Day 329 – Decisions; consequences

I’m at a well-known trampoline park in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town. I come here each week to have a coffee while I watch the boy at training. I’d usually be here on a Tuesday, but this trampoline park is no longer open on a Tuesday, because no-one comes here much anymore, because of Covid.

That they have cut three days from their opening times demonstrates just how bad things are and how much the pandemic has affected everything around us.

Of course, this also has huge implications for the staff here. They’ve likely lost 42.9% of their income. And that’s crap.

But…

We’d be out of this pandemic more quickly if people wore masks and washed hands and kept their distance from one another. No-one – including most of the staff – is doing those things here. And I’m not saying that this is the only place that is ignoring the sensible advice, but it’s certainly one of them.

You’d think that they would want to try anything to make things better: to demonstrate best practice and encourage the bouncers back in safety, and to do their little bit to end this global shitshow just a little bit sooner.

They’ve made the decision not to bother, though. And I have to wonder just how long this place will survive…

Day 317 – Cape Cormorants Crisis on the BBC

Indeed.

Off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, the sudden abandonment of more than 1,700 Cape cormorant chicks has sparked the largest seabird rescue mission the country has seen in 20 years.

That larger seabird rescue mission being the response to the MV Treasure disaster back in 2000.

Look, there’s a lot going on in South Africa right now: politrix, lockdowns, a virus etc etc. but, being someone who generally has his finger on some sort of pulse, I’m surprised that I haven’t heard more about this locally. So I’m glad that at least the BBC has stepped in with a attention-raising photo essay.

On 11 January, ranger Andile Mdluli was conducting a regular patrol on Robben Island, most famous as the place where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, when he noticed that almost all of the island’s thousands of adult Cape cormorants had disappeared. Unprotected, their chicks were being picked off by predators in their nests.

“It was just carnage, with kelp gulls and ibises coming for these chicks,” says Lauren Waller, a seabird scientist at Sanccob.

I was on Robben Island just over 100 days ago and I can vouch for the ferocity – and numbers – of gulls and ibises. Especially the ibises. Literally thousands of nasty, ugly, scary African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus). I’m pretty sure that Robben Island is the Sacred Ibis reservoir for the whole of South Africa. And it’s been spilling over for a while now.

But I digress. Often.

It’s important that these chicks make it to adulthood, because the Cape Cormorant is not doing well on the numbers front:

Cormorants are “as endangered as African penguins”, says Ms Ludynia, but “because they’re always in large flocks people don’t realise”.

…and they’re not cute and waddley either, both of which always help with gaining funding and awareness when you’re dying out.

Anyway, on that note (and given that the chicks will get through 20 tonnes of sardines in the next couple of months), wherever you are in the world, if you want to help out with SANCCOB’s costs, here’s the page you need to go to.

You can even select for your funding to go directly to the chicks in question. Do it.

 

Thanks for the link, Switzerland and Sheffield

Day 309 – Vaccines: it’s complicated

Who’d be a politician? Not me.

There are very few decisions that you will ever make that will make the people happy. Some of the people, sure. But not all of them.
When you do the wrong thing, they’ll jump all over you and when you do the right thing, they won’t acknowledge it because it should have been done sooner, or later, or in a different way.

And when you add Covid to the situation, then it becomes an even messier boiling pot of piss. Lockdown, don’t lockdown, lockdown but sooner, lockdown but more lightly, lockdown but let the pubs serve scotch eggs; close the borders but leave them open; protect the teachers but don’t close the schools.

And once you’ve messed all that up, you can get onto the vaccine issue.

Now, without saying that they are perfect in any way, I think that the UK government seems to have done rather well on the vaccine stuff. They ordered early and have thankfully avoided the complete mess that the EU has made of the whole thing:

The latest figures from Our World in Data reveal that just 2.1% of the EU population has received a vaccine, compared with 10.8% for the UK. The goal to vaccinate at least 70% of the EU’s population by this summer is wildly off – at the current pace, the bloc as a whole would reach only 15% by the end of September.

But guess who’s fault that EU mess is?

Well, apparently it’s the UK’s, because they ordered the vaccine that the EU wanted, but they had their ducks in a row and they ordered it earlier. It’s like the lazy guy who only woke up at 10:58 blaming you for grabbing the last Sausage and Egg McMuffin.

But no, let’s ignore our own ugly shortfalls and find another scapegoat. Deflecting the blame is such a politician thing.

Happily, Boris is having none of it:

While the finger pointing on the continent continued, Prime Minister Boris Johnson avoided being drawn on any potential impact of the dispute on UK vaccine supplies.

The UK has made money available for other countries to get vaccines, too. But read the papers and the pixels and all you see is criticism. And I think that’s a little unfair in this situation.

Because apparently, the UK is one of those “hoarding” vaccine:

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday urged wealthy countries not to hoard surplus COVID-19 vaccine supplies, adding his voice to calls for global production to be shared more equally.

