Day 124 – Bits of news

After yesterday’s unashamedly lazy post (hey, I was busy with other stuff – see below), let’s have some text on today’s effort, shall we?

The other thing I was busy with was a GooseChase. Basically, a fun*, interactive series of challenges which the teams have to undertake and complete within a given time period. This particular GooseChase is for the Virtual Quiz Groups that got together over lockdown, and while we’re still not allowed to see each other in the flesh or go round each others place and do things, I thought I’d lob one of these together for our entertainment. There is an app, but holey-moley it’s expensive. And expensive in USD – I can’t even work out how much it would be in ZARs.
Anyway, if you thought putting a quiz night together was hard work, wow. You ain’t seen nothing yet. An organisational nightmare.

But if it comes off, it has the potential to actually be quite cool.

What else?

Well, Garmin is half back. I was able to sync a bit overnight and although the interface looks (perhaps understandably) like it’s taken a savage beating and the cuts and bruises haven’t quite subsided yet, it is still breathing – just – and will hopefully continue its recovery. Amazing that it managed to find a ICU bed right now.

Talking of medical stuff, I need to go to a doctor’s office today and I’ve never been less enthusiastic about anything. It’ll be the smallest public space I’ve been to in months, and also probably the longest period of time I will have spent in any indoor public space all year. If you remember my Virus FAQs post, these were two of the things I suggested were best avoided, but sometimes, needs must. So I’m going to put on my Big Boy panties (and my Big Boy mask), take a deep breath (outside) and just do it. I’ll also have my Big Boy sanitiser along with me and won’t hesitate to use it.

Don’t test me.

I have been listening to The Lathums. They’re from Wigan, so the a is hard and harsh, just like all a’s should be (glass, grass, path, bath etc.)

Don’t @ me.

More here.

Finally, some more news on our shit government. This is an image from part of Andrew Mlangeni‘s funeral yesterday.

A true giant of Apartheid resistance, a Rivonia Trialist and an ANC stalwart, it obviously attracted a lot of attention. Hands crossed on the left there is village idiot Fikile Mbalula – currently the Minister for Transport.
Now I have nothing against a decent send off for Mlangeni: he certainly deserves it. But so does every other individual dying at the moment.
So the question is, why are there so many people there? And why are they standing so close to one another? That goes against the regulations for funerals which have been rigorously applied for everyone else.

And then Mbalula turned up on TV this morning saying that the situation “had been exaggerated”. With advance apologies to my reading audience: fuck you, Fikile.
I, like everyone else, can see from the footage that at least two of those regulations above are being ignored and that’s only out of three, given that it’s not nighttime.

Is it any wonder that the lockdown regulations are being so openly and regularly flaunted? The only difference is that there are fines, police brutality and criminal records for the general public. Fikile and his government chums get – at best – a gentle slap on the wrist.

It’s just another example of one rule for them, one for the rest of us.

Right. Rant over. I’m off to mentally prepared for this afternoon’s trip, and to see if I can sort out another couple of GooseChase challenges before lunchtime.

Have a nice day. Wear a mask.

 

 

 

* terms and conditions apply. 

Day 117 – Really?

In a country where everything – everything – gets touched by the thieving hands of Government corruption, it’s good to know that someone is finally standing up and fighting corruption. That someone is… [checks notes] er… [checks notes again] er… apparently, it’s… The Government.

This image, appended to the bottom of this tweet:

Government remains committed to building an ethical State in which there is no place for corruption, patronage, rent-seeking and plundering of public money. Report any suspected corrupt activities. #AntiCorruption #FightingCorruption Read more: gov.za/anticorruption

reminded me of [an analogy I decided not to use*] or the Pope encouraging people to come forward and root out Catholicism.

It’s literally everywhere (corruption, not Catholicism) (although…) from the President’s office down.

 

They say a fish rots from the head, but there’s smelly sludge all over the gills, fins and tail in this case. (Can you tell that I never did more than basic fish biology during my studies?)

R4.8 million for someone to go door to door and tell people about Covid-19 – R2640 per person. A cool ten and a half grand if there’s a family of four at home when you call.

There’s R29.7 million “missing” in KZN.

The R500 billion coronavirus fund was obviously just too good an opportunity to miss:

So:

And I should probably just not mention the Eastern Cape Scooter Fiasco*.

These examples were not hard to find, at all. And one could argue that at least someone is documenting, recording and reporting them. But mostly, nothing ever happens about these cases, and even on the odd occasion when it does, the perpetrators are re-employed by their equally corrupt colleagues (and/or political party) soon afterwards anyway.

