The dangers of a soggy August

No danger here in Cape Town, of course. We need that rainfall.

But if you live in Bristol in the UK, then a soggy August so soon after a warm Spring is a frankly terrifying prospect. Not because your kids will be bored, stuck inside during the long school holidays (although I accept that that isn’t great), but obviously because of the invasion of super fleas with giant penises that those conditions will inevitably lead to.

Super flea with giant penis infestation isn’t something that I had ever had to deal with personally, although I have first hand experience of half of the problem. Unfortunately, it’s the first half of the problem, as the beagle had a bout of fleas a couple of years ago. These were normal fleas though, not super fleas with giant penises. I have very limited experience of giant penises.

It’s important to note here that the penis size that they are referring to (which is ‘giant’) is expressed relative to the size of the flea. And fleas aren’t huge. Their penises, however, are:

The August damp weather so soon after a hot spring has created the ideal breeding conditions for fleas with penises two-and-a-half times the length of their body.

Just for the record, I’m 188cm tall. Hello! [winks suggestively; overbalances]

But how… how does that even work?
Ag. Never mind.

Anyway, in the event that your pet and home become overrun by superfleas with giant penises, what measures (not measurements) should you take? It’s not rocket science, folks:

The British Pest Control Association recommends regularly treating pets with flea treatment and removing infested bedding to prevent the pests returning.

Who knew?

I know that I have some readership in Bristol, and I’d be deeply indebted if that readership could let me know if it has seen any super fleas with giant penises in the local area. Or any giant fleas with super penises. Or any super giants with flea penises.

These are the dangers of a soggy August.

Footy pitch

The:

21 Best Travel Photos Of 2017 Were Just Announced By National Geographic, And They’re Amazing!

screamed the clickbaity headline.
Perhaps I should have ignored it, but I dived in anyway and here’s what I found.

Of course, all those photos are really good, but there were two that stood out for me. One was this one, from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The other (predictably), this…

Norway; Drone; Football? Some frantic box-ticking going on there.

Says ‘togger (no pun intended) Misha De-Stroyev:

In Norway’s Lofoten Islands, the Henningsvær football field is considered one of the most amazing in Europe. This photo was taken during a sailing trip from Tromsø to the Lofoten Archipelago. After a week of cold and rainy weather, the sky finally cleared up enough to fly my drone. We were absolutely astonished to learn that the entire football field is heated, so after lying down and soaking in the warmth, I launched my drone and took this photo from a height of about 390 feet (120 meters).

That’s pretty much exactly what I would have done, which gives me high hopes for a personal win next year.

Now – who’s funding my trip to Norway to get some practice?

Bird Flu back

We have another outbreak of bird flu in the Western Cape. Officially, of course, it’s called Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), but no-one knows what HPAI is, so let’s still with the vernacular, shall we? This latest outbreak, currently confined to two farms in the Heidelberg area, is type H5N8. Again, this means very little to the man (or womxn) on the street, but it is important to us scientists.

There have been 13 outbreaks of bird flu up north since June this year:

The outbreaks involved seven commercial chicken farms, two groups of backyard chickens, three sets of wild birds and one group of domestic geese.

But this is the Western Cape, and we like to do things a little differently. Thus, our outbreak is centred around two ostrich farms. Given that one of the primary symptoms of bird flu is a sore throat, contracting the disease if you’re an ostrich can’t be very nice – like an elephant getting earache or a narwhal suffering with horn rot.
That said, given that one of the other symptoms of bird flu is death, contracting the disease can’t be very nice full stop.

Fortunately, this outbreak seems to have been caught promptly during routine testing (which is what routine testing is all about, of course). The good news about this is that hopefully it won’t have the opportunity to spread. The bad news is that it’s still likely that all 1000 ostriches involved will have to be culled.

You might expect some sort of pithy comment to finish this informative post off, but the whole situation is actually potentially rather serious, so I think we’ll leave that for another time.

Dreamliner drawing

I tweeted about this while it was happening last week, but it’s worth recording on here for those who didn’t see it, and for me to come back here in a few years and go “Oh yeah – remember that?”.

Flightradar24.com’s blog has the full story, but tl:dr – a Boeing 787 did a test flight over the USA, the route of which drew an outline of a giant Boeing 787.

This was during an ETOPS test on the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 TEN engine.

I had to look up what ETOPS meant, and found that it was “Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards”. Basically, it refers to the distance that a twin (or more) engined plane is allowed to go from an airport that it can safely land at, in case of engine failure. As with many of these sorts of things, it’s actually rather more complicated than it would seem to need to be.

Still, as long as the people in charge know what’s going on, I suppose…

Regulators closely watch the ETOPS performance of both type certificate holders and their affiliated airlines. Any technical incidents during an ETOPS flight must be recorded. From the data collected, the reliability of the particular airframe-engine combination is measured and statistics published. The figures must be within limits of type certifications. Of course, the figures required for ETOPS-180 will always be more stringent than ETOPS-120.

Pfft. Of course…

Unsatisfactory figures would lead to a downgrade, or worse, suspension of ETOPS capabilities either for the type certificate holder or the airline.

And so they should. Excellent.

Confident?

It’s a potential watershed day for South Africa today. Yet another no confidence vote on our rotten president in Parliament, but this one has an edge on the previous versions in that it’s a secret ballot. And the opposition parties even had to go to court to get that ‘concession’.

Albeit that the ANC has slowly been losing ground in our comparatively young democracy, it still holds a huge majority. So at least 20% of the ANC MPs must vote against Zuma in order for the motion to pass (assuming that all the opposition MPs also vote that way, which seems (mostly) likely).

JZ and his people have worked hard – in various ways – to ensure that they are well supported within the party. There’s clear evidence of corruption and wrongdoing, but a lot of ANC MPs are involved in those nefarious acts, or they’re willing to overlook them, or they simply don’t care. Previously, anyone from the ANC sticking their anti-Zuma head up above the parapet has been swiftly dispatched, so the secret ballot is an important step. But then what personal reward is there for being on the right side of history if you’re voting anonymously?

Will it be enough to succeed? Probably not, but I’m not sure that anyone actually has any idea. Apart from the fact that the vote might be quite close, there could be individuals who are saying one thing and doing the other – to the benefit of either side. It’s politics, hey?

Here’s how a secret ballot happens in the RSA Parliament.

And if it succeeds, what happens then? This.

If a vote of no confidence is successful the President and the entire Cabinet will have to resign. The Speaker becomes acting president. The NA must (within 30 days) elect a new president from among its members.

So Baleke Mbete as Acting President. Frying pans, fires.

And if it fails?

Personally, I think it will be a bigger blow for the opposition parties that they’d like to admit. This is definitely their best chance yet at removing JZ, and they seem to have high hopes. Of course, they’re going to talk up their chances, but when you put that public face on, you have to publicly accept the consequences if or when things don’t go your way.

That said, every time there’s a no confidence vote in Zuma, it damages and fragments the ANC further, and so they will surely go again. The ongoing danger is that by next time, the ruling party has worked out which MPs voted against Zuma and has moved to… remind them of their party “obligations”, and realign them with the JZ faithful.

There’s an air of expectation over Cape Town today. It feels like a big day. It feels like things could change. But no-one is willing to stick their neck out and call it just yet. Personally, I think that there’s no chance of the vote succeeding, but I’m just a humble bacterium wrangler and world famous blogger, not a political expert. And I really have no problem with being wrong on this one. None at all.