God is in the details…

Freedom of Expression ??

Not in South Africa. News24 has closed the door and for reasons that are beyond me I’ve been banned off Daily Maverick – so it seems you don’t get a warning or your comment deleted, they just shut you down for good, which is ironic beyond my ability to express – as they themselves as so vocal about their right to express their opinions.

And to think I recommended them to just about everyone I know…

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Apartheid was legalised corruption

South African public discourse is rightly preoccupied with corruption, particularly this week after the anti-corruption marches in Joburg and Cape Town.

Our discussions and responses, as robust as we would like to believe they are, exhibit significant gaps which, by their existence, are to the benefit of the status quo.

The biggest of these is the perception that corruption is particularly a post-1994 public sector phenomenon, which is inaccurate.

Our discourse, even in the way in which we teach the history of apartheid, conveniently seldom articulates apartheid as grand corruption, which it was in every way. And this is how we end up with many confident assertions that things were better then and that the apartheid administration was cleaner than the current administration.

 While I believe we shouldn’t compare ourselves with apartheid, a time so deliberately and calculatingly atrocious and on such a grand scale that almost anything would be better, it is this inability or unwillingness to accept apartheid as corruption that informs a lot of apartheid nostalgia, even by self-styled lovers of justice, because it is unfathomable that what they are hankering for is a time of corruption.
In a recent Business Day column, Hennie van Vuuren wrote: “The baffling silence on apartheid corruption benefits the powerful and carpetbaggers in the new and old elite. Any attempt to pick at this issue is a threat to the status quo and thus a threat to the interests of politicians and businesspeople across the political spectrum.”

Moreover, the silence on apartheid and the manner in which it was legalised corruption is intentional, and to break it would not only implicate those who benefited from it, but demand a recognition of the humanity of the people who were broken to achieve it.

Part of the way we talk about contemporary corruption relies on the often racist “face of corruption” fat-cat trope. This is in stark contrast to the grand corruption of the apartheid era, which apparently had no face or beneficiaries – that’s a lie. That many white people benefited and continue to benefit and then use the “we didn’t know” defence is terrifying (the National Party was adept at covering up the extent of its criminality and theft, particularly when it came to defence and property).

As we try to grapple with current levels of corruption, our discourse has to stop the lie that the previous dispensation was a shining example of clean governance. It was a corruption so grand it seemed invisible.


Gugulethu Mhlungu 


It was a corruption so grand it seemed invisible – this about sums up the above article for me. I for one do not believe that the evils of the past should be erased or forgotten about. Apartheid was a system devised by men who were either determined to stay ass in the butter or feared becoming an oppressed minority.

Western Cape turning into new Orania – Joemat-Pettersson

Western Cape needs to be freed – minister

The above links are from articles that appeared on news24 over the weekend 3/4 October. The ANC’s rhetoric is fast becoming something that concerns me, as it doesn’t sound like a party that interested in keeping SA as a democracy.

Apart-hate isn’t dead, it’s just under new management. The Looting and the Lying has reached EPIC proportions. Now there’s talk of JZ serving a third term….

Gugulethu, News24 used to allow us peasants the opportunity to comment on articles like yours, but they shot themselves in the head and then turned off this feature – so this is my reply to you and your ‘article’ – pull your head out of your ass, SA is in a very bad place – and set to get a lot worse if people don’t wake up to just how bad the party that replaced the Nats is. The heady days if Madiba are gone, courtesy of Jacob Zuma and his team of flunkies we are a democracy in name only. The ANC is allying itself with the communists as it knows its hold on power is slipping and will need their backing when it eventually loses. And if you think the answer is Julius Malema – then you need a brain scan.

United we can do so much more than we can divided – and divided is exactly how the ANC wants us, so that when we vote, we vote with our Anger, our Fears and Prejudices – and not our brains.


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How government plans to legalise corruption: Helen Zille

Western Cape premier and former Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, Helen Zille says that government wants to turn “empowerment” into legalised corruption under new Draft Preferential Procurement Regulations.

The premier launched a weekly newsletter called Inside Government earlier in July and has published a new blog slating the proposed legislation, which she says will collapse the economy:

One of the challenges of daily life in government is the weekly avalanche of documents that must be read, analysed and commented on.  Among them are draft Policy papers, Bills, Regulations, “Instructions” and other documents from national government.

