Day 92 – Some good advice and some nice visuals

Two things to share with you today: one is some good advice and the other is some nice visuals.
You’d probably guessed that from the title of the post though.

First up, a nice, practical piece from the Daily Maverick, written in language we can all understand.

We cannot be saved by government policy alone – the things we can all do are what will save South African lives. And those things are pretty simple.

Our Summary:

Do everything possible outdoors;
Open windows;
Wear masks;
Keep at least one metre distance (two metres is better) from people
Avoid crowded spaces
Be quick

It’s good stuff, it’s easy to read, and each point is backed up by (layman’s) scientific reasoning.

My one gripe is the little contradiction that creeps in under the “No Shaming” heading:

There is no need to shout at people exercising outdoors without a mask but at a distance, or in the park with their family; they are not going to infect you.

Sure, I wasn’t going to shout at them. But wearing a mask outdoors costs no time, money or effort and reduces the risk of transmitting the virus from “low” to effectively “nil”. So why make any exception at all: why not just wear the damn mask like the law and any decent sense of morality says you should?

It’s not hard.

And then these visuals of “How the Virus Won” from the NY Times. (This link spotted first via @JacquesR, and then in about four other places I frequent very shortly afterwards.) Yes, you need to register (free), but it’s very interesting and probably worth it.

Some basic graphics, some good data – again explained in layman’s terms, the odd political quote (only the ones where the politicians in question got it horribly wrong – hindsight is 2020 – but why on earth would you want to go there ever again?).

It regularly looks horribly like one of the 1960s graphics you get where some killer plague spreads across the world.

Strange that.


Those are your interesting links for Friday. Have a nice day.
Wear a mask. Don’t be in America.

Some reading while I’m uploading

A bit of time, a window of opportunity, so I’m quickly (ha!) uploading the pics from the long weekend as promised. I started pruning my pics from my flight with Sea & Sky and then I thought no, sod that, I want to remember every moment of it, so I’ve just put them all up in a set yet to be uploaded (and therefore available). Expect whales, coastline, and skies forever and ever…

UPDATE: Now up – here

And I haven’t even looked at the rest of the photos from the rest of the weekend. Met eish, ja.

UPDATE: Also now up – here

But I’ll link to them in a separate post (UPDATE: Which I also did – here), because until those pics are available, you need to read this:

Some (obviously) excellent writing from Jacques Rousseau including a hilarious off-the-cuff dig at the French and this vitally important line:

The point is that there’s an arms-race of hyperbole going on…

And yes, he’s absolutely right and it’s making the internet an increasingly unpleasant place to be and additionally (and more importantly), it’s stifling and devaluing meaningful debate.

Ivo backs me, rubbishes Christine’s Brilliant Idea

The eagerly-awaited “fracking the Karoo” column from Daily Maverick “Opinionista” Ivo Vegter has finally arrived, bringing with it further discussion of the dubious brainwashing tactics used by the anti-frackers (Lewis Pugh, TKAG et al). It’s nice to see that Ivo has finally jumped on-board with 6000 miles… after our previous differerences over… well… everything, really. And although he doesn’t actually mention this site in his column, you can tell he’s read it and then put it in much more technical (read: better) English.

Lewis Pugh was rousing. He invoked Mandela and Gandhi and the brave people who fought and died for freedom. The propaganda was spectacular and alarming. There would be war over water, he warned, if we permit Shell to prospect for shale gas in the Karoo.

This is about our children’s future, and that of our children’s children, he preached. Shell is proposing to destroy our environment, he said, launching into stirring rhetoric about the ravages of global warming. Then he invoked the political tyrants being toppled in north Africa, and deftly juxtaposed “corporate tyranny” as if it’s the same thing.

It was grand oratory, concluding in Churchillian fashion with a call to arms and a vow to fight on, so “good will triumph over evil”. Yes, he actually used those words.

It was a slick performance, full of emotive appeal and rhetorical hyperbole. Dutifully, the mainstream media – whose sympathies I may have mentioned before –cheered this green David, standing up against the corporate Goliath.

But just because a little guy is facing up to a big guy doesn’t make the little guy right.

