Worth repeating?

Worth repeating? Given the lack of action on this issue, despite the repeated warnings from people far more qualified and eminently more important than me, you could be excused for thinking not. However, given the gravity of the situation being described and the impact it will have on our ability to survive as a species – yeah, probably.

We’re back on that old chestnut of antibiotic resistance, I’m afraid. The topic rearing its ugly head on here thanks to this guest editorial in the South African Medical Journal for May 2015, penned by Marc Mendelson of UCT and Malebona Precious Matsoso from the DoH. It’s a local journal, written by local people, about local issues. Just like the Southern Suburbs Tatler. Except sane.
It makes such happy reading:

If our overuse and misuse of antibiotics is not halted now, about 10 million people will die annually from drug-resistant bacterial infections within 35 years. The hammer blow will fall hardest on Africa and Asia, accounting for 4.1 and 4.7 million deaths, respectively, and the world’s economy will lose more than 7% of its gross domestic product (USD210 trillion) by 2050.

If 10 million deaths sounds terrible, it’s because it is terrible. Put in context, annual deaths from HIV worldwide are around 1.5 million. TB accounts for 1.4 million deaths. Heart disease kills about 2.5 million people each year. Three big killers and we’re only just halfway there.

Fortunately, this is all way in the future, isn’t it? Well, no. It’s not:

This is not a futuristic scenario … it is being played out right here, right now, in South Africa and other countries across the globe. Decisions to withhold surgery based purely on the patient being colonised by pan-resistant bacteria are being made, and people are dying of untreatable infections in our hospitals and communities. Quite simply, our abuse of antibiotics is destroying modern medicine as we know it. Unless the international community can alter its path, we will lose the ‘miracle of antibiotics’.

So it’s here, and it’s going to get much worse, so why isn’t something being done about it? We’ve touched on this here before:

Of course, if this problem wasn’t so insidious, we’d all be panicking about it already. If there were a 9/11 or a Hurricane Sandy – a single event – there would be far more awareness. (Not that mere awareness would really help anyway.)
But that’s not the case with the antibiotic resistance problem. It’s sneaking up on us and, for those of us in the know, it’s rather worrying.

And on that note, for me, probably the most significant line in Mendelson’s and Matsoso’s musings:

These numbers should make people sit up, listen and change behaviour. But more often than not, it has to be personal to achieve this.

Yes. Sadly, that’s probably what it will take. And sadly, this will happen to people as well. It’s happened to me already this year.

I was reminded of this satirical piece by Andy Borowitz, penned in reference to climate change, but with a nice, ironic “resistance” twist:

Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports…
While reaffirming the gloomy assessments of the study, Logsdon held out hope that the threat of fact-resistant humans could be mitigated in the future. “Our research is very preliminary, but it’s possible that they will become more receptive to facts once they are in an environment without food, water, or oxygen,” he said.

Maybe the same will be true once we find ourselves without antibiotics as well.

We live in hope. Briefly.

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ALWAYS ask for a window seat

Really? Well, that’s the advice from 500px:

You should always, ALWAYS ask for a window seat. Forget the trouble of not being able to get up to go to the bathroom, or the inability to stretch your legs.

Their argument is that you might just catch something as good as the 35 photos they share in their post. And look, those photos are good:


ws2Pragtig. Mooi. But the fact remains that there are around 100,000 commercial flights each day, and the 500px collators have managed to gather just 35 examples of amazing window seat photography (and don’t get me wrong, they are amazing).

There’s a problem with this. I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and assuming an average of 30 rows of seats per plane (seems reasonable, ne?), that’s 60 window seats per flight, meaning 6 million window seats per day. Even taking into account that not every flight will give the opportunity for amazing window seat photography (most routes bypass volcanoes altogether) and that not every amazing window seat photograph will be submitted to 500px, that’s not a great rate of return, is it? Because every window seat will definitely come with the trouble of not being able to get up to go to the bathroom, and the inability to stretch your legs.

So no, 500 px. I do appreciate the work of your contributors, but I’ll live the window seat dream vicariously through them while choosing to enjoy the (slightly) more comfortable leg room in my middle block aisle seat. (That’s a 6000 miles… tip right there.)

2 Comments | Tagged , , , | Posted in positive thoughts, recommended site

Little & Large

No, not the popular 80s British comedy duo. I’m talking about ships.

To mark the 175th anniversary of the Cunard Shipping Line, that company took three of its biggest cruise liners to Liverpool’s River Mersey to celebrate. Since the ships in question were the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Victoria and the Queen Mary 2 (recently in Cape Town), it was billed as the 3 Queens. By all accounts, it was a resounding success, with ships, flypasts and fireworks for the estimated million onlookers to see.


If you want to find images of the event, Google is your friend. Or Flickr. And the whole thing was streamed live on Youtube. Look, you’re not short of options here.

But while people are celebrating and having a good time, normal life goes on. And if you’re the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Limited Seacat, Manannan (seen by me here), normal life is getting people from the Isle of Man to Liverpool. And it’s probably quite annoying when you get there and someone has taken your parking space:

11162081_1015281998482036_255042973669970321_nHey – it’s ok. There’s precedent: previously in Liverpool, Manannan has had to sneak in behind the QM2 to dock at the landing stage.
But… scale!

20150525233254There she is, just off the stern of the QM2. And while we snigger at the tiny Manx ferry, it’s worth noting that it’s not actually that tiny: it’s 96m long, and carries 850 passengers and crew and 200 cars. Mind you, compare that with the QM2’s 345m length and 4,350 passenger and crew capacity, and yeah, ok.

Of course, it’s not a fair comparison – these vessels have different jobs and are each designed to fit their respective purposes. But the QM2 is awfully big, isn’t she?

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Behold the ecocapsule

More nonsensical eco-design stuff, this time from Nice Architects (I think we’ll be the judge of that) of Slovakia. It’s a 4.45 x 2.25m, 1.5 ton, self-sustainable “house”.

Ecocapsule01I loved this line from the Engadget write-up:

The structure’s shape also allows its inhabitant to collect rainwater by placing containers around it.

Amazing! Incredible! Behold: the future! What a time to be alive!
No. Actually, this was a serendipitous discovery after one of the designers accidentally left a bucket outside on his patio on a wet day in Bratislava.

But that aside, I’m sure that the rest of technology in the Ecocapsule is ever so clever (Spoiler: er… no. It’s basically just some solar cells and a wind turbine attached to a battery).
So, what’s the point? No-one wants to live in anything that small, because it’s completely impractical, and if anyone actually did want to live in anything that small, surely it would make more sense for it to have wheels and therefore be mobile.

We could call it… “a caravan”.

Pricing is yet to be announced, but with just shipping to the Eastern Seaboard of the USA costing $2,400 (a shade under R30,000), it’s reasonably expected be somewhere between “astronomical” and “holy crap, that’s totally ridiculous”.

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Mrs (Newcastle) Brown

Newcastle’s Premiership survival, some lovely red wine and a couple of episodes of Mrs Brown’s Boys have taken precedence over a proper blog post this evening.
I trust that you’ll understand. And if not, I’m sure that there’s a form somewhere that you can fill in.

Good luck with that.

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