About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

12 November 2011

Woolworth's Cafe Cloud

The local British Airways (Comair) struck a deal with Woolworths a couple of years ago to supply the meals. I think that the food on Kulula is also from Woolies actually. Unless you fly business, airline food is usually rather crap; but there was promise of good things with Woolies - after all, the food options are the same as the ready to eat meals ...

However, except for the sandwiches or the snack food you get on the non breakfast/lunch/dinner flights; Woolies version of the airline food is actually quite bad. I have been traveling between Johannesburg and Cape Town a lot this past year, so I have had the opportunity to try out all the various options - and they are all horrible - especially the dinner options; which is inevitably something smothered in cheese. I have often eaten the same options as the ready to eat meals; and they are far superior - so where are they going wrong? I will go so far as to say that I have even been turned off from buying some of the ready to eat meals after a flight.

09 November 2011

Most of us are Neanderthals

This article in The New Yorker, has a profile on how most persons in the world, other than Africans themselves have Neanderthal genes. This off course does have an implication (which is strangely not explored in the article) on the meaning of the political idea of race. The idea that modern humans (Homo Sapiens) won in the real species war/race consisting of at least tow, possibly more competing species in achieving dominance is interesting - the fact, that this could have arisen due to cross breeding is even more so.

The Earth's Children Series, by Jean M Auel explores the idea of human-neanderthal interaction; as well as the ostracisation of each others species - in an almost modern racial sense. While the entire series is fiction, a lot of the theories and concepts used in the story telling - especially with regards to human-neanderthal interaction, is seemingly on the ball. Since much of this was written before current evidence, especially a prophetic vision of the "mixed children" inheriting the earth is particularly interesting.

The New Yorker article is also notable for giving a wider overview of paleogenetics; which in itself is interesting. While the idea of recreating Jurassic Park is written off (apparently genetic material just won't survive that long) what is possible, and what is being revealed is very interesting.

07 November 2011

Digital vs Physical Books

I love books - those that you can hold, put on a bookshelf, use as a paperweight, leave it lying about in the lounge, use as a prop to hold other things in their place. I have a fair number of books, including a whole box (and more) unread ...

But the same things that I like about books, are the same things that make them difficult - they are heavy, they are unwieldy, difficult to carry around. I was on my way to Cape Town on the day that Walter Issacson's biography of Steve Jobs launched; and for me, it became an interesting decision on whether to buy the digital copy on iTunes or the hard cover at Exclusives (before boarding the plane).

There was an interesting contrast in pricing - the hardcover was approximately R300, while the iBooks version was USD 16, roughly 50% of the hardcover. This is exactly the type of business models I envisaged in my thesis on DRM - the digital copy, which is effectively licensed (as opposed to owned), has a lot more restrictions (e.g. restrictions on sharing, resale) compared to the physical copy; and one would expect a difference in cost. This cost difference extends to the US also (and is not just a result of exchange rates etc) - the retail price for the book is USD 35; though it can be found now at a much more discounted price.

In the end, I did buy the digital copy - mostly because I was going to be reading most of it while traveling - on the plane, on the Gautrain, in my hotel/BnB room. I like reading on my iPad - but strangely, this is the only book I have exclusively read on it (I have some "textbooks" on PDF that I have also read; though I actually prefer the physical book to the PDF). I do however miss it on my bookshelf ...

06 November 2011

Movie: Columbiana

Leon (The Professional), which introduced Natalie Portman, is one of my favorite movie. Columbiana, was promoted, locally at least, as the spiritual successor to Leon; and hence my interest in going to see it. Unfortunately, beyond the theme of a young girl wanting to learn how to kill, so that they can avenge their family's murders - there is very little in similarity.

It is a fairly good action movie; with enough guns and explosions; and the two assassinations that show off the skills of the heroine are quite well thought out (in terms of execution). But the movie does not have the same depth of character development, wit, or even dialogue. It is fun to watch; but nothing impressive.