Each must be dissected and “deconstructed” to ensure we understand its relevance and comment within the prescribed deadline – which is sometimes very short.

This week, the new Draft Preferential Procurement Regulations were among the many documents that crossed my desk.  But when I see formulae like these – that are actually supposed to explain the regulations – my eyes glaze over:



I have learnt that the more incomprehensible a document is, the more alert one must be. As it turned out, these equations are to an understanding of Jacob Zuma’s “radical economic transformation agenda” what the Rosetta Stone is to the interpretation of hieroglyphics.

I knew the formulae were very important, but I don’t have the mathematical skills to interpret them. That is what chief financial officers are for. Our CFO reads equations and statistics easier than words, and interpreted the impact of the draft regulations as follows:

“Applying the proposed 50/50 preference system to our 80/20 purchases and the proposed 80/20 preference system to our 90/10 purchases, implies that we could be paying a premium of 100% instead of 25% for half of our goods and services and a premium of 25% instead of 11.1% for the other half of our goods and services.”

He explained that the formulae hadn’t changed, but the factors had. And this would make a big difference.

His explanation didn’t help me much. I knew the regulations would make supposedly “broad-based” black economic empowerment (BBBEE) requirements much more rigid, and far more expensive.  But I wanted a specific, practical example.

So my CFO explained the difference between the current preferential procurement system, and the proposed new system, using a simple example.

He wrote back:

“Current practise:  Bidder A, with no BBBEE status, quotes R10 for a bar of soap, while Bidder B with full BBBEE status quotes R12.  The bid is awarded to Bidder B and government pays a 20% or R2 premium to advance economic empowerment in this instance.

Proposed practise:  Bidder A, with no BBBEE status, quotes R10 for a bar of soap, while Bidder B with full BBBEE status quotes R19.  The bid is awarded to Bidder B and government pays a 90% or R9 premium to advance economic empowerment in this instance.

De-coded, the circular also provides for the BBBEE premium on purchases between R10-million and R50-million, to rise to a maximum of 25% from the current 11,1% .”

And then in CFO speak – which tends to extreme under-statement – he said: “the difference in premiums impacts severely on the monies available for goods and services.”

I’ll say. What it means is that for certain categories of purchases – tenders under R10-million – we could be paying almost double for goods and services on the basis of the BBBEE points awarded.

Firms that have the highest rating will get enough “bonus” points to enable them to double the best market price of a firm with no rating, and still get the contract.

There is a sliding scale between firms with no BBBEE status and those with “full” status.  If they attain only half the BBBEE status, we will pay 50% more.

So this is what Jacob Zuma’s radical economic transformation policy will mean:  more cronies getting more tenders, and charging the state almost double the market value. And anyone who criticizes this will be labelled “racist”.

Fortunately, more and more South Africans are seeing through this ruse. They know that the “BBBEE” certification under the Zuma government has little to do with genuine broad based empowerment (which we fully support) and everything to do with the enrichment of “the network”.  Zuma looks after them, and they look after him.

Let’s be blunt: the new draft regulations, if they are accepted, will legalise wholesale corruption at an even grander scale than we are currently witnessing.

The current inner circle of “preferred bidders” – inevitably with close ANC connections – will become even richer, while the poor, who depend most on efficient and effective government services, will suffer dire consequences. Government will pay double the price for the same service. The people will have to pay more for less.

How long will people still be fooled by the ANC’s BBBEE rhetoric as we enter secret nuclear deals worth an estimated R1-trillion, spend almost R1-billion on train coaches that are apparently too tall for safe use on our rail network, and select the most expensive and inefficient method to toll our roads?

The result will be “Eskom”, multiplied many times across the economy: a multi-billion Rand deficit accompanied by an inability to provide basic services. The rich can “make a plan” (such as buying generators). The poor can’t. They sit in the cold and dark, and have to steal electricity that has become unaffordable. And behind the rhetoric of a “turn-around strategy” Eskom’s deficit just grows.

We should no longer mince our words:  this system will cause the collapse of the South African economy. It will not result in broad-based economic inclusion. It will re-enrich those who are already well entrenched; it will not lead to economic growth.

On the contrary, it will destroy growth and jobs because it creates perverse incentives, rewarding inefficiency and uncompetitive pricing. And as government’s capacity to procure goods and services shrinks, many firms will go out of business. People will lose their jobs, while the pre-selected few flourish.

