Virus Vrydag

Alliteration because this is a post about viruses. And it is a Friday. And Vrydag is Friday in Afrikaans.
Also Virus is Virus in Afrikaans. So we’re all good.

My inbox was full of posts and articles about viruses today. Real viruses, not digital ones. I’m not sure what prompted this outbreak, but if you have even a passing interest in microbiology and biomedical science, they’re quite interesting.

First up, a two-parter: this TED-talk from CSIR laser scientist Patience Mthunzi.

Could we cure HIV with lasers?

and this response:
Fullscreen capture 2016-08-12 105612 AM.bmp

because, as UCT virus scientist Ed Rybicki says:

Sorry, and I realise that she’s a passionate and well-meaning woman who has a TED talk and everything, but this idea is right up there with using electrotherapy to treat HIV infections. In short, it might work at the single-cell level, but is hopelessly impractical to use on whole people.


Next up: Polio is back in Nigeria.

After more than two years without wild poliovirus in Nigeria, the Government reported today that 2 children have been paralyzed by the disease in the northern Borno state.

A huge push on a very successful worldwide vaccine programme against polio has yielded incredible results. It does/did appear that polio is/was heading the same way as smallpox.


But continuing religious opposition, together with political upheaval in northern Nigeria has meant that the campaign has been failing at local level. These two cases, which have resulted in two children being paralysed for life, are both a setback and a reminder that we’re not quite there yet and that any thoughts of eradication were decidedly, and sadly, premature.

Room for one more? Good. Because it’s really interesting.

It’s a long one, but if you want to try to take some positives away from the West Africa Ebola Outbreak which began 2 years ago this month (yes, I know), then it would be the lessons that we have learned about how to contain future outbreaks. Not just Ebola outbreaks, but any outbreaks. Especially those in the developing world.

These lessons will stand us in better stead when the next challenge arises, says the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Professor David Heymann:

“By using language that they could understand we were able to get communities to work very rapidly to stop transmission,” said Prof Heymann, who feels this was not the initial priority in West Africa. “We’re too biomedical in all our approaches, but we’ve learned that community engagement is the key as we’ve gone along.”

“If communities can be empowered with understanding about how to bury their own people safely and how to prevent themselves getting infected, outbreaks can be stopped. That’s how they’ve been stopped in the past and will be stopped in the future.”

Much of this isn’t rocket science. In fact, none of it it is rocket science. Rocket science isn’t going to help you prevent the spread of a killer virus in West Africa. Getting to the moon, perhaps. But telling scared villagers how they can avoid dying from a seemingly unstoppable disease process? No. This basically comes down to using the correct language (something we’ve talked about before on the blog) and going through the correct channels. In effect, just communicating effectively.

If that’s the rather simple foundation for a more successful response to the next outbreak – whatever that might be – then lives are going to be saved. And that’s obviously a very good thing.


Busy day, busy evening ahead, so just a quick recommendation which I recently found on The Twitter:


Described as:

Fragments of life in real messages on postcards from the past. Delivered to you every day. Wish you were here?

It does exactly what it says on the tin. The fragments of life come as single line quotes from the postcards in question and range from the rather mundane, through to the altogether intriguing, and include several of the bewildering and bizarre. Of course, many of these snippets can be attributed to the actual holiday experience, but then there are some that provoke further interrogation.

Fullscreen capture 2016-07-28 013620 PM.bmp

If you’re in the right mood, you can become quite involved. Who is Martin, how big is his picture framing business now (clue: it’s bigger than before), and what does that have to do with a visit to Robin Hood’s Bay?

When was the last time you sent a postcard?
With WhatsApp, email and Facebook, postcards are surely dying the death, aren’t they?
Discuss [5 marks]

As I said – just a quick recommendation today, but do go along and have a look.

How many men…

…does it take to change a lightbulb?

Just one, although getting to the light bulb in question might take a while.

That’s Kevin Schmidt climbing up the KDLT TV analog broadcast antenna near Salem, South Dakota. It’s 1,500ft (457.2m) high.


But Kevin’s simian antics fade in comparison to Nick Wagner. Because Kevin was on the KDLT TV analog(ue) broadcast antenna. That’s now outdated technology. And outdated height. The new KDLT TV digital transmitter is 2,000ft (609.6m) in height.

You can watch a 19 minute video of Nick checking the top of the new mast here.

The new mast is the tallest structure in South Dakota. But the tallest structure in North Dakota is the 2,063ft (628.8m) KVLY mast. That’s also the tallest mast in the world and the 4th highest structure in the world. Built in 1963 the first man-made structure to exceed 2,000 feet (610 m) in height.
It held the record for the tallest structure in the world from August 1991 until being overtaken in September 2007 by the Burj Khalifa.

But you’ll remember all that from my 2010 post on the subject (includes photo).

Timelapse Number 3

I’m ever so slightly behind the curve on this one. I blame the Sun lighting my solar eleventh house. Uranus is rising.


Behold the return of Brendon Wainwright with his latest offering, I Am Cape Town 3.

This following hot… well… lukewarm,m anyway on the heels of I Am Cape Town and I Am Cape Town 2. And what he lacks in imaginative titling skills, he certainly makes up for in his photographic ability.

And yes, you’ll probably already have noticed that this one is in glorious 4K. And if you’re fortunate enough to have a 4K TV *waves*, it’s going to look pretty amazing in the corner of your living room.

The music – always an important part of these things is – by Ludovico Einaudi wannabe Stefan Kruger.

Sutherland 4K

Here’s a short timelapse film by Cory Schmitz, filmed in and around Sutherland.

Loads to see, including some of his set up.

The best bit for me was that this is in 4K, allowing me a rare opportunity to use my big TV to its best potential. And yes, it looks just like one of those videos they play on the demo models in the big TV shop to try and make you buy a big TV.

And then the music – it’s Moby, via

This site is a resource for independent and non-profit filmmakers, film students, and anyone in need of free music for their independent, non-profit film, video, or short.

Moby has made a selection of over 150 tracks from his huge catalog of music available to licence for free, via a simple online application system.

Very cool. I’ll be using some of that if when my Lily arrives.