Ivo quotes from several apparently pro-fracking papers, reports and article, which I have not had time to read (remember kids, this is his job, it’s merely my pastime). But the gist is that the main opposition to fracking in the Karoo is flawed by being based on incorrect information, poor data and/or downright untruths. Still, this opposition is cleverly presented as fact with a huge helping of emotion on a sideplate, and is then dutifully lapped up and regurgitated by their supporters.

But while Ivo might agree with me:

One keeps hearing how Big Oil lobbyists are evil spinmeisters and insidious manipulators of public opinion. Don’t forget that Big Green lobbyists can deceive the public with the best of them.

he pours scorn upon Christine’s Brilliant Idea™ – as documented yesterday on this blog.

Oh, and one other thing. Ditch the word “fracking”. It is a barbarous bastardisation of a perfectly good English term. Using it has only one purpose: spin.

It is designed to make people who don’t know better fear a perfectly ordinary industrial technique that has been in used safely and successfully around the world for many decades. It permits cute, but crude, phrases like “Fracking up the Karoo”. It should be beneath any self-respecting journalist.

Christine will surely be heartbroken.

Me? I’m off to try and find a “self-respecting journalist”. hahahaha!

Colours to the mast…

With the 2011 Municipal Elections not far away (don’t forget to register to vote this weekend, folks) the election machinery of our erstwhile political parties is once again being dusted off after a couple of years in the shed and already the first posters (albeit registration posters, rather than election posters) are being blown off the streetlamps all over Cape Town.

This election will be the first one since the inception of The New Age (TNA), the national daily newspaper whose owners, the Gupta family, have those infamously tight ties to Jacob Zuma. While TNA denies that it will be merely a mouthpiece for ANC propaganda, there are those who have their doubts, namely the scathing Mandy de Waal in the Daily Maverick last September when the paper was launched:

aside from the obvious currying ANC favour, the editorial focus appears fragmented.

and her “you do the math” implications:

The New Age has moved some way from Essop Pahad’s protestations in July that the newspaper was a purely private venture. “I have said in the (PR) statement that it is not a pro-ANC newspaper, but let me repeat it please. It is not and will not be an ANC-affiliated newspaper to start with because this is a purely private venture.”
Pahad is a director and senior advisor to TNA Media which publishes The New Age.

She doesn’t stop there either – listing a whole raft of reasons why she believes Pahad is not being completely honest and why it’s obvious that The New Age is merely propaganda in return for influence at the highest levels and thus should not be trusted to deliver an independent viewpoint.

And do you know what? She may well be right.

But then, what of her own vehicle, the Daily Maverick? A smaller outfit than TNA, certainly and we are told:

funded entirely through advertising

rather than directly from the pockets of Jacob Zuma’s best mates, which is reassuring. As is their assertion that:

The Daily Maverick is run by an independently owned, private company with no affiliation to any other media group (or political party or religious organisation.)

So why then, when I stumbled over to their site this evening, did I find a prominent DA MP preaching the gospel according to Ms Zille on their Opinionistas page?

“Ian Ollis is DA MP”

Colour me confused.

Doubtless, the Daily Maverick editors will claim that Ollis is merely writing in his personal capacity, but firstly, how is the reader supposed to know that? Nowhere (as far as I can see) are we told that these are Ian’s thoughts and not those of the DA (save for the pithy last line of his second column on why the DA and Cosatu should but won’t help each other to oust the ANC from government: “And this is all just my view. Of course.”).
And just how different would Ian’s feelings be from those of the political party he has served for 12 years, anyway?

Secondly, if these are just his personal views, why exactly is the DA’s Shadow Minister of Labour being allowed to air his personal views on his political opponents: “Cosatu and the ANC are still not accustomed to genuine [sic] listening to the public at large” on a site “with no affiliation to any… political party”.
Why just Ian Ollis of the DA? Where are the ANC MPs, the IFP MPs, the FF+ MPs (each presumably writing in their personal capacities, of course)?
Where is the balance?

At the very least, the inclusion of Ollis’ columns is a poor decision by the editoral staff of the Daily Maverick in that it obviously compromises the independence of their product. At worst, they could easily be accused of  hypocrisy when one reads the vitriol with which they went after The New Age for that newspaper’s alleged tacit support of a single political entity.

However I look at this, The Daily Maverick’s integrity is thoroughly compromised.