It’s a week or so after New Year, which means that almost all of us will already have buckled on our resolutions. Some of us will still be insisting that we can still get fit in time for the Comrades, while others may have already realised that abseiling down the Grand Canyon might have to wait until 2009.

Don’t beat yourselves up. It is not your fault – ever since you were old enough to count, you’ve been asked to make resolutions but nobody has ever helped you decide what is worth resolving. Here’s some advice, for what it’s worth.

Avoid biting off more than you can chew. Resolutions like ‘I will be a better person’ or ‘I will eat only tofu and raisins’ are impossible and futile, and you know it. You might make it until early February before turning into a complete bastard and eating nothing but Bar Ones for a solid week. Be ambitious by all means, but be realistic as well...


There is no quick fix to the CO2 emission crisis, laments Leonie Joubert. Worse still, today’s emissions will only manifest in a generation from now.

This is an imaginary experiment. It’s all made up, but its outcome illustrates why the climate change meeting that took place in Bali last month was critical to the future of life as we know it.

Pop two saucepans on the stovetop. Fill one with seawater (one litre), another with air (one litre) and seal them up. Now add heat and watch the thermometers.

What you can expect is that the air will heat up faster than the water. It is simple physics – liquid is more dense than air so needs more energy to heat to the same temperature. This explains why climate change scientists refer to the “lag” in the ocean-atmospheric system.

We Own The Night
Two of Hollywood’s most bankable names, Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg, star in the story of two brothers on either side of the fence. A hardy street cop (Wahlberg) is tracking down Russian drug peddlers in his brother Bobby’s (Phoenix) New York nightclub, and before long the two are at each other’s throats.


Into the Wild
When Chris McCandless donated his entire college fund to Oxfam and set off for the Alaskan wilderness, he dreamt of returning to society relieved of its bonds and stifling expectations. Only he didn’t come back. Jon Krakauer’s bestselling book about McCandless’s heroic, ill-fated journey convinced Sean Penn to tell the story on screen. He, in turn, recruited former Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder to produce the soundtrack and together, the pair has crafted a moving and original masterwork. Here, Penn and Vedder discuss the Into The Wild.

Our economics expert, David Mayfield, throws the bones and predicts another wobbly year for the US economy and wonders whether the emerging markets can pick up the slack as they did in 2007.

2007 was a phenomenal year for emerging markets, with growth in such countries far outperforming their established counterparts. With the US economy showing no signs of immediate recovery, there is every chance the same will be true for 2008.

The global expansion of 5,2% was propelled by the robust growth in China (11,5%), India (9%) and Russia (8,5%), performances that compensated for poor growth in the major economies, US (1,6%), Eurozone (2,5%) and Japan (2%)...

The New School

Last year belonged to Simphiwe Dana, The Parlotones and Just Jinjer, among less notable others. If you still don’t know who these people are, you either spent 2007 alone in your flat with the lights off, or you have no ears. But a new year will bring new bands their time in the sun. The only question is how do you work it out early enough to sound cool at parties? By listening to us, of course. Here are three bands we think you should start talking about, and soon.

Kid of doom
What, no voices? With today’s market less and less interested in music they can’t rub up against each other to, it is heartening to note that some bands still don’t seem to give a toss about appealing to some or other demographic.

She’s bigger right now in Italy than at home, strangely, but this milk-and-honey voiced R&B goddess has everything she needs to become the next Simphiew Dana. She’s not as pained, not as profound as Dana, but her playful charm and easy...

Van Coke Cartel
Francois Van Coke made his name as the lead singer of Afrikaans punk rock band Fokofpolisiekar. After three albums, taking ‘Fokof’ bassist Wynand Myburgh, he’s gone (sort-of) solo to form the Van Coke Cartel.

Ryan Cannell meets Ewoks, mutant spiders and naked men riding bicycles at the inaugural Afrika Burns Art Festival in the heart of the Karoo, and discovers an event with a future.

As if in a TV dream sequence, the air shimmers with a haze of intense heat and I find myself before a massive desert expanse. It's morning but already the sun glares down at me with an accusatory stare like that of my old school principal. "You bloody rubbish", he would have said, and I would have sweated like I am doing now. Thankfully a soft breeze pushes away the heat and I feel safe behind my shield of factor 100 sunscreen. Tiny lizards run pretty patterns into the sand at my feet, and in the distance, mountains paint a striking landscape into the light blue canvas. It is a moment of perfection. Then I remember that I am still sitting on a crudely built box fitted with a toilet seat and placed over a deep hole in the ground. It is not actually too bad a way to conduct the daily business...