A Monday catch-up

I haven’t found one specific thing worthy of a blog post of its own yet today, so I thought I’d share several of the thing which were almost worthy of a blog post of their own. Collectively, these things are worth far more than a single blog post, so you’re certainly getting your money’s worth today.

First up: flooding in Paris:

Insane! Or rather not in Seine at all right now. This is of specific interest to me because we’ve just booked a trip to Europe in June/July and Paris and French waterways are included. I particularly enjoyed the line:

The national flood monitoring agency Vigicrues said the water levels hit a maximum height of 5.84 meters (19 feet, 2 inches) on the Austerlitz scale early Monday. That’s below initial fears last week, and well below record levels of 8.62 meters in 1910.

Yeah. But that’s only really a bonus if your property lies between 5.85 and 8.62m on the Austerlitz scale though, isn’t it?

Then: Superpods of dolphins are gathering off the coast of South Africa

Am I the only one who finds this headline vaguely threatening?
The “are gathering” bit does sound as if there is some common porpoise (stop it!) to their behaviour, and I think we’re all aware that what I mean by that is dolphin invasion, something we’ve covered here before.
Researchers suggest that it may rather be something to do with defending themselves against sharks, but then researchers would suggest that, wouldn’t they? They’re in on the act.
It’s telling that the majority of the pods have been sighted off the sleepy seaside village of Port Elizabeth. PE is the ideal place to begin an takeover: by the time the locals have worked out what is going on and release the emergency carrier pigeons from the Campanile, the tanks (either kind, you do the maths) of invading dolphins will be on the Free State border.

Playing with photos

Practice, they say, makes perfect. And one day, I’d like my photo editing to be perfect. So, whenever I can, I’m finding photos to practice on. Since I didn’t take any this weekend (again, despite this), I’ve borrowed one from Brian Micklethwait over at BrianMicklethwait.com. I loved his photo of Victoria Station (link), and so I shamelessly stole borrowed it and put a bit of a spin on it with Adobe Lightroom Classic CC.

Just for absolute clarity, I’m not suggesting that my version is in any way better. I’m just suggesting that it’s different. I was inspired by two things: firstly, the “vintage” look of the station roof, and secondly, Brian’s own thoughts on his image:

I like how this kind of scene permits bright colours, like those little union jacks, but turns fainter colours monochrome, like when that little girl in a red coat appears in Schindler’s List.

The more washed out feel that I’ve tried to give it still allows for those flags to stand out. Maybe they should stand out more. Maybe I should practice more.

And, just because I liked the headlines, these:

Because the data from their fitness apps are now publicly available.

and:

Only, of course, if you’re singing and dancing pornographically in Cambodia.

Whale Chases Dolphin

Googled “christopher swann orca photo”.

orca

Was not disappointed.

(Yes, genuine.)

H2G2

I’m re-reading The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. It’s unusual for me to read a book and it’s even more unusual for me to enjoy it.
I’ve probably read (and enjoyed) this one about twenty times, but it’s been a long while since I last did, so this weekend seemed as good as any time to start again.
Now you might not agree with my views on reading, but then maybe you just need to look at things from another angle:

It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much – the wheel, New York, wars and so on – whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time.
But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man – for precisely the same reasons. 

It’s wonderful stuff, and what’s more, I’m reading the compilation of all four of the books in the trilogy.
And what’s more, I’m reading it in a clumsy, unwieldy book made of paper!

Old Skool Rulez!
#vintage #paper #oldeworlde #hipster

I should be out in the sun…

…but there’s the small matter of a few thoughts to be documented and this tends to be the place where I do that sort of thing.

I will commence with this documentation process now.

Firstly: did I see my first fixed game of football on Friday night? We all know that cycling is a valueless laughing stock now that another (and another and another) big name is discovered to have used drugs to enhance their performance. And all the scientific evidence points towards the biggest name of all having done exactly the same – but having got away with it, at least for the moment. Athletics too, is in disarray with medals tables still being updated a week after the Commonwealth Games has finished. And even the “Gentleman’s Game”, cricket has fallen foul of recent match-fixing allegations.
So far, football has really only made itself look stupid by not adopting goalline technology, but the result of the Cape Town derby on Friday night was decided by the dodgiest 92nd minute penalty I’ve ever seen given. And that includes several at Old Trafford. And that’s saying something. None of the players, nor the 15,000 crowd, nor (apparently) the referee saw anything untoward as veteran goalkeeper Hans Vonk collected the ball and got the game going again. But the linesman on the far side decided to flag for a foul and was already in position for the resulting penalty to be taken before the ref had even blown his whistle. It looked weird.  It looked dodgy. And it was made even more iffy by the fact that it was in the 92nd minute. He probably would have given one earlier, but Santos hadn’t actually got into the box before that.

The penalty was saved by an incensed Vonk, but he couldn’t hold on to it  and the rebound was popped in for world’s most unlikely draw. After the incident and after the game, Mr Vonk could be seen telling the officials exactly wheat he thought of them. Repeatedly and in detail.

Secondly: dolphins, The Cove and the internet.
Now, I like dolphins as much as the next man (as long as the next man isn’t Alan Cooper – I don’t like them that much). But I’m also one of those enquiring people who never takes things at face value and likes to look at both sides of a story. The annual dolphin killings at Taiji in Japan is one of those stories. It’s been in the news again recently, because the time for the annual kill has come around again and much reference has been made to the overly subjective film The Cove, which was released last year, documenting the 2009 kill and telling us that the water turned red with the blood of the dolphins.
Isn’t that dramatic? What do they think the floor of a slaughterhouse looks like?

Now, environmentalists want this annual practice banned – no matter that it’s been going on for over 300 years and there are still plenty of dolphins to be caught.  And that’s ok, because everyone is entitled to their views on this and when you are a greenie, you have to protest about something – it’s what you do. And dolphins are the most awesome thing to protest about because they’re dolphins. And dolphins and pandas are top of the list when it comes to poking the human conscience. Them and puppies.

But what about humans? Because Taiji isn’t some oil-rich, gold-laden glittering city. Taiji is a small town with no industry or income other than that of the fishing (and for fishing, you can read “whaling”). So when you take away what they are their ancestors have been doing for centuries because it doesn’t fit with your Western beliefs, what’s left for those people?
Imagine Jeffery’s Bay without the surfing, imagine Boulders Beach without the penguins: there’s suddenly no support for those people; poverty ensues and the settlement – there for hundreds of years – is ruined because of the views of some activists 1000’s of miles away who refuse to look beyond the “plight of the dolphins”.

And then the people who support them without considering the reasons why they are doing it. Why?
Dolphin, panda, puppy – must protect.
It’s a trendy, ill-thought through, kneejerk, bandwagon-jumping response.
What gives you the right to decide how others should live?

I don’t like the thought of dolphins being killed either, but it’s a necessary part of  life for the people of Taiji. The dolphin catch provides food (albeit potentially unhealthy food, but beggars can’t be choosers) and income for the town.
Imagine if your only sources of food and income were taken away from you because someone in America didn’t like the way you lived your life?
That’s no more braais, because they don’t agree with the way your lamb is slaughtered or the ingredients in your boerewors were sourced. They’re stopping your income as well, because they don’t like the way you make your money. Of course, they have no legal powers to do this – but actually, they’ll even go as far as breaking the laws of your own country to make your hard life even harder.

What happens to the people of Taiji if the dolphin catch doesn’t happen? Have you even considered that? 
No, of course not:  because it’s about dolphins and pandas and puppies.