Let’s slow things down a little. 120 is fine for normal daily run-of-the-mill decisions, but it’s not always good to rush into big things. Like major changes to the appearance of your beloved blog.

While you guys have been examining my front end in minute detail, The Guru has been tinkering around behind my scenes, as it were. And The Guru, being The Guru, has come up with (as in designed himself) a new theme for this blog, which he has graciously called SixThousandMiles and which he is now not-ever-so-gently prodding me toward using.

I’m still a little unsure. Not because the theme is anything less than wonderful, because it isn’t. It’s lovely. But just because the idea of change scares me. I’m only human, after all.
The silly thing about this is that the new theme is not drastically different from the old (current) one. There’s no garish pink, no flowers and (best of all) no garish, pink flowers.
But it is a bit different. Sure, there are one or two things which need ironing out – and when the changeover occurs, we may find others – but the only real reason for my reluctance to change is… well… my reluctance to change.

So – here goes. I’m going to flick the switch… soon.

EDIT: Switch flicked. Sidebar gone. Oops!
EDIT 2: Guru steps in. Sidebar returns.

Damage done

So Sky News now tell us that 14-year old Natalie Morton died as a result of a “malignant tumour in her chest which affected her heart and lungs” and that her death was “nothing to do with the vaccine that she had at school”.

This report is in stark contrast to their previous report which contained the unattributed quote that the schoolgirl had suffered a “rare but extreme reaction” to the vaccination that she had received earlier that day. The Times in SA even went as far as reporting that she had “died on Monday after an adverse reaction to the Cervarix vaccine”.

Quite who gave them this information is unclear. 
What is clear is that it was completely incorrect: “the inquest heard the tumour was so severe, Natalie could have died at any time.”

But it was still published.

In incorrectly linking the HPV vaccine to Natalie Morton’s death for the sake of making a big story out of something that actually wasn’t, news organisations have done untold damage. Much like the Andrew Wakefield MMR/Autism debacle, this story will have a detrimental effect on the uptake of the HPV vaccine.
And lower uptake means more HPV and more HPV means more cases of cervical cancer. Nice.

The mainstream media has a obligation to provide accurate news to it’s readers/viewers/listeners. And while some stories may be open to subjectivity and differences in opinion, this isn’t one of them.
Simply, Natalie Morton did not die because of an adverse reaction to the Cervarix vaccine.

This is poor, irresponsible and dangerous journalism.

EDIT: Please also see this.

Charlie Brooker on Mac Fanboys

I’m a full-on Windows user. Not because I think it’s particularly brilliant, but just because – for me – it works. We use it in the lab, I use it at home, my friends use it and my family use it.
And yes, occasionally there are flaws and stuff, but (literally) 99.9% of the time, it works.
Which beats my car, my swimming pool pump and my burglar alarm – to name but a few.

Another reason that I use Windows rather than a Mac, is Mac users’ constant and nauseating insistence that I must use Mac products if I want to be a “real” computer user. And yes, perhaps if I was a silver Loerie-winning, arty-farty Ad Wizard or a graphic designer or something, then maybe it would suit me to use a Mac. But I’m not, and it doesn’t.
So why would I want to shell out 2½ times the money for a product that I don’t want and I don’t need? Because it looks nice? Because it will make me appear “trendy”? Big wow.

The Guardian’s Charlie Brooker knows exactly what I’m on about and sums up everything I want to say in the first two paragraphs of his piece on this issue – the rest is certainly worth a read as well.

I admit it: I’m a bigot. A hopeless bigot at that: I know my particular prejudice is absurd, but I just can’t control it. It’s Apple. I don’t like Apple products. And the better-designed and more ubiquitous they become, the more I dislike them. I blame the customers. Awful people. Awful. Stop showing me your iPhone. Stop stroking your Macbook. Stop telling me to get one.

Seriously, stop it. I don’t care if Mac stuff is better. I don’t care if Mac stuff is cool. I don’t care if every Mac product comes equipped a magic button on the side that causes it to piddle gold coins and resurrect the dead and make holographic unicorns dance inside your head. I’m not buying one, so shut up and go home. Go back to your house. I know, you’ve got an iHouse. The walls are brushed aluminum. There’s a glowing Apple logo on the roof. And you love it there. You absolute MONSTER.

And he’s right, because the only people that this issue really matters to is the Mac Fanboys. If it mattered to me, I’d do something about it. But it doesn’t, so I haven’t and I won’t.
When I’m at a braai enjoying a drink, I don’t expect someone to repeatedly badger me about my choice of beer; telling me how their imported-from-Tibet Lèopard du neige bèvèragè is made with water from Himalayan glaciers, which is then crystal-filtered through the Dalai Lama’s undergrunties. I like my Black Label – I don’t need your stupidly expensive alternative.

As Marcus Brigstocke quipped at the recent Edinburgh Festival:

To the people who’ve got iPhones: you just bought one, you didn’t invent it!

All of which makes tweets like this, comparing that gadget to the achievements of space travel and automotive vehicles, seem a little absurd. Because it’s just a mobile phone, with a dodgy camera, prone to occasionally exploding – even if it has that annoying little fruity symbol on it. 

So Charlie Brooker is right. Microsoft Windows (in whatever guise) might not be the best product ever created, but it generally does what it is supposed to do and it generally does it very well.
Is Mac better? Maybe for you Mac Fanboys.

But then, as Brooker says: “I don’t care if you’re right. I just want you to die.”

Cape to be stripped of power?



Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sicelo Shiceka has warned the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape provincial government that they will be stripped of their powers if they fail to deliver basic services to poor residents soon.

Of course, the Western Cape is the only Province not to be under ANC control. And the City of Cape Town is the only major municipality not to be under ANC control. But surely these aren’t the only areas which are suffering with a lack of service delivery?
Take the recent protests in Standerton, Balfour (and here), Thokoza and Diepsloot, none of which are in the Western Cape and therefore all of which find themselves under ANC control.

When questioned about this apparent dichotomy in approach to what are basically the same problems and issues, Minister Shiceka was annoyed at the suggestion of any hypocrisy:

Let there be no doubt, if any ANC municipalities are shown to be failing, then they will be taken to task by the ANC. If there is no improvement, we will transfer their powers to the ANC.
And then, if necessary, to the ANC.

So that all sounds fair enough.
Although I think that Helen Zille, Supreme Emperor of the Western Cape, may beg to differ.

Last crane

In a symbolic moment, the last tower crane at Cape Town’s Cape Town Stadium in Green Point was dismantled yesterday. The plethora of tower cranes have become a feature on the Green Point skyline over the last couple of years.

The handover date for the stadium is just 10 weeks, and while there’s still work to be done, evidently none of it requires lifting heavy things anywhere high.


This stunning photo from Terry February, taken as the sun – and the crane – came down, sums things up nicely.
The end of an era. Albeit, only a 2½ year era. Which is pretty short as eras go.  

FIFA 2010 World Cup match schedule | Green Point Stadium Webcams | Cape Town Tourism 2010 site