Fortunately we have a constitution. I cannot see how the new draft regulations will meet the requirement of Section 195 (1) b (amongst others):  that “efficient, economic and effective use of resources must be promoted”.  And lawful “discrimination” to redress past injustices, still has to pass the test of “rationality” and “fairness”.

We support rational and fair broad-based empowerment.  Both the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Government have an ‘open’ and transparent bid adjudication process. This prevents corruption and allows for fair competition in the bidding process.

More BBBEE companies have been empowered through our competitive process than was the case during the ANC’s crony-based tenure in Cape Town and the Province.  We have been able to procure better services and products at reasonable rates, providing the public better value for its money. At the same time the BBBEE companies become competitive in the broader economy.

We must take a stand against the new draft proposals from national government, even though we know that the Zuma ANC will respond by “playing the race card” all the way to the 2016 local government election.

But more people now know what is really going on than ever before.  We are not heading for “radical economic transformation”. We are heading for “radical economic collapse” if we endorse these proposals.

Next year South Africans will have to decide whether they want to continue endorsing legalized corruption – and growing impoverishment  – or whether it is time for change.  In a democracy, the voters get the government they choose and it is the government the majority deserves.

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Politics and Economics under a Rent Seeking Regime by Eddie Cross

The Chief Executive of an organisation made an appointment to see the Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa this week. He was told to come to the office at 08.30hrs and was there on time. When he got into the office the person through whom he had made the appointment asked him if he had brought “the envelope”. The CEO said no and that he was not going to pay to see the Vice President. He waited two hours and a Secretary told him to go downstairs and see someone who would get him into the VP – he walked down and when he got there he decided that enough is enough and he just kept going.

I told him to tell the VP of this incident and that I was sure that he would be furious that someone was making money by “facilitating access”. I told him that was the right decision, but the problem is that this sort of “rent seeking” does not stop there.

Another friend, also a very senior executive said to me the other day that the major problem in Zimbabwe is the direct linkages that exist between business of all kinds and the ruling elite – nothing happens if it does not benefit key decision makers. Many accept this reality and simply accommodate the rent seekers and pay what is demanded. In doing so they demean both the beneficiary and the person making the payments.

I have just finished reading Fay Chung’s new book “The Second Chimurenga Revisited”. In this book she goes through a painful process of reliving the nightmare years in the Zanla Camps and the liberation war. For the first time I appreciated the background that has dominated the thinking of the men and women who came to power in 1980. The sense of entitlement and the need to hold onto power at all costs; the practice of eliminating those who contested them for power and control.

Besides being ill prepared for the responsibilities of government in 1980, they were a confused mixture of Marxist ideology, tribalism, traditional religion, military training and values and only the most scanty appreciation of what it took to manage a small, but sophisticated economy and a democratic system of government. Once they appreciated just what was involved in having control and access to State resources, they also fully appreciated that if they lost control at any time, the consequences would be serious for them and their extended families.

With their background training in East Germany, the Soviet Union and China they also came to power knowing that no aspect of national life could be allowed independence and self management and control. So once they had settled in a systematic attack was started on all institutions – the Trade Unions, business Associations, big business. All were deliberately infiltrated and it was made clear to business that if they wanted to get anywhere they had to have people who were “acceptable” in charge. Institutions that refused integration or subjugation were destabilized and eliminated. Every aspect of life was made to serve the State and the direct links between business and the political elite established.

If you were in the system you benefitted and loyalty was rewarded with patronage and wealth. Any attempt to break away from the system was met with savage retaliation so that when Amos Midzi found himself out of the inner circle and was suspended from the Zanu PF Party – he was instantly outside the golden triangle and could not pay even his children’s school fees. He committed suicide.

More than any other factor it is this link between politics and business that is now inhibiting the growth and development of the Zimbabwean economy. The fact that this process is then linked to rent seeking activity just exacerbates the situation. Rent seeking taking many forms from the incident involving getting an appointment with a Vice President to decision making and taking a cut out of every business deal.

It is clear here that the secret determination of salaries for senior executives in many spheres of activities (local authorities, pension funds, state controlled Boards) is directly linked to the need for control and influence over the individuals concerned and even sharing the proceeds. This is how the CEO of the Public Service Medical Aid Society came to get a salary of US$600 000 a month and the top four executives in the Broadcasting Board getting a package well over a million dollars a year despite the fact that the organisation could not pay staff.

