[img_assist|nid=528|title=The XO laptop|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=308|height=240]I received 2 XO laptops for development purposes on Friday. What an amazing marvel of technology and Open Source philosophy! Huge respect to the visionaries responsible for this wonderful educational tool (Nicholas Negroponte, Mary Lou Jepsen, Walter Bender, and many others). Actually it looks like a Fisher Price toy, but it's really a full featured Linux based computer.

We were treated to a glimpse of the royal brothers as they overnighted at the Hole in the Wall hotel yesterday. They are currently on a charity motorcycle ride from Port Edward to Port Elizabeth (good colonial names those, hehe), along with about 120 other riders.

I was warned to ask permission before taking any photos; so I approached their table hesitantly but was politely and diplomatically declined. Ah well. Not that I'm much of a royalist anyway, but I certainly wouldn't want to impose.

"Even today the coast where the Grosvenor was lost is a space of great emptiness and profound silences. Its boundaries are difficult to define because it is as much an area of consciousness as it is a geographic location. To start with, though, it can be reached by driving south-west from the South African port city of Durban for about 90 miles to the little seaside town of Port Edward. From there one proceeds on foot - a few miles to the Umtamvuna River, then across it to where a band of unbroken beach begins and stretches for miles ahead into a hazy mist of pale blue It is here where the emptiness begins and where one can mark the beginning of the Wild Coast."

The Caliban Shore - The Fate of the Grosvenor Castaways - by Stephen Taylor (p.94)

This book is well worth buying and treasuring.

Here are some reviews and links to purchase online:

The Mzamba/Xolobeni area is located closer to the Continental Shelf than any other part of South Africa, and, interestingly enough, there is a cretaceous deposit and "petrified forest" at the mouth of the Mzamba river. Also interesting, although possibly unconnected, is the fact that the Pondoland Center of Endemism (PCE) seems to fall exactly adjacent to the "trench" where the Continental Shelf is closest to the actual African continent.

Amongst other weirdnesses this may play a role in the unique coastal flat rocks and reefs in the area.

In order to sail the South Atlantic and round the tip of Africa, Portuguese sailors had to confront two powerful ocean flows: the Agulhas and Benguela currents.

The warm Agulhas runs south and west from the Indian Ocean pushing against the near-freezing waters of Antarctica, before meeting the cold Benguela current off the Cape of Good Hope.

The second swiftest current in all the world's oceans, the Agulhas is deadlier than the swiftest current (the Gulf Stream) for two reasons. First one of its branches surges through a narrow passageway between Madagascar and Mozambique on the east coast of South Africa (downward arrow on map). Furthermore its waters rush from north to south--the opposite direction from which Portuguese ships needed to travel in order to round the tip of Africa.

Discovery of the Coincidence of Magnetic and True North

Rounding the southern coast of Africa in the 1480s and 1490s, Portuguese navigators discovered one point where magnetic north and true north were virtually identical. They called this place the "Cape of the Needles" (Cabo das Agulhas) because all compass needles pointed to true north.

On this 1516 map, Cape Agulhas is clearly marked with the compass needle pointing due north.

As you can see from the map, Portuguese sailors knew this so well that they had it on all their maps!

Digital technology has made it easy to create new works from existing art, but copyright law has yet to catch up.


In early February 2007, Stephanie Lenz's 13-month-old son started dancing. Pushing a walker across her kitchen floor, Holden Lenz started moving to the distinctive beat of a song by Prince, "Let's Go Crazy." He had heard the song before. The beat had obviously stuck. So when Holden heard the song again, he did what any sensible 13-month-old would do -- he accepted Prince's invitation and went "crazy" to the beat. Holden's mom grabbed her camcorder and, for 29 seconds, captured the priceless image of Holden dancing, with the barely discernible Prince playing on a CD player somewhere in the background.

Valerie Sinclair

How it's done.

Did you know?

