Tourists not eaten by sharks

Three tourists who drowned when the shark-cage diving boat they were on capsized off Gansbaai were not eaten by sharks, much to the disappointment of the South African media. This unfortunate lack of an incident turned this potentially sensational and tourism-damaging crowd-puller into no more than a run-of-the-mill tragic accident story

Chairperson of the Great White Shark Protection Foundation, Mariette Hopley, said the shark-cage diving boat had anchored just before a freak wave capsized the boat around 10:00 on Sunday.

One of the people swept off the boat was caught underneath the boat and had to be retrieved by divers. The divers took the man to the mainland where paramedics managed to get a faint pulse, but were unable to revive him. He was certified dead.
The other two men were found drowned at sea and their bodies were retrieved.

A spokesperson for the South African Independent Press Association* stated:

This is a terrible and upsetting incident for all concerned – especially our photographers, who have really missed out on this one. Here is a story which could have boosted website hits, viewer and reader numbers across our country’s media and due to a complete lack of shark activity, we’ve just got a few drownings.
And this in the self-proclaimed “Great White Capital of The World”
How are we supposed to sell that? It’s a disaster.

It’s sad that firstly I feel so ambivalent about these 3 tourists dying; secondly, I’m more concerned about the potential damage it may do to the country’s tourism than what it means to their friends and families; and thirdly that I have so little trust in the South African press.

Maybe I’m more South African than I thought.

Too many times I have seen speculation reported as fact and actually quite dull news stories blown out of all proportion in order to sell newspapers or gain a few extra website visitors. Because of course, thanks to that wonderful thing called human nature, the gorier the story (especially when you can get pictures too), the more people want to read it. We humans are nice like that. And the press know it and they use it.

So forgive my cynicism when it comes to those reporters rushing to sleepy Gansbaai yesterday lunchtime, but I really don’t believe that they got what they were hoping for.

Ag, shame.

* An organisation which I just made up

New Toy

Harold, the desktop PC on which I churn out all the stuff you so eagerly tune in to read on 6000 miles… has been playing up of late. Waiting for him to perform simple tasks – such as opening an email – was like waiting for Mad Bob to release some election results: frustratingly slow, but for some reason seemingly acceptable to Thabo Mbeki*. 
The usual poking about through the Windows XP System Tools, defragging and tidying up revealed a frightening fact. Harold is full. Brimming. Chock-a-block with data.

When I put Harold together, it was on a shoestring budget. The bare minimum of everything that I needed and the money saved put towards extra RAM. You can never have enough RAM, as every welshman I’ve ever known has been at pains to point out.
Since Norman (Harold’s predeccessor) was nearly 6 years old when his hard drive caught fire (yes – really), he was rather basic by today’s standards. And back then, 20GB of hard drive seemed (and was) plenty. So when I upgraded Norman to Harold, 80GB seemed like a figure I would never reach. Silly me.

But that’s where this sexy bit of kit comes in.

Iomega
Iomega 500GB USB Hard Drive. See how she reflects.

I am going to call her Edith. The photo really doesn’t do her justice. Stats here.
And bought on offer in beautiful cheap, local South African Rands from Digital Planet.
I don’t think I’ve ever possessed hardware that looks this gorgeous. And although it seems almost sacrilegious to sully her with data, it didn’t take me long to realise that the quicker I fill her up, the quicker I can move onto playing with her big sister. 
At this point, I think that it’s important to note that I never used this logic with my girlfriends.
Well, not often, anyway.

She’s shining her blue light at me. I think I have to go and stroke her a little now.

at least, he never called me to protest anyway

“My most important reader is me”

Why do we blog?

It’s a question that many inferior bloggers attempt (and fail) to answer on an all too regular basis (along with an annoying tendency to use the word “musing” far too often).

Brian Micklethwait* knows why he blogs:

… every so often I have to remind you people that my most important reader is me, in a few months or years time … This will warm the cockles of my faltering heart, the way me burbling on about the Cold War ending, and what a Good Thing that is, never could. Oooh. I see that in April 2008, I was of the opinion that the Cold War ending was Good. Well, twiddledidee.

Brian’s music storage challenges continue in his brilliantly and descriptively entitled Exciting Posting About Shelves, but aside from showing off his new CD rack, he also hits the nail right on the head as to one reason why I’m writing what I’m writing.

Well, twiddledidee.

* certainly not an inferior blogger.

You’re Encouraging Alcoholism!

Each Thursday, genial local radio host John Maytham presents his wine review on Cape Talk, Cape Town’s medium wave news and talk station. (Yes, medium wave is still alive and well in Cape Town, readers!)

