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).

01 January 2016

Run Racist Run

Eusebius McKaiser has certainly become a prominent commentator on race and race relations in South Africa. Run Racist Run is a more raw, focused follow up to the earlier "Bantu in the Bathroom" collection; exploring racism, race relations and impact thereof in various dimensions. 

The essays are more nuanced, more direct and covers forms of racism that are not easily identified. Although it is written very much from a South African perspective of a coloured man growing up in a township during Apartheid; many of the perspectives and insights can easily translate to other countries - be it similar environments such as the US; or diverse environments that do not exhibit outright racism but still has hints of tribalism (or classism, casteism? etc).

As to be expected the arguments are well thought out and well reasoned; the examples pack a punch; and ultimately each of the essays leave something to think about. It's a collection of essays that everyone should be reading, and discussing. As with the Justice course on edX, this is something everyone should reading and discussing - and maybe even being taught in schools and corporate diversity programs.

30 December 2015

De Hoop

I tried to go to De Hoop just over 5 years ago, and while J and I (with J's wife K) managed to get to Bedasdorp; for various reasons we didn't actually manage to make it to De Hoop.

From all accounts from the staff, De Hoop is not well known - and many of the patrons are actually regulars. One lady was staying for 7 days, and this was her 4th consecutive visit over Christmas. She was also excited that she had already secured a spot for 2016.

And De Hoop is a gem - there is off course the unique landscape and environment, but it is the absolutely amazing staff that makes De Hoop such an attractive destination. Most are locals - they have grown up around the area; and some can trace multiple generations in the area. They are very friendly and very approachable - hospitality at its best. And many of the waiters/hosts double up as guides with amazing knowledge of the environment. There seems to be a concerted effort in skills training based on the stories of their experiences but as one guide mentioned - it is not only the knowledge; it is how well they can interact with the guests that really define how successful they are. 

Broadly, De Hoop has three environments - fynbos hills, the coast and a "vlei" (translates to a marsh, but more lake/estuary). There is not much variety in terms of large animal life in the fynbos - lots of eland and bontebok, with some cape mountain zebra and ostriches. De Hoop is a marine sanctuary, and so whale season leads to frequent sightings of whales and their calves; and the rock pools are teaming with actuatic life. The bird life is amazing - blue cranes, fish eagles and oyster catchers - there is a lot of variety to be seen (apparently 260 species in total).

The dunes are dramatic, the beaches are pristine; and the staff are very hospitable. I do want to come back for the whale trail hiking trail; or perhaps for the whale season. While I doubt I will make it an annual pilgrimage, I can certainly see what the attraction is.

29 December 2015


It has been 5 years since I was last at the southernmost point in Africa; and the most noticeable change has been how the towns of Struisbaai and L'Agulhas has grown. There are now houses and shops everywhere - and a sleepy town has been transformed.

28 December 2015


At the beginning of the year (or was it the end of last year?), I came across a book review of Harvard philosophy professor Sandel's book - Justice. The book captures the key philosophical background discussion points that define modern legal systems, discussing the modern political flash points - abortion, gay marriage and affirmative action; and many more of the underlying principles. Ultimately, it tries to identify the very basic, but very contentious and murky question of "what is just"?

The book itself is based on a very popular course given at Harvard; and now available for free at edX. The course covers 24, half hour lectures, approx 20 "poll questions" and quite a few readings etc. Unlike many other edX courses I have done, the lectures are direct recordings of lectures given at a cavernous lecture theatre with a lot of class participation and discussion. While the book covers a lot more topics (e.g. canibalism and euthanasia), I found the edX course to be more accessible and easier to digest. 

While the course itself is a philosophy course, I think it should really be considered as an essential course for everyone. As covered in the course, Aristotle considered man's participation and contribution to the "polis" as the key contribution to virtue, and thus the ultimate purpose of life. 

While modern (wo)man's participation in the polis may be reduced only to voting and political rallies (including #___mustfall marches); this is the the type of course that every (wo)man needs to understand the world. More than any other philosophy and intellectual discourse, I found the course and discussions to really give me perspective on how different people understand the concept of justice; and thus take their positions. It uncovers the motivations behind those who consider government should be limited and those who consider a nanny state to be ideal; those who don't consider the sins of our forefathers matter and those that call for slavery and colonial restitution. It is more than political pandering and ultimately for our own democracy and political world to prosper, people need to at least identify and understand the underlying philosophies - if nothing else to debate their inconsistencies. 

The course is available online, for free, at edX until 15 January 2016. I highly recommend it.