Southernmost sculpture

News from Cape Agulhas is that the new … the new… “thing” at the Southernmost Tip of Africa is nearly completed. I use the word “thing” simply because I’m not sure what other word I can use to better describe it. It’s a sculpture, yes, but it’s surely more than that as well.

The people building it are calling it The Agulhas Icon, which is all very well, but also suggests that they’re a bit unsure of what – other than iconic – it is.

For years, the Southernmost point in Africa – and the official meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans – has been marked by a small cairn unveiled by one P.W. Botha (who he?) on 23rd August 1986, and which people have climbed onto, been photographed next to, or blogged from several metres behind ever since. And that’s not going to change. It’s what is just next to the cairn which is being revamped.

The design is by Strijdom van der Merwe – and that’s great because I really like his stuff. It’s a circular area, sensibly based around a combination of a compass and the African continent.

The artistic representation of the African continent taking shape. It is important that this iconic form is visible on Google Earth as this will be the iconic destination point marker online.
Well-known geological features such as Cape Point, Table Mountain, Namib dunes, Victoria Falls,
Rift Valley, Sahara Dunes and the Nile River will be visible.

Low walls will encourage visitors to sit and stay for a while, soaking up the atmosphere, sheets of steel will dramatically emerge from the four points of the compass – with the Southerly point obviously given the greatest prominence – while lines created from the local stone will dissect and trisect and… well you get the idea… the space. A few teaser progress images were released this week, and I think it looks fantastic.

It’s very bold, very strong, very… Iconic.
A really cool and important addition to the area.

Now Lily won’t deliver

I’ve been waiting a long time for Lily. If this sounds like the preface to some 1980’s synthpop hit, then that’s because it actually could be. But in this case, it’s the ubercool drone I ordered way back, when the Rand was vaguely competitive.

Since then, the Rand has gone bad, the Lily has been delayed and there has been a growing suspicion amongst many Lily orderers that we have all been part of an elaborate scam. Albeit one involving an ubercool drone.
Their communication has been excellent, which is why I have been patient. And then, finally, with the promised “summer” shipping date rapidly approaching, an email arrived, entitled:

Update: Your Lily Order

Fireworks went off, champagne was opened, and we all danced around the kitchen to Gangnam Style.
Even the beagle.

And then I opened the email:

We’re writing to inform you that tax and import restrictions will unfortunately prevent us from delivering pre-orders to your region at this time. Please know that your early support meant the world to us, and that we reached this difficult conclusion after exhausting all possibilities for secure delivery.

W – if you’ll pardon the expression – TAF?
*angry emoji here*

Yes, apparently, Africa doesn’t fall onto their list of places couriers go. In fact, neither does anywhere that’s not US, EU, Canada or Australia.

That’s an awful lot of world which is managing just fine without shipments from the US.
Well done us.

The fact that we (as a family, as a company and as a nation) regularly import stuff from the US without any problem whatsoever seems to have been missed while they were “exhausting all possibilities”. Apparently, those possibilities don’t include DHL, FedEx or UPS. For starters. And I say “for starters” because that’s where I would have started.

So is this the final nail in my Lily coffin? (Metaphorically, I mean. I don’t actually have a coffin for it. That would just be weird.) Well, I have 30 days to decide before the default option of a full refund (minus interest) kicks in.

The thing is, I’m lucky enough to have an address in the EU (until 23rd June at least, lol), but when Lily is delivered there (whenever that may be), it will be some 6000 miles… from me. And secure shipping from there is going to be expensive. Who’s going to pay for that, given that the shipping fee I paid to Lily will only get my ubercool drone to Sheffield?

I think we can guess what Lily think is the answer to that.

Colour me really disappointed.
Time for a deep think, I feel.

Besides Ebola…

While there is a (rightfully) well-publicised Ebola outbreak taking place in West Africa, it doesn’t mean that the usual suspects of the infectious diseases world have gone away. And while the world’s attention is focused on that pesky haemorrhagic fever virus, cholera has been going about its usual business in Nigeria, Ghana and South Sudan.
It’s a reminder that while the “superstar diseases” are widely and enthusiastically reported by the First World’s sensationalist media (like the bubonic plague case (singular) in China that I mentioned last week), the more mundane stuff continues, but goes very much under the radar.