At first the economy was able to carry this burden but as the demands for rentals rose and the management of the economy deteriorated, the combined effects simply became too much to bear and economic collapse and decline became endemic.

Big organisations that are State owned and controlled and have a significant cash flow (utilities) are an obvious target. So in South Africa you have ESKOM, a well managed and funded State owned company in 1994, able to supply cheap power to a growing economy. In the past 20 years Eskom has become a shadow of what it once was – aging infrastructure, inadequate maintenance, inept senior staff and massive rent seeking and corruption. Their latest project, a huge coal fired power station in the north west of the country, is 150% over budget, 5 years behind schedule and the Directors say they may not be able to get it operational. Mammoth failures on this scale are now crippling the South African economy – once the engine of African growth.

Rent seeking can take many forms – in Zimbabwe we have created a number of organisations that have been given the right to either tax residents for income or charge for their services. The list of such institutions that are essentially rent seekers and who are not creating any real value in return is long – the Environmental Management Agency, NOIC, Zinara, Zinwa, NSSA, the National Aids Council, Zimtrade are all absorbing revenue and delivering very little. Instead they become mainly concerned with making enough money to meet their inflated salaries and perks and enough surplus to respond to the political machine when called upon to pay their dues.

Then there is the situation where the Police are being allowed to raise money from their operations from fines other charges at road blocks. These are so routine, that they are accepted as the norm here even though such activities are unheard of elsewhere. The cost of such a system must be doubled or trebled to take account of corrupt activities.

This situation is now so serious that the regime can be described as a parasitic enterprise that is so demanding that it is paralyzing all forms of economic activity. Decisions are not being taken on key issues, demands for payments for all sorts of services are a daily occurrence. Can this system be reformed – I doubt it, it has to be destroyed to bring us freedom and progress.

Eddie Cross

Harare, 14th July 2015

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The Path We Travel by: Howard Feldman

To quote Robert Frost would be a little trite. But indeed two paths now diverge in our yellow wood, and South Africa has the choice as to which road to travel. The country has turned towards the ill-advised option, and we need to be very certain that this is direction of choice before journeying forward. Crossroads are often uncomfortable and the enormity of the decision can paralyze even the most experienced traveler. Only this is not the time for inaction, because lack of contemplation will lead us in the direction we are already facing.

We have been here before. August 15th 1985. I was 17 and I recall my whole family gathering around the television as we awaited an announcement that would alter the course of the country, for the better. The time had finally arrived and although we were nervous (having been subject to the years of racist propaganda) we knew that South Africa had to change. We were not alone. More than 200 Million people from around the world believed that Nelson Mandela would be freed and that Apartheid would end, and tuned in to this speech. Only it didn’t. And PW Botha chose to walk into the abyss. The result would be a State of Emergency, detention without trial, brutality and bloodshed. He chose the wrong path and it would take the country years to recover.

And now, once again it is in the air. Change is needed and a new direction critical. South Africans have been assaulted by corruption, by Nkandla and e-Tolls, by Prasa and SAA, by crime and FIFA and Eskom. It has been abused by Government attacks on the Judiciary and by colossal and embarrassing inefficiency. The Education system, Healthcare and Home Affairs and the electricity crises bare testimony to a broken system. It is time to choose an alternative path before it is too late.

We have options. Nothing is broken beyond repair (except maybe the post office and maybe the SACP). All it takes is the simple recognition that things aren’t working and then we can decide how best to proceed. Some areas are easier than others. It is not difficult to acknowledge that the new Home Affairs visa decision is a debacle. Say sorry, reverse the ruling and all will be forgiven. Admit that Prasa (who some of us hadn’t even heard of until a few weeks ago) screwed up. Admit that the al-Bashir fiasco was a gargantuan folly and that the Judiciary is correct and untouchable and we will all breath easier. Stop lying to us about Eskom. Stop dancing around Nkandla and go back to the drawing board on e-Tolls. But start by agreeing that we are poised to travel the wrong path and that we need to cease from doing so before its too late (or have I already said that).

Our elected leaders need to act like adults. The energy spent on petty political in-fighting (and fashion) is also pretty unhelpful. Parliamentary antics inspire no one, and aside from the reassuring consolation that at least we have freedom of speech, it does little to aid progress. It’s time that we left the playground activities to the children and got serious about saving this country. Or as we say to our children – don’t make us tell you this again – grow up before it’s too late.

