Here it is:


But no. That would be far too easy. This is a blog post about a different Vienna – a Vienna that is a sausage dog (I see what they did there), that has gone missing in the Table Mountain National Park.

Now, before we go any further, let me categorically state that I’m aware that some people have a very close bond with their pets, and I’m sure that this a very difficult time for Vienna’s owner. I sincerely hope that Vienna is found, safe and well, very soon. It would be wrong of me to ridicule her situation in any way.

However, it would also be remiss of me not to pass some sort of comment on some of the people who are active upon the HELP FIND VIENNA Facebook page that has been set up. Since I discovered it, this page has been my immediate goto site each time I have a moment to spare in the lab.

Some of them are a bit nuts.

The first thing that interested me when I stumbled across the page was this sort of posting:


I was impressed. And hopeful. If this missing dog has a camera around its neck, then just share the screenshots and someone will know where it is. This individual is right in requesting assistance if they don’t know the terrain, but someone will recognise it, so don’t just describe it – show us the image.

Except there is no image, because there is no camera. What’s being shared are descriptions of an “animal communicator” who has linked with the missing Vienna and is “assisting” by sharing “her visions”.

That’ll help.

“It sounds like [this place]” comments someone, “But it can’t be because you can see the sea from there.” Trouble with that is though, these are dog visions, not human visions.


Good point.

There’s also an issue with people not being allowed into private areas of the National Park. This was never an problem before, was it? Was it? Everything has been taken from us. When did this happen? And why can’t dachshunds climb fences? That’s a weakness that needs to be addressed. A bigger dog would be able to do that. Or a monkey. Or a human.


Yes, cape townians. How?

Incidentally, that same person was relying on that self-same security not so long ago:


Yeah. With a few thousand visiting vehicles each day, that’s in no way asking too much.

But help is even coming from overseas


I think the issue with this approach is “when you see her” bit. It’s not being able to “see her” that is the underlying problem here. If Jayne could “see her”, then none of this would be happening. I think that Turtle Creek, PA needs to review its search and rescue provision. They seem to have missed an important bit of the whole process.


No. It wasn’t.
Hindsight, ne? 20/20.

The most concerning bit for me though is the way people are being led by charlatans. Latest news is that the animal communicator has said that Vienna is on tarmac or under a car. This didn’t sound like a good ending to me, but then I realised that it’s all bullshit anyway. Suddenly, there’s a massive rush to look in car parks.
Not this car park, obviously, because that’s gravel, but could someone maybe check that car park, because that car park is tarmac, isn’t it?

People are wasting their valuable time and effort on this sort of crap. Go do something useful.

Like when someone on the page stated:

I had a dream that Vienna was limping.

and people immediately started speculating whether it was through tiredness or maybe a thorn in her paw.

It was a dream.

On that note, last night, I had a dream that I was reconcreting the floor of Fishhoek Yacht Club, but I’m not going down there this morning to cordon it off so that people don’t walk on it.


But wait.
BREAKING NEWS: there’s now a white car involved.


But is Vienna in the car? Or could there be an alternative explanation?


Ah. Yes. That fits nicely.



I must go now, because real life. But I will be keeping an eye on the HFV group. Because it’s amazing.

If you have any information on Vienna, or feel that you may be able to help (hopefully more than that damn “animal communicator”), get in touch with the group on the link above.

Checkers Outrage

A local supermarket chain is currently running a promotion whereby, for each R150 spent in their store, you get an item from their (and here I quote) “#CheckersLittleShop big brand mini groceries”. These are miniature versions of some of their more popular (some might say iconic) local brands. There’s also an educational arm to it – “Become an entrepreneur – Encouraging tomorrow’s tycoons” .
Nice. Cute.

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Not everyone thinks so though. Some people on Facebook are outraged.
Now there’s a surprise.

Fullscreen capture 2016-07-131 121801 PM

Blimey. Who knew?

Where to begin? Let’s go through this spectacular rant piece by piece, shall we?

The starvation and the unemployment figures, the drought. All of these things are sadly true. As is the fact that Checkers paid an ad agency or promo agency to come up with this c**p, as the erstwhile commenter comments, erstwhiley.