Here’s this week’s offering, fresh from the web:

Agama Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Price: R65.95
Fine example of a cool climate sauvignon blanc – grapes grown on six different Elgin farms. Brisk acidity, strong capsicum qualities, and enough complexity and length to suggest ageing potential.

Klein Steenberg Cabernet 2006
Price: R49.95
Entry label from this excellent Constantia producer. Medium-bodied, soft tannins, ripe berry fruit on nose carrying through to palate. Very good value.  

Cellarhand Backchat Blend 2006
Price: R19.95
Cheerful concoction of seven different varietals, blended together in a very drinkable christmas cake confection. Excellent value.

Sir Lambert Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Price: R78.95
A very impressive debut wine from the Lamberts Bay region. Good asparagus and gooseberry flavour associations, but most impressive is the minerality and the poise that this young wine already shows.

Now I’m no expert on wine, but Maytham is – he knows about “tannin structures” and talks about “restrained oaking” and “black pepper and spice and savoury charcuterie on the nose”.
I, on the other hand know about “colour” and talk about “red” and “white”. And I’m nearly always correct once it’s out of that confusing green bottle.

But all is not well with the Maytham wine review. As he revealed this evening, each time he does his review, he is hit with a whole plethora* of correspondence accusing him of promoting and encouraging alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

Are they serious?!? Well yes, apparently, they are. And Maytham addresses their concerns by describing his review as promoting the responsible enjoyment of an alcoholic drink, in a responsible manner; as a legal and informative review of local produce.

And, of course, he’s completely right.

What these correspondents don’t seem to realise is that if John Maytham was doing a wine review in order to encourage alcoholics and promote alcohol abuse, it would be much more like this:

Agama Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Price: R65.95
White wine. Good on cereal at breakfast time. Tastes like grapes. Bloody expensive and only 12%.

Klein Steenberg Cabernet 2006
Price: R49.95
This one is red. Tasted bloody awful with my morning biscuits. Second bottle was better. 15% alcohol. That’s almost like a sherry. Yeah baby!

Cellarhand Backchat Blend 2006
Price: R19.95
Less than R20! Love it! Don’t think it tastes great, so best to down it in one. Thish ish an everyday wine and I like to drink it every day. Ish lovely.

Label Completely Blurred 2007
Price: R78.95
Eighty Randsh?!? Eighty?!? Thatsh jusht tooooo expeshive. I could get loadsh of voddy for that. Loadsh! Hey Boet! Hey there – are you looking at my girl? Nah – thatsh ok, you’re my besshtesht mate. I love you. I do.

At this point, there would be a clunk as his head hit the desk in front of him, followed the sound of loud, drunken snoring and the show would promptly end; the ensuing silence probably hastily filled in with some Josh Groban album or something. And I think we can all agree that promoting Josh Groban is clearly far more serious than promoting alcohol abuse.
So I think it’s to everyone’s advantage that Mr Maytham continues to do his weekly review in a responsible and adult manner. Keep up the good work, John.

* yes, a whole plethora. No half plethorae here.

To sleep, perchance to dream

I couldn’t sleep last night. It was a combination of things which prevented my slumbers.

The heat was the obvious one. Considering we’re supposed to be well into autumn now, with the leaves taking on a rusty hue and the evenings closing in, it was a bloody hot, still night last night. I blame Al Gore.
Those sort of evenings bring out the mozzies, whose delicate whine and constant movement keeps the mind fully occupied like a blindfolded Luke Skywalker with a light sabre, trying to eliminate them in the dark.
And then when you finally do get to sleep, it’s a fitful sleep, punctuated with dreams about Svetlana Boguinskaya’s floor exercise routine at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and getting the number 3 pencil coil replaced on your car the next morning. Until… all is finally peaceful both in and outside your mind.

And then the mosquitoes come back for dessert.

Anyway, while I was suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous insomnia, the results of the SA Blog Awards 2008 were being announced at the UCT Tennis Club, which – I presume, anyway – has air conditioning. And I didn’t win. Some have already suggested that the results were rigged like a Spanish galleon, but I couldn’t possibly agree with that sentiment*.

6000 miles… came:
5th in South African Weblog of the Year
4th in Best South African Personal Blog
2nd in Best Original Writing on a South African Blog and
2nd in Best Post on a South African Blog for The Big South African Crime Post.
(If you haven’t read this yet, why not?)

It’s a more than reasonable result when you consider that with 3 days of nominations still to go, there had been 4000+ nominations for 900+ blogs. And then in the voting, thanks to your support, 6000 miles… punched well above its weight against some really big guns in each of the categories it was nominated in.
I really appreciate your efforts.

Next year is my year. Possibly, anyway.

* …in public.