Day 553 – Fire layer

Good news for Cape Town and the surrounding area is that we will apparently soon be able to visualise wildfires on Google Maps. Just like traffic, terrain and satellite have their own map layers, starting this week, the rollout of a “fire” layer will begin.

Wildfire boundaries should be updated on an hourly basis, and Google says you’ll be able to tap on a fire to see information from local governments, like “emergency websites, phone numbers for help and information, and evacuation details. When available, you can also see important details about the fire, such as its containment, how many acres have burned, and when all this information was last reported.”

That additional level of detailed information will begin in Australia and the US, but as a city which suffers from veldfires every single year, Cape Town will surely not be far behind. At which point, this feature turns into a service and actually becomes interesting and useful, as opposed to just interesting.

Day 544 – Misinfo, disinfo

The pandemic has brought with it an equally* horrific wave of misinformation on social media. If there is one plus side to all this, it’s that it’s become more clear who is spreading the misinformation and why they are doing it. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say, and so you can now identify these people more often and challenge, ignore, pity or ridicule them as you so desire.

The first sort are undoubtedly the most dangerous. They are intelligent enough to know what they are sharing is wrong, but they do it because it suits their agenda and it gives them a sense of power. More often then not, these will be wealthy, white, Christian women in America (or their SA wannabe counterparts) or they will be middle-aged men who have a podcast or radio show on some unknown mid-West radio station like KayEnOhBee or some such. Or maybe they’re a writer for a website with a name like “Freedom News” or “Rebel Dispatch” (they always are).
They are being nefarious in spreading their bullshit, because they know it’s not incorrect and morally wrong, but they do it anyway.

Then there are the ones that don’t analyse stuff, because it suits their chosen narrative. Ivermectin stats, Covid deaths, Vaccine side-effects. They see it being posted by their pseudo-celebrity heroes and they just hit SHARE. If they had the inclination to delve a little deeper and get past their biases, they might understand that it wasn’t actually true, but they don’t want to be bothered with that much effort when there’s a Retweet button to be clicked right there. Just lazy.

And then there are the lowly third group. So utterly thick that you could put them together and make one long plank. They are so deeply unintelligent, so completely down the rabbit hole and so far up the arses of the first lot that they don’t have a clue what’s real and what’s not anymore. They think that the sky is making them sick and that the earth is flat. Easily manipulated and radicalised, they are the foot soldiers of the movement, undyingly paranoid and loyal to causes like ‘5G killed my poodle’ or ‘Space may be the final frontier but it’s made in a Hollywood basement’.

And the stuff they are posting is so easily disprovable. Look at this, shared just two days ago:

Yeah. That looks pretty bad, until you take into account a couple of things. Like the death rate from Covid-19 in the Western Cape, which has been higher than that worldwide figure just about every day for the past couple of months.

Aaand, it’s disproven. That really wasn’t so hard, was it?

But how can that be? Is the figure above incorrect? No. The figure above is from (as you can see in the bottom corner) 8th March 2020. Before the pandemic really got started. You can’t apply that to now. Things change. That’s like making a calculation of how many people have died from planes crashing into buildings in New York, but choosing to look at it on September 10th 2001.

World War 2 wasn’t so bad: only 68 people were killed… (in the first two days).

Because Covid-19 comes in waves and hits various countries at various times, the daily death rate also varies, but the daily average since March 2020 is well in excess of that TB figure at the top of the chart.

[Can we agree to just ignore the outlier?]

And while I’d certainly rather that it didn’t, I can see how an extra 10,000 deaths each day might affect the world economy.

And the guy who shared the table about ‘crashing the world’s economy’?
I would have popped him in the middle lot I described above, but then to make what is basically a hundred-fold mistake on the widely publicised death statistics seems more than lazy, it seems criminally stupid or entirely deliberate.
So… you decide.

* not really

Day 543 – The birds and the bees

Yes, yes. We’re all adults here. We know how this works. Well, apart from the size difference. I mean, I’ve never really understood… ah… never mind. Another time.

But this is a whole different “the birds and the bees” tale.
It doesn’t end up in any sort of procreation – in fact, quite the opposite.

We’re always “beeing” told to look after the honey bees by Big Apiculture. There are news articles, puff pieces and even a film (allegedly featuring some hints of iffy inter-species naughtiness).

It’s superb PR. The cult is hard at work.

They won’t tell you about the dead penguins, though. Oh no.

The absolute buzzy bastards.

The penguins were transported to SANCCOB for post-mortems, and biological samples were sent for disease and toxicology testing. No external injuries were found on the birds, and post-mortems revealed that the penguins suffered multiple bee stings, with many dead bees found at the site of death.
Thus far, the preliminary investigations suggest that the penguins died after being stung by Cape honey bees. A dead penguin was also found on Fish Hoek beach on Saturday, having also sustained multiple bee stings.

There are just 13,000 breeding pairs of these gorgeous, comical, endangered birds left in the entire country, and then some swarm of angry, stripy scumbags knocks off over 3% of the Boulders Beach population in a single, unnecessary hour-long stinging frenzy, ostensibly just for shits and giggles.

Absolute carnage.

You might think that this would be the end of the story, but only if you weren’t aware that penguins are actually rather well-known for two things: waddling and eating fish their absolute lack of forgiveness, and their cold, abiding bloodlust when it comes to avenging their dead brethren.

Who amongst us could forget the great Muizenberg Herring Massacre of 1978?

Exactly.

