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Most dangerous sport

During my recent efforts at skiing and getting quite nervous at the number of people I saw being carted off on a daily basis, either by helicopters or ambulances to a hospital, I decided to research how dangerous skiing was.  What surprised me is that it fell a lot further down the list of dangerous sports than a number of sports I take part in!  The number one most dangerous sport in the world, and I certainly don’t take part in that, is base jumping.  That has quite a high fatality rate which I am not surprised about, where if people jump off rocks and try and glide with parachutes or even smaller bodysuits these days and avoid hitting other rocks or landing too hard!  The second most dangerous sport is cycling followed by running.  At first thought you may think they are very healthy and indeed they are.  I did not go into the statistics, but no doubt a lot of the danger in those sports involves motorcars and being hit and injured by a motorcar while you are running or riding your bicycle.  That will obviously give you a claim in South Africa against the Road Accident Fund, but that is not much consolation!  It is just a reminder that statistics are always fascinating, and that some of the healthy things you do are dangerous in their own way – even walking on the side of the road can be dangerous, as we know, not to mention shopping at Sandton City during an armed robbery - that occasion, that happens infrequently but does happen, when an armed gang runs in and holds up a jewellery shop.  I don’t think on the whole though that it is any excuse not to do them, but it is no wonder that cyclists are known as “organ donors” in South Africa, given the driving on our roads.   

I don’t like riding a bike out on the streets and prefer to ride around a gated community, but not everyone lives in a gated community with a little less, and slower traffic in it.  I think because you run at a slower speed you almost have more time to react to a bad driver than you do as a cyclist and to me, running is a lot safer than cycling.  Both cycling and running, although it is very boring and the scenery does not change unless you are looking at a video screen, can be done indoors or at your local gym.   

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 19-Mar-19   |  Permalink   |  10 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
A time to move off Instagram

I don’t think there is much benefit in most social media, but a couple of weeks ago I decided to suspend my Instagram account as well.  The reality of the matter is that people out there are not interested in beautiful pictures, what they are interested in is actually women dressed in bikinis, or less, and what I would consider inappropriate photographs, at least in terms of publishing them to the world as opposed to one’s boyfriend!  Anybody who has those types of photos has thousands of followers, if not tens of thousands, and what was incredibly interesting to me was watching and following for a while some of the friends of a young relative of mine.  I met the friends, I saw the life they lived - and what I saw in real life and what I saw on Instagram was completely different.   

The Instagram “model”, when she is standing in your kitchen, without makeup with her extremely unattractive latest boyfriend, does not even begin to resemble all the bikini g-string type photographs she has on her profile.  Another person, whose parents I know are financially struggling, only post pictures to his Instagram account that shows him wearing a R15,000 jacket and standing in front of private jets on the way to a skiing holiday.  I have watched that myself in my offices over the years where staff will say that candidate attorney X is very wealthy, because her parents have given her the latest new car.  Nobody ever stops to enquire as to whether that car is financed, like so many people’s cars are, and whether or not that is really a sign that mom and dad are “wealthy” or are just taking on more and more finance and living on credit?  And how do we define wealth anyway – but things bought on credit or actual cash in the bank or shares? 

I think the reality is what we see on Instagram is a distortion, it brings out the worst in humanity – or as somebody else puts it rather bluntly, “encourages more assholes” and it ends up making half of the people sick with jealousy.  I would be interested in something if a beautiful picture of a mountain with snow on it or a picture of the Lighthouse at Umhlanga Rocks are always rewarded with followers, but truthfully, let’s be honest, to get followers you need to have three 21 year olds standing in g-strings in front of the Lighthouse while using a whole lot of hash tags like #sexy #instamodel #gstring – you may laugh, but that’s the reality of who generally has the most followers or likes! 

Do you really get deep happiness and satisfaction out of posting show off pics or seeing those of others?  Does anyone else really care as they rack up those “likes” on your account or are they secretly jealous and just liking your pics so you will “like” theirs? 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Friday 15-Mar-19   |  Permalink   |  15 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
It did not happen easily for me

I think when people see a successful business they automatically assume that the people involved in that business had a wonderful run, things went well, and success flowed easily.  That certainly was not the case for me. I opened my law business in 1995, having just finished my articles with David Levithan who largely did commercial work, insolvency law and who previously had a name for high profile divorces including that of Anneline Kriel-Kerzner.  I thought that I was hard working and always had been and it would not really take too much for me to be successful.   

