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).

02 December 2011

Fry's Planet Word

In an earlier post, I mentioned the series on languages by the BBC, Fry's Planet Word, presented by author, comedian and actor Stephen Fry. For a number of reasons, I only got round to finishing the series today - watching the last 3 (of 5) in one go.

It is an absolutely stunning series; with each episode giving something to think about. Starting with the very essence of language, and exploring the concept that language is what sets homo sapiens apart from other animals (in episode 1), to the cultural and societal differences that have an impact on language and expression (in episode 2).

Episode 3 focused on "bad language", with gems such as why swearing is actually a primal reaction, and off course a liberal sprinkling of "fuck" (especially considering that it is a BBC documentary). Bad language is not only about swearing, but also about innuendos, propaganda, slang and derogatory words. The discussion on propaganda, not only on the traditional Nazi propaganda topics; but also the more recent "collateral damage" was particularly illuminating.

Episode 4 was on writing - exploring the history of writing, and how writing has fundamentally changed humnan society. Writing off course leads to books, and my argument on digital vs physical books was expressed and debated so much more elequently! Episode 5 rounded up on a more personal view on literature, from Joyce to Tolkien to Shakespeare to Orwel and Woodhouse.

The series is an exploration of language; on its universality and its regional nuances. It is thought provoking and manages to have interviews with a wide variety of very interesting people. It is certainly a gem in the long line of great BBC documentaries.

01 December 2011

The Economy and Business Travel

In the past few months, I have made almost weekly trips between Johannesburg and Cape Town; which has meant a lot of flights. It initially started around April, when the regularity was around every 2 - 3 weeks, but in the past 3 months; it has been every week. In comparison to previous years, I have spent a lot more time in airports than previous years.

Surprisingly, on my return flight this week; for the first time this year, I was upgraded to Business Class. It is surprising because of a simple reason - late last year, when I had a period of regular travel - my seat on every domestic flight was upgraded. Having sufficient "status" on frequent flyer programs has meant that I am often earlier in the queue to get upgraded - but upgrades require full planes; and flights are just not that full. Airports are certainly busy; but flights are not that full to the extent of having stand-by passengers; and often the middle rows are empty on the flights. This is an observation many of my frequent flyer colleagues have also made.

This brings me to the economy - South Africa, while not in a recession does not currently have a strong economy. And trade is a big indicator of a strong economy, as is a healthy business travel volume. And it is not because business is buckling down and getting on Kulula et al. - in fact my SAA and BA flights are sometimes cheaper that the "low cost" airlines; and the same observation of a few empty seats also apply to them.