Day 462 – Not a good idea

I do recognise the need to stimulate the economy. I do see that we need money brought back into the country and businesses running again. I don’t miss the tourists, but I do know that we miss their cold, hard cash.

But surely this is not a good idea.

83 confirmed booking for cruise ships between October and the end of the year? Ah Jesus.

How’s the cruise industry looking at the moment? Awful.

That’s because cruise ships were one of the earliest vectors for Covid-19, and – despite their best efforts, things haven’t improved much. So alongside this sort of headline:

Are ones like this:

And this:

And once one or two passengers have got it, there will inevitably be a whole lot more to follow.
This isn’t rocket science. Stick several thousand people on top of each other for a few weeks and any illness is bound to spread. That’s why the government – very sensibly (gasp) – banned cruise ships from SA ports very early on in this whole ugly mess.

Before cruise liners, ships from foreign parts had a great history of bringing unwanted diseases to vulnerable populations:

Note: For “Black Death” read “Covid-19”; for “the Black Sea” read “Walvisbaai”; for “Messina” read “the V&A Waterfront; for “Sicilian authorities” read “Wesgro”, and for “covered in black boils that oozed blood and pus”… meh… maybe something about a fever, no sense of smell, and an inability to breathe. You get the idea.

And before Covid, cruise liners were food-poisoning hotspots, be it Norovirus, rotavirus, Salmonella or even unusual stuff like Staphylococcus. Thankfully, when that sort of thing is brought ashore, while it may not be very pleasant, it doesn’t close down entire cities and countries. If the statisticians and epidemiologists are right (and they’ve been pretty good so far) we will be a couple of months away from our fourth wave when the majority of these ships arrive. If they are bringing more Covid in with them, then we might see the whole of the summer washed out by more restrictions, and that would certainly be the death knell for any businesses who had somehow managed to survive that far.

Sure, cruise ships (especially 83 of them) are high reward customers for our local tourism industry. But equally, cruise ships (especially 83 of them) are also very high risk customers for all our local industries.

Much as they did with the proposed Horseshoe Bat Market in Woodstock back in March, someone surely has to stand up and just nip this one in the bud. For all our sakes.

Day 441, part 2 – Can’t watch

News just in. The President is doing a thing at lunchtime:

Sadly, also happening at 12h00 – loadshedding:

Which will prevent me from watching, and which will also prevent any “swift and lasting economic recovery”.

Who’s going to tell him? (Both bits.)

Day 438 – Nothing speech yields no results

With due respect to The 438 Game and that guy in Forries who called it.

Just over a week ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation regarding the Covid-19 situation here. I don’t need to go back over that speech because firstly, there wasn’t much to it, and secondly, I covered just how pathetic it was right here.

Suffice to say, the only two interventions he made in the face of a clearly incoming third wave of infections were to reduce the numbers permitted at gatherings to 250 outdoors and 100 indoors, and to extend the curfew by 1 hour: from midnight until 4am to 11pm until 4am. I commented at the time that these were unlikely to make any difference to the very worrying situation and were really just to make it look like the government were doing something. The gatherings numbers were still far too high to limit any potential spread and the extra hour would just hurt businesses that little bit more without making any difference to the number of infections.

And that’s if any of the regulations were being effectively observed, policed and enforced anyway. (They’re not.)

Unsurprisingly, the rate of new infections since the speech has increased across seven of the nine provinces. The only two outliers in this regard were the two smallest (by population) provinces: Northern Cape and Free State, which were – for the first time in their existences – both ahead of the curve for something. Sadly, it turned out to be the third wave.
The rest of the country, in which 95% of the population lives, showed dramatic increases across the board:

Not pretty, but not exactly much of a shock, either.

So, as before the speech (and as before the second wave), Ramaphosa has a decision to make: either a stricter lockdown or a more deadly third wave. I’ve said before that I won’t get into the argument of whether lockdowns are a good thing or not, and I’ve also said that I am very glad I’m not having to navigate a country through a pandemic.
But they’re getting paid the big bucks (and sharing the funds with their comrades) for this sort of thing, and they really should be doing much better.

Last week’s speech was never going to do anything but harm. And so it has proved.

Graphs from Sugan Naidoo

..

Day 421 – Send me a sign

No. Not one with your finger(s). Stop it.

I’m considering buying a new lens for my camera. I’m not a professional camera person, and while science never paid well, no science doesn’t pay at all, thus that R243,000 one is sadly just out of reach.

By about R230,000.

But there is one lens I’ve been looking at that’s just about doable, price-wise. But still a luxury item.
So I’ve been reading reviews, looking at blogs, examining ratings and comments on photography sites, and generally looking for anything to put me off spending what is still a sizeable chunk of change on a new lens that I could quite easily manage without, but which would also be a lot of fun and (hopefully) improve the standard of my hobby. But that isn’t working, because all the reviews, blogs, ratings and comments said that if I couldn’t afford something more expensive (and I’m very much in that boat), then this was the lens for me, because it even outperforms lenses which are much more pricey. There are five star ratings and positive words everywhere.

That doesn’t help.

And I’ve been seeing some amazing shots on Instagram and Flickr using this sort of lens and wishing that I could produce that sort of thing. Which I’m sure I could… if I bought this lens.

dinosaur on Twitter: "https://t.co/kJotqj94E6" / Twitter

Even then, though, I decided that it was too much. And so I went back onto my favourite photography retailer site this morning for final confirmation that there was actually no justification for spending that amount of money. I knew that simply seeing the total would be enough to put me off once and for all and… oh look they’ve knocked R900 off it.

ARGH!

Is that the sign I have been looking for? Well no, because I was looking for a sign that told me not to buy it. This was quite the opposite, and now I’m even more in limbo.

There’s no point in asking photography people because they will invariably say one of two things: “Get a better camera”, which is several times the cost of this lens and clearly an absolute non-starter, or “Yes, you can never have enough glass”, which is kind of true, but overlooks the fact that I’m not anywhere as near as much a photography person as they are.

I’m stuck.

Somebody, send me a sign. Please.

Day 354 – Still locked

I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and I reckon that we’re just 9 days away from what many people would call “1 year of lockdown”. Sure, when we first started there was a lot more locking down than there is now. We weren’t allowed to go out at all. Now, we’re not allowed to go out between midnight and 4am. But the State of Disaster in this often Disastrous State is still in force and will continue to be for at least another month (and obviously waaaay beyond that, too). Everyone is fully expecting a third wave of infections here, probably around May or June. And despite the government’s best promises, I’m not confident of getting a vaccination much before the end of the year. And that’s hugely optimistic, according to this useful tool.

It’s a gloomy picture, exacerbated by the miserable weather today, the horrendous traffic (ironically brought about by the easing of lockdown) and by the return of loadshedding which popped in last week to say hi and has decided to stay until at least Wednesday. So, amidst the rain, the jams, the infections and the lack of electricity, it is – once again – amazing to me that this country continues to… well… to continue continuing.

Well. Mostly, anyway. I’ve just taken a call from the place that is servicing my car today to tell me that they can’t do any wheel alignments (I wanted four done) (or one big one) until they get their wheel alignment machine mended because loadshedding has broken it.
Frustrating.

But my major issue is still the amount that we are contributing to the economy via this new house. A blocked drain and a leaking pipe are today’s exciting events. The plumbers are digging through bathroom walls and trying to break as few tiles as possible, but due to the terrible way that the original pipework was installed, that’s no easy task.

Right. Let me go and see how they are getting on with their work.
After all, it’s not like there’s any rush to go and fetch the car or get a vaccination, is it?