Dear mobile operators, stop treating us like morons

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South Africans are well accustomed to being treated like morons by the ANC but there’s no reason we should take that from the private sector too.

international_airtime_transfer_clip_image002In taking SA mobile operators to task I could be talking about their rapacious data prices or mind-bending bundle configurations designed to confuse us into signing over large chunks of cash monthly. But I’m not. Not this time.

No. I’m talking about the bullshit around different types of airtime.

Sign up with any one of the four mobile operators in this country for a top-up contract and you’ll soon learn what I’m talking about. The bundled airtime, for which you pay a monthly ransom, is “not-transferable” and “non-convertible”.

In other words, you have no ability to share airtime with others or use that airtime to buy SMS or data bundles. Oh no, if you want to do that you have buy more “prepaid” airtime.

Fuck off. That’s just theft. Airtime is fucking airtime. It doesn’t matter how or when we pay for it; It’s bloody airtime and it’s paid for. It should be as transferable or convertible as the money what purchased it.

It’s long past time that somebody took the mobile operators to task on this and many other questionable practices they have evolved over the years.

Unfortunately, there is nobody to do that. Icasa is a hopeless case because, whenever a bright young thing starts to make a mark there, one of the thieving foursome makes them an offer too good to refuse. In this way, they collude to keep the regulator weak and ineffectual.

All of which leaves us consumers with nowhere to turn. We end up venting on soapboxes and in irrelevant forums like this one. We desperately need another Isabel Jones.

Trip down memory lane

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It was a spur of the moment decision but I dropped in at the annual Lusito Land festival today. Despite the fact that it takes place within walking distance of where I live these days (and have done for about three years), I haven’t been for a long time.

There was not a single Portuguese beer on sale at Lusito Land 2013

In spite of the R60 entrance fee, first impressions were favourable: lots of funfair rides for the kids, an impressive array of stalls and what seemed like a watering hole down every alley. I was also intrigued to see a stall displaying (and selling) polish meat products and another that was peddling products of Canadian origin.

But sadly, that’s not the only place the Portuguese had sold out the origins of the event. The other, far more important area was in the numerous beer tents: the only “beer” on sale was the chemically enhanced swill peddled by SABMiller.

This was disappointing on so many levels because, unless my memory fails me, one of the more interesting taste journeys at the Lusito Land festivals of yore was that presented by the many different Portuguese beers available in this country. That’s a massive fail in my book.

Trying something different…

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Pierre Spies in full flight

With the Rugby World Cup now into the knock-out stages everybody and his dog is coming up with a theory for what teams should be doing. This is especially true of the Springboks in the wake of news that Frans Steyn and Francois Hougaard are on their way back home. It’s a tough one. Nobody doubts Jean de Villiers is a world class centre and while he can certainly hold his own against the convicts I’m not that certain about him standing up to Nonu or Sonny-Bill.

Perhaps it’s time to pull a rabbit out of the hat and play Pierre Spies at inside centre, with Willem Alberts taking his place at the back of the scrum and Jean de Villiers shifting to the left wing in place of Habana – who has frequently been exposed on defence. That would certainly be a far stronger defensive line up and on attack, well, how you like to have Pierre Spies bearing down on you in full flight? I certainly wouldn’t. It’s certainly food for thought.

And then there’s Ruan Pienaar: I love to see him get a start ahead of Fourie du Preez – although I wouldn’t drop Fourie further than the bench. He’d be an incredible sup-sub.

The deafening sounds of silence

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Some remarkable news hit the wires this past week but, not surprisingly, it has been completely ignored by  the mainstream media. What has happened is that scientists have finally proven that the theory of anthropogenic global warming is nothing more than misguided nonsense. Of course, true scientists would never say it quite as bluntly as I do but then this is my opinion and is not subject to peer-review.