Although some mussels can live for up to 50 years, the brown mussel that we find along the east coast of SA only lives about 2 years.

Pearls are cultivated in freshwater mussels.

You can tell the difference between wild and cultured mussels by looking for the dull bluish colour, white erosion marks and attached barnacles of the former. Cultured mussels have shiny blue-black shells.

The mussel’s arch enemy is the dog whelk, which bores a hole through its shell and sucks out the soft parts.

Brown mussel (Perna perna) (Photo: Glen Phillips)

[img_assist|nid=462|title=|desc=Statue of Lady Justice: Hans Gieng, 1543.|link=popup|align=right|width=149|height=240]by Derek Alberts
21 September 2008

COULD it be that justice is prevailing and that the Australian-led titanium mining project at Xolobeni on the Wild Coast will be shelved?

Notice to this effect surfaced when Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica admitted for the first time last week that the consultation process into the planned multi-billion rand project was “flawed”.

Her comments follow a heated meeting at Xolobeni, where AmaMpondo King Mpondomini Sigcau, through his lawyer, demanded that the mining licence be withdrawn and that a proper investigation into the project be conducted.

The regent made it clear that tourism is preferred over mining, prompting Sonjica to concede that “no proper procedures were taken”.

“Now I know things I did not know; something is not right, and I have to correct it,” she said.

"This type of civil action is a very interesting test for our democracy. It is overwhelmingly clear that the local community object to the mining and that other citizens of our country, when informed of the facts, also vehemently disagree with a process that is blatant in its purpose of minority enrichment. If the public voice, the voters voice, fail to stop immoral activity such as the mining of the Xolobeni beaches, then we are a democracy and society deeply in trouble." -Will vd Merwe

That was the comment by the 4,190'th person to sign the Online Petition against strip-mining for titanium at Xolobeni:

Throughout the day, whenever I checked, the signatures seemed to be coming in at a rate of about 100 per hour. Though now, at about 6pm on a Friday evening here in SA, and surprising as it may seem, they've slowed to a trickle. Be great if it maintains momentum next week.

Click on the pic to view the article.

I came across this link on the OLPC wiki. It's a really cool Java applet that illustrates from the edge of the universe to the surface of a proton. Check it out:

Click on these amazing photos to go to the Florida State Uni's Micro Magnet website.

Personally I think the ampicillin photo is the most awesome 3 dimensional abstract art I've ever seen. Look closely. It's like looking through a stereograph.

"South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel welcomed the project when speaking at a conference in Germany.

"The information gap is very real and clearly whatever we can do to close it must be encouraged," Manuel told a news conference in Berlin on the U.N.-backed Millennium development goals.

"Any initiative that can leapfrog over traditional means of getting information to people must be encouraged. Information is power and it supports democracy and it supports decision-making.""

Hahaha. About time too. I wonder if Ivy knows...


Kate Holton and Niclas Mika
09 September 2008 16:18

(Reuters) - Internet firm Google and Europe's biggest bank HSBC have thrown their weight behind a plan to provide cheap, high-speed web access via satellite to millions in Africa and other emerging markets.

We finally have budget approval and are back on the system!

Initially, our project implementation was delayed by about a year, and the boss (Dr Gugu Calvo-Ugarteburu) submitted a revised MoA, extending the period of the contract by a commensurate year; which was accepted by the department and printed and sent through for signing by the university administration in about June 2007. Unfortunately at the time that it was issued for signature by both parties, the political situation at Hole in the Wall deteriorated to such an extent that the headwoman cancelled the project as at the 1st June 2007.... and the WSU (Walter Sisulu University) administration staff could not sign the revised MoA because of the subsequent changes in the deliverables.

[img_assist|nid=434|title=|desc=|link=popup|align=right|width=640|height=426]NESTLED between the rocks near Coffee Bay that were once stripped bare by beachcombers, signs of life for the Wild Coast’s most prized delicacy – mussels – are slowly starting to return.

