What a difference a year makes…

…52 little weeks.

On 20th January last year, South Africa woke up to read what our Sports Minister had said about the national football team’s defeat the previous evening:

“The mediocrity we saw yesterday is disgraceful. Last night, we saw a bunch of losers who conceded two useless goals. We must never wake up to this situation ever again,” said Mbalula.

But then guess what happened last night?
Oops.

On 20th January this year, South Africa woke up to the words of a somewhat different Fikile Mbalula:

But that’s politics for you isn’t it? A short-term, shiny surface popularity contest (see yesterday’s post) with no real substance behind it. I’d love to think that Mbalula felt differently about the South African football team, but deep down, I think he’s just trying to look good in front of his legion of twitter fans after the kicking his reputation took for those 2014 comments.

So, while I’m all for this “new approach”, while we’re a whole 365 days on from Fikile’s extraordinary outburst, while he tells us how we must react to last night’s rubbish with dignity and while we’re all not calling Bafana Bafana names, let’s not allow ourselves to conveniently forget exactly who was the most famous name caller of all.

Footy tonight and footy past

I’m off to watch South Africa take on African Champions and second-tier Ebola carriers Nigeria at the Cape Town Stadium this evening. It’ll be my fourth time watching the national team and I have yet to see them win.
Or… er… draw, actually.

The first Bafana Bafana game I saw was seven years ago yesterday, as it happens: Zambia in an Afcon qualifier at Newlands. South Africa weren’t very good that day and Chris Katongo scored a hattrick in 11 minutes for Chipolopolo ruining the return of Benni McCarthy from international exile. It finished 1-3. It wasn’t great.

And then, because of the World Cup and the politics of SAFA, we didn’t see another Bafana game in Cape Town until after the World Cup. Then, we got to see them play the USA at the Cape Town Stadium in the Nelson Mandela Challenge in November 2010. South Africa weren’t very good that day, and lost to a second half goal from Juan Agudelo goal.

We shouldn’t forget the last time I saw them, either. 8th January last year, against a decidedly under-strength (read: “B-team”) Norway. South Africa weren’t very good that day and eventually lost a really, really boring game to Tarik Elyounoussi’s goal just before half time.

South Africa have won one first-class game at the Cape Town Stadium: a 2-0 win against the Central African Republic in March last year. I wasn’t there, but I was reliably informed that the Central African Republic weren’t very good that day. And yes, there were the CHAN games too, but those don’t really count.

So Bafana’s record is fairly unspectacular in Cape Town, and even more so when I’m watching them. New coach Shakes Mashaba has requested everyone to come out and support the team this evening, but if he knew my history with watching his side, he’d probably be less keen to see me there.

The stadium in Sudan was fully packed to capacity. I hope it will also be the case in Cape Town.

Well, no it won’t. I’m not sure what sort of crowd they’re expecting, but I am told that the lower tier has sold out and they’ve opened up the second tier for bookings. That would probably mean somewhere between about 25,000 and 30,000 tops.

I’ll try and snap a few photos this evening and put them on twitter (tonight) and Flickr (maybe tomorrow).

England arrive in Brazil

With all of South Africa giggling at this (admittedly rather amusingly captioned) photo of the England football team arriving in Brazil:

earr2

I did feel that some degree of perspective may be required:

50649443

😉

Right, I’m off home in disguise so as to avoid the lynch mobs.

Team with dreadful record still has much support

For many, this weekend was the final straw. Yet another disastrous performance – letting the country down when we were all so full of hope – was just too much. There’s been repeated harsh (and entirely justified) public criticism – “useless” and “losers” just a couple of the words bandied around – but it merely seems to fall on deaf ears.

bf

It wasn’t the first time, either. It sometimes seems like we’re lurching from one poor performance, riddled with errors and incompetence, to the next.
For some, the problem is obvious: they choose to blame the man in charge, but I don’t think it’s necessarily that cut and dried. In my mind, the performance of the whole lot of them has been repeatedly calamitous. Fairly regularly, it’s actually been embarrassing for the country. You’d be excused for thinking that maybe they’re simply not up to the job in hand, and yet they’re highly paid and highly respected. How can this be?

