Day 609 – On Shell

Here’s the story.

Right. Let’s just get my position out in the open at the start, shall we?

1. I appreciate the need to move away from fossil fuels.
2. I would love to have a simple, straightforward, economically viable way to not use fossil fuels anymore.
3. I would rather that Shell (or anyone else) were not doing seismic testing in the waters around South Africa.


We all use fossil fuels every day here in SA.
Our electricity here comes (when it comes) – overwhelmingly – from coal, diesel and gas.
Our cars use petrol, and if they did use electricity, then that electricity would come – overwhelmingly – from coal, diesel and gas.
Eskom chucks out about 18 million tons of CO2 each and every month.

We need to understand that the vast majority of this country has no choice but to use dirty fuels to live their lives. It would be great to change, but we can’t just switch that off: our power grid doesn’t work full stop, let alone work with clean or renewable sources of energy.
And we should certainly be trying to step away from fossil fuels, but as you are flinging around your hashtags and basking in the righteousness of your slacktivism, please remember that we need to get our energy and electricity from somewhere: someone has to provide it.

And why shouldn’t that be Shell? How do their seismic surveys and oil drilling habits differ from whoever’s powering your car today, as you “#BoycottShell” and go to Engen or Sasol or BP?

Do you know? Do you care? Or is it just about jumping on a conveniently passing (hopefully hybrid-powered?) bandwagon?

And if you are going to pop online and tell us how to live our lives, and which dirty oil company we should use over which other (I love the “tip the pump attendants” idea, by the way, lol!), then at least think before you post.

After all, nothing quite says “Leave our oceans alone” or #SaveOurOceans like a “cleverly” altered corporate logo and is that a picture of… er… a local sewage outflow…


Presumably you are boycotting your toilet as well, then? How’s that going for you?

Look, I’m not saying that a seismic survey off the East Coast is a good thing – I’d much rather it wasn’t happening, but as I noted above, that’s not really a tenable option right now.

But I have to say that this exceptionalism, hyperbole and misinformation around this one issue when numerous such surveys have happened around SA before and we’re all still here? Well, it’s weird, it’s misplaced, and it’s rather hypocritical given that we are all using products and services that rely on oil and gas each and every day.

Day 591 – Power station being robbed of R100m fuel oil each month fails to deliver much power SHOCK!

Or rather no shock, because no power, amirite?

I’ve been looking at some facts and figures online (when I can, thanks to this infernal, eternal, often diurnal loadshedding) and have made an amazing discovery.

Published a couple of days ago, this slide, presumably from a presentation about the horrific state of our dirty, broken national power grid:

…in which you might well note Tutuka Power Station stuck in bottom place (Kusile isn’t properly commissioned yet) with a somewhat ropey Energy Availability Factor of 34.34%, and this document, released on twitter yesterday evening:

…in which Eskom announces the arrest of several individuals for alleged theft of R100 million worth of fuel oil PER MONTH from [checks notes…] er… Tutuka Power Station.

I mean, amongst a plethora of other questions, “How the hell did no-one notice?” has to be right up there. Or is this merely a drop in the metaphorical Mpumalanga fuel oil ocean? How much fuel oil do you get (or not get, I guess) for R100m each month?

I’m no expert in these sort of things, but could there… could there possibly… be any sort of connection between these two pieces of information?

I guess we’ll probably never know.

Day 587 – No overall winner, many overall losers

Elections aren’t actually a zero sum game. I mean, in numbers, they might appear so, but when translated into actual meaning, obviously things can change drastically. Because as soon as any one of those numbers dips below 50%, it’s game on for coalitions and kingmakers in these marriages of inconvenience. And that’s when things get stupidly complicated and fall apart in SA. And it’s always service delivery that suffers.

Now you might think that I’m being a bit pessimistic about how this is going to go – Danish Ambassador Tobias Elling Rehfeld certainly does:

But aside from finding that common platform of priorities – and sticking with it – there’s the big question of egos.
[TW: gross generalisations approaching] Here’s a hypothesis: in the Danish model, politicians get into politics to make a difference to the people of their ward and country. Sadly, around here, it’s more about self-enrichment, personal power and standing, and inflating one’s own ego. We’ve seen it time and time again: look at Malema wanting more than the ANC and then repeatedly flip-flopping on every issue whichever way makes him popular; look at de Lille flitting from one party to another, taking credit for the good bits, refusing the responsibility for the bad ones; look at the Mongameli Bobani and the NMB debacle; look at Tshwane a few years back. Disastrous.

Why wouldn’t it happen in these new-found situations as well? After all, as TER goes on to say:

But while that would certainly benefit the actual electorate, that’s not what the politicians in question want.
Quite the opposite.