So where is the punishment?

So what is the point?

But then for the government – arguably the most guilty entity for both the enabling of and looting of public money – to tell us that “Fighting corruption is everyone’s business”?

I’ve honestly never heard such utterly hypocritical bullshit.

 

 

* 100 words in was just too soon to invoke Godwin’s Law. 
** I actually saw The Eastern Cape Scooter Fiasco on the Friday at Reading in 2007. Great drummer. Energetic performance. 

Day 110 – Understanding reactions

People react to different things in different ways.

As Rudyard Kipling famously wrote:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs…

Then you would be good as the first responder to a multi-vehicle pile up*.
You need someone who can organise and mobilise and prioritise in that situation.

But that’s not important here.
Unless you are reading this while driving, in which case, it might be important soon.

I can understand why people react with frustration and disappointment to the recently reinstated alcohol ban. I also reacted this way (even though I also understand the alleged rationale behind it).

I get why people don’t agree with the ban on the sale of tobacco. I don’t agree with it either.

But I can’t understand why people won’t wear masks. It’s so simple. So obvious. So straightforward. It’s so easy. I cannot see the downside.

Maybe the resistance is because of the other rules and regulations over which you have less control? Pushback against a government that one feels is taking things too far?

I know, I know – there are a lot of other underlying issues here. No time for those right now. Or… maybe… ever.

But wearing a mask isn’t difficult and it has benefits for everyone – even slowing the spread of the virus and potentially getting those other “draconian” measures lifted sooner.

Being asked to wear a mask is a no-brainer.

It shouldn’t elicit stuff like this:

 

u wot m8?

You don’t need me to point out just how many things there are wrong with this (spoiler: I’m about to list a few, anyway). It simply doesn’t make any sense.
Where has this toddler been that everyone is wearing masks all the time? Why was everybody (and clearly, I mean everybody) wearing masks in Dubai for a couple of years before the coronavirus outbreak? What happened to this toddler’s parents? Why haven’t they taken him for tests? Or is he in hospital for those tests? Did they not discover any other underlying medical or psychological condition? How did they pinpoint it on the mask thing? I mean, it isn’t like the toddler could have told them, is it? How many toddlers are there in Dubai? How many toddlers are there in the world? Why is this toddler the only one affected in this way?

And then the big ones:
Why would someone make something like this up?
And why would anyone believe it?

I don’t know why people react to different things in different ways. For example, I don’t know why I reacted to this tweet by sitting in front of the footy last night and writing a 1000-word, fictional feature article about this Dubai toddler.

But I did.

Maybe it was that I needed answers to those questions above.
Maybe it was that the football was rather dull. I don’t know.

Anyway. Please go and read it and share it. Just for the lolz.

And please wear a mask. Thanks.

 

* Rudyard didn’t write that last line. 

Day 108 – All change (again)

Another address from the President at short notice yesterday evening and it’s all change again for the rules and regulations of Level 3 Lockdown. Or Level 3 Enhanced or Advanced or Plus or Plus Plus (which makes everything better). I’m a bit lost as to exactly where we are now.

I think we’re all a bit lost as to exactly where we are now.

What changed last night, then?

Masks became mandatory in public places. There are now a lot more rules and detail about that, replacing the previous:

A person must when in a public place, wear a cloth face mask or a homemade item that covers the nose and mouth, or another appropriate item to cover the nose and mouth.

Which did kind of suggest that masks were mandatory when in public places.
Good. There’s plenty of evidence that this will slow the spread of the virus – especially in indoor space (which aren’t good places to be anyway right now, remember?)

The sale of alcohol got banned again. Annoying, disruptive, damaging to the local economy, but sadly understandable, given the current pressure on our healthcare systems. And yes, it does feel like the whole class is being punished because a couple of kids wouldn’t stop talking, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Trying to put those two children on the naughty step has not worked, so we all have to suffer. Once again, the black market will open up, shebeens won’t be adequately policed and the law will instead choose to crack down on someone with a six-pack of Savannah in his car boot. It’s all part of the dysfunctional society in which we live.

A new curfew 2100-0400. It seems like that those two kids who ignored the teacher and kept chatting also do it mainly at night. Alcohol and late nights are apparently the thing and time that there is most pressure on hospitals – at least from a unnecessary admissions point of view. So – no more booze and no more late nights. Not that the rest of the class were out and about much anyway.

Taxis can now have 100% occupancy for short distance trips. As long as their passengers wear masks (as above) and as long as the taxis have their windows open.