It’s all so different to those glory days back in the mid-90’s. Back then – yes, perhaps under better management – things were so much better and the achievements were clearly there for all to see. Since then, however, while there have been occasional moments of triumph, it’s mainly been a steady downhill and 2014 shows no signs of bucking that trend. It’s actually rather sad.

And yet, there remains a huge level of support for these guys. Perhaps it’s because the population feels there’s no other team that is worthy of their support, or perhaps it’s habit, because they’ve just never supported anyone else.

But yes, the ANC will still win the elections again this year.
Incredible.

Still in the dark about Earth Hour?

Yes yes, I’ve been told that Earth Hour is all about “raising awareness” about “climate change”. I’ve also commented that I really don’t think it’s necessary to raise any more awareness about something we can’t get through a single Pistorius-free day without having rammed down our collective gullet.

In addition, I may also have mentioned that Earth Hour gives slacktivists the perfect opportunity to enjoy their favourite pastime, namely thinking that they’re making a difference without actually making a difference at all. In fact, as that article on Slate pointed out, lighting an inefficient candle (which most bunny-huggers and pseudo bunny-huggers will do this evening) is actually more harmful to our precious environment than using a fat incandescent light bulb for an hour (or, by extrapolation, any given period of time). But how much more harmful?

Well, I’ve found someone who has done some rudimentary calculations to find out exactly how much:

I know candles are nice and romantic – but you’re taking paraffin wax, in the form of a candle, and burning it, very inefficiently, at a low temperature. This stuff is pure hydrocarbon – it’s a heavy alkane fraction distilled straight off crude oil. This stuff is getting so scarce that nations are prepared to go to war just to secure it, remember?

A candle flame burns at a low temperature – so it’s a thermodynamically very inefficient source of energy – and most of the energy released in a candle is wasted as heat, anyway.

Even if 80% of your electricity comes from coal and fossil fuel fired power stations, as it does in Australia, burning candles is very polluting and certainly very greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions intensive, even more so than electric lighting.

Luke Weston then spoon feeds us through his calculations, just so that there can be no confusion as to how he reaches his conclusion. I’m not going to reproduce all those calculations here, but suffice to say that the results (standardised for the amount of light produced – apples with apples and all that) are as follows:

A incandescent bulb produces 1.11g CO2 for each hour that it is burned.
A candle produces 10.69g  for each hour that it is burned.

Therefore, for every candle that is burned to replace electric lighting during Earth Hour, greenhouse gas emissions over the course of the one hour are increased by 9.6 g of carbon dioxide.
If the light output from a 40 W light bulb was to be completely replaced by candles, this will lead to the emission of an extra 295 grams of carbon dioxide per over simply using the electric lights – if the equivalent of one thousand 40 W bulbs are replaced by candles, that’s an extra 295 kilograms of CO2 emitted.

I don’t know about you, but I can feel it getting warmer already.

Thus, if you really want to “make a difference” this evening (a positive difference, that is), you’ll be far better off sitting in the dark for an hour. And, if you want to DOUBLE the your contribution to saving the planet, you could do it for two.

But then we have to remember that there’s football and rugby in Cape Town tonight which you’ll want to watch on your dirty, still not ever so energy efficient flatscreen TV, dwarfing any potential benefits of switching off your lights and (not) firing up a candle.

Fortunately, this darkness and/or watching sport will (possibly) restrict the amount of “other activities” that some people have been suggesting might be an enjoyable and romantic by-product of an environment-destroying candlelit evening. I say “fortunately” because my wife is away this evening because each baby produced from those “other activities” will add so much to your household carbon footprint that you might as well stop washing out those Marmite jars and begin weeping right now:

Take, for example, a hypothetical American woman who switches to a more fuel-efficient car, drives less, recycles, installs more efficient light bulbs, and replaces her refrigerator and windows with energy-saving models. If she had two children, the researchers found, her carbon legacy would eventually rise to nearly 40 times what she had saved by those actions.

So. Please spend your Earth Hour in the dark. No lights, no candles, certainly no TV and ABSOLUTELY NO HANKY PANKY!

And even then, please don’t pretend that you’re actually making a difference.