The harsh reality hit home quite soon after that.  Within a few months I was not able to pay my rent at Constantia Centre in Rosebank just off Jan Smuts Avenue, and shortly thereafter I received a summons for my rent.  Eventually things turned around, but very slowly.  I made the mistakes that young attorneys sometimes do – for example I did work for a client who later pointed out to me that while I had done the work for him I never had a fee agreement signed by the entity on whose behalf he was instructing me and in whose name the litigation was done, namely a family Trust of his, and he promptly failed to pay my bills.  Other work that had been given to me by another attorney turned out to be given to me on a “1,000 year tradition of attorneys not charging attorneys for their personal work” an apparent legal principle, confirmed by the Law Society, that most people don’t see to honour now.  He too did not pay me for the work I had done for his family members, saying he gave it to me so I had something to do!  It really was touch and go sometimes as to whether I would survive or not and if it was not for a loan from Nedbank and an overdraft for a princely sum at that time of R25,000, I might not have made it.   

I guess what I am saying is it did not come easy and the thing I learnt is that it does not matter how many University degrees you have (3 in my case) or how hard working you were, because if you could not attract the work and bringing it in through the door then your hard work and intelligence would count for absolutely nothing because you would not have any work to do.  The most important thing in law or any other business, if it is your business, is the ability to bring in the work or in legal terms “to be a rainmaker”.  Any business can find people to do the work, although that doesn’t mean they will be as good as the attorneys at my firm.  Its harder to find someone who can not only do the work but bring in the work or attract work to the firm.   

That person is often also the most stressed individual in the firm and it is certainly not a role that most people would choose for themselves – and I don’t blame them.  I guess with hindsight it all seems so obvious, but it is bizarre, between all of those degrees at University that nobody at any stage ever tells you that it does not matter how good your marks are or how hard you work, if you open your own business and you cannot bring in clients, you will never be able to use your ability.   

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 12-Mar-19   |  Permalink   |  18 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
South Africans are very direct

I have always known that, amongst most of my friends, I am much more direct than most people and say what I am thinking.  What I did not know is that most South Africans are considered very direct compared to most other cultures.  A lot of cultures, including the British and Americans, will fumble around politely taking ages to eventually get to whatever point they are trying to make.  South Africans are much more direct and I in particular am more direct than most South Africans.   

While some cultures might consider this rude, I think it is probably one of our specialities – after all, maybe it is the directness of all the negotiators before our 1994 elections that stopped South Africa descending into civil war.  Never forget that the television cameras, broadcasters and journalists of the world all arrived in South Africa and quite frankly, they were not here for a peaceful transition, but they were here for what everyone expected to be the outbreak of some sort of civil war.   Maybe that South African ability to get to the point, address it and tell each other where we think we are wrong or right and make our point, might just have helped a bit.  It is somewhat disappointing that in the younger generation we are seeing a lot more “sensitive souls” who find anything that is said to them rude or hurtful and don’t want a little bit of honest truth to be spoken – some people are just lazy but try to hide behind other excuses as to the reality of why they are not doing well. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Friday 08-Mar-19   |  Permalink   |  17 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Canada grows its population

Canada has targeted highly skilled people for quite some time.  Right now, there are approximately 570,000 international students in Canada which is 60% up on three years ago.  In the last 12 months they increased their population through immigration by 425,000 people.  In particular, they are looking for entrepreneurs and MBA’s and when I read about things like this I always wonder why we in South Africa did not target more of the people from Eastern Europe after communism collapsed.   

So many talented people wanted to get out of Ukraine, Russia and the old Soviet Bloc States.  That is an incredible amount of highly qualified people including doctors and engineers who were all looking for a new place to call home.  I guess racial politics in South Africa would have made that difficult, but I do think that countries that want to succeed need to always be ready to target talented people in a country, who are not happy with that country anymore, to bring them to their country.  Hardworking people end up paying a lot of tax to their new country and are always an asset to the new country.  One can only imagine, for example, how many people want to get out of Venezuela now. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 05-Mar-19   |  Permalink   |  17 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Apple takes a fall

Most of you are no doubt aware of the big stumble in the Apple share price during the end of 2018 and again on 3 January 2019.  Subsequent to that it improved a bit but is still about 30% down from its highs of last year.  Apple blames a reduction in iPhone sales in China saying that, amongst other things, existing customers are sticking with older models but just getting new battery replacements for their iPhones.   

Analysts say that the problem is that Apple is charging too much for its phones now and that is putting off many people, in particular the Chinese.  The iPhone still brings in two-thirds of Apple’s profits and so, when the company warned on 3 January 2019 that its results in China were looking bad the share went down 10% alone on that day.  One of the investors who will be hurt by the big drop is Warren Buffett, who invested in Apple at a late stage – probably more than twice the price I sold my Apple shares for after making a profit.  Of course, that means I sold my Apple shares too early, but Warren Buffett, who often complained that he did not understand the technology shares like Google, got involved in Apple very late.   

Having said that, I have always seen a particular tendency in the market, particularly with American shares, where for a while they praise they can do no wrong and then for about 6 months everyone talks them down saying how bad they are and after that they talk them back up again.  I would imagine people buying Apple shares at round about the current prices, while they will not make huge profits, are likely to see some gains.   

