Day 339 – Back home

Back home to a roasting Cape Town, touching the high 30s, after a great walk on the beach Darn Sarf this morning.

Lobbed some sausages on the braai for dinner and wired up some external internet. As you do.

Now, a cold beer and some football.

It’s been a good weekend.

Can I be bothered to watch Ramaphosa’s address? Probably not.

Day 333 – 1984

If you choose to believe some people, we are currently living in 1984 – not the year (some of us have been through that already) – the George Orwell novel in which the population is controlled by Big Brother and the totalitarian state.

Get a grip. It’s just a bit of cloth on your face.

But what really happened in 1984 – not the George Orwell novel in which the population is controlled by Big Brother and the totalitarian state – the year?

Well, talking of totalitarian states (eh?) there was a by-election in Chesterfield and there were 17 candidates. By law, if you mention one of them (and clearly, Moira Stewart had done so), you also have to mention all of the others so as not to show any sort of bias.

So Moira: take us through the other names, if you would, please?

Ah, democracy.

Of course, none of these individuals came close to challenging the big three, and Labour’s Anthony Neil Wedgwood… er… “Tony” Benn romped home with 24,633 votes, much to the chagrin of John Connell of the Peace Party who came in 17th, just 24,626 behind.

So close.

Day 313, part 2 – Vaccine delivery

The first vaccines for The Virus arrived in South Africa yesterday, and wow, was the pomp and ceremony was dragged out onto the cold, wet apron at the airport in Johannesbeagle?

(Yes. Yes, it was.)

Dignitaries, politicians, umbrella holders and a really sycophantic media were all present to witness a whole 1 million doses of Covishield™ arriving on an Emirates 777.

That’s just enough to fully vaccinate 0.8% of the population, by my rudimentary calculations.

And yet:

I don’t watch news programmes specifically for this reason. But last night, I flicked on eNCA because I wanted felt I had to watch Ramaphosa’s address on reducing the lockdown. This was long, long, overdue, but clearly held back so that he could wave his little “we’ve got some vaccine” flag.

And wow. The blatant fawning during the pisspoor pre-speech small talk was absolutely sickening.

I looked up several times from the ironing (it’s all about the glamour here, ok?) and was eventually told off by Mrs 6000 for using the phrase

What the actual fuck?

four times – ever more incredulously – in about a 90 second period.

I’m well aware that the art of politics is all about spin, but this was so robustly applied that we were all almost flung outwards at mass times angular velocity squared times radius*.

They’re clearly not even bothering to hide it anymore. Gone are the clever intricacies of subliminal messaging. This was in your face GovernmentLove©. I’m not one for hyperbole, but I was actually quite shocked. I would not have been surprised if they’d cut across the studio to some sort of shrine to the ANC**.
It was actually like I was watching a party political broadcast***.

Stay away from news channels, guys. Or at least watch them with the knowledge that they’re all pushing some sort of agenda. This one wasn’t pretty. But at least it was pretty obvious.

Right. While I’m sounding like some sort of Trump fan with a Masters in Media Conspiracy from the Dunning-Kruger Online College, might I just ask why we’re bothering with this whole injection thing anyway?

It’s a tiresome, clumsy, process and people can avoid getting the jab if they so choose.

Ugh. No. That’s not what our reptilian overlords want.

Why not just use chemtrails?

After all, Darth Putin has got one of his planes in Cape Town right now, ready to go:

The Russian-built, Russian-registered, catchily named Illyushin II-76 TD-90VD arrived last night from the so-called Novolazarevskaya Airbase (which also sounds Russian), and features a huge cargo hold, capable of being adapted to hold fluids to bomb fires (definitely) or spread weather-modification and mind-altering chemtrails (possibly).
Surely it shouldn’t be such a big thing to fill it with vaccine and get us all done in one go?

I mean, that’s almost certainly why it’s here, right?

Right.

I’m glad you are all in the know as well.

 

Stay safe.

 

 

* engineers and physicists will know
** ok, that was a bit of hyperbole
*** back to no hyperbole

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 306 – It’s all about priorities

I’m on the fence. Metaphorically, at least.

I’m aware that lockdowns limit the spread of the virus – this is undoubtedly a Good Thing – but I’m also aware that they limit our personal freedoms and the ability of businesses to make money: and that’s not a Good Thing at all, because those have implications for health and survival as well.

So, putting things simplistically, I’m asking if we can objectively, accurately and meaningfully compare protecting lives and protecting livelihoods? I don’t think so.

You might think that it’s an absolute no-brainer, but if you were to tell me that, I wouldn’t necessarily know on which side you were coming down. Because it’s all about your overall view on life, the universe and everything, and your particular outlook might be poles apart from someone else’s.
Yes, you could argue that there are political and/or economic affiliations to either camp, and I’d definitely agree. But that doesn’t get us any further on what is right or wrong and which is the better path to take. And once again, as with every dichotomy these days, the divisions between the two sides are deep and emotive and can’t be bridged.

Because I know that I don’t know enough, I’m not on either side.
I’m on the fence. Metaphorically, at least.

You’d think that there were some things that we could agree on, though. We have a lockdown in South Africa at the moment. So if, for example, you don’t agree with lockdowns, then you would want to get rid of that as soon as possible in order to to get the economy back up and running* as soon as possible. Because even if your view is that livelihoods > lives (and as I’ve already said, I don’t want to get into a fight over this, because I don’t claim to have the knowledge or data to agree or not), you must surely still attribute some value to the latter, and so protecting those through means other than a lockdown would surely make sense. Right? And the means to do that would definitely include social distancing, wearing a mask and advocating for the vaccine to be administered as widely as possible as soon as possible. Right as well?

And yet, weirdly, there seems to be a strong correlation between people who are anti-lockdown, and yet are also anti-mask and anti-vaccine**.

If you want to get out of lockdown as soon as possible, then stop doing things which might spread more virus around, thus prolonging the lockdown. It’s not rocket surgery.

Mind you, you’d also think that people would be sensible enough not to attend a cat’s birthday party during a global pandemic. Because it’s all about priorities, isn’t it? And when it’s my health (and possibly my life) up against joining a feline on its birthday, well, I know where mine would lie.

And yet:

Questions. Several of them.

First off, do you have birthday parties for your pets? Sure, we might get the beagle a bone or something to celebrate its birthday, but we don’t invite 10 people around to our house. Hell, we didn’t even invite anyone around to celebrate the human birthdays in our household this last year, because there’s a frikkin’ global pandemic going around, and getting together with a group of people increases your chance of getting this really nasty virus.

And if you don’t believe me, just look at what happened at this cat’s birthday bash. The only one that seems to have come out unscathed is the cat. Selfish little git.

The outbreak was confirmed by Francisco Alvarez, The Valparaiso Regional Secretary of the Ministry of Health.
He said when he first heard the outbreak began at a cat’s birthday party he didn’t believe it.

Me too, Francisco. Me too. Because:

Secondly, if you do have a birthday party for your pet (and I’m really not on the fence about this one), why do you invite humans?
Cats hate humans. Your cat hates you. If you didn’t feed it, it would kill you in your bed. The last thing a cat wants around it on its special day that it doesn’t know anything about is more humans.

Not actual footage

In conclusion, don’t hold birthday parties for your cat. And really don’t hold birthday parties for your cat during a pandemic.

We’ve addressed the mentality of South Africans pertaining to the pandemic before here. (And I mentioned it here as well.)

It seems like it’s rife in Chile as well.

 

 

* or at least “stumbling” in our case
** which would seem to suggest that they think “it’s a conspiracy” or “it’s not real”. and that’s where they lose me and any of my respect, completely.