Day 270 – Interesting

Some interesting stuff I have spotted on the internet over the last few days:

Great Conjunction Day.
OK, not something I spotted on the internet, but tonight is the night of the Jupiter/Saturn ‘Great’ Conjunction, the first since of its kind since 1623 (and I don’t mean just before half past four this afternoon). Of course, Jupiter and Saturn aren’t actually going to bump into one another (although, 2020…) but they will look like a single bright star.

The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn

You’ll have to get in quickly after sunset in Cape Town before they disappear below the horizon.


You’ve Probably Snogged A French Corpse From The Late 1880s
This story seems almost too weird to be true, but it’s so good that…

…and the page is actually usually reliable, so…?

You probably haven’t heard of L’Inconnue de la Seine (the Unknown Woman of the Seine) but there’s a good chance you’ve kissed her directly on the mouth, in a manner of speaking.
In the late 1880s, the body of a young woman was discovered drowned in the River Seine in Paris. Nobody knows what happened to her, though at the time it was speculated to be suicide. More importantly, nobody at the time knew who she was either.

Long story short, the face of L’Inconnue de la Seine became the face of Resusci Anne – the CPR model that (if you’ve ever trained in CPR) you’ve given mouth-to-mouth to. Amazing.


Study: Nose Holes Connect To Lungs
We’ve all seen them. The chinstrap mask wearers:

Image for post

But now, a (satirical) new study has conclusively shown that it’s not just the mouth hole that connects to the lungs: the holes in the nose also seem to connect that way as well.


All three face holes suck air in to your lungs and poof air out to the atmosphere.

Who knew?

Incidentally, we saw a “Karen” in a shop today being a “Karen”. And then her and her family were wandering around with their masks under their noses and tutting a lot about the “stupid rules” etc. And it occurred to me that trying to teach my kids that stereotyping people isn’t a good thing to do is actually really difficult when there are so many people around who are the literal embodiment of the stereotype. They exist for a reason. (The stereotypes, I mean; I have no idea why the people exist at all.)


Wait Your Turn
Another older one, but really interesting. In fact, if you look at the title of the subreddit this came from, you’ll see just how interesting it is.

The way these vultures wait their turn.
This was the most interesting thing I’ve witnessed as a wildlife photographer.

And in the great hierarchical pyramid of life, your average black backed jackal is clearly above your average (ironically white backed?) vulture.

Oh, and by the way:

A group of vultures is called a kettle, committee or wake. The term kettle refers to vultures in flight, while committee refers to vultures resting on the ground or in trees. Wake is reserved for a group of vultures that are feeding.

Here’s the (excellent) IG of the guy who shot the video above.


Have a lovely evening.

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.

Day 68 – A return to…

… lots of things.

But first:

Day 67 (as some beagle-eyed readers noted) was a bit of a non-event.

Sorry about that.

Thanks to some sterling and much-appreciated detective work by The Guru, it has been determined that the Jetpack plugin (the very one that informed me that the blog was down) was actually the one which was breaking it.

Sneaky little bastard.

Having re-installed it, it’s still behaving somewhat errantly, but now I know where to look if/when things go wrong, I think I can sort it out much more quickly than previously.

And there ends the technical stuff.

And thus, today marks a return to several things: the usual dross on the blog, school for some students (after the confusion over the weekend), the traditional South African sport of drinking and driving now that we’re (legally) allowed to buy alcohol again, and – for some morons – the idea that socialising is fine without taking any precautions.

The number of social media posts I saw yesterday with friends meeting up again for the first time in n weeks and then sitting right next to each other with no face masks in sight was… let’s say:”concerning”. But in reality the actual virus has almost completely slipped from the news headlines with the riots in the US and the new-found joy of buying beer taking its place.

And yet we find ourselves continuing on a very steep upward trajectory right now.

But it’s only going to get worse in the very near future. And I’m including all 4 provinces displayed here in that prediction. Just look at those telltale little upticks on the red lines, especially in the EC and Gauteng.

To be honest, since our progression to Level 3 was announced on the 13th and since Cyril decided that churches were fine to recongregate , the lockdown had become something of a sham for a lot of people anyway. Sadly, those events coincided neatly with the Western Cape case numbers moving into overdrive and they really haven’t helped at all in limiting the spread of the virus. (And let’s be honest, the situation is much worse than the numbers here indicate: there are plenty of people who have the virus who simply aren’t being tested because there simply aren’t enough tests available.)

We have to get over the hurdle of thinking that wearing masks when near family or friends implies that either we or they are ‘dirty’. The fact is that the virus isn’t discriminatory: it will infect anyone, and anyone can then transmit it to anyone else. We need to recognise that and we need to wear masks to protect everyone – not just ourselves, but also our friends and families and our communities.

To go and meet up with your mates in a park, at their house or wherever and to not socially-distance or cover your face right now is maybe mildly foolhardy in the UK, is tempting fate in SA and is downright dangerous and selfish in the Western Cape.

There’s plenty of it still happening though.

Sadly, I feel that it’s going to take people being personally affected by Covid-19 before that message starts to get through.
And – equally sadly – that’s very likely to happen, given the current local behaviour and attitudes.