*I am not an investment advisor and you should discuss any investments you make with your investment advisor and not rely on my thoughts and opinions in this blog. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Friday 01-Mar-19   |  Permalink   |  17 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker

Enlightenment Now is similar to other books that I reviewed on my blog, in terms of its view of how we live now compared to the past.  There are so many people who think that society has not improved, things have gotten worse, even though factually that is absolute nonsense.  The book goes into great detail as to how society has improved and how, for example, 86% of people when surveyed consider themselves somewhat happy or very happy whereas, if you ask other people how many of the people around them are happy, they estimate that at 44%.  In other words, most people make the mistake of thinking people around us are unhappier than in fact they are.   

I will not go into all the details, because they are covered in this book and in other books, but by way of example, basically 200 years ago only 12% of people could read, the average person lived until the age of 30 and you were not considered poor as long as your family had a loaf of bread!  Nowadays, as he writes, people complain that their aeroplane waited on the runway for 45 minutes and they were delayed.  People are very upset about that, but they don’t stop to think that they no longer walk on the side of the road next to their donkey with pots clanging on the donkey’s side!  We have air travel, high definition TV’s, Internet, we can read, we earn more than human beings ever did before and more leisure time, etc.   People have mystical memories of the “happy and better” times when we ploughed the land and lived on the land forgetting that generally that job was given to women, it was absolutely back-breaking work and the second that jobs became available in factories as many women who could, got off the farms and into the factories rather than to actually do farm labour for a minimal reward. 

Yes, human beings still whine, complain and think that things could be better, and perhaps that is why we progress all the time, but we must never delude ourselves. We are living in the greatest times in history when a small fraction of people die for the same reasons they used to die – whether it is the murder rate, wars, starvation or malnutrition, etc.  More than 90% of the world’s population used to live in poverty.  Today it is 10% and declining and it is really confined to one or two African countries like the Congo.  In that regard we forget about other ways that life is better - for example that young South African men no longer have to go and spend 2 years in the Army doing compulsory military service.  Lets remind ourselves how many people ran away from South Africa to avoid that compulsory military service, including my cousins who left for Australia approximately some 35 years ago rather than have my cousin forced to be conscripted into the apartheid Army.   

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 25-Feb-19   |  Permalink   |  23 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Jacob Zuma to pay his own legal fees

I think it was a fantastic judgment in the North Gauteng High Court that former President, Jacob Zuma, must pay his legal fees.  He has basically run a scorched-earth policy of trying to avoid ever getting to court in most of his cases for almost a decade, using taxpayers’ money, and it is about time he starts paying some of the legal costs himself.  The Democratic Alliance had brought the case to set aside the agreement allowing Zuma’s defence team in the corruption case against him to be paid by the government and they were successful with the case.  Of course, we can expect that Zuma will challenge that, because right now he has to return the money that the State has already paid for his pending cases.  Apparently, the fees already paid by all of us as taxpayers already total between R15 million and R32 million. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 19-Feb-19   |  Permalink   |  27 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
The year ahead

There are a number of important things in the year ahead.  Most importantly
the elections in May.  Before that though there will be the Budget Speech
towards the end of February and the credit rating agencies will decide, once
again, on whether to keep South Africa's rating above junk level.  Those
will all have a huge impact on the Rand and the economy as a whole.

On a less serious note though, there are some great sporting events ahead
for us including the Cricket World Cup which will be held in England and
Wales with the Final in London. That begins on 30 May and ends almost 6
weeks later on 14 July.  Will we finally win a Cricket World Cup?  The Rugby
World Cup, and I have written about Japan and rugby many times, will be held
in Japan this year.  The Japanese are massive rugby fans and absolutely
deserve to hold the World Cup.  The Rugby World Cup kicks off on 20
September with Japan playing Russia and that runs through until the Final on
Saturday, 2 November.  

It will be a tremendously interesting year and those of you who are not
interested in politics or the economy have lots of sport and major events to
focus on!

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 14-Feb-19   |  Permalink   |  29 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Lammie at the Johannesburg Zoo

I must say, especially with the Johannesburg Zoo probably less than 1km down the road from us in Jan Smuts Avenue, the story of Lammie caught my eye.  She is a 39 year old female elephant living all alone at Johannesburg Zoo.  Her partner died in September 2018 and her parents died long ago.  What is even more disturbing is that she had a brother that was relocated to a Zoo in France.  I understand the role that Zoos play in promoting a love for animals to people who sometimes cannot afford to see them in their natural environment, such as the Kruger National Park, but I cannot see why you need to split up a family in what is already an unnatural environment.

