Apartments for dwarves

Following the Air France crash over (or rather ‘into’) the Atlantic Ocean a couple of weeks ago, a further incident involving an Airbus A330 has been reported – this time en route from Hong Kong to Perth.

Perth, Australia – A Qantas plane hit turbulence and suddenly lost altitude over Malaysia, throwing terrified passengers around the cabin and leaving seven people injured, the airline said on Monday.
The Airbus A330 with 219 passengers and crew aboard was flying from Hong Kong to the Australian west coast city of Perth overnight when it struck “severe turbulence” over Malaysian Borneo, Qantas said in a statement.

Passengers later described the panic and confusion in the darkened cabin as passengers not wearing seat belts were hurled from their seats.

“It appeared like we’d just dropped out of a 30-storey building,” uninjured passenger Keith Huxtable said. “It was dark … people screamed.”

Passenger Michelle Knight, also not hurt, said the crew told her the plane had plunged 30 metres.

Six passengers and a crew member were treated on board for minor injuries, Qantas corporate affairs manager David Epstein said. The captain reported minor damage inside the cabin, Epstein told Fairfax Radio.

Now, I sincerely hope that I am never involved in an incident such as this, but if I ever am, I would hope to get my thoughts together before speaking to the media once I’m back on terra firma. Because otherwise, I might say something silly.

Take Keith Huxtable, for example. Measurements alone are not enough for him to describe the bumpy ride. No. Keith has to illustrate the distances involved using tangible objects, so we can better appreciate the terror. But he does it very carefully to make it seem a whole lot worse than it actually was.
See how he says it was “like we’d just dropped out of a 30-storey building”? Well, maybe it was – but not from the 30th floor.

Sadly for Keith, the media also chatted to other passengers on board the aircraft and it’s blown his story wide open. 30 metres is about 10 storeys.  Either that or Keith builds apartment blocks for dwarves. Or maybe the bit of the plane that Keith was in fell three times further than all the other bits of the plane. Although that seems unlikely.

Either way – given that there will inevitably be a full-scale enquiry into any aircraft related incident, I think it’s best not to exaggerate, since the truth will out.

Vuvuzela update

Sense has finally prevailed and FIFA has made its judgement on the ‘noisy’ vuvuzela issue which has been upsetting people who don’t want their South African football served with a side order of atmosphere.

FIFA have no plans to ban or stop fans from blowing noisy vuvuzelas at the Confederations Cup or next June when South Africa host the 2010 World Cup finals.
That was the word from FIFA president Sepp Blatter speaking at a special media briefing ahead of the crunch Confederations Cup Group A clash between Bafana and New Zealand at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Wednesday night.

In reply to a fed up journalist who complained about the “terrible noise” that the unique South African vuvuzelas make and suggested that they should be banned, the FIFA president smiled and said he agreed that the “trumpet” used by local fans was a noisy instrument.
“But,” he added, “That is what African and South Africa football is all about – noise, excitement, dancing, shouting and enjoyment. This is a celebration.”

Wow. Blatter talking complete sense. Incredible. He needs to chat to Julius. They can learn together.

bafana_bafana
Julius. Excited.

Of course, we still have some locals in denial over the actual World Cup – still under the impression that a Plan B or Plan C will come into effect and move it to Australia or England – so I think there may be some difficulties with getting the “Vuvuzelas are OK” message across.
But as I said in my earlier post on this issue, the vuvuzela is set to become the trademark of the World Cup next year. They were there when SA was awarded to World Cup in Zurich back in May 2004  and they will be blowing all the way to the final in July next year.

So if you don’t like them: sorry for you.

* along with a huge amount of over-reporting of any negative issue with a possible sensationalist angle.

Shhh!

The world has ended.

Or so it would seem if you were to tune into Cape Talk today. Whities from all races – anxious not to miss the ‘soccer’ bandwagon – have tuned into the Confederations Cup and are upset by several issues:

1. The rules of the game,
2. The way the black people in the crowd booed the white bloke playing for SA and
3. The noise of the trumpets – called ‘vuvuzelas’.

Of course the ball is round, not like a proper ball, which is oval. And the goal posts stop at the crossbar instead of making a giant H shape. Weird. And the players don’t use their hands. And they’re allowed to pass forward. Weirder.

The white bloke playing for SA is Matthew Booth. ‘BOOOOOOOTH!’ shout his adoring fans when he has the ball, prompting desperately misconstrued allegations of racism from the uneducated paler quarter of Cape Town.

Finally, the vuvuzela issue. ‘We don’t do that at rugby, so it can’t be right!’
Oh please.
The vuvuzela is to SA football what the braai is to the Afrikaner. And you are ruining your desperate attempts to be trendy by watching football by trying to change it. Ain’t happening. The vuvuzela will be the trademark of the 2010 World Cup.

Here’s a newsflash! Just because you weren’t watching doesn’t mean that football didn’t exist. In fact, it was getting along quite happily before you turned up and started moaning.

Want to stop the irritating noise that’s spoiling it for everybody? THEN STOP WHINING!

The importance of twitter explained

A common complaint of Twitter users is the assumptions made about Twitter and Twitter users by non-Twitter users.

Twitter does have many different uses depending on what you want to get out of it, whether it is organising get-togethers, discussing or seeking solutions to technical problems, sharing photos and news stories in real time, promoting your blog (apparently, anyway) or business. It isn’t just a little chat service for nerds and geeks. Although, of course, it can do that too if you want it to.

