Holiday wishes

I realise I’ve neglected the blog for over a week now and I just wanted to reassure everyone that I have not forgotten it but have been involved with other things, perhaps of most interest to my readers here I submitted a piece to a science writing competition. I will keep you informed on how I do and see whether I am able to post it here or link to it on-line once the competition is done. I will continue blogging shortly into the new year. In the meantime I hope everyone has a wonderful festive season and a happy new year!

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BCCSA gets its theology wrong

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) was recently called on to make a judgement on the second season of the award-winning documentary Shoreline. When discussing cannibalism, one of the presenters said the following:

In other cases, eating people might be a way of gaining access to some special element, some special essence of the victims. Christians for example eat the blood and the body of Christ so they can absorb some of his purity and godliness.

This evoked a number of complaints with complainants saying that the show was factually incorrect as the ritual of Communion was a purely symbolic act. When the broadcaster responded it agreed that communion was purely symbolic, even in the case of Catholic transubstantiation (the only time it was mentioned) and said that the offending sentence will be removed from future rebroadcasts. The BCCSA accepted this as a genuine error and, with future broadcasts being edited, saw no reason for an apology or further measures to be taken. (Full judgement available here.) Unfortunately this judgement is incorrect as, for many Christians, Communion is not merely symbolic. Continue reading

Religious/Atheist surveys: results and looking for participants

The Pew Forum released it’s report on The Global Religious Landscape, with data pulled from a variety of different surveys taken all around the world, a few days ago. I’ve only read through the executive summary but it looks like the report contains all sorts of maps and numbers to satisfy anyone’s curiosity. According to current data, the biggest religious group is Christian (31,5%), Muslim (23,2%), unaffiliated (16,3%) and Hindus (15%). No other group had more than 10%. The unaffiliated are not necessarily atheist though as it includes people who are religious but not part of any organised religion. I’m not sure if the full report has more information on the prevalence of atheism or not but there are two projects I’m aware of that are trying to look global atheism in more detail. Continue reading

Don’t limit inadvertent learning

Last month, UCT made an announcement about Emeritus Professor Richard Whitaker’s new version of the Illiad which made use of many South African terms. I am not in a position to judge whether this is a good idea or not, although the announcement includes the endorsement, “As for the South African vocabulary and idiom, words like inkosi, indaba, induna and impi actually take us much closer to what Homer was singing about than their English equivalents,” but I want to address this issue of reworking literature or other creative outputs to suit a specific culture. Continue reading

Weekend nature walk

Rondebosch Common with Table Mountain in the background

Rondebosch Common with Table Mountain in the background

I decided, a few weeks back, to make a point to walk on the weekends. Other than that I don’t really get a huge amount of exercise. Luckily, I’m not too far away from a large open area, Rondebosch Common. Many people in the surrounding area go there to walk, with or without their dogs, and it is one of the few places where you can still find Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, which only occurs in Cape Town. According to Wikipedia, 85% of its range has been lost and only 1% of what remains is protected. Rondebosch Common is one of those areas. It’s also interesting to note that South Africa’s Fynbos is one of the most diverse types of vegetation. Continue reading

Where’s the best place to live?

Zurich: The best place to live? (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Zurich: The best place to live? (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The world today is a bit of mess. The Arab world has been through a series of revolutions and protests, the generally-stable European countries are suffering through a debt crisis that has sparked it’s own protests and here in South Africa we have moved from an extensive and drawn-out wave of strikes in the mining sector to the looming threat of more strikes on Western Cape farms. In all this uncertainty one is bound to ask, “Where is the best place to live?” Continue reading