Cholera is unpleasant, acute and life-threatening, especially in children. It’s also fairly simple to prevent, assuming that you can get access to clean water:

“It is the filth everywhere and the lack of hygiene among our people,” the Deputy Director of Health for the Greater Accra Region, Dr John Eleaza said, noting that some patients have been victims of the disease despite using pipe-borne water.
Unfortunately we have some of our pipelines going through some of these drains…some of them are broken” he said.
He is advising Ghanaians to be careful and practise proper hygiene to prevent a deterioration of the outbreak.

And while the mortality rate doesn’t rival that of Ebola, the sheer numbers affected mean that the death toll in these outbreaks is already rapidly approaching (if not exceeding) that of their more famous cousin up the road.

Even the local media is more concerned with the Ebola outbreak than that of cholera, as this story in Nigeria’s Vanguard demonstrates, with nearly half the piece being hijacked by Ebola news, including this spectacular advice from State Commissioner for Health Dr. Joe Akabike:

…avoid touching corpses of victims of the disease and to avoid sexual intercourse with patients of the disease until after three months of their recovery in order not to contact the disease.

He doesn’t mention avoiding sexual intercourse with the corpses, but I suppose that’s just considered common sense.
And common decency.

I digress. All I wanted to remind people is that the Ebola outbreak should be considered an additional problem, and not suddenly the only problem in sub-Saharan Africa.

Jo Rust

This popped up from Cape Agulhas Tourism on Facebook:


That’s Jo(landie) Rust and she’s happy to be back at Cape Agulhas because:

I made it! I achieved my dream of becoming the first woman to circumnavigate the African continent on a motorcycle, solo. Words cannot describe this moment.
L’Agulhas, most southern point in Africa, Sunday 24 November 2013.

We passed Jo and the convoy of supporters which had joined her for the final leg of her journey as we were heading out of Struisbaai yesterday. At that point, I didn’t realise exactly what she had achieved. Now I’ve had a chance to have a look at her website, I do.

What an amazing story. Go see.

Nigerian student uses magnets to prove gay marriage scientifically impossible

Headline of the day, right there.

Ah. Science. So long the bastion of the rational mind. So, when I read that Chibuihem Stanley Amalaha, a student of University of Lagos studying Chemical Engineering at the School of Post Graduate Studies, had scientifically proven that gay marriage was impossible, well, then assuming that his methods were sound and his work peer-reviewed, it must be true. Right?

I had to delve more deeply, so I went here to read about how Amalaha had come to his conclusion. And it was there that I learned that it wasn’t just magnets which had aided Amalaha in his deduction, it was poultry, electrostatics and algebra.
Yep, before you’ve even thought of a basic rebuttal to the magnets thing, he’s already got this one sewn up.
Or so it would seem.

Amalaha isn’t some two-bit, backstreet researcher, either. He’s worked on projects involving optics, fundamental mathematics, environmental chemistry and astronomy. He’s won awards and been on TV. You’re going to find it hard to argue with his credentials.

There’s a long interview with Amalaha on ThisdayLive (the link above), so I’m taken the important points from his work and I’m putting it here, because this guy is a genius and I like genii.

Amalaha on magnets:

I used two bar magnets in my research. A bar magnet is a horizontal magnet that has the North Pole and the South Pole and when you bring two bar magnets and you bring the North Pole together you find that the two North Poles will not attract. They will repel, that is, they will push away themselves showing that a man should not attract a man.
A female should not attract a female as South Pole of a magnet does not attract the South Pole of a magnet. But, when you bring a North Pole of a magnet and a South Pole of a magnet they will attract because they are not the same, indicating that a man will attract a woman because of the way nature has made a female.

At first, I was like, that’s so simple that it can’t be right.
But then, I was like, hang on, that’s so simple that it has to be right.

Physics has spoken. On the issue of homosexual marriage. In magnet fashion.