So, before you step forward and slate what you don’t know or don’t understand, try looking at it using Brian Micklethwait’s criteria:

I’ve said it many times before, but it will bear constant repetition. When some new technique of communication is invented or stumbled upon, you should not judge its impact by picking ten uses of it at random, averaging them all out, and saying: Well that’s a load of trivial crap, isn’t it?!? How will “I am just about to make another slice of toast” change the world? The question to ask is: Of all the thousands of uses already being made of this thing, which one is the most significant? And then: Well, is that very significant? If yes, at all, then forget about the toast nonsense.

And the other thing to point out is that, even if you don’t care about some stranger being about to make some toast, there may well be some other strangers out there who do. For them, such twitterings may be very significant. What if the person about to toast suffers from suicidal depression, and his mere willingness to attempt any household task however trivial is a source of rejoicing to all his friends?

But there will always be the haters: those who can’t or don’t want to understand. Simon Heffer of the Telegraph, for example:

One very good reason why I would not join Facebook or Twitter is that I cannot imagine there is a soul anywhere on earth that I am not in touch with in any case who could care less what I am doing at any moment of the day. I cannot believe that anyone should want to spectate the ordinariness of my existence, for I certainly have no wish to spectate anyone else’s.

But then again, Simon Heffer is described in this month’s British GQ as “a pasty faced Billy Bunter figure with a penchant for college ties”.
David Cameron wrote of him, thus: 

“The attitude that he personifies – hatred of the modern world – is not just part of the problem. It is the problem.”

Of course, the simple rule for Simon and his type is: If you don’t like it, don’t do it. And stop whining. Yes, you’re going to hear about it in the newspapers and on the TV, but if it really bothers you that much, then skip those stories and read about the war in Afghanistan or the latest goings-on in the World T20.

Or do you really consider yourself so very important that just because you don’t get it, the rest of us aren’t allowed to either?

Shamans salute dead whales

Seriaas?

Sadly, yes.

Yesterday, as a full moon rose over the Cape peninsular, about 120 people gathered at Kommetjie’s Long Beach to honour the whales who were shot there last weekend.
Oblivious to all of this, two whales basked off-shore within sight of the onlookers. Incense smoked and burning candles were arranged in the shape of a fish on the small promenade overlooking the beach,
Local sangoma and shamanic healer Devi Hill banged a Native American drum and chanted a bit as fellow spiritual healer Shelley Ruth Wyndham called on mankind to respect planet Earth.
“We humans are disrupting systems which have taken millions of years to develop,” she said.
She led the small crowd down to the sea where the whales were shot, and the chanting resumed. “We are one, we are one, we are one! Wake up! Wake up! Rise with the rising sun!”
Then night fell.

Andrew Donaldson, Sunday Times

I can’t stand the shallowness of people who attend these kind of events. Hundreds of people are dying each week in SA of malnutrition, HIV, violent crime and other stuff that isn’t included in those three categories that I just mentioned and yet they organise a memorial serivce for some dead whales? Please.
Now I like whales as much as the next man (and I’m assuming he’s not Norwegian or Japanese), but holy crap, these people have got their priorities seriously screwed. And look at the idiots that are doing it. Why have the candles in the shape of a fish? Whales aren’t fish. They’re mammals. Genetically, whales have more in common with Oprah Winfrey than they do with fish, so why not have an outline of a popular American talk-show host on the Prom instead?

And why bang a Native American drum, Devi? What’s wrong with the good old African drum, happily banged for years and years here in Africa? Or were you just showing off amongst your hippie friends? I recognise that “Native American” is a bit of a trump card when it comes to all things spiritual, but rejecting your local heritage is unforgivable.
And Shelley Ruth Wyndham’s rantings are nothing short of idiotic, too. What “systems” (which have taken millions of years to develop) were at play when those stupid animals chose to crash into the beach at Kommetjie? Cos SatNav certainly wasn’t one of them.
And how exactly did we “disrupt” those “systems” by shooting the whales? What were they planning on doing if we’d left them there? Growing legs and sneaking off into Noordhoek to do the Pub Quiz at the Toad in the Village? Leaping up in the dead of night when no-one was looking and opening a successful five-star hotel and spa complex in Misty Cliffs? Or just lying there and suffering unbearable agony until they eventually died?
I know which one my money is on.

Seriously Shelley, stop moaning and get proactive. If humans really are doing so much damage to the planet, then why don’t you do Earth a favour and pop off to join the choir invisible? Every little helps. Can you imagine how much CO2 is chucked out by that incense and those aforementioned inappropriately-shaped candle designs? Or how many small wading birds were unable to get their supper because they were scared off by your fellow idiots’ daft chanting? Talk about disrupting nature.
We aren’t one, Shelley. You and I have as much in common as Jacob Zuma and ‘Dotty’, an eight-week-old Dalmatian puppy living in Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex; as chalk and cheese; as Castle and decent beer. So please don’t think that I am one with you or your foolish friends. Frankly, the thought repulses me.

I really hope that this is the last we hear of those sodding creatures. Yes, it was sad that they crashed into a beach and died. But the incessant whining, accusations and recriminations around the subject are – frankly – beginning to get right on my tits. And this stupid ceremony – as misguided as the whales were a week earlier – really tops it all off. What a waste of time, effort, money and human spirit.
What is this going to do? Is it going to stop whales beaching themselves here or anywhere else again? Is it going to stop them swimming straight back into shore once they are dragged back out to sea? Fools.
If you must do something with your Saturday evening, then make it worthwhile. Make it meaningful. Make it beneficial. Don’t make an arse of yourself by banging a trendy drum and singing on a beach. Because, believe me, crying over dead whales while ankle-deep in ice-cold sea water makes you look like complete idiots.

Linky goodness: Ben Trovato on the Kommetjie Whale Slaughter.  

Note: A whole range of interesting swearwords (across three different languages) were removed from this post before publication, in case my Mum reads it.
This is in keeping with the 6000 miles… terms and conditions as described here.