South Africans love South Africa. And it’s very irritating (to say the least) to have to witness the daily descent of our beloved country. There is no good reason that we need to be in the situation we are in and every good reason we shouldn’t be. It’s time to choose a new path to travel by, because when two paths diverge in a yellow wood, that’s the decision that will make all the difference.


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New Authors I’ve discovered

Tim Downs

Scott Sigler

Chris Golden

Tim Curran

Stephen Moss

Carsten Stroud

Peter Cawdron

Brian Harmon

Bob Mayer/Robert Doherty

Bobby Adair

W.J. Lundy

Brian Keene

David Moody

Jonathan Maberry

Deon Meyer

James Lovegrove

Jo Nesbo


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What’s that smell ?

Oh, it’s Mugarbage and his Wife Disgrace.

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Living in a Lunatic Asylum by Eddie Cross.

The man who created Singapore died a few days ago. I watched his son, now Prime Minister himself, give the eulogy at his father’s funeral, it was a brilliant speech, almost a sermon and deeply moving. At one stage he made the point that his father had been one of a generation who had struggled to bring their nations to independence from a colonial power (Britain in this case), then had to deal with all the usual post Independence conflicts and struggles in a multi ethnic society. His tribute to his father was that he took Singapore from a muddy backwater with a majority Chinese society, previously suppressed and discriminated against by the Malay majority during an ill fated Federation and created a non racial, progressive and hugely successful society.

He specifically mentioned those of his father’s generation who had failed to do this in their own countries.

Clearly the most extreme example of one such leader must be Robert Gabriel Mugabe. He took up the reins of power in a country that had a British colonial history, had been in a short lived Federation and where the majority had been discriminated against. But there the comparison ends, unlike Singapore, he inherited a country that was rich in natural resources, self sufficient in food and water and with a well educated, even sophisticated leadership, albeit a tiny minority. Its income per capita was the second highest in Africa with a diversified economy and reasonable infrastructure.

Today, 35 years later, Zimbabwe is one of the poorest countries in Africa, has double the percentage of its people living in absolute poverty, has seen over a third of its population migrate to other countries and is now unable to pay even a modest salary to its long suffering civil servants. On the index of economic and political freedom, Zimbabwe is well down in the bottom quintile of all nations, its average life expectancy is half that of Singapore, its income per capita just 2 per cent of Singapore’s $55 000 a year average income. Singapore is number 2 in the world on the Freedom Index.

It is all about leadership. That is the ability to make the right decisions at the right time, to exploit every opportunity that comes along and to act as a steward of national resources, especially the national income.

In Zimbabwe it’s a bit like living in a lunatic asylum, but only worse, because sometimes I think the patients are actually in charge. I never supported the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by Ian Smith in 1965. How could a tiny country like Rhodesia, take on the whole world and at the same time expect 3 per cent of its population to be able to suppress a 97 per cent majority in a hostile continent? It was doomed to failure and I was part of a small group of young leaders in 1973 that went to Mr. Smith and argued that he had to do a deal or face defeat. He rejected our analysis and was virtually removed from power in 1976 leaving his community and his country on auto pilot and leaving strangers to determine what sort of framework and leadership we had to work with after Independence in 1980.

Mr. Mugabe took over a small country without significant debt, the support of the whole world, an open cheque book when it came to external funding and a hard working, reasonably educated people. Zimbabwe had the most advanced agricultural system in the third world, had many strong institutions of research and development in key sectors and was strategically located in the center of what has become one of the main nodes of growth in the world. There were 17 PhD graduates from some of the best universities in the world in his first Cabinet.

What has gone wrong? Unlike Singapore we are a text book example of a monumental failure of leadership. Mr. Mugabe took over a police force that was honest, committed and well run. It is now nearly totally corrupt, unable to respond to even the most simple of crimes and it is hardly worth reporting a crime to, even when the cost has been very high. Worse, the police have become part of a repressive political machine that has denied the people of Zimbabwe their choice of leadership 5 times in the past 15 years.

