Missed out

Much fanfare around the revealing of the  Dronestagram Top 20 Drone Photos Of 2017:

It has become a must-attend event for this period of the year. The Dronestagram drone imaging platform unveils today its top 20 of the most beautiful and amazing, even stunning drons [sic] photos published on the site during 2017.

Admission: I’d not even heard of Dronestagram before this. Sorry.

I’ve checked and it appears that I have missed out once again on being given any sort of award here. Which, given that I only heard of their existence last night, is hardly surprising really.

What follows is going to sound a bit like sour grapes, but it’s really not. It’s just that… I’m not very impressed with the Top 20. I’m not saying that I could do any better. I’m just saying that as a Top 20 (or Top 22 if you follow the link through), they’re actually a bit disappointing. Is this really the crème de la crème of the drone photography world?

There’s nothing specifically wrong with them. They’re all very nice. But as an example of the best you can do with a drone? Meh. There seems to be a lack of inventiveness; a lot of point and shoot. This one, for example:

just shows that merely having an interesting subject (which this undoubtedly is) isn’t enough to make a great photograph.

And I don’t think I’m being too harsh when I say that this image, of a woman harvesting water lilies in a pond in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam is the only one that shows any real creativity for me:

Drones give the opportunity for people to get a completely different perspective on an otherwise ordinary scene. But this opportunity won’t last forever. Familiarity breeds contempt. With more and more (and more) drones around, there is a need to do something more to make your drone photography special. These sort of allegedly prestigious awards should be leading this kind of thinking, but I’m sorry to say that I don’t see any evidence of that happening here.

OK, the polar bear one is pretty good too.

I have high hopes of my mediocre efforts being recognised in next year’s awards. I guess I’ll have to sort out a Dronestagram account to get them to notice me. Don’t watch this space.

How bad is the drought?

I meant to blog this when I saw it, but I needed to go to the beach and relax, so I didn’t get around to it. Still, no harm in sharing it now, because even looking back, I think it’s very telling as to the perilous state of our water supply.

We’re now well into fire season and when they are not fighting fires, our local agencies are working overtime on social media, keeping us informed and trying to stop people from starting fires in the first place. Thank you. Keep up the good work.

Here’s a post from the Overberg Fire Protection Association from the 31st December 2017.

Various reports of smoke have been received from 09:00 this morning. We can confirm that no #wildfires have been reported and area confirmed is safe. #Thanku for your vigilance, Overberg District Municipality Fire and Rescue and the #goFPA members that made sure our area is safe. The phone calls to assist with our efforts (mostly made by members from the beach!), the private plane that could give info and worried officials offering assistance!

All of which seems to be good news, but if no fire, then why the smoke? Because we all know that “there’s no smoke without fire“.

Here’s the image (by devfloat) that accompanied the post:

But that’s not smoke. That’s dust, but not just dust from anywhere:

#Overberg #Theewaterskloof area 31/12/17 11:30
No ongoing #wildfires, dust from the Theewaterskloof dam is the cause of concern.

Yes, people thought there was a fire in the area because there was dust blowing around from the local dam. The one that would usually be full of water and supplying it to Cape Town.
Not only is it not full of water and not supplying it to Cape Town, the dam is so dry that its surface is blowing around and making people think the valley is on fire.

I know that this is not “news”, but if anyone out there needs a sign that we are in a seriously dire situation, then this is surely it.

And yet only a third of us are following the city’s recommendations:

We are utterly buggered. And we only have ourselves the other 66% to blame.

Less shit candidate wins

A nation breathed a collective sigh of relief today as it emerged that the less shit of two candidates for an important job had won the election for the position.

Many people had been concerned that the more shit candidate was going to win but thankfully, that turned out not to be the case.

Sadly for those celebrating, they were so delighted that the less shit candidate won, they carelessly overlooked the fact that he was actually also shit, albeit apparently slightly less shit than the second placed candidate.

Thus, it seems like the nation has gone from one frying pan to another, and will likely now burn slowly and painfully rather than crasing directly into the waiting fire.

Siemens AirDrop initiative – a bit of reality

I’m sorry to have to do this. I already did it on Twitter, but clearly very few people saw that, so now I’m doing it here as well.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Gauteng travellers are being encouraged to swop their baggage allowance for water.
During a one-day activation at OR Tambo and Cape Town International airports, travellers can participate by having their luggage weighed at the Siemens AirDrop stand, located in the check-in hall opposite the self-service check-in counters (directly next to ACSA Info Desk at OR Tambo). Any travellers whose luggage is five (or more) kilos under the weight limit will be able to ‘exchange’ their unused kilograms for litres of water that will be delivered to Cape Town on their behalf.

Sounds great, because:

This social challenge is the perfect example of how South Africans can do something helpful for their fellow citizens’. So if you are travelling to the Mother City, show them some love and donate some water to help alleviate the pressure.

And let’s make this very clear right now: anything that alerts visitors to our current plight here, anything that raises awareness, anything that jogs their memory is a good thing.

But…

I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and other than the raising awareness thing, this really isn’t going to help.

Around 2.2 million people fly from Joburg to Cape Town each year. It’s the 10th busiest route in the world. So it’s a good place to go if you want to find big numbers of people for a stunt an activation like this. But even if every single one of those annual travellers brought down 5 litres of lovely, fresh Gautengy water with them, it would only amount to…

11 million litres.

And while that sounds like a lot, there are a couple of other things to take into consideration before you get excited.
Right now, Capetonians are using 630 million litres of water each day. That’s 26.25 million litres an hour.

And now remember that this is “a one-day activation”, meaning that this offer will only apply to a maximum of just about 6000 people who will be flying that route that day. If every single one of them coming down that day donates 5 litres of water, that comes to 30000 litres.

That’s enough to keep us going for 4 seconds.

Four. Seconds. 

Four.

So yes, as a tool for raising awareness around the drought (and of Siemens, obviously), it’s great.

Siemens say:

It’s this kind of ingenuity that has made us the global leader in intelligent water management.

But as a way of intelligently managing water, this simply doesn’t work.

At all.

Sorry.

We can fix our s#*t

2017 has been yet another rough year for everyone, everywhere across the globe. I guess then that the only individuals who are even vaguely happy are the astronauts on the International Space Station, but even they have to come back down to earth (figuratively and literally) at some point.

But I’d wager that the people of South Africa have had it worse than most, on average. On top of all of our usual daily problems of unemployment, poverty, crime and getting distracted by the outstanding scenery, we have descended deeper into so-called State Capture, and with it, many the associated depressing economic consequences, which in turn have exacerbated the unemployment, poverty and crime.

It can like to be a vicious circle of note.

Things may seem bad right now, and that’s precisely because things are bad right now. But South Africa has a history of bouncing back from these sort of seemingly impossible-to-bounce-back-from situations. Hence this sort of positivity from this brilliant Nando’s advert.

There’s a lot in there that South Africans will understand. But it will leave a lot of 6000 miles… readers overseas a little bewildered. So, why am I posting it, knowing that half the people who see it will already have seen it and it will mean nothing to the others?

Well, because I like it and I know that in n years time, someone – probably in a pub somewhere in Bloemfontein – will go:

Hey – remember that Nando’s advert? The one just before JZ got dumped as President? That was so funny.

…will google “Nando’s State Capture Advert” and will arrive here and enjoy the above once again. For old times sake.

If that’s you: Hi. We’ve been waiting. Amazing how prophetic the advert was, hey? We really did manage to fix out s#*t once again.

I know. I’m also amazed.