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Choosing sides in a war

I am not one of those who like fights, but once you are in a fight it often drags others in.  Invariably one has to choose a side to the fight.  Remaining neutral sounds great, but it did not really work out for Switzerland during World War II and invariably people get dragged into a fight, one way or another, particularly if the fight drags on.  Those that choose to remain neutral are not even necessarily respected more by the other side – one side will invariably think they are scared and the other side will think they are protecting some personal interest, or secret alliance, at the expense of what is right.  It is a very delicate situation of course and one would always hope that fights don’t take place, and that you can avoid being involved in one in the first place.  I do think there is quite some truth when there is a war you invariably have to be on one side or the other. 

I had my fair share of fights, including at the Law Society, but I generally resolved them by standing up for what I believe is right.  For example, when members of the Council wanted to replace a Johannesburg vacancy for the Council with an attorney who did not practice or reside in Johannesburg, I fought for that candidate to be from Johannesburg only – because that is what was right. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 30-May-18   |  Permalink   |  38 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Business trend of subscriptions

I have noticed a big switch in a lot of business models recently towards subscriptions.  In computers, the first experience I had of it was with Adobe that stopped selling PhotoShop, but now only allows you to subscribe to it on a monthly basis.  That model is now getting replicated in more and more businesses.  It obviously always existed in newspapers and magazines, but it did not use to exist in razors and shaving creams with a number of companies now sending you a monthly box with some shaving cream and some new blades for your razor.  That is extended to companies like Stance who sell trendy socks and now would send you 2 or 3 pairs of socks once a month or every 3 months, depending on which you choose, with a variety of their new design socks.  It is also becoming the trend in apps – many of them now no longer just sell you the app, but you take a licence for one year and I think that will become the huge trend in dating apps as well.  Amongst the apps that I use that already do this are GolfShot as well as Strava, an app which I use for running and riding my bike that tells me how far I have run, measures my heart rate against that and measures the elevation, amongst other things.  It also updates you as to what your friends have done on that particular day and lets you know how fast your time is for that particular stretch of the road compared to other people who have ridden or run that stretch of the road that day.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 28-May-18   |  Permalink   |  19 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Trying Yoga

I have been spending quite a bit of time recently trying to fit in 3 or 4 sessions of yoga a week – in fact, on one occasion I did 5 days in a row.  I have to say I am not very good at it, but I do think it is very good and it certainly helps get you to a more peaceful state in the day, if only for a few hours, after doing it.  It is also one of those things where, without being able to explain it eloquently, you just feel that it is something your body needs.  When you have done a few sessions and you don’t go for a few days, you get that sense that your body is aching for you to go back.

On a more funny side I sometimes idly theorise that yoga has been made popular by women simply to illustrate how useless men are at some types of strength!  In theory it must be something that involves strength, but I find that the men in a class are almost always the most useless.  There are ladies who are in far worse outward physical shape than some of the male participants in the class, but they can still support the entire weight of their body on their hands and do all sorts of other tricks that most of the men are absolutely struggling with.  I go to every class with comfort knowing that, unless there is another man in the class, I am already going to be the most useless person in the entire class and so there is certainly no actual pressure on me!  - and no, of course I don’t do things like headstands – I struggle to balance on one foot standing up in the first place, let alone standing on my head!  Yoga, like golf can do sometimes as well, is pretty good at putting you in your place until you get a little bit more skilled – at which point no doubt there will be other tricks and classes that will put your right back to the bottom again. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 24-May-18   |  Permalink   |  37 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
South Africa makes international news again - corruption this time

South Africa was featured in quite a few very lengthy articles recently in some major media in the USA, most notably the New York Times.  The theme of the articles has been that corruption is rampant in South Africa and more needs to be done about it.  I think South Africa is in a very positive place at the moment, and they should heed these warnings and make sure that they send out a message to all of those involved over the last 5 years or so, maybe more, on what has been going on with government contracts and business, etc, and deal with it appropriately.  One of the problems that the authorities will face is that the ranks of the prosecutors have been stripped in many respects and a lot of very talented people have been lost to the prosecuting authorities due to the shenanigans of the previous administration.  They wanted weaker prosecuting authorities and have done a lot of damage to those institutions as well as to SARS.  That is a pity, because SARS has been a major success story in the new South Africa and our courts and prosecutors have repeatedly stood up over the years and shown how independent they are.  We can really be proud of the judiciary in South Africa – there are many countries, not just in Africa, but all over the world, where the judiciary has not stood up to an all powerful President, but they did in South Africa.  The bottom line to me is that you need to give more money to the Department of Justice – prosecutors need to be paid more, more prosecutors need to be hired and we also need more Judges.  Give the Department of Justice the money and staff it needs and also focus of course on the investigation of these crimes by the police and corruption will be stamped out.  The main thing that allows corruption is when people believe they can get away with it and at the moment in South Africa people believe they can get away with anything and unfortunately, most of the time we cannot argue that that is true.  Until that changes, corruption will continue to run rampant.  I don’t think it can happen overnight, but it can be done if the right resources are given to the Department of Justice.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 21-May-18   |  Permalink   |  21 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Getting a new phone

I was interested to hear that the prospects of Apple and other cell phone retailers are looking somewhat worse at the moment.  That is because, with subsidies for buying phones have not gone down over the years, people are taking longer and longer to upgrade.  Apparently, Apple owners upgrade every 2.5 years and owners of other brands upgrade every 2.7 years, but people are not feeling the need anymore to upgrade every single year.  That in turn is obviously hurting their profits, because they are just not selling as much as they used to and I think that the iPhone X has been the first sort of surprise for them – where it just has not sold as many as they would think. 

