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Author: Pierre Maré

Students show Demola their solutions for Keetmanshoop’s waste and housing problems

Two groups of students last week pitched their proposed solutions for unique problems experienced in Keetmanshoop to a panel of the Demola Network as the final stage in a series of innovation steps that started in April this year. When the Municipality of Keetmanshoop needed a workable, affordable solution for their waste treatment, it turned the project over to the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology. A second challenge came from a Finnish Consortium working on a smart housing project, also in Keetmanshoop. The science commission decided to turn this into formal challenges for students to solve. The...

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Tools make things easier but don’t make them better

‘President Joe once had a dream’. I wonder if you recognise the song? It’s ‘Saviour Machune’ from the earl David Bowie album, ‘The Man who Sold the World’. The machine is built to solve all problems, and does so, but ends up miserable and disaffected. It’s obvious that the thing was a computer, but the word ‘machine’ works better in the song. If you haven’t heard the song yet, it’s worth a listen. You can find it on Youtube. During those years, David Bowie made songs that still sound modern. That was before he learned to sing ‘properly’ and...

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The true value of mushrooms

It’s omajova season. The giant mushrooms are back. The termites have been busy, and so have drivers dashing off to harass termite nests and chase off whatever wild animals they find eating the things. Personally, having eaten a piece of omajova before, I have my doubts about their value as a culinary delight. I ate it with scrambled egg, and the egg had more flavor than the mushroom. I had a discussion with someone about the lack of flavor, to which she responded that it is nothing that garlic and butter can’t fix. Uncle Iconoclast has something to say...

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Annual reports: truth and beauty

I deal with annual reports from time to time, one of the more interesting facets of my work. I have watched them evolve over decades, and the changes have been positive. In its simplest form, the annual report is a set of financial statements, that may or may not come with a piece of interpretation from the head of the company. This is rarely satisfying to work with, or enough. The annual report has evolved to become one of the most important communication tools available to a company. That became apparent to me when I asked the financial accountant...

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Black and the colour of night

I have a goth streak in me that is about a mile wide. I do all the usual goth things: tolerance, good manners, reading vampire books and Neil Gaiman comics, thinking about metaphsysics, listening to Joy Division and above all, wearing black, or at least very dark blue or greyish, for a little bit of colour variation every now and then. I’m now pioneering the Namibian summer goth look by wearing black shorts and a black T-shirt with sandals or boots, also black. It’s taking a bit of time for me to get used to the contrast that my...

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Looking at customers and target markets

I read an interesting article on the effectiveness of big data. The article began with an anecdote of a father who was upset that his daughter was receiving vouchers for pregnancy products. It turned out that she was pregnant. Her online behaviour and browsing habits matched those of a pregnant person. Big data is a highly effective predictor of individual personality, behaviour and needs. It is collected online, through cookies. Most people enable or accept cookies in order to use the web. Websites give warnings that they use cookies. Unless you disable cookies on your browser, your information will...

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Chopsticks or spoons, which are best?

I understand western cutlery. I do not fully understand chopsticks. I suppose they were useful for eating when resources to manufacture knives, forks and spoons were scarce. I have spent too much time in these columns with the same things, the aspects of incredible human evolution brought about by the hyper-connectedness of social media, and current events. For the last year or two I have felt like a whiny little git, or one of those old guys who writes angry letters to editors beginning with the words ‘Dear Sir’. There are ideas that are far more interesting to me,...

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I’m thinking of taking up paranoia as a hobby.

It’s not that life has become too comfortable. It’s just that there is so much of it hanging about that I might as well take some enjoyment from it. It works on the same principle as the overworked person who gets ill. Sometimes lying in bed feeling revolting is the change that is as good as a holiday. There’s enough to be paranoid about, obviously, and with fairly good reason. For a start it seems that the Trump administration is looking to be a hawk. One of his advisors, a guy called Bannon, seems to want a war with...

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