Day 154 – A new ban

Earlier this week, wholly unfounded rumours of a new ban on the sale of alcohol swept the (social media) nation. Bottle stores (you may know them as liquor outlets or off-licences) were immediately inundated with panicking customers, anxious to get their fix in before the draconian measures were announced. Queues formed. Sales went through the roof.

Of course, that announcement never happened: it was never going to. But it basically meant that the bottle stores got a lot more trade for absolutely no reason. And while I don’t want to speculate about who started the rumours, there were certainly some online entities who – let’s just say – did nothing to quash them.

Really shoddy stuff.

 

But also successful. Very successful.

 

Hmm.

And so… er… it was with some alarm, that I… er… was informed, yes, of imminent Government plans to ban this blog. Yes, while all other blogs will remain online, it seems that I will be forced to take 6000 miles… down for the foreseeable future.

This is definitely going to happen, because someone just Whatsapped me this:

“Cyril will be speaking to us tonight.”

How could they deny us our privileges and luxuries, our succor, our emotional support like this?
It’s simply awful. And probably unconstitutional. And definitely not true.

Much like the alcohol producers and sellers, I will be seeking legal advice and lobbying the powers that be for a quick, nay – an immediate – reinstatement, but in the meantime, please spread this news and let them know that this might be their last chance to read stuff on here for a while.

Who knows what effect this might have on my traffic? But then who even cares, because obviously, it’s all about the principle of the whole thing. I will fight this to the highest court in the land, but in the meantime, please tell everyone you know to come and read my blog before they can’t.

Quick.

Fake

There’s only one thing spreading faster than this damn virus: it’s fake news about this damn virus.

If I have to hear that WhatsApp voice note about the “translation from the Spanish doctor, who is a friend of a someone who was chatting to an uncle’s neighbour’s colleague’s best mate at the pub”, then I will scream my sore throat out.

Is it not enough that you were forwarded it from the tannie whose last involvement with the community security group was expressing concern that someone had marked her house for burglary by placing a Monster Energy Drink can across the road? Were alarm bells not ringing when the message arrived with the caption:

Not sure if this is true, but it seems like good advice.

Please. Just think.

The same with twitter. Check your sources, people. Even if it’s someone well-known who you might trust on economic or business matters, they really don’t know better than the Government’s health advisers. And so they shouldn’t be sharing their opinion on this as if they know what they are talking about.
(Even funnier is when they tweet about not sharing unverified news and opinions less than 24 hours later…)

Celebrities: same. Well done on some great acting in that film, now please explain to me why you feel that gives you more knowledge about epidemiology?

Of course, just occasionally, the layperson does get it right. This NYT Opinion piece is succinct and full of good ideas a good idea:

On point.

So, in summary: Stop panic buying, stop sharing fake news, stop believing celebrities.

Stay away from people, wash your hands often, don’t touch your face.

It’s actually fairly simple stuff.

Stay well (or get better).

Respiratory illness

Your daily reminder that as it stands, Influenza is far more likely to infect and kill you than 2019-nCoV: the all-singing, all-dancing new virus coming straight out of Wuhan.

Fortunately, there’s something you can do about influenza – vaccinate yourself and your kids. If you do it in SA, you’ll pay about R50 and if you have medical insurance, you’ll pay nothing and they’ll give you a million points for doing it.

I lived with, cared for and slept next to a very sick wife with influenza for 10 days last year and remained wholly unscarthed (by the virus, at least). Guess who’d had the vaccine and who hadn’t?
We’re both going to get it this year, and so should you. And your family.

And if anyone tells you not to – they’re no friend of yours. Why on earth would you wish a serious and wholly preventable disease upon anyone, let alone a friend?

So yes, avoid these sort of people and this sort of shit:

Full story here. Sample paragraph here:

One recent post came from the mother of a 4-year-old Colorado boy who died from the flu this week. In it, she consulted group members while noting that she had declined to fill a prescription written by a doctor.
The mother also wrote that the “natural cures” she was treating all four of her children with — including peppermint oil, Vitamin C and lavender — were not working and asked the group for more advice. The advice that came in the comments included breastmilk, thyme and elderberry, none of which are medically recommended treatments for the flu.