But we in SA could also have had a successful programme in place, were it not for the fact that we only started negotiating with vaccine suppliers on January 6th. And were it not for the fact that at least some of the R500 billion war chest to deal with Covid hadn’t made its way into the pockets of corrupt government officials and towards failed SOEs.

But no, let’s ignore our own ugly shortfalls and find another scapegoat. Deflecting the blame is such a politician thing.

Meanwhile:

Britain said on Sunday (Jan 10) it has helped raise US$1 billion from global donors towards the drive to help “vulnerable countries” access coronavirus vaccines, by match-funding contributions.

The UK said, in addition, it has committed 548 million pounds to the Covax Advance Market Commitment (AMC), after matching with 1 pound every US$4 pledged by other donors.

I mean, it’s not bad, is it? You can’t really say that they’re not helping out. And sure, one could argue that they are a rich country and so on, but one could also find plenty of space for that sort of money within the UK, especially given the pandemic.

And yes, many countries (including the UK and those in the EU) have ordered more vaccines than they need, simply because they didn’t know which vaccines would work and which wouldn’t. And sure, they’re lucky to be able to hedge their bets in that way, but you can rest assured that any spares (and hopefully those orders all come through and there will be spares) will be redistributed through Covax. Just like Cyril wanted.

That’s… er… the same Covax that the SA government missed the deadline to pay and join, by the way.

There’s good news too, though. Maybe SA can take up Tanzania’s share of vaccines, because Tanzania’s president is still relying on the dual therapy of [checks notes] steam inhalation and God:

“We will also continue to take health precautions including the use of steam inhalation,” he said.

“You inhale while you pray to God, you pray while farming maize, potatoes, so that you can eat well and corona fails to enter your body. They will scare you a lot, my fellow Tanzanians, but you should stand firm.”

And, to be fair, that approach does seem to working, given that they haven’t had any cases of Covid since last July.

Mainly because they stopped testing for it then. And as U2 told us, you can’t find what you’re not still looking for*.

Without giving any evidence, Magufuli said vaccines may be part of a foreign plot to steal Africa’s wealth.

“Vaccines are not good. If they were, then the white man would have brought vaccines for HIV/AIDS,” Magufuli said during the opening of a new farm in his western home region.

Sure. And quite possibly a cure for stupid, as well.

 

 

* or some such, anyway

Day 291 – All aboard the Gravy Train

Hey. We live in a horrifically corrupt nation, and (as we all know) a fish rots from the head down (no, it doesn’t), and so it’s no surprise that it’s our erstwhile government which is clearly one of the primary culprits and drivers of these heinous practices.

A lot of people have tried to stop the Government being quite so corrupt, and I’ve supported those actions, because I thought that they came from a good place. Now however, I see the reason those efforts was not innate goodness or a desire for transparency and equity.
No, those people were just really jealous.

I say that because I have been invited to board the Gravy Train and become a Tenderpreneur.

Look what I got in my email today from Palesa (Ms Mothapo to you):

Sorry for you that you didn’t get a ticket. It’s not for everyone, but if you have the right connections (and I clearly do), then the next station is BigBucksVille and I’m well on my way.

Choo Choo…

I’ll obviously be using the age old “inflated tender” method to bring in the bucks, buying the masks at R0.30 each from one of my old lab contacts and then selling them on to the DoD for a couple of hundred each. And I am completely comfortable in divulging that information here, because no-one would expect me to do anything differently. If they did, then the Department of Defence would be buying the masks at R0.30 each directly from the supplier, I wouldn’t be making the money for my next 3 BMW X5s and the taxpayers would be happier.

So cutting out the middleman has implications. And they’re not good ones for me.

Listen; I’ll see you all on the other side – should you crack the nod. But it’s a very exclusive club, and so if you don’t make it, then please just know that I’ll be waving to you at you through my tinted windows as I sweep past your aging Corolla on my outrageously flamboyant 23 inch mags.

Nothing can stop me now.

Nothing.

 

 

Oh.

Day 250 – 250 days of lockdown

And there we go. Another 2020 milestone.

Whoop-di-doo.

We’re 250 days into our South African lockdown and we’re actually no better off than we were on Day 1.

That’s not to say that things haven’t improved in the intervening period: they certainly did get a lot better. It’s just that over the last few weeks, they got a whole lot worse again.

Why? Because people thought that the pandemic was over, got sloppy with handwashing, mask wearing and not congregating in large groups indoors and surprise, surprise, we’re facing a new resurgence of Covid-19.

Ugh.

So what now, as SA heads into summer holidays, with the major holiday towns of the Southern Cape overloaded with virus? A stricter lockdown with all the dreadful economic effects at their most important time of the year? Or just heading face first into a second wave with hospitals overloaded during their busiest period?

I don’t have the answers, but I do find it very sad that over eight months since we all hid away in March, we’re once again facing this crappy virus and these crappy decisions.