Amahala on acid (quite possibly by the sound of it):

When you bring surphuric acid and you reacts it with sodium hydroxide which is a base you are going to have salt and water. That tells you that the acid is a different body, the base is a different body and they will react. But if you bring an acid and you pour it on top of an acid chemistry there will be no reaction.  If you bring water and pour it on top it shows that there will be no reaction. If you bring a base either sodium hydroxide and you pour it on top of a sodium hydroxide you find out that there will be reaction showing that a man on top of a man will have no reaction. A woman on top of a woman will have no reaction, that is what chemistry is showing.

Again, this undeniable theory that like and like don’t go together.

“Who’d have thought, we could be lovers? She makes the bed and he steals the covers,” sang Paula Abdul and MC SkatKat in their 1989 hit Opposites Attract which Amalaha didn’t quote, but probably should have done. But they got on just fine, simply because she was a pre-alcoholic singing sensation and he was a collection of pixels in feline form. Christ alone knows what Amahala would make of that relationship.

And yes, Hydrogen atoms mate for life and make H2 and they’re the same as one another, but it’s worth noting that Helium doesn’t form diatomic molecules, because, as Amahala would have said if only he’d thought of it, He and He simply don’t go together.

Amahala on fowl cocks (I am so sorry – Ed.):

In biology, I used simple experiments and I came down to a lay man. We have seen that the female of a fowl is called hen and the male of a fowl is called a cock. We have never seen where a cock is having sex with a cock and we have never seen where a hen is having sex with another.

Or maybe it did happen and you missed it because you were playing with your magnets?

Amahala on A + B (this is long, but it’s worth reading):

If you say A + B in mathematics you are going to have B + A. For example, if I say two plus three it will give five. If I start from three, I say three plus two it also give you five showing that two plus three and three plus two are commutative because they gave the same results. That shows that A + B will give you B + A, you see that there is a change. In A + B, A started the journey while in B + A, B started the journey. If we use A as a man and use B as a woman we are going to have B + A that is woman and man showing that there is a reaction. A + B reacted, they interchanged and gave us B + A showing that commutativity obeys that a man should not marry a man and a woman should not marry a woman. If you use idempotency, it’s a reaction in mathematics where A + A = A. Actually in abstract algebra, A + A =2A but we are less concerned with the numerical value two. We are more less concerned with the symbols A, you find out that A + A will give you A showing that the whole thing goes unchanged. It didn’t change unlike commutativity A + B give B + A there is a change. A started the journey in commutativity and A + B gave us B + A and B started the journey after the equality sign. But in the case of idempotency A + A will give you A showing that it goes unreacted. You started with A and you meet A, the final result is A. Showing that a man meeting a man A + A will produce a man there is no reaction, it goes unreacted and in chemical engineering you have to send the material back to the reactor for the action to be carried out again showing that it goes unreacted. That is how mathematics has shown that gay marriage is wrong because commutativity proves that gay marriage is wrong.

I trust that you found that as easy to follow as I did.

I particularly like the ironic use of the word “equality” about two thirds of the way through and the hint that gay men should be sent back to a reactor. If – and I doubt this was the case, but – if you were unconvinced before that every single branch of (Nigerian) science hates the idea of same-sex marriage, this streak of mathematical genius will surely have turned you around.

So if today is spent at a Nigerian School of Post Graduate Studies, what does tomorrow bring for Amahala?

I want to be able to publish it in international journals. The finance has been a problem in this area because I found out that you you have to pay in dollars for international journals to publish you. You know finance is a factor and I don’t have money to start paying in US dollars and I need sponsors so that I can pay for the journals to be published.

Somehow, I don’t think the finance side is going to be your biggest stumbling block in this particular endeavour, sunshine.

All in all, I feel dirty. I feel wronged. I feel that something I hold dear to me (science) has been bastardised and sullied by an idiot who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s like when Lewis Pugh starts spouting nonsense about fracking, but with more lab work.

Of course, this isn’t really science. Well, sticking two magnets together or performing neutralisation reactions, actually, that is science. However, then applying your results of those simple experiments to same sex marriage goes a little beyond the recognised scientific method. It’s like saying that oil and water don’t mix, and then claiming that it inconclusively proves that you should never buy a French hatchback.

No. This isn’t science. This is pure bigotry.