But then it all goes a bit off the rails. The fact that Checkers paid an ad agency or promo agency to come up with this c**p has very little to do with the elevated levels of our grocery bills. There are bigger things at play there. Inflation, the somewhat disappointing exchange rate, the price of manufacturing goods and transporting them, because of  the higher price of oil and therefore petrol; the cost of fertiliser. Starvation and unemployment have little or no effect of the size of your grocery bill. The drought does make things more expensive though. So, only 1 out of 4 guesses on the causes of higher grocery bills. You’re playing catch-up now, furious Facebook commenter.

We move on to the second paragraph, and it actually starts rather well, with another solid fact, describing the mini plastic & polystyrene mock ups of products that Checkers sell in their stores as “Mini plastic & polystyrene mock ups of products you sell in your stores.”
As a description of the mini plastic & polystyrene mock ups of products Checkers sell in their stores, it’s near perfection.

And what happens when the promotion is over? Where does she think these things end up?

In our oceans. In a trash heap where most of it might never biodegrade.

Well, yeah. Or it might get recycled after a couple of years being played with in a kid’s doll house. To be honest, we all know that plastic isn’t great for the oceans or renowned for its biodegradability, but then, we all continue to use it, don’t we? And while I appreciate the need to cut down, these are awfully small things. “Mini”, some might say.
One fewer 2l fabric conditioner bottle will offset a full collection and more.
And, if that “most of it might never biodegrade” line above is the case, then all toys made of plastic (and everything else besides) should be banned. Immediately.

Bye bye, Barbie. Barbie, bye bye.

Meh. I’m unconvinced. If only there was one final line to persuade me that the inconsolably annoyed and ranty Facebook woman has a point.

Maybe, a child might actually mistake it for food and try eat it and accidentally choke and die?
Shame on you.

Yeah. “Maybe” that “might” happen. Equally, that might happen with a piece of wood or a rock though.
Yes, these are mock-ups of groceries, but they are also in their mock-up packaging. If a child mistakes a genuine bottle of All Gold Tomato Sauce for food and ingests it, it will also die, because it’s a glass bottle.

Additionally, some of them are mock-up detergents, moisturisers, deodorants and nappies. Your child deserves to die if it eats that and chokes. Darwin’s Law, that’s called. Shame on it, more like.

But then, there is a plus side to all of these pitiful arguments. Because if they’re true…
[But they’re not – Ed.]

Shut up.
Because… if they’re true, and Checkers’ promotion is actually responsible for all of these things: unemployment, malnutrition, the drought (lol… as if the drought is Checkers’ fault, ffs!), the inability of plastic to biodegrade within any reasonable timeframe, oh, and and infant asphyxiation, then surely if or when Checkers choose to end the promotion, surely all these nasties will become a thing of the past.

Could Checkers (possibly inadvertently, but still) could they have come up with a plan to literally end world suffering, simply by causing it all in the first place?

Or should Ms Ranty Facebook lady go and find something more beneficial to do with her time than blaming everything ever on a 6-week promo in a second-rate local supermarket?

Your call.




(Hint: It’s the second one.)

(Number 2)

People not reading

Thou shalt give equal worth to tragedies that occur in non-English speaking countries as to those that occur in English speaking countries.

Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, 2007

(Actually, that line doesn’t quite work here, but I trust you’ll get the gist.)

After the terrorist attacks in Paris last November, there was (even more) outrage at the apparent and alleged disproportionate coverage given to those attacks in the media, compared with that given to similar atrocities in other parts of the world – Beirut and Baghdad the other parts of the world in question on that occasion.

At the time, I suggested:

On that, perhaps stop watching Western media, in much the same way that I stopped watching ‘Look North’ when I got fed up just hearing what was happening in Leeds. I’m quite sure that Iraqi, Lebanese and Middle Eastern media generally have disproportionate reporting as well. Go watch them for some of the time. But honestly, don’t watch Western TV news and use Western-based social media the day after the biggest attack on France since World War 2 and expect to hear about much else.

And I stand by that.

