Nanpu Bridge

Whizzing through Pulse between busy sessions in the lab, this dropped into my field of view:


It’s the Nanpu Bridge in Shanghai. And isn’t it lovely?

The actual bridge is fairly mundane (wikipedia cites it as the 57th longest cable stay bridge in the world – yawn), but that space-saving, circular on and off ramp is of the future (despite the fact it’s almost 25 years old).

Some more amazing photos on Jens Fersterra’s 500px stream.

Credit: Jens Fersterra

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Why not join twitter?

I love it, but then I read this and I wondered why I love it.


via @utterben

You can follow me on twitter here.
And Facebook here.

3 Comments | Tagged , , , , | Posted in that's a bit mad

On Hitting Children

Much local outrage (again) at the news that the government is considering a ban on the use of corporal punishment in the home. I suspect we’ll see one (or more) open letters written this week on the subject.


The furore has, once again, ignited the fires of indignation at alleged government interference in our private lives, and with it, brought out a bewildering defensive pride in some parents, unapologetically crowing that they hit their kids and no-one was going to stop them.

This post is not here to agree or disagree with the proposed legislation. In addition, in writing it, I’m not intending to pass comment on your choice of parenting methods either. Although, I think some of these examples are going a bit far and I was unpleasantly surprised to find the Bible thinks corporal punishment is just fine (but apparently only cos it’s preferable to Hell):

The rod is the family’s symbol of authority: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.” Proverbs 23:13-14.

Whole. Different. Argument.

So let’s not go there.

No, I just wanted to point out the strange (to me, at least) differences in the way we regard physical action against kids compared to physical action against other members of society.
To that end, I’ve taken some of the comments I saw on the subject this morning and I’ve removed any reference to kids and replaced it with a reference to women.

So now, they look like this:

My wife knows if she does something wrong, I’ll give her a hiding.

My dad used to beat my Mum, and it never did her any harm.

Sometimes, my girlfriend just won’t listen, and it’s the only way to get the message across.

My wife needs to know that when she doesn’t do as she’s told, she’ll get a good, hard smack.

It’s part of womanhood. It’s the only way they learn right from wrong.

Suddenly, it doesn’t seem quite so acceptable. Does it?

And before some idiot suggests it, I’m not accusing you of child abuse (the accepted legal definition thereof, anyway) or perpetrating domestic violence. So let’s be clear on that.

Mischievous? Sure.
Disingenuous? I don’t know so much.

It’s a dichotomy I’ve never understood – the social acceptability of corporal punishment in kids versus the disgust at domestic violence. There’s obviously a difference between the two, but at the end of the day, it comes down to using physicality to exploit or demonstrate one’s superior power over a vulnerable individual.

There will be those who argue that the rules for adults and kids need to be different. And they’re absolutely right, but those differences should then be in favour of protecting children, not vice versa.
And then there’s the other way of looking at it: that rather than comparing adults and children, we’re actually comparing humans with humans. So what makes it right to physically punish one group, when it’s plainly not ok to physically punish another?

So where do we draw the line? And why and how exactly did we choose to draw it there?

15 Comments | Tagged , , , | Posted in annoying people, in the news, learning curve, the parenting bunny, this is south africa

A bit of weekend

After a very successful (ie. winning) quiz evening at Cafe Roux last night, supporting the amazing work of the Jones Safe House, we hit Surfers’ Corner at Muizenberg for brunch and a bit of fresh air this morning.

Then home, where the kids were delighted to find a Garden Acraea (Acraea horta) on the patio:

Obviously, those two photos aren’t to scale, or that would be a butterfly of fairly terrifying proportions.
More kid/butterfly interaction here.

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Unchanged exchange

As if the constant rain, cold temperatures and miserable grey sky wasn’t enough today, I have just learned that my internet connectivity here at Chez 6000 is so slow because the local exchange simply can’t handle the amount of traffic going through it. Thus, while paying for a 4Mbps line, I’m generally very lucky to get 500kbps. And that’s a bit rubbish to say the least.

When SEACOM landed and when I got the 4Mbps line, I did think that we were beginning to approach some sort of semblance of First World connectivity.
How wrong I was.

Of course, all parties involved (save for me) are protected from any liability for this, thanks to the convenient (but standard – I’m not blaming Afrihost for this) “best effort” service clause in the terms and conditions:

Due to the fact that Telkom cannot guarantee the bandwidth throughput achieved when subscribers access the Internet utilising a DSL access line, Afrihost can likewise also not offer such a guarantee.

Interestingly, paying R200 less per month for a 1Mbps connection gives me around 350kbps. Slower, and arguably even more frustrating, sure, but with an extra R200 to spend on Carling Black Label, it might work out better overall.

The fact is that the exchange in question will definitely not be upgraded this financial year and there’s no guarantee when, if ever, it will be upgraded. Any alternative, not using Telkom lines (and therefore the same exchange) seems prohibitively expensive. Decent speed uncapped wireless offerings come in at a hefty R819pm, plus a R2000 set up fee.

If anyone has any brilliant ideas, or a money tree that they’re willing to lend me, please get in touch.

All in all, it’s pretty depressing, and if it’s holding me back, heaven only knows how the local SMEs are coping.

6 Comments | Tagged , , , | Posted in annoying people, this is south africa