing so for many years. They were Jack and Norma Melchor. The Melchors developed a very predictable routine and every department in the hotel had their own little ritual with them. We in the restaurant for example would always have a set of keys ready on the table next to Madame's place setting before her arrival. The same set of old keys were kept at reception and only came out when the Melchors checked-in. And as Mrs Melchor stepped into the restaurant she would say: “have you got the keys?' and we would all nod enthusiastically and say: “Yes, Mrs Melchor, the keys, ready at the table, as always.” And Mrs Melchor would scoop them up with joy and a knowing smile crossed everyones face. But how did this rather odd habit start?
Many years before, Mr and Mrs Melchor celebrated their 25th Wedding anniversary at the hotel and invited all of their guests to stay for several days. They enjoyed their time so much and grew very fond of the hotel and made a point of returning several times a year, for decades to come. (They would later celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary there too). On one such visit in the early days, Mr and Mrs Melchor were enjoying a late dinner in the restaurant and the Hotel manager at the time walked over to wish them a good evening. Madame commented on how late it was getting, and that the Manager should really be getting off home. She joked that he should leave the keys with her and she would lock the place up. Well the Hotel Manager quite liked the idea and dropped a set of keys off on the table in jest, saying she could take the task on permanently. And so began the first of a tradition that went on for decades. From that day forth, on the day of their arrival, a set of ceremonial keys was prepared for Mrs Melchor. She would bring the keys to the table for dinner and only handed them back to the Hotel Manager on her departure from the hotel.
The Melchors must have seen 5 or 6 Hotel Managers in their time as guests of the hotel over the years, and every Manager was initiated in the ceremony. The Melchors so enjoyed the little game, not a day went by where Mrs Melchor didn't have the keys next to her at dinner. And every evening, the manager would ask: “Do you have the keys Mrs Melchor?” “Yes, yes I have the keys” she would say, holding them up in her hand with delight.
(Jack Melchor, I later found out, was one of the initial venture capitalists in Hewlett-Packard and very involved in the company in the early days, founding HP Associates… bringing the story back to where it began…)
Saturday 30th I have commented often that the rise of the far right is largely a function of the loss of jobs and opportunity due to the ubiquitous computer. Bret Stephens shares my concerns, but adds that their worries are fanned into anger by talk show hosts. He makes an excellent point.
Wednesday 6th We have just witnessed the dreadful flooding in Houston, Beaumont and the rest of South Texas. Now we are witnessing Irma the strongest hurricane in Atlantic history with its 185 mph winds. When, I wonder, will people accept that the climate is changing even if we don't want to blame it on ourselves?
Thursday 31st Linda Greenhouse reflects in a New York Times essay entitled Eclipsing Dreams of Better Lives on a plaque she saw in Casper that read “The westward urge was a human instinct, like the need to love or to taste spring air and believe again that life is not a dead end after all.” As she said there is this “human instinct that compels people to leave where they are and go, even at their peril, to someplace new, someplace safe.” It is what brought my ancestors to South Africa three centuries ago. It is what took my grandparents to Zimbabwe a century ago to work on a mission field.
Tuesday 29th Interesting times! David Brooks writes in “How Trump Kills the G.O.P.” in the New York Times about a Republican Party at war within itself.The rain continues to pour down on poor Houston. North Korea fires an ICBM over Japan. And Trump pardons Joe Arpaio. Ouch! Meanwhile The Guardian sets up a nonprofit to try to pay for its journalism – sign of the times that we no longer subscribe to newspapers at a time when we really need them more than ever.
The New York Times points out that the tax break that companies receive on healthcare premiums dwarfs the Medicaid subsidy. Yet we talk about the latter and say nothing about the former perhaps because the former benefits the upper class. In the same edition, the Times also notes that Federally-funded medical facilities are the largest employers in many rural areas. Repealing Obamacare would devastate many smaller towns.