For eight years community members and managers have worked hand-in- hand as part of a project to re-establish mussels on the rocks.

Today, Coffee Bay’s mussel rehabilitation project feeds some 60 families and teaches the community the value of a scheme in which care for the environment reaps its own rewards in the form of a valuable protein source.

“A study done by Walter Sisulu University showed that many children in this area depend on mussels for at least 30 percent of their protein intake per day,” said project manager Jeff Brown. At one of the sites at Nqutheni, some 2km south of Coffee Bay, waves crash over well-established mussel beds.

(Registered Co-op: 2008/001977/24)
Maphuzi A/A, Coffee Bay, Mqanduli, 5082
Tel: 047-575 9015, Fax: 085-532 3508

Masande Nursery was implemented by the Water Sisulu University with funding through DEAT SRPP - and building of the nursery and office buildings started in April 2007, with seedling production commencing in September 2007.

As a registered local co-op (Masande Crop Production Agricultural Cooperative) serving the Coffee Bay communities and the greater KSD district, we propagate and supply quality vegetable seedlings (spinach, cabbage, onion, butternut, cauliflower, etc.) and fruit trees to our customers at cost effective prices.

Our large production capacity, and volume discount pricing, allows us to supply local commercial farmers very competitively.

Val Payn

Although the Wild Coast mining controversy is often depicted primarily as an environmental issue, this portrayal misses core elements of the debate. Yes, there are many grave environmental concerns about the venture. But at its heart the dispute is about land use.

It is about who holds power over the land, and who has the right to determine what happens on that land. It is about what type of land use will be most advantageous to poor communities who live on the land. It is about the right of rural communities to self determination. It is about the rights of land occupants to be part of decision making processes that impact upon their livelihoods. It is also about what political and economic processes would best serve the interests and needs of rural communities for posterity?

[img_assist|nid=419|title=Xolobeni friends at HitW|desc=|link=popup|align=right|width=320|height=240]Yesterday we met with a delegation of people from Xolobeni and Mzamba who form part of the "Innovation Programme". They are investigating sustainable development projects to implement around Xolobeni, to prove that the area is self-sustainable; and came to see our Mussel Rehabilitation Project and the Food & Nutritional programme in action.

We started off to Nqutheni (our largest rehabilitation site to date) at about 10.30am, to make it there for low tide at 11'ish. Despite 6m to 8m waves that blew in with the gale from the day before, the site was still fully accessible, and we managed to get a full view of the mussel coverage on the rocks at East Nqutheni, and "rooting" baby mussels in the irrigation pipes - which are cable-tied down to eyebolts drilled into the rocks - on the West.

Click on the image for higher resolution.

Download the Inkscape .svg file here:

11 July 2008
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When I arrived here in 2006, about the first thing I did was put in applications for the school at Hole in the Wall to become a TuXlab. I have been in the IT industry since 1988 and have a huge amount of experience on everything from routers to servers to financial systems to web and graphic design; but Linux and networking are my forte, and helping the schools seemed like a perfect thing to do with all that expertise. I phoned and emailed and hoped and waited, but after 6 months of that eventually realized I was making zero headway with TuXlabs, and I asked my friend Ant Brookes to please put me in touch with anyone who could help. Ant put me in touch with Bernie Amler, Director of Social Responsibility at Uniforum; and my first call to Bernie lasted about an hour (cell phone rates = ouch!) and was most interesting indeed. Especially as Bernie didn't just want to do one at a time, but as many schools in the region as had power and available space.

Some have been arguing from the outset that the valuation of $18 million which Xolco have to pay for their 26% stake (minimum BEE criteria) was baseless, and proved that no negotiation took place with truly affected parties; as they obviously never took negotiable access rights and royalties into account.

Yet Ehlobo Heavy Minerals, the original BEE partners who walked away from the deal because of environmental issues and other implications, were only going to pay a third of that price for their majority stake.

