Day 469 – Blue

There’s little point in me writing an essay on any given subject while I’m away and unable to discuss my thoughts on that given subject. And so that’s why I rely mainly on short posts and quota photos*.

Like this one from September 2017.

This was an art installation called Waterlicht, in which a certain pass in the Peak District National Park in the UK was flooded with blue laser light to represent rising ocean levels and general panic. To be fair, if the sea gets there, we are going to be in a lot of trouble, given that it’s about 300m above (current) sea level.

The project hadn’t been well advertised or attended on its first two evenings. But this particular night was chaos, with 6km tailbacks and lots of walking along dark country roads with traffic everywhere. Was it worth it? Probably not.
But it was an experience.

You might think from my flippant attitude just beneath the image above that I’m some sort of climate change denier.
Not so. Obviously not. I recognise that things are changing, and not in a good way. And because it’s a gradual change, rather than one specific moment in time, it’s being overlooked by many people as far less of a problem than it actually is.
I do think that we would all be better served by less sensationalism around the subject, though. Good science is still just science. It isn’t compatible with sensationalism, and I do completely understand people’s scepticism when they have been fed ridiculous headlines of doom and gloom by celebrities and newspapers for years and years, only for those predicted timelines to be wholly unfounded.

Those individuals and publications sowed the seeds of doubt; they have made the bed upon which we now lie. And yet, science still gets the blame. Regaining the trust of the public on this subject is something that we will probably never be able to do.

* this one seems to have gone on a bit though.

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 410 – A goodbye

Friends of ours emigrated to the UK this morning. Everyone seems to be emigrating at the moment. So much so that I’m wondering if we’re going to be the only people left here soon. Almost a case of “will the last ones out please switch off the light”, although that happens fairly regularly anyway. This particular emigration was foisted upon the family in question by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m quite sure they’d still be happily here if it weren’t for the nastiness of the last 18 months.

But I digress.

I know how hard it is to leave friends, your family and your home country behind. I had a bit of last minute assistance in that regard in that the weather on my way down to Heathrow was absolutely filthy and most anyone who had the option to leave the country for sunnier climes would likely have done so as soon as they possibly could.
Cape Town was nowhere as near as helpfully persuasive this morning.

Eina. Fancy that being your last view (for a while, at least) of your hometown.

And then having to fly to Johannesburg. And then (eventually) to London. I mean, obviously, the place has its perks and positives, but sunrises over the Simonsberg like this? Not so much.

Good luck out there. I’ll keep the photos coming in case you miss the mountains.

Day 404, part 2 – Ugh, ANC Government

Because I was obviously just joking about part 1.

Comedian Dara O’Briain tweeted about the gradual relaxation of lockdown rules today. And it’s worth remembering that while the UK lockdown has been much stricter than our local version of late, there have still been some benefits to everyone not being out and about.

Indeed. But while the UK is slowly emerging (sacrifices made, communities strengthened, disease beaten back etc etc), the signs here are still not very positive. No pun intended, cos it’s all just dire.
It’s still another 2 weeks before the scheduled start of “Phase 2” of our vaccine rollout.
I say “Phase 2” in those sarcastic quotes, because “Phase 1” was for (some of) the healthcare workers here and so we have now vaccinated 0.5% of our population. With one dose. It’s really not great.

And while things should start to pick up in a fortnight or so, we’re still staring at these sort of ridiculous stats at the moment:

Ouch.

17 days short of a quarter of a century. 25 (twenty-five) years. Utterly depressing and wholly representative of the absolute state of the government here. Meanwhile, we’re still happily accepting flights from India with no restrictions (despite stuff like this and this). Compare our stance with other cricketing nations (which is obviously the goto metric for this sort of thing):

It’s almost like they’re trying to sabotage the country. Why aren’t we taking any precautions at all while India is recording a million new cases every three days (and we all know that that figure is massively under-represented)? We’re in a weird limbo period in South Africa at the moment, with experts puzzled and delighted in equal measure at the non-appearance of the much-forecast third wave. But while we should rightly be making hay while the sun shines, it seems pretty foolish to fling ourselves into the flailing blades of the combine harvester.

Much like the understated benefits of the lockdown (see Dara’s tweet above), the downside of the lack of Covid in SA (although there are currently over 21,00 active cases) is that people are getting really lackadaisical about the safety measures they need to take. Masks are being worn around chins and wrists more and more frequently (this approach doesn’t stop the spread of a respiratory virus) and you can walk into shops, pubs or restaurants without a hint of a temperature check, a spray of sanitiser or a record of your name and number.

It’s not good, but there are no repercussions because there is very little Covid around. However, when there is Covid around, this behaviour will really help to amplify it before we’ve even realised it’s returned.

*sigh*

That’s all for today. Day 405 tomorrow, which brings back memories of that horrid 1980s Peugeot car…

The Peugeot 405 is a large family car released by the French automaker Peugeot in July 1987, and which continues to be manufactured under licence outside France, having been discontinued in Europe in 1997. It was voted European Car of the Year for 1988 by the largest number of votes in the history of the contest.

Wow. Now we know.

Day 374 – Dassen Island by night

I didn’t think that the image below deserved Flickr status (that said, I think that the one of the cormorant probably shouldn’t be there either), but I still quite like it. So let’s preserve it for posterity right here.

Dassen Island sits about 9km off the coast at Yzerfontein. There’s not much there save for a lighthouse…

…a penguin colony and a lot of gannets, but a quick look at Google Maps does indicate a little infrastructure at the north end of the island – including that jetty.

And there’s even less to see at night. Because it’s dark, see?

However, if you grab the tripod, stick your short lens on, shelter your camera from the howling wind and time your longish exposure to pick out a flash from the 1.4Mcd light on the 29m tall tower, you can pick out all of the meagre detail: from that lighthouse in the south to the jetty lights in the north, through the evening heat haze. Like this:

Not amazing. But something different. And thinned. Thinned images are still very en vogue.

And that Dassen Island lighthouse characteristic?

Fl(2) W 30s – two white flashes every 30 seconds. I needed to know this so I could time my shot correctly, but when I looked it up, that setup rang a bell with me. And yes, a quick check confirmed that that is exactly the same characteristic as the Langness Lighthouse at Dreswick Point in the Isle of Man. It scares me that I recognised this.