He has taken an agricultural industry that once fed the nation at the lowest cost in Africa, practiced the most advanced forms of conservation and high technology on the continent, almost in the world in some sectors, employed a third of the labour force in the country and generated half its exports and even more of its industrial activity and simply smashed it to pieces. The editorial in yesterdays Sunday Mail stated Zambia is doing something right and Zimbabwe would do well to find out what it is and apply what it can to our local context.  Extraordinary when you appreciate that the agricultural turn around in Zambia is mainly due to the arrival and settlement of several hundred Zimbabwean farmers who were essentially expelled from Zimbabwe and in the process lost their entire savings from a hundred years of enterprise.

He has failed to build a single power station, failed to construct a kilometer of new railway line or road, failed to plant a single new plantation of trees or fruit or coffee or tea. Instead he has built monuments to the dead at heroes acre in Harare and has allowed our social infrastructure to crumble and decay. He insists on assuming the Chancellorship of every University and capping every student every year, but allows his wife to accept a fraudulent PhD from the University of Zimbabwe.

Now, in the middle of perhaps the most serious political and economic crisis we have faced since Independence, he expels the former Vice President and his most loyal associate, Joyce Mujuru from the Party she has supported and worked for over 40 years. More seriously, she has the majority support of the membership and structures of the Party and will take what is left of Zanu PF out into the wilderness with her. It’s a completely irrational and nonsensical decision that defies all logic. More seriously it undermines the unity and cohesiveness of the country at a time when we need to get together to resolve our difficulties and put our house in order.

We need a national government and a new transitional arrangement to repair the damage done by three decades of lousy leadership and bad, corrupt government, I really do not think that anything less, will get us out of the mess we are in at present and time is not on our side. Recent decisions are no longer rational and this must be of concern to all of us, both inside and outside Zimbabwe.


Eddie Cross

Harare 6th April 2015


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8 tips to manage the blues

The good news is that depression is highly treatable. Between 80 to 90% of all depressed people respond to medication and psychotherapy and experience some relief from depression symptoms.

But treatment does not stop with medication and psychotherapy. By making a few lifestyle changes, you can feel great more quickly. Why not try the following?

1. You don’t snooze, you lose Insomnia is a common complaint amongst depressed people. The South African Memory Resource Centre suggests a number of useful tips to get you to the Land of Nod:

Discontinue unhealthy sleep habits. Don’t lie in bed for long periods if you cannot fall asleep. Your brain quickly associates your bed with lying awake and not being able to sleep. Break this habit by getting out of bed if no sleep occurs after about 10 minutes (do not watch the clock, but rather estimate the time). Carry out a non-interesting activity such as reading a boring book, until drowsiness returns and then go back to bed. Repeat this pattern until sleep takes place.

  • Follow the same routine at night before trying to sleep. Your mind and body will connect this routine with sleeping.
  • Don’t take any stimulants, such as coffee, before going to bed. Also steer clear of alcohol, as it doesn’t lead to a good night’s sleep.
  • Don’t eat a huge meal close to bedtime.
  • Your couch potato days are over. Get a bit of exercise and you will not only fall asleep more easily, but also sleep better.
  • Take a warm bath before bedtime.
  • Keep a notebook next to your bed and write down any worries that you may have before trying to sleep.
  • Daytime naps will make it more difficult for you to sleep at night.
  • Make sure that your bedroom is comfortable and dark and quiet.
  • Wake up the same time each day.
2. Get Active: Exercise Exercise gets those endorphins into your bloodstream. These are the feel-good hormones. But when you feel depressed, really depressed, it’s difficult to motivate yourself to brush your teeth, let alone go for a walk or a run. But don’t get caught in this vicious cycle of feeling unmotivated and wanting to camp on the couch as it will make you feel more depressed. Once you’ve broken this cycle by exercising a little bit every day, you won’t believe the difference. Begin gradually (even 10 minutes will be OK as a start) and slowly increase the intensity and amount of time spent exercising.

3. Watch your eating plan When you’re feeling depressed, you often either lose you appetite, or eat like a horse. This can make you feel even worse. Eat correctly and you can help to combat weight problems. But how?