But then after more attacks in Istanbul, Brussels and Lahore over the last few days, the situation has raised its ugly head again, adding further insult to already galling injury and wholly unnecessary death. I was rather surprised to hear that people felt that way about the Istanbul attacks – I thought that they were well covered in the Western media. I’m less able to comment of the media coverage of the events in Lahore, as I was away with no TV, no radio and I was only accessing the internet sporadically (and with that sort of cheery news waiting for you when you do go online, who would?). But then this morning, I saw this piece from “Social & New Formats Editor for the Guardian” (woo!), Martin Belam. He argues that some coverage of events like Lahore is there, it’s just that people choose not to read it:

It’s undoubtedly true that there is less coverage, but it is also regretfully true that there seems to be less of an audience.

Why? He laments and hypothesises:

I find it a bit depressing really, but unsurprising.

It’s harder to get mainstream reader empathy and interest in terrorism attacks that occur further from our shores. Many, many of our readers will have visited Brussels or Paris. Far fewer will have ever ventured to Pakistan.

For most of the UK’s population, Europe’s capitals are much closer culturally and logistically.

Not. Rocket. Science.

Yes, we should be (and, I’d argue, we are) outraged and disgusted by innocent lives being taken in these sort of despicable acts, wherever they may occur, but I am also unsurprised by the fact that we appear to “care” more about events closer to home. I’d wager that the same situation (albeit obviously reversed) exists in Pakistan and their media coverage and public interest in the attacks in Lahore and Brussels.

Sure, it would be “nice”, if we were to care equally about all of these horrible incidents, but it’s simply human nature to empathise more with those we feel are closer to us, for whatever reason and to whatever degree.
For the most part we’re not ignoring what’s happening elsewhere – and actually, nor are the “Lamestream” “Western” media – it just seems less relevant to us in the same way that we might pay less attention to stuff happening in Windhoek than in Cape Town.

I don’t think we should beat ourselves up or allow ourselves to be shamed by certain self-righteous individuals on Facebook (you all know who they are on your timeline) over feeling this way.

Probably not true?

If you’re on Facebook or other social media service, you may well have seen this, which has been doing the rounds lately. It even made the Independent:


Ah – those pesky Victorians, eh? Always breaking the rules and poking fun at officialdom.

Hmm. Something smells iffy here (probably due to the fish-bender doing his work), so let’s look more deeply into this

First off, I tried to get in touch with Jeff Kacirk. You can see his name bottom left. He writes things about olde Englishe, so that bit kind of fits, but it seems that he hasn’t given us a book since 2005, although what he has given us looks very interesting.  This list has that ‘© 2015’ thing there. And then, in addition, his books aren’t published by Sellers Publishing, Inc.
I’m still awaiting a reply. [No longer – see below]

Next, I tried (bottom right). It’s a card and gift site. I couldn’t find this particular card/book/page anywhere on there, though. Dead end.

So then, I got inventive. I got in touch with the London Genealogical Society. Except, I didn’t, because the LGS doesn’t exist. Hmm. There is a Society of Genealogists in London though, and one of their researchers got back to me with this reply.

I saw this too and was intrigued and had a look in our magazine and archives and tried to follow up the reference from Jeff Kacirk’s website and book but couldn’t get anywhere. It’s nothing that I am aware we ever published and we are not the London Genealogical Society.

This seems to be falling apart at every level, doesn’t it? But there’s still no evidence that it’s not real. So I had a look at some of the language. Well, there were certainly railways, turnips, midgets and cows around back then. (And let’s get this straight out up-front: a cow-banger was simply another name for a farm hand working with cattle.)

Goldfish? Probably – they were introduced into Europe (via Portugal) in or around 1611. So you could conceivably have caught them in Britain in 1881.
Sampler of Drugs – well, yes, the pharmaceutical industry was booming, but would an 1881 Briton have called them “drugs”?
Probably not – there were other far more popular words for those sort of things back then:

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I knew about the knocker-up. That was a profession in which an individual would wake others for work in the days before alarm clocks were a widespread thing. This would still have been an important job in 1881, and is only included because of its amusing connotations about pregnancy, I would imagine. *snigger*

Waller is an interesting one. Either someone that makes walls (durr!) or someone extracting salt from seawater, or even:

it may be a nickname for a “good humoured person”, from the Norman word “wall(i)er”, cheerful, merry.