Read TFA from Business Report:

A few reasons why the mining should not be allowed to proceed:

1. The strip mining method which is planned to be used is Dry Mining. This will entail a huge dust fallout which will affect all residents in the area (plant, animal and human... and especially the breeding river estuarines). Furthermore the Wet Separation Plant (WSP) which is then used to separate the Heavy Mineral Concentrate (HMC) requires 2 MILLION liters of water per hour, 24 hours a day... which will affect the water table of this fragile biosphere HUGELY.

"The state of our environment is fragile and needs every citizen’s involvement to protect it. Our Constitution is one of the few in the world that gives its people the right to a clean and healthy environment.

At my inauguration, I stressed the link between our soil and a personal sense of renewal. Our soil, along with all our natural resources, is a precious asset that we cannot squander.

Our people are bound up with the future of the land. Our national renewal depends upon the way we treat our land, our water, our sources of energy, and the air we breathe.

The end of apartheid closed a shabby and divisive chapter in the history of our country. As we go into the future together, we need to be united in building a sustainable basis for the use of our resources.

50/50 will be broadcasting a report on the Beach Protest March/Walk, and the story of ‘Scorpion’ Dimane - one of the leaders of the Crisis Committee, - (who unfortunately wasn’t able to be there), tonight Monday 11 August at 7.30pm on SABC TV 2. It includes damning footage shot last year when the EIA process commenced, testifying to allegations of bribery... and worse... to force the local residents to support the mining scheme.

Apparently DME have agreed to join a studio debate on the matter, to be filmed on Wednesday next week, and broadcast the following week.

Skulduggery and dune mining
(From Noseweek)
by Erika Schutze

Residents in the Xolobeni district in Pondoland find themselves the victims of the manipulative tactics of an Australian mining company on the hunt for titanium deposits, the tunnel vision of the Department of Minerals and Energy, as well as a couple of scheming ANC bigwigs (ex of the Department of Trade and Industry) intent on becoming the BEE beneficiaries of the proposed mining deal -- without ever having consulted those to whom the land belongs.

Moreover, the BEE deal that has been set up effectively lands the local tribal shareholders in massive debt for the 26 percentage of shares that they do get: they may only earn dividends after their shares have been paid off, projected to take at least three years if revenues match expectation.

[img_assist|nid=344|title=Community leaders|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=320|height=227]Hundreds of people walked from Wild Coast Sun to meet the people of Xolobeni.

Despite the pro-mining lobby tricking many members into not attending (by announcing a food-basket handout for the same day) it is apparent that the community, as represented by hundreds of people present, sangomas and the headman, are totally opposed to the strip mining of 22km of their pristine grassland and dunes.

In fact they have threatened to revolt, like the Pondo Uprising of 1960, if the government grants the mining license.

These pictures do very little to convey the beauty and incredible historic / archeological value of this portion of the irreplaceable Pondoland Center of Endemism.

Benny the Tour Guide can be contacted on 079-1985 975 / or through Sonya on 074-336 7862 - for a guided day-trip.

See for yourself why we must protect our children's ecological heritage.

[img_assist|nid=308|title=hole in the wall|desc=|link=popup|align=right|width=318|height=240]There are many things in this world that are beyond my understanding or capacity to articulate clearly. I feel not only inadequate, but also threatened by the situation surrounding me at Hole in the Wall, or rather, I truly fear taking a public stand. I don't have the clarity or writing capability to do the story true justice:

Sometime in 2003 the headman, Mzoxolo Ngubenani, was shot and killed while in Rustenburg. According to local sources, his estranged wife, Nowinase, had left him about 15 years prior to his death and she had been living with another man in Johannesburg. Shortly after Mzoxolo's murder she returned to the region with a son of approximately 9 years of age whom she claimed was his legitimate heir, and she was then installed as regent / headman by the king of the abaThembu, Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo.