Estina Dairy Farm: The World’s Greatest Business Plan

Even according to the most favourable estimates, the Estina Dairy Farm was at best, a marginal enterprise. Even giving the proposers the benefit of the doubt regarding its viability, surely the accountants who perused the proposal would have poked numerous holes in the financial logic.

On checking the current status of this project, the Sunday Times has uncovered an even deeper hole.

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Port Elizabeth 160 Years Ago

These reminiscences form part of a lecture presented by Mr. W. E. Vardy at St. Cuthbert’s Church on the 24th February 1913 entitled “Port Elizabeth 50 years ago.” This forms part of the second section entitled, “Political and Social Position.” Vardy was a merchant who resided in Havelock Street.

Port Elizabeth of the 1860s was expanding swiftly but it did not yet bear the mark of a grand, prosperous and salubrious town. The lifestyle was frugal in the extreme with most residents making their own bread and clothes as well as collecting their own water as the water from the Shark River was brackish and hence unpalatable. Modern services such as sewerage, electricity and the telephone were still 50 years in the future for most denizens.   

Apart from minor amendments and corrections, this is a verbatim copy of that speech.

Main picture: Main Street in 1864. The first block of houses on the right are bounded by Grace, Britannia and Staines Streets. The building on the right still stands today though its facade has changed immensely but the stone wall in Grace Street remains as it was then. Deare and Dietz, who occupied the premises, brought out H.W. Pearson to Port Elizabeth as their bookkeeper. The large buildings on the left are warehouses and stores belonging to the large merchants, one of whom was Dunells & Ebden. The smaller buildings in the middle are particular to the architecture of time when families lived above their business premises.

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A Third World Solution to Refuse Recycling

The phenomenon of recycling is a First World concept yet the whole world needs to embrace it. If recycling is to be adopted by Third World countries as well, solutions will have to be found to overcome its two most contentious issues: cost and work opportunities. 

In line with best practice, the Joburg Metro has announced its intention to role out recycling in the Metro as from 1st July 2018. As might have been predicted, like all change, there are protagonists and naysayers. In any environment of costs constraints conflated with the urgent requirement to create jobs, how can a third world city meet both requirements simultaneously. 

I believe that they can and will illustrate how it is possible. 

Main picture: Is this what will happen? Separate bins per category of recyclable?

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Bridges Over Troubled Water

River crossings for the early traveller were always time consuming and sometimes even hazardous if they were dependent upon the tides such as the drift across the Zwartkops was. Perhaps that explains the Divisional Council’s decision to place this crossing on its first to-do list after its establishment.  

This covers the trials and tribulations of the history of the Zwartkops River crossing from the use of the drift, to the pont and ultimately the various bridges and ultimately their effect on the ecosystem. 

Main picture: The Wylde Bridge across the Swartkops River. This bridge replaced the Rawson Bridge

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Last Sailing Vessels

The last hurrah of the sailing ship was the Anglo Boer War. Large numbers of sailing ships laid up in their home ports, were spending their dotage in quiet contemplation of their imminent and final demise in a wrecking yard, or if they were lucky, as a tour ship or museum exhibit. 

Instead these superannuated vessels were drafted back into service to transport troops and supplies of the British Empire to the Cape. In a strategically inept move, the Boer Republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State had displayed their temerity in invading the British Colonies of Natal and the Cape. 

Main picture:  The last sailing ship to be wrecked along the South African coast, the Colonial Empire came ashore at Cape Recife in 1917 Continue reading

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Introduction of Air Flight

It can safely be presumed that the residents of Port Elizabeth were equally as fascinated at the concept of air flight as the rest of South Africa. As a testament to that allure was the great fanfare that Allister Miller’s flight from Cape Town in 1917 engendered. 

This is the story of how fascination transmogrified into plans and then planes. This was an age of dreamers and schemers. 

Main picture: Experimental air mail service between Cape Town and Durban

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Collegiate Girls School: Relocation to Bird Street

Central to the story of Collegiate Girls School was one of change, growth and progress. The school never emerged at its current shape, fully formed. Instead it was a process of renewal. To underscore this, was the first giant leap from a small school in a large house at No. 15 Western Road to bespoke buildings in Bird Street. 

It will serve us well to reflect that what is now viewed as a bold audacious step might equally have been a misstep. That required perspicacity and foresight and not 20/20 hindsight. 

Let us again join the school on its next profound step. 

Main picture: The first Collegiate School in Bird Street surrounding by a white trellis fence in 1878

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Trump: Is his Incompetence an Open Secret?

In today’s edition of the American Journal, The Atlantic, James Fallows’ article “It’s Been an Open Secret All Along” raises the preternatural possibility that Trump was voted in as President in spite of it being an open secret that Trump was not only unqualified to perform the job but also rank incompetent. 

What warning indicators were blinking ominously and why do intelligent commentators ignore those signals?

 Main picture: Donald Trump with former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon in more amicable times

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Trump: What his speech tells one about him

In many ways, Donald Trump has the dubious distinction of being the alter ego of Il Duce, Benito Mussolini. Typifying his approach is to declare that he is the greatest, the smartest and the best at everything. Such as bombastic, narcissistic, bragging and bullying demeanour is a divisive technique for a leader. At best he was suppress dissent but will never win an argument through cogent reasoning. 

Much more troubling is what his speech indicates about his neurological condition with its emotional equivalent of a five-year-old.

 Main picture: A smirking Donald Trump

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Is Trump’s Presidency Doomed?

Initially it was Trump’s bombastic, egotistical style which appalled me and raised my hackles. Later it was Trump’s inability to distinguish fact from fiction which sealed his fate in my eyes. Finally Trump will justifiably be crucified by later generations as his style of leadership has irredeemably cheapened that nation’s political discourse.

Has the cumulative effect of Trump’s blundering finally cast his Presidency as doomed? Signs of a backlash abound but will this Teflon coated man survive through sheer bloody mindedness?

Main picture: A smirking Donald Trump

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