  • If you are overweight, lose weight.
  • Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily (a portion size is a fist size).
  • Complex carbohydrates (wholewheat grains) should form the basis of every meal. These include porridge, wholewheat bread, brown rice, pasta and jacket potatoes.
  • Eat plant and animal protein foods (fish, meat, eggs poultry), but avoid excessive saturated fat intake. Do not eat red meat more than once or twice a week. Replace it with fish.
  • Limit your fat intake to less than six teaspoons per day.
  • Make sure that you drink at least six glasses of water per day
Eating a high carbohydrate diet (wholewheat bread, unsifted maize meal, brown rice) boosts the production of serotonin in the brain which makes you feel more positive. Eating plenty of protein (meat, fish, eggs, cheese, yoghurt, milk) to increase amino acid intake has the same effect.

In addition, B vitamins, especially B12, B6 and folic acid, can help combat psychological disturbances, so take a complete vitamin and mineral supplement. Essential fatty acids, especially omega-3, may also help, and the best source is salmon oil capsules. Foods rich in omega-3 are:

  • all types of fish and seafood, but particularly fatty fish such as salmon and snoek
  • fish oils (tuna, cod liver and salmon oils)
  • plant oils (flaxseed, canola, walnut, soya oils)
  • food fortified with omega-3 (eggs, milk and bread check the label)
  • salmon oil supplements
Alcohol and some drugs (recreational and prescription) can cause or worsen depression. This is possibly because it changes the balance of brain chemicals or the physical structure of the brain.

Too many changes in your insulin levels can lead to mood swings and fatigue. To avoid these you should:

  • rather eat five to six smaller meals per day than two to three big ones.
  • rather eat carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index (GI) than with a high GI.
  • *rather eat wholewheat pasta than white or wholewheat bread, rather Basmati rice or couscous than white or brown rice, rather fruit than sweets, rather oats porridge or bran cereals than other cereals.
What you eat and drink can interfere with your medication. Ask your doctor if there are any foods that need to be avoided. Some antidepressants can make you feel drowsy and alcohol will make matters worse. Alcohol could also slow the metabolism of some antidepressants.

4. Check your medicine cabinet Many types of medication (including natural remedies) interfere with antidepressants as some could reduce the effect of your medication, others could even lead to poisoning. Make sure to tell your doctor what you are taking.

5. Learn to relax Relaxation decreases tension and anxiety and improves sleep. Try meditation, yoga or specific relaxation exercises. Long, hot baths with aromatherapy oils or a massage will also do wonders.

6. Be gentle on yourself You may need to expect less from yourself. Think again about what’s important to you and rather set small, realistic goals. Also postpone major plans and life changes such as changing jobs or starting a family.

Don’t be scared to ask for help. Delegate tasks and ask your support network to help with childcare, chores and other responsibilities. You will be able to return the favour when you are better.

7. Don’t try to do it all by yourself Share your feelings with friends and family. Ask your doctor to refer you to a support group. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group has support groups throughout the country. They also have a telephonic counselling line.

8. Don’t give up hope Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t feel better immediately. Treatment takes time and some antidepressants take a few weeks before they make you feel better. If you don’t see an improvement within six weeks of being on antidepressants, discuss your concerns with your doctor. He or she will be able to prescribe another antidepressant which might be more suitable.

If you stick to your treatment and follow these lifestyle guidelines, you are bound to feel better soon. – (Ilse Pauw, Health24, updated May 2010


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Hobbit 3 in 3D and on Fast forward ??

I watched the final installment in the Hobbit series yesterday and was quite excited to do so. I didn’t watch the first one as the thought of another 3 year Peter Jackson special didn’t appeal to me. I watched a bit when it came out on disc and got hooked to the extent that I made sure I watched the second edition on the big screen in all of it’s 3D glory and loved it. Then number 3 rolled out in 3D and HFR or high frame rate.

What a mess. PJ got the application of 3D perfect in this edition with all the scenes being well lit. Then took a dump on it by filming it at twice the frame rate of previous editions. I’m no expert on this subject, but do watch a lot of movies and understand the basics like aspect ratios, surround sound etc. The standard frame rate is 24 frames per second. Hobbit 3 was shot at twice this. I honestly felt like I was watching a movie on fast forward.

After a while I actually gave up on trying to enjoy the movie and just wanted it to end. Today as I type this I’m trawling through my memories of the first 2 movies and am comparing them to my memories of the one I watched yesterday. Oddly enough the ones from yesterday as a gray blur. For the record I have an almost photographic memory.

Below is a link to a post by a guy who understands the technology much better than I do. I’m so glad he wrote it, as I thought I was losing my marbles. I totally agree with what he has to say.

Article that confirms I’m not mad

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