Eish… Taxis… taxis… taxis… The transport lifeline of low income South Africans.
The bane of every other road users’ life.
Let me take you through the folly of these regulations in no particular order.

100% occupancy. This in the same week that it was revealed that having middle seats empty on planes halved the risk of catching coronavirus. 100% occupancy in taxis will only increase the chance of passengers catching Covid-19 on their taxi journey. However: honestly, given the infamous disregard for the law amongst SA taxi drivers, it’s unlikely that they were sticking to the previous 70% rule anyway.
Opening windows. I can be pretty sure that the windows on taxis will not be opened during journeys in winter. It’s either freezing cold, soaking wet or (and yes, actually at the moment) both. Opening the windows may seem like a silly thing, but ventilation is key in preventing the spread of respiratory illness. It’s one simple way of reducing the spread of TB. However: honestly, given the lack of anyone opening taxi windows to “Stop TB” and yes, given the infamous disregard for the law amongst SA taxi drivers, it’s unlikely that any windows will be opened.
Wearing masks. This one is down to the passengers, because they sit behind the driver and once they are on board, s/he can’t see them. Given the adherence to the mask rules so far, and adding that there is no apparent punishment for the passenger – only for the driver, I can’t see this one working out either.

So, while fully understanding the importance of the minibus taxi industry for many South Africans, taxi use will merely lead to more infections and provide an excellent vector for the virus to spread further, both due to the very nature of the rules, and the fact that any mitigating regulations are likely to be ignored.

We can still go to church, to cinemas and the theatre, but only if there are fewer than 50 of us there. We can pop in to the casino or restaurant, as long as they make sure it’s not more than 50% full. But we can’t go and see our families in their homes. I don’t agree with half of this. Probably not the half you think though.
Let me explain it from a couple of places.

I have mentioned before that just because something is permitted, it doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. And being inside with other people is not a good idea at the moment.

It’s almost as if that first line of the lockdown regulations:

You must remain at home at all times…

was put there for a good reason.

I would strongly advise against going to cinemas, theatres, casinos and restaurants right now. But at least if you do (and assuming that they are following regulations, which many/most seem to be), you will be screened on entry and have your details recorded, so 1. things are controlled and infection risk is reduced, and 2. if there is a problem, they can get back in touch with you and tell you that you may have been exposed.
I wouldn’t be visiting family and friends (especially older family and friends) even if it were allowed right now. Really, infecting relatives because the little asymptomatic transmission fairy was hitching a ride on your shoulder is not a good look.
Let’s be honest, many people have been going round to see their families and visit friends, been meeting in groups to exercise, and generally ignoring regulations since lockdown began. And who of them is going to then obey the rules about not going out if you are feeling under the weather?
And there are no screening precautions in place at Ouma and Oupa’s place.

There are far too many stories about people getting sick because they have done silly things.

So don’t go out if you can possibly avoid it: and you really can avoid cinemas, theatres, casinos, restaurants and Aunt Mary’s. You can.

So in conclusion, once again, if you take a step back and look through neutral-coloured spectacles, the government is trying to balance the dangers of the virus and the dangers of a collapsing economy. And they are trying to follow best practice as far as limiting potential exposure and protecting people – in words at least.
Are they doing it very well? Not really.

They’re in a no win situation. And they’re not winning.

Will people continue to break the rules as and when they see fit? Damn straight.
Will any of this be adequately, fairly and correctly policed? Nope.
Will we see the black market rise again for booze and continue for cigarettes? Of course.

This is not a pretty picture. But then global pandemics rarely seem to paint those.

 

Day 66, Part 2 – Pigs

We (humans) are not the only ones in South Africa struggling with a virus problem.

There are now outbreaks of African Swine Fever in three provinces: Eastern Cape, the Free State and Mpumalanga. And so the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (broad portfolio, bru) are advising that pigs are subjected to some of the same restrictions as humans to avoid the further spread of the virus:

There you have it.

Socially distance and self-isolate your pigs. Disinfect their surroundings regularly.

Keep them off beaches and out of National Parks. Ensure they wash their trotters for at least 30 seconds at a time. Don’t (or do) (or don’t) allow them to go back to school. Cook their food thoroughly.

Ensure they wear a mask and only exercise between 6-9am. Quarantine them where necessary. Only allow them to buy alcohol on Level 3. Keep them away from warthogs.

NEVER LET THEM SMOKE CIGARETTES.

Do not get them wet or feed them after midnight.

 

Right. I think that covers everything. Bring on the next viral pandemic.