We’re all (rightly) concerned about the influence of social media and fake news in elections around the world, but there are other (literally life and death) situations where less effort seems to be being made to halt the tide of disinformation reaching (clearly) vulnerable parents.

This needs to be addressed, and quickly.

UPDATE: We have a problem.

Finally clicking?

I was skimming through Facebook this morning when I came across this post from Justin Sullivan, shared via the Greater Overbeagle FPA, who stated: “We cannot agree more…”

Me too.

Is the penny finally dropping that people don’t like being lied to by the media (whether that’s “mainstream”, “specialist”, “political” or “social”)? It’s about time, because while one side of most every debate likes to shout about the “fake news” being peddled by the other, it seems clear that neither side is particularly truthful when an image or story suits or supports their narrative. And some individuals (I’m looking at you, Bradyn) seem to think that that approach is completely reasonable.

A quick reminder that we’ve been here before.

Mind you, even Justin made the same error just a couple of days ago:

It is quite hard to exactly pinpoint the source of this image, as it’s been used on thousands of websites. But it was being used on them as far back as 2017, so I think we can assume that the jaguar in question wasn’t diving into the Amazon to escape a fire last week. Unless it was a time-travelling jaguar, in which case surely there would be a much easier escape route for it.
We should also note that wild jaguars are very good swimmers, and would likely rather eat a human than give it a hug.

The thing is that now, every item of news has to be assumed to be fake and  double-checked, and it’s exhausting. We’re (quite reasonably) losing all confidence in our news outlets and what we read on Facebook and Twitter, and while it’s good that we are questioning what we read, it does leave us with the problem of exactly where we do get genuine, verified information from? (And I’m talking factually here, never mind the bias that is then flung into the mix as well.)

There’s going to be a backlash, and we’re getting closer to it every day. It might not be pretty, but neither is the current situation. The lack of trust builds barriers, prevents reasonable communication and further isolates individuals inside their own convenient echo chambers.

It stifles progress and we lose sight of any mutually beneficial common goal. Like preventing the (still) impending death of the planet.
If that is something that you choose to believe is actually a genuine phenomenon, of course.

Rain

We’ve had a lot of rain in the Western Cape this winter. Or so we all thought, but August is only two thirds of the way through and it seems to have stopped falling from the sky. Already, farmers in the Overberg (it’s just along the road from Cape Town) are asking if they might have a little bit more before winter heads off up north, please.

The dam levels are up around the 80% mark, which is far, far better than they have been for the past several (or more) years, and with habits having changed in Cape Town, we’re pretty much safe for the next couple of years, even if it doesn’t rain much more. But that’s not really the situation we want to be in. We want to be swimming (not literally) (wait) (no, actually literally) in the stuff.

And apparently, according the farmers, the rain that has fallen, has fallen at the wrong time and their winter crops are in peril. It does sound a bit like the wrong type of snow excuse from the british railway people back in the 90s.

Is this winter really less rainy (or less rainy at the wrong time) than previous winters? Or are we just a bit more aware, a bit more sensitive, than before, because of the whole drought thing over the past few years (did I ever mention that on here?)?

And then that brings me to another bigger, more important point on the weather. Is climate change being blown out of all proportion, just because it’s the in thing at the moment? OK, I accept that something is happening, sure. But based on all the other nonsense we’re fed by the media, I refuse to believe that everything that they’re reporting on the climate issue is entirely legit. You’d be a fool to think otherwise, although on such an emotive, divisive issue, you’d also have to be pretty brave (or stupid) to publicly question anything that the climate change people are sharing.

They’ll call you nasty names.

Agh. This is for a longer, proper post; one which I have no intention of writing at the moment. But the science that’s being reported just doesn’t add up all the time, and no matter how noble you feel your cause may be, basing your opinions on misreporting and untruths has never worked for me.

The problem is that with all the misinformation and fake news around, you have to take everything with a huge pinch of salt. You have to research everything and you have to research it from reputable sources when you do. Oh, and you have to live your life as well, as if doing that allows time for checking each and every fact you’re constantly bombarded with.

 

Right. A touch of drought, some local agricultural issues, a moan about just how crap the media is and a slight hint of a blast at mankind generally.
What a mess of a post. And yet I bet no-one is surprised. 🙂