Religion and the Knysna fires

Busy day for me today, so I’m going to direct you elsewhere (although obviously please come back once you’re done there).

Herewith then, an article by Ivo Vegter (you may remember him from such posts as The Lion, The Bitch and The Ecophobe and Ivo backs me, rubbishes Christine’s Brilliant Idea) about the recent devastating fires on the Garden Route.

As ever, Ivo takes a different angle on the situation, lamenting the hypocrisy and dichotomy of some religious individuals and their reaction to the disaster.

At no time since the start of the tragedy did enough rain fall to make much difference to the fires, but when the occasional few drops did fall, Christians cluttered up the chat groups to thank their god. When the fires burnt out or were successfully fought, they praised the lord.

It’s clearly the writing of an very angry man, albeit that you get the impression that his professionalism is keeping his true feelings somewhat in check. Although (as he notes), his feelings will fall upon stony ground when it comes to the Christians:

We will be told it’s a matter of faith, not reason. That has the merit of being true, at least. There is nothing reasonable about any of this.

It’s an impassioned, yet controlled rant, clearly written in very difficult conditions – and it’s one of the best things he’s done in ages. I urge you to go and have a read.

Terrorism advice

In the wake of the Manchester attack (a phrase which has already been used all too often already this week), the UK Government has advised businesses to review their security and preparedness for a terrorist attack. Given that the threat level is “critical”, meaning “an attack is imminent”, it’s perhaps not a bad idea.

Their advice stretches to well over 10,000 words, and while I certainly haven’t read it all, contains some really interesting things.

Stuff like what to expect if you are caught up in a terrorist incident to which armed police are deployed:

OFFICERS MAY

  • Point guns at you
  • Treat you firmly
  • Question you
  • Be unable to distinguish you from the attacker

…which is actually perfectly reasonable, but is worth knowing before you actually may need to know it.

And the HOT protocol to recognise a suspect package:

The HOT protocol may be used to inform your judgement:-

Is it HIDDEN?

  • Has the item been deliberately concealed or is it obviously hidden from view?

OBVIOUSLY suspicious?

  • Does it have wires, circuit boards, batteries, tape, liquids or putty-like substances visible?
  • Do you think the item poses an immediate threat to life?

TYPICAL Is the item typical of what you would expect to find in this location?

  • Most lost property is found in locations where people congregate. Ask if anyone has left the item.

Again, common sense when you think about it. But… had you ever thought about it?

There’s stuff on what to do if there is a VBIED (Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices) or a VAAW (Vehicle As A Weapon) attack (like the Westminster Bridge incident earlier this year).
These can be mitigated by deployment of measures such as Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) and Vehicle Security Barriers (VSBs).

There’s also section 15.10, which I reproduce here:

15.10 Vulnerable/Dangerous loads

Operators should alert drivers to vulnerable loads or high-consequence dangerous goods and issue them with a vulnerable load/high-consequence dangerous goods card for these loads.

  • If a vehicle is stopped by uniformed officers in a marked police vehicle or Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) officers, drivers should display the card and follow the instructions on the reverse of the card to verify the identity of officers from the police and DVSA.
  • During security alerts, operators and drivers should follow the advice given to them by their local police force. (Keep up to date using news media, the MI5 website and relevant associations).

These are defined as “goods which have the potential for misuse in a terrorist event. As a result, severe consequences might ensue: mass casualties, mass destruction or mass socio-economic disruption.”
But… verification of identity of officers? The MI5 website?
Wow. It’s all very James Bond, isn’t it? (And yes, I know he works for MI6.)

We once accidently stumbled across such a convoy, leaving Koeberg Nuclear Power Station. The first indication that something was going on was the presence of several gentlemen carrying scary looking sub-machine guns, standing next to a number of black BMW cars parked at junctions in the countryside just north of Cape Town.

None of them pointed their guns at us, questioned us or treated us firmly though, so we continued, passing a convoy of what were presumably high-consequence dangerous goods as went on our way.

Progress

New single from Public Service Broadcasting. Progress.

And, ahead of the upcoming new album, is this a teaser that we should expect something a bit different from PSB?

These men look the same as they have always looked
They talk as they have always talked
But before your eyes, they are changing…

Look, if ever there was a band that relied on a single (albeit pretty much unique) formula, PSB are it. I doubt there’s going to be a radical departure from that. And look again – I’d be right.

Vocal by Camera Obscura‘s Tracyanne Campbell.

Cheese

Incoming email from Jesse Miller. Yes. The Jesse Miller.

I love the way that first paragraph trips off the tongue. Jesse is a down to earth kinda guy and/or girl. Approachable. Level-headed. Just like you and/or me. Because haven’t we all, at some stage in our lives, searched the web for information on cheese? I know I have. I’m pretty sure you have too. And yes, Watch Your Cheese was a superb post – the one in which I subscribe Andile Lungisa for the near incomparable newsletter from the near incomparable cheese.com.

I might not have to go there anymore though, because Jesse has written 7000 – wait, seven thousand?!??! Sweet baby cheeses… That’s a lot of words about cheese – almost 500 per health benefit. Anyway, those 7000 words about cheese are right here. Thirteen of those words are:

However, not all cheeses are created equal. Most cheeses get a bad rap.

Presumably, Jesse means this one:

Anyway, I’ve given Jesse the publicity he/she/it requested and I’ve shared an appalling song about cheese. All that is left to do is to sign up Andile Lungisa to JenReviews’ newsletter…

[keyboard noises in background]

…and now I’ve done that too.

A single baked potato

Busy day today, so here’s a bit of light relief. It’s Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert trying to buy a single baked potato.
And it’s proving harder than he thought.

Apologies for the quality of the image. I do recognise that it’s not great.
Still, it’s more the narration that you’re after. Give yourself a few minutes and chill out with a few laughs.

It’ll do you good.