I would give another perspective – and my perspective is of someone who does get a new phone every year and who in recent years has felt that quite honestly, the upgrades to the phones and the video cameras, while good, have not been as good as I would have hoped for or expected.  As an example, my professional camera takes pictures that are 55Mb big, which obviously allows amazing detail and clarity.  Phones were catching up all the time, but they are miles behind that – at most, excluding a pano picture, which of course you can make huge, and even then it is only 20Mb, most photographs are topping out at about 5Mb.  They don’t have the same sort of clarity and detail I would have expected by now on the basis that if it was 4Mb last year it would be 8Mb this year and 16Mb next year, etc, etc, just doubling each year and that has not happened in the last few years.  Yes, the portrait mode on the iPhone is superb and really does allow you, with the different light settings that you can choose, to take far more professional pictures than previous models of the phone would, but that in itself is never going to be a major selling point to a huge number of people.  Yes, they seem to last an hour longer each year than the year before – but I think people want more than that – they want to see something more dramatic.  A lot of the phones in recent years just have not had that type of “you have to have it” feature and I think as a result, while of course these brands continue to be world leading and making billions of dollars in profit, the sales are beginning to slow down.   I obviously should also correct myself by saying that of course Apple is not just a company that sells phones – it sells iPads, Apple watches, and it increasingly makes a lot of its money through the sale of apps and music on its various stores.  It is definitely not just a one trick pony type of business!

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 17-May-18   |  Permalink   |  32 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
You don’t care about the news, but you do about the petrol price

A lot of people say they don’t care much about the news and it does not interest them.  One of the reasons I think that should be is that the news generally affects you – whether it is in terms of investments you make in yourself and your education or in the areas where you purchase a property or when you buy shares.  It also affects you in more mundane, day to day things like the petrol price.  For example, right now, it is fairly obvious that we should see petrol price increases at the beginning of June.  We have seen some Rand weakness recently against the Dollar and oil is priced internationally in Dollars, so that in itself should see the price going up.  The other factor will be America pulling out of the agreement with Iran which has led to the oil price also going up.  Those two factors together make it pretty guaranteed that there will be a petrol price increase at the beginning of June and it just becomes a question of how much.  Any time there are political problems, strife or threats of war in the Middle East, of course you will also see a spike in oil or gas prices and there is certainly more chance of that at the moment than there may have been a month or two ago. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 15-May-18   |  Permalink   |  35 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It

I enjoyed reading a short little book recently called “On Tyranny” by Timothy Snyder.  The sub-title of the book is 20 lessons from the 20th century and it explains quite a lot about how, when people don’t stand up against dictators or people who flout their democracy, disaster can often follow quickly for that country. 

It also gives examples such as when e-mails are leaked, like during the 2016 Presidential campaign, and how piercing somebody’s privacy can humiliate them and disrupt their relationships.  The book says, “No-one has a private life that can survive public exposure by hostile directive … words written in one situation make sense only in that context.  The very act of removing them from their historical moment and dropping them in another is an act of falsification.

In short, what he is saying is that there is nobody out there, if all their e-mails are exposed for example, who would look good.  Nobody can survive that type of scrutiny or to put it another way – embarrassment.  People will always write or say things that can tend to embarrass them at a later stage, even on blogs that become dated with time and may reflect an opinion one held but has long since changed, but to take e-mails out of their context is an act of falsification in the first place, never mind of course it is a violation of privacy.  We should all remember that the next time we are gloating over something that has been released somewhere and understand that while we might have a small context from the media or wherever we are seeing those words, that we don’t fully understand why they were written, when they were written or the context to how they were written and the truth is, as the book says, “Words written in one situation make sense only in that context.”   

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Friday 04-May-18   |  Permalink   |  34 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Contributing to good causes

I believe it is always important to contribute to good causes.  A lot of people would say that they agree with that, but they cannot afford to at the moment.  I don’t agree with that – I know that out of my first salary as a candidate attorney, when I earned R1,500 a month, I was able to put R200 aside for something I wanted to buy and so, one can really, on any salary, afford something.  That does not mean it has to be R1,000 or R100 – whether it is R10 or R50, people can make a difference.

A former President of America called the huge number of charities “a thousand points of light” which lights are best seen as stars at night.  Those charities should be things that you believe in – possibly even political parties which you contribute to or environmental organisations, but we should all try and ensure that we keep ourselves involved in things that interest us, are important to us and try to persuade our friends and family to get involved.  It builds a stronger society and it will help and build a stronger South Africa.

Let’s not forget about all the organisations that stood up against Jacob Zuma, by way of example, and who eventually achieved their result.  One must never think it is just you, against some vast organisation, and that you have no chance of winning, because when you contribute to charities and organisations like that, you are of course allowing yourself to be part of something much bigger and it is then not just you against some massive, unstoppable problem.  It is important that we make non-governmental organisations strong and dictators also know that, which is why in countries like Russia non-governmental organisations have to register and are carefully monitored. We don’t want to go down that road and that is why I encourage all of you to get involved in what interests you, to support it financially, even if that means only R20 a month set up on an auto pay debit order, and give of your time as well.  I will make you a better person, it may even lead to you meeting some new friends with whom you have something special in common and it will help your involvement in society.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 02-May-18   |  Permalink   |  36 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It

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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!
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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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