This now seems almost certain to escalate way beyond a simple local dispute. Already, there are rumours of calls being made by the survivors of this heinous attack to their less monochrome cousins up north, to assist with retaliatory strikes on hives around the Simonstown area. And it seems unlikely to end there, with the prospect of an all-out World War between birds and insects surely very much on the cards, given each sides’ well-recognised aggression towards the other.

Ostriches vs Termites
Chickens taking on Wasps
Pigeons against Beetles

Overall, my money is on the birds. Not so much the penguins – which, while clearly adorable, are also clearly a bit shit at fighting bees (see above) – but overall, the size and maneuverability of the Aves class will surely outdo the sheer numbers of the six-legged warriors, despite their ferocious reputation for organisation and aggression (and killing penguins).

So… are you Team Honey or Team Egg?

Kies jou kant Choose your side wisely, just in case we humans should get dragged into this conflict.

You think the pro-vax/anti-vax thing is getting nasty?
You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Day 539 – Vaccine boosters? Yes, please!

There’s lots of chatter at the moment about Covid vaccines, waning antibody counts, natural immunity and the need (or not) for booster jabs.

I’m fully vaccinated, but when the time comes, if I need a booster jab, I will get a booster jab.
And if I need two booster jabs, I will get two booster jabs.
And so on.

Here’s why.

Despite being very, very careful, I got Covid. And by very, very careful, I mean that I was applying my laboratory safety training and standards to everything I could. I got Covid simply because I couldn’t control some environments that I ended up in.
Like Checkers in Constantia. Well, specifically Checkers in Constantia, to be honest.

But let’s not get bogged down in the details: the fact is that I did everything I could to avoid getting infected, but I still got infected.

I had a mild case of Covid. Thankfully, I avoided a severe case. I avoided supplementary oxygen, hospital, ICU, a ventilator and death. And sadly, we all know how that awful chain of attempted medical intervention proceeds, because we all know people who have ended up at every point along that pathway.

Our Covid-19 vaccines aren’t perfect yet. This is a new, rapidly evolving pathogen and until things settle down and find their natural balance, we’re always going to be playing a bit of catch up. But the vaccines are an incredible weapon against the disease. They’re out best chance. They’re your best chance.
There are plenty of data which tell us that vaccines limit your chances of ending up with a severe case of Covid-19. And to be honest, that should be enough for anyone to get vaccinated, because surely reducing the likelihood of ending up in hospital and all that comes with it is just common sense.

There is also plenty of evidence that being vaccinated means that you are less likely to get Covid at all, less likely to be sick with it and less likely to pass it on.
But perhaps you think that you’re not going to get a severe case of Covid-19 anyway. And sure, looking at the stats, even if you do get Covid, you’re more likely to have a mild case than a severe one.

So let me tell you about my mild case of Covid-19.

I was unable to get out of bed for over a week. I couldn’t even move.
I lost more than 10% of my body weight.
I have myalgia, arthralgia and headaches every morning until my medication kicks in.
I have had to have two chest x-rays.
I still can’t smell or taste anything, 9 weeks on.
I have had to have tests on my heart to check for cardiac damage.
I’m constantly tired all day; I can’t stay awake after 9pm.
I have had 67 separate blood tests.
I can’t remember people’s names. I can’t think of words. I can’t do simple quizzes anymore.
I used to run 20km a week. For six weeks, I couldn’t even walk up the stairs in my house without taking a break.
I’ve spent thousands and thousands of Rands on tests and drugs.
I’m still taking 12 different tablets every morning.
I’ve had malaria, influenza, Salmonella and meningitis in the last 20 years. This was far worse than any of them.
I can just about manage to walk a kilometre now, but running is a pipe dream.
I have other ongoing symptoms I don’t want to tell you about. (It’s better for both of us.)

It’s completely changed my life. And not in a good way.

You might not get it as badly as I did.
Or you might.

This isn’t a pity post. I’m not looking for sympathy. And I’m not for one moment suggesting that many, many people haven’t had it much worse. Of course they have.
This is just me telling you that “mild” is a massively subjective term, and completely belittles the experience that many of us have had (and are still having) with this disease.
But if you think that you don’t need a vaccination or a booster jab because a mild case of Covid-19 is something you just brush off and get on with your life, well maybe think again.

I got vaccinated, but the vaccinations for my age group arrived in SA too late for me to avoid getting sick. And given my experience, now that I am vaccinated, I will do everything I can to ensure that I am always as well-protected against Covid as I possible can be. If I can give myself a bit more chance of avoiding death, hospitalisation or even just a mild case of Covid by getting a free injection that takes 20 minutes to administer once every six months, well, why the hell wouldn’t I do that?
And then if I have to do it again in another 6 months, I’ll be right there.

If you are hesitant about getting a vaccination, because you are worried that it’s not safe; that might make you feel unwell; if you think that you don’t need one because you won’t get Covid or if you do it won’t be that bad; if you are scared of needles, please just talk to your GP. The benefits far outweigh any possible risks or unpleasantness.

If you just need a sign: this is it.

Give yourself a better chance of avoiding all this shit. Really.

Day 533 – We’ve suffered enough

It’s been a horrendous last 18 months. And, just as we were hoping to catch a glimpse of glimmer of light at the end of a very long tunnel, and after the positivity of yesterday, this:

What do they look like?

I know that people harbour irrational hatred for a lot of things, and I harbour an irrational hatred of all things Abba.
I just cannot stand them or their “music”. Ugh.

LPT: Avoid having to switch it off by simply not switching it on in the first place.

Just save yourself.

Your occasional reminder that it’s ok to be irrational if you know you’re being irrational.