The original news broke in Nature when preliminary results of an experiment dubbed CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets were unveiled. Conducted by scientists at CERN, Europe’s high-energy physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, the experiment attempts to replicate atmospheric conditions by filling a custom-built chamber with ultrapure air and chemicals believed to seed clouds: water vapour, sulphur dioxide, ozone and ammonia. They then bombard the chamber with protons from the same accelerator that feeds the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful particle smasher. As the synthetic cosmic rays stream in, the group carefully samples the artificial atmosphere to see what effect the rays are having. You can read about it here.

To understand what it all means, however, one must refer to sources who are less reticent about interpretation of the results of the experiment. Over at the Financial Post, Lawrence Solomon is unequivocal: “New, convincing evidence indicates global warming is caused by cosmic rays and the sun — not humans,” he writes.

Another interpretation takes the form of a video clip on the LaRouche Political Action Committee web site. Presented by Oyang Teng of the LaRouche Basement Research Team. Suggesting these experiments have proven the fallibility of current climate models, he says that, “…rather than revise current models, it’d probably be better to scrap them altogether and rebuild climate science on a whole new basis of actual experimental work.” You can watch the clip here.

Today there are indisputably more than a handful of genuine climate scientists – as opposed to the politicians and sycophants who make up the UN’s IPCC – who feel thoroughly vindicated for their opposition to the IPCC-sponsored climate orthodoxy. But being proper scientists, they probably won’t say “I told you so”, so I’ll do it on their behalf by quoting the title of the first Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) report on the subject: “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate”.

Perhaps now we can consign to the annals of history, the completely idiotic idea that man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) is the cause of climate change. In years to come, we will probably be look back on that idea in a similar way to how we  now look back on the era of bleeding patients in western medical science: It’s as crude and as misguided.

It’s not patently obvious

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If you want to know what the current patent battle is about the answer is simple: money. The bottom line is that Apple and Microsoft’s litigation against Google are nothing more that attempts to undermine the Android mobile operating system, which, for those who don’t know, the search giant gives away free, gratis and for nothing to mobile phone manufacturers such as Samsung, HTC, LG and Motorola. This is unacceptable behaviour in Cupertino and Redmond, where serious cash is generated by “selling” operating systems – but I digress.

The bottom line is that I applaud Google’s acquisition of Motorola’s mobile phone business because has potential to defuse the ridiculous patent litigation from Apple and extortionate license fees demanded by Microsoft. You see, Motorola has been around a lot longer than either of those two and has a portfolio of over 17 000 patents. That gives Google the option to threaten litigation of its own and, thereby, keep Android free-of-charge and unburdened by unreasonable licensing.

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Twitter doesn’t foster debate

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I’ve recently noticed something frustrating about South Africans of different races on Twitter: we often talk past each other. I got into a discussion about the NHI yesterday – something I’m still going to blog about separately once I have done my research. But eventually I had to bail out because I felt we were talking past each other and 140 characters wasn’t enough to state my case (hence the upcoming blog post). I also had some deadlines that I needed to take care of, urgently.

This morning I’ve watched a long-time friend @samanthaperry discussing important issues with someone else I follow on Twitter: @JoziGoddess. Sam started it by posting this:

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Time for reparations

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I’m no fan of Julius Malema but I have to accept that he has exposed the failure of the SA government to address the legacy of apartheid and is exploiting that failure to his own benefit. The uncharitable among you may attribute government’s failure to infighting and squabbling over the spoils of victory. And while there certainly does seem to be an element of that, I refuse to believe that this entire government is corrupt. There are too many people in the public sector – right up to ministerial level in some cases – who are quietly getting on with the job in difficult circumstances.

However, the fact remains that this government hasn’t done enough for the victims of apartheid. On that I agree with Malema but we differ markedly on the solution – but then my motivation isn’t self-enrichment. I’m not certain the same can be said for him. But I digress. The real point of this post is to highlight what I think is a brilliant solution to the reparations problem facing this government. I should note at this juncture that this post is an expansion of my editor’s note in the next issue of African Leader magazine, which role is one of my day jobs. More

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