Random” was also rather unusual word to use back in 1881 though.
Which is, you know, a bit… random.

And then there’s the Electric BathThere are two options here: the one where the patient is immersed in water and a small electrical charge is passed through the water, thus advancing the spread of alternative medicine and pseudoscience, and then one which was an early form of tanning bed, with many UV lights under a cover, beneath which the patient lay. There were examples of this latter device in the spa on the Titanic, though I don’t think they can be blamed for the events of 15 April 1912. There’s fair evidence that at least one of these would have been around in the early 1880s.

So, much circumstantial evidence that this isn’t real, but nothing concrete. Perhaps the best evidence for this not being genuine is the Victorian people themselves though. Presumably those who were well enough educated to come up with such ‘witty’ answers would also be those who were more tightly bound by Victorian etiquette to answer honestly and correctly.

As I mentioned above, I’m waiting for Mr Kacirk to fill me in on his role in this, but until that evidence is produced, I’m leaning gently into the “fake” camp.

I’ll keep you informed.

UPDATE: And here’s the inform, as promised:

Incoming from the man himself, Jeffrey Kacirk:

Mr 6000,
Truth can be stranger than fiction. Those job titles came from an exhibit at the Museum of London about 15 years ago. I’m glad lots of people are getting to see them. Thanks for letting me know.
All the best,

Well, there you go – perhaps not from exactly the same place as we were led to believe, but – and I swear that this came straight from the horse-tickler’s mouth… or something… apparently true.

One learns something new each and every day.

“It hasn’t featured outside of SA”

One of my Facebook friends (peace be upon them) had shared this News24 piece, replete with The Arch being more Tut Tut than Tutu over the recently delivered Nkandla report (featured here) and suggesting that the government had “humiliated SA”.
At least, the Facebook friend suggested, it is:

Good to know someone respected world-wide is on the side of the “average” SA citizen.

And, I suppose it is.

But then there was this comment in reply*:

It hasn’t featured outside of SA once again. Zuma doesn’t give a monkeys because Zuma is well aware of the fact that International media have wiped their hands of SA.

“It hasn’t featured outside of SA”? Really?

Apart then, from er… the BBC:

South Africa’s ‘brazen cover-up’ of Zuma’s home upgrade

And The Sydney Morning Herald (and with it, The Brisbane Times, Western Australia Today (good news for those in Perth), The Age and The Canberra Times):

‘The pool is for fire safety’ and other Jacob Zuma renovation excuses

Sans oublier RFI – ‘Les Voix Du Monde’:

Ceux-ci ont estimé que le rapport du ministre de la Police est « biaisé » et inconstitutionnel, puisqu’il ne prend pas en compte les recommandations de la médiatrice de la République.

Of course, the fugly (but sadly, well read) Daily Mail didn’t miss out:

South Africa’s president has been cleared over using £15million of public cash to add a swimming pool and visitor’s centre to him home because the new features are actually security measures.

Elsewhere in the UK, The Daily Telegraph:

Police claimed expensive swimming pool was necessary in the event of putting out a fire on his sprawling taxpayer-funded estate

While the Middle East was covered by The Gulf Times:

Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko said on Thursday that an investigation found that the president is not liable to repay any of the public funds spent as the improvements were in fact security features.

I could continue, but I think I’ve already shown that the allegation that SA has dodged an international news bullet simply by the president being routinely crap is, at best, misplaced. Zuma et al. don’t give a monkeys not because they think their actions will avoid international exposure, but simply because they have gone beyond the point of caring what people think of them.

Because, as I mentioned in that post last week:

We seem to have crossed yet another line of pisstakery with today’s events.

It seems hard to believe that Zuma and his cronies are capable of anything more ridiculous than we saw last week. However, having said that, ironically, we had said that previously and yet they continue to confound us and outdo themselves time and time again.

But that “it hasn’t featured outside of SA” line?
No. The damage is still being done with every step of breathtaking hubris.

* I’m choosing to ignore the grammatical disaster of the gratuitous “of”.