The EMS Foundation and the Elephant Reintegration Trust are all campaigning for her to now be moved to a sanctuary where she can be together with other elephants.  Let’s hope the Johannesburg City Mayor, Herman Mashaba, gives some consideration to this and taking some action.  Apparently now she spends most of her days just standing lonely outside the gate of the elephant hut.  You can e-mail the Mayor at his e-mail address: executivemayor@joburg.org.za.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 11-Feb-19   |  Permalink   |  31 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
John Bogle dies

The investment world recently lost John Bogle.  Many of you will look at me with wild eyes asking who on earth John Bogle was.  He was a man that pioneered cost-effective investment into unit trusts as they are known in South Africa or ETF’s as they are known elsewhere.  His company, Vanguard, became the number one ETF firm in America and sparked off imitation companies such as SATRIX in South Africa.  They basically do low cost investing in the Stock Exchange generally just mimicking the entire index.  In other words, if the market goes up as a whole, your shares go up as a whole and if the market goes down they go down. 

The biggest problem is that over the last 30 or 40 years, even longer, there are very few professionals, although they always say they can beat the market, who actually consistently beat the market.  With an index fund at a cost of 0,2% a year, a professional at a cost of about 2% a year, is a lot more expensive if they don’t beat the index fund (which they usually don’t).  In other words, “professional investment experts” charge almost 10 times more, even if 0,2% to 2% does not seem like very much more, and in return for that they often don’t even match the index and often do worse than it.  There will come a time when they will probably start doing better than the index – when that is, I don’t know, other than to say that every year they announce that this is the year for active investment compared to the passive investment of just buying an index, and so far, on the whole and for most of them,  they have not been right.  Warren Buffett also had a bet with a famous manager a few years ago where the investor pretty much guaranteed he could beat the index over a 5 or 10 year period and ultimately failed miserably in his bet with Warren Buffett.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 05-Feb-19   |  Permalink   |  24 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
NFL football v rugby

I have watched what we call American football, known by Americans simply as football, compared to what they would call “soccer”, since I was about 21.  In those days it was Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49’ers who was the star quarterback.  In those days I used to naively think that American football was more of a softie sport, compared to rugby and that rugby was far tougher and more violent.

There is no doubt that rugby certainly has its victims with a number of schoolboys paralysed every year, particularly those who play in the scrum, but I have realised over the years that football is far more violent and injury prone than rugby.  The padding really does not help you much, if somebody uses a helmet to dive, almost like a spear into your chest and ram that helmet into you.  At that point you would probably prefer that they were not wearing a helmet and were using their own head to inflict that damage on you! 

In recent years, with the litigation we have all read about, we all know now from the repeated concussions that NFL players suffer, many have committed suicide and suffer from an injury known as CTE, correctly known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.  Of the brains of 111 dead NFL players that were examined, 110 were found to have CTE, which is basically a degenerative disease linked to repeated blows to the head.  It is an extremely dangerous sport, far more dangerous than rugby and that is leaving out all the broken legs, etc that are commonly suffered.  If you ever had the chance to watch the 2015 movie “Concussion” starring Will Smith and see the opening scenes showing NFL tackles then you will never, after seeing that, ever think again that rugby is more dangerous than National Football League (NFL). The Superbowl this weekend stars the Los Angeles Rams against the New England Patriots led, once again, by 41 year old Tom Brady (married to former supermodel Gisele Bundchen), and the halftime show Adam Levine and Maroon 5.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Friday 01-Feb-19   |  Permalink   |  34 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It

Johannesburg based attorney specializing in personal injury matters including Road Accident Fund claims and medical negligence matters. My interests include golf, reading and the internet and the way it is constantly developing. I have a passion for life and a desire for less stress!
Have you been injured in a motor accident?
Recent Settlements
Lumbar spine compression fractures R2 500 000.00
Severe hip fracture requiring total hip replacements R3 305 000.00
Head injury with disfiguring facial scaring of a young female R4 000 000.00
Whiplash and compression fracture of the spine R4 000 000.00
Broken Femora R1 914 416.00
Broken Femur and Patella R770 881.15
Loss of Support for two minor children R2 649 968.00
Fracture of the right Humerus, fracture of the pubi rami, abdominal injuries, head injury R4 613 352.95
Fracture of the right femur, Fracture of the right tibia-fibula R1 200 000.00
Broken Jaw, Right Shoulder Injury, Mild head injury R1 100 000.00
Degloving injuries to the hips, legs and ankle R877 773.00
Head injury R 2 734 295.12
Fractured pelvis R1 355 881.53
Damaged tendons in left arm R679 688.03
Fractured left hand R692 164.48
Amputated right lower leg with loss of income R3 921 000.00
Fractured left foot R600 000.00
Head injury and multiple facial fractures R5 000 000.00
Head injury, compound fracture right femur, right tib and fib fracture, and injury to the spleen R4 529 672.06
Head injury, multiple facial fractures, collapsed lung and a fracture to the right frontal bone R2 890 592.77
Loss of support R5 144 000.00

 


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