Joburg is a particular mess. The last projected results I saw left even the most probable (or potentially stable) coalitions sitting on about 45% each. I’ll be delighted if I’m wrong, but I fear that it spells out 5 years of bickering, infighting and lack of service delivery for the city as one or other side tries to balance up 12 x 0.5%s to get over the line. Fugly.

Nationwide, the appalling turnout and the bitty results do show an overall dissatisfaction and disenchantment with the larger parties and the current system. But given that the three largest parties still look likely to get to somewhere around 80% overall, it’s unlikely that anyone is going to listen to that message. So it’s up to the smaller parties to tell us just how amazingly they’ve done, while not wielding any actual power, while the big dogs explain away their losses and disappointment with spin and smoke and mirrors.

Or just outright denial.


Oh. And someone will blame white people. Somehow.

The only really good bit about yesterday was the utterly disastrous hilarious crash and burn of the Cape Party. Again. They were still belligerently chucking out hyperbole and mixed idioms yesterday during the voting:

For the record, there was no sleet or snow. A few heavy rain showers is all.
And surely the water surrounding the allegedly sinking ship (whatever that represents) might actually be a good place to be of the ship is actually going down and the rest of the world is ablaze. Take a lifebelt. And don’t pretend that you care about “the future of our children” when you go around supporting anti-vax protests.

Bunch of…

Whatever their plan was, it didn’t work. Who could have thought that appropriating and subtly altering the word “Brexit” with all its resounding economical successes and feelgood news stories into “Capexit” would have such a devastating effect upon their (minimal) potential election success?

So weird. So sad.





Day 516 – Damn you (all), Big Pharma!

I have grown tired of being told to “follow the money” by the you-know-whos when it comes to “Big Pharma” and the Covid-19 vaccines. Sure, I accept that the system is far from perfect, and sure, Pfizer et al. have made a shedload of money from selling the vaccines, but then they have invested a shedload of money in research, development and production of the vaccines. Contrary to layperson belief, these products didn’t just appear overnight.

To the anti-vax crew, “Big Pharma” conveniently consists of the companies that are making Covid-19 vaccines: Pfizer, AstraZenica, Moderna etc. And yes, they are doing very nicely, thank you very much with market caps of $279.94B, $133.9B and $100B, respectively.

Clearly, Big Pharma = Big Money.

You could take the view then that “Big Pharma” is evil and merely all about the wonga – and the alt-right whatsapp groups have done just that – but then we mustn’t just consider these vaccine-producing companies as “Big Pharma”, we must surely look right across the market and well… “follow the money”.

Let’s take Merck. Merck employs 74,000 people, managed almost $50b in revenue last year and is apparently worth $194.64B

Note that Merck is much “Bigger Pharma” than AZ or Moderna. Clearly, they must also be just as evil or even eviller.

And look! Merck does have a foot in the Covid-19 door as well: they hold the licence to Stromencol – that’s their trade name for “miracle wonder drug” Ivermectin.

Just another arm of “Big Pharma” making money from a crisis. THEY’RE ALL THE SAME, GARY!

But Merck has also stated very clearly that Ivermectin doesn’t work against Covid-19 and is unsafe to use for that purpose:

But Merck are (as demonstrated above) very much “Big” and “Pharma”, so why are they not profiteering from people’s pandemic misery? Merck is like the Eskom of pharmaceutical companies: actively telling people not to use its product.
It’s an odd way to do business.

Presumably then, this is where the “this pandemic is just a money-making scam for Big Pharma” argument stops.
Or at least is conveniently overlooked. Cognitive bias at its finest.

Pfizer says that their vaccine works against Covid-19 and is safe, and the moonbat brigade refuse to listen to a word of it.
Merck says their Ivermectin doesn’t work against Covid-19 and isn’t safe, and the loons still run to swallow horse wormer in their thousands.

It’s almost as if Ivermectin doesn’t work against Covid-19 and isn’t safe. But then, I guess this is just a clever example of “Big Pharma” reverse psychology. Which the anti-vaxxers have seen right through. Well done, guys.

What a weird situation. But then, they are, aren’t they?

Day 473 – Misery everywhere

There’s no good news today.

I’m not feeling great (no, not that).

Defeat for England (although), preceded by an unpleasant frontlash and followed by a (now sadly usual) disgusting backlash.

Rain, gales, floods and cold in Cape Town. More leaks in our house.

KZN and parts of Gauteng right on the brink of… something terrible.

Copious sexual intercourse won’t cure Covid-19.

More loadshedding on the way.

And this is just the stuff I feel I can share.

I have a lot of amazing memories from a few days away, and a lot of photos to process. But today doesn’t seem the right day to do anything except just hope that things get better.