Letters

Dear Editor


Bribery comes before a fall

Your July Editorial (nose189) is a reminder that bribery by any other name is blatant theft. The consensual agreement between individuals, up or down the rungs of the corporate ladder, to defraud any entity (public or private), will be that organisation’s/state’s death-knell. 

Bribery negates quality, expertise, innovation and incentive – the cornerstones that uphold competition aka free enterprise. The practice stifles SMMEs and strips any economy of the promise of new growth and, of course, better products (or employees). Practise bribery and face the destruction of an economy; turn a blind eye and witness the fall of a nation.

Soma Wallett
Mbombela, Mpumalanga.

Praise for Sue Segar

Another great cover article by contributor Sue Segar on Imtiaz Sooliman (nose188) following on from the (nose187) article on Mmusi Maimane. 

Is the the sudden disappearance of columnists Bheki Mashile and Harold Strachan permanent or temporary? If the former, both will be missed.

Martin Birtwhistle
Durban

Thanks for the compliments. Both Bheki and Harold are back. Nice to know that they were missed – by many! Ed.

Sooliman, wives and the president

I am an intelligent woman and there are many like me who do not believe men should have more than one wife. The Gift of the Givers has given himself two wives. I found Imtiaz’s comments on the subject a bit glib, far too casual. This has changed my opinion of him. 

Also, how can he be proud that he can tell the president of this country that they “meet another time”? Shame on you Imtiaz!

Sheny Medani
Johannesburg

Cold (on) Turkey, thanks to Defy

I needed a new Dishwasher and, after over 40 years of satisfactory service with never a guarantee claim from Defy products, I was happy to support a local Durban manufacturer.

Imagine my surprise on delivery to discover it was made in Turkey. It did not survive the guarantee period. Over the course of some five months, two visits from a technician and twice being taken away for several weeks at a time, they eventually agreed to replace the machine.

That was just about tolerable but during this period it was almost impossible to contact the service department. I had the same problem as Jaron Tobias (nose189) – when you pressed  the suggested button or went through the reception you were cut off. I eventually had to drive to the service department and establish names and  email addresses to be able to communicate.

The staff were all helpful but apparently the months-long snafu on the phones was a management problem and the company was now Turkish-owned and that is why Jaron Tobias was told they were not available as they were overseas.

Scott McGregor
Westville

Internet and age of narcissism

Not before time, the question of the comment facility for news reports on the internet has been raised (Editorial, nose188). There is a general perception that the ability to respond online to media content, together with social networking in general, has enhanced democracy and broadened debate. This is a total fallacy.

Even in quality newspapers much comment is total drivel and contributes nothing to political discourse or common understanding. What was previously restricted to dinner table or public-bar chatter is now dignified by global broadcast. Sometimes, inexplicably, it even becomes the news itself. Such comment generally reveals the nature of our age: narcissistic, egotistic and trivial, with frequent excursions into ignorance, racism and ill-mannered rants.

Christopher Merrett
Pietermaritzburg

Eskom’s missing ingredients

The most popular conversation topic in South Africa today is Eskom. Once well ahead in the game, Eskom is now lame and incapable of providing sufficient electricity. Noseweek has suggested renewable energy sources might help.

Let the numbers do the talking: solar power does not work at night when we want to turn our lights on. Assuming the peak demand in the evenings is to be supported using batteries, it would require a 6,000MW battery resource.

Back in the late 1980s, Southern California Edison took possession of the world’s biggest battery (a Guinness record). It was used to store electricity during off-peak hours and to feed electricity back into the grid during peak hours. The battery consisted of eight rows of modified submarine battery cells, 1,032 cells per row, a total of 8,256 cells. It covered an area equal to a large supermarket.

Eskom would need 600 batteries of equal size. Solar power needs 10 acres of panels per megawatt. To supply the peak load, it would require 60,000 acres of solar panels, all to be kept in good running condition. Forget it.

What Eskom needs are men at the helm with balls and brains.

John Fetter
Bryanston

You’re way out of date. Compared to the monster batteries of the 1980s that you describe, current batteries are a fraction the size and produce 1,000% more power for way longer. As for panel space, there are thousands of acres of suburban rooftops available, and each householder will be responsible for maintaining his own – and well-motivated to do so. I can already hear my sons being asked: Daddy did you really have something called Eskom when you were a kid? What did it do?
Ed.

The vulgar truth

Harold Strachan’s ruminations upon Darwinian extinction and invasion (nose187) reminded me of another north-European who wrote on the same subject with startling clarity and devastating wit.

Twenty-five years after Darwin published The Origin of Species, Friedrich Nietzsche asked: “What? Does that, to speak vulgarly, not mean: God is refuted but the devil is not? …And who the devil compels you to speak vulgarly?!”

Steve Pain
Riversdale

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Submitted by : Elio Boezio of PORT ELIZABETH on 2015-07-30 19:15:04
In the UK, if you install your own power-generation equipment, you can "sell" any surplus back to the grid - effectively running your electricity meter in reverse. Apparently, this is not legal in SA. Can anyone confirm?

Editor's Note
Eskom does not yet have the system to deal with this possibility. It requires special technology and fine management, but it will, inevitably come about. Many experts predict Eskom, like other electricity utilities, will eventually simply manage the grid and itself generate little or no electricity – Ed.
 
Submitted by : Donn Edwards of ALDARA PARK on 2015-07-30 13:32:53
Eskom’s missing ingredients:

Those large solar plants in the Northern Cape don't use batteries at all: the sunlight heats up liquid salt, and the heated salt can be used at any time of the day or night to generate steam for turbines that generate electricity.

There are also pump-storage schemes, like the Tugela-Vaal one, that use surplus power (i.e. late at night) to pump water up the Drakensberg, and then let it run back through the turbines during peak periods to supply power. When Eskom talks about "building up reserves" on the weekend, they are referring in part to this system.

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