Suddenly… Spring?

Not quite. In fact, some well-read experts have suggested that special precautions be taken in view of the iffy forecast for today.

But yesterday was quite Spring-like.

The Boy Wonder had a photography assignment to do, so we went out looking for proteas. Is this one? It’s definitely a Leucospermum spp. I think, anyway. Rupert will doubtless let me know.

Cycling (yeah, I know) around the posher areas of Cape Town, we found several or more. Lots still to come at “that bush” on the corner of Glastonbury and Rhodes Drive, as well.

This one was just up the road from there. Planted outside a big house with a big wall. Probably out of place. Maybe not even a protea at all. But the colours and the intricate design caught our eyes and our lenses.

I’ll get some photos up on Flickr soon enough, but in the meantime, here’s one to brighten up a grey day.

Something to blog about

The South African news has been full of one thing today, and it’s not a nice thing. It’s not something I want to blog about either, and so I was about to wander elsewhere on the internet, disappointed that our local rags had provided naught on the blog fodder front when suddenly  – and brace yourselves here – this:

Not even the horrific kerning on the News24 website could take the shine off a headline like that.
(Although it clearly tried.)

Now, before we go any further, let’s just run through those fourteen words one more time, shall we?

A poet – not just any poet, but specifically a Christian poet… harassed by Whatsapp groups – not just any WhatsApp groups, but specifically porn WhatsApp groups… by a rabbit farmer – not just any rabbit farmer, but specifically a ‘mentally challenged’ rabbit farmer.

Incredible.

Let’s start off by saying that harassment in any form is unjust and uncalled for. In investigating this story, I’m certainly not meaning to trivialise or tacitly justify harassment. Especially not by porn WhatsApp groups – long renowned as one of the worst forms of harassment.

Alleged victim of this alleged harassment comes in the form of Martie Wessels, a published Christian poet who sums up her book thus:

“Maar gaan dit alles tog werklik uitwerk? Niemand van ons kan dit regtigwaar weet nie, want ons is almal maar net grassade in die wind en ons sweef maar net waarheen die wind ons neem.”

“But will everything really work out? None of us can rightly know, because we are just grass seeds in the wind, and we float wherever the wind takes us.”

Powerful.

Anyway, the harassment came about by her being (presumably accidentally?) added to a pornographic Whatsapp group. Now, I am the member of many Whatapp groups, but there’s none of that kind of stuff going on on there. The most racy it gets is perhaps a joke about [redacted] having a small penis. It’s tiny, apparently. But I digress. There’s certainly nothing that would make me go on a witch hunt and publish the names of the other participants in the conversation on Facebook, even if Martie’s assertion is partly true for the Molton Brown boys:

“Everyone involved is surely possessed by some or other devil, because the pictures exposing your bodies indicate to me that you are sick in your brains.”

I’d also never go that far if I knew – as Martie apparently does – that the instigator of the groups was:

“a woman described as ‘mentally challenged’, who is a rabbit farmer and who lives in a caravan in the Pretoria area.”

That’s the sort of person you want to stay on the right side of. Not someone you want to piss off. One night, there’s a knock at your door and the next thing, they’re finding your ribcage – stripped of all flesh, and covered in gnaw marks – in a hutch in Gauteng.

Also, just how easy must this woman be to identify? We’ve got her location, her abode, her employment and her mental state. Oh, and her photo, because:

On Wessels’ Facebook page, a composite picture of this woman, surrounded by several rabbits, can be seen.

I did go and look (well of course I did), but Martie has upped her privacy settings to the max, probably due to being by harassed by porn WhatsApp groups run by a ‘mentally challenged’ rabbit farmer (who lives in a caravan in the Pretoria area).

Very disappointing.

Wessels said she was told by one person that the purpose of the groups was to “raise funds” for the rabbit farmer.
“But to raise funds in this way is ridiculous,” she said.

Look, we all know that rabbit farming isn’t easy. And the uncertainty about expropriation without compensation is a spectre lurking behind every agricultural business at the moment.

But why did they pick Martie to add to their depraved online messaging community? Look, I’ve kept this bit of information to myself until now, but Martie lives in the Northern Cape. In a town called:

Warrenton

It’s clear that when Cyril and Julius come knocking for her land, our erstwhile porn Whatapp group-leading, mentally challenged rabbit farmer will need somewhere new to park her caravan and somewhere new for her leporine charges to live. And if you have rabbits to home, you surely need somewhere with a ton of warrens for them to live in.

How do you think Marties hometown got its name?

Exactly. Checkmate, doubters.

I mean, just do the maths.
It’s pretty straightforward stuff, Sherlock.

But still, I’m with Martie here: exactly how do you raise funds for a mentally challenged rabbit farmer by sending naughty photos to a WhatsApp group? I’ve sold images (no, not those kind of images) on Adobe Stock, and let me tell you, what I’ve earned would barely buy a bag of carrots from PicknPay.

Maybe I’ve been doing it wrong.

So what happens now? Well, since Martie has gone public with this amazing tale, the threats have thankfully evaporated. But that wouldn’t be a fitting end to this sort of bizarre story.

No, what you need to have to finish things off is just a hint of continuing weirdness. Cue the last line from the News24 article:

Wessels made a statement at the Warrenton police station, which was confirmed by a Captain Moleko, who would not provide his first name to News24.

Did they need to know his first name? Why was he unwilling to provide it? Why did we need to know that he was unwilling to provide it? Is it of any significance that the first four letters of his surname make up another burrowing mammal? Haas the world gone completely mad?

I am sure that you are looking forward to the follow-up article on News24 as much as I am.

They are taking the piss

With the (government regulated) fuel price reaching a new record level today, that same government (the one that also imposed a 1% increase in VAT, a 7% increase in the Fuel Levy and a 18.4% increase in the Road Accident Fund Levy just a couple of months ago) tweeted this:

Sure, it might look like they are trying to help us cut our petrol use, but it does seem a bit like the school bully giving you a plaster for your bleeding knee when he was the one who tripped you up in the playground.

They’re taking the piss, right?

I mean, check that incredible starter:

Make Fewer Trips

Wow… Revolutionary.
Thanks, Einstein.

A better way of saving South Africans money on petrol would surely be to revisit all those recent tax increases or tackle corruption and run the economy a bit better so that the currency wasn’t always struggling against the USD oil price benchmark.

But given that neither of those things is ever going to happen, I guess that I’ll just have to “accelerate smoothly” and “close my windows”.

FFS.

Mums

It’s Mother’s Day here and everywhere else in the world that didn’t already do it in March. I was going to do a nice leisurely breakfast for Mrs 6000, but instead, I’m going to drive to Wellington at some ungodly hour and drop some kids off for a hiking competition. They can walk back. After all, that’s kinda the point, right?

We’ll do lunch instead, ok?

This post is just to say a big thank you to all the Mums out there who do an amazing and – all too often – unrecognised job at being the glue that holds families together, the giver of hugs and love, and the organisation behind everything from school uniforms to playdates to toilet rolls for school projects, and (more often than not) all while holding down a full time job.

Mrs 6000 also has to deal with a beagle. And me.

She’s awesome.

You’re all awesome. Thank you, Mums.

Take Down Notice

Here’s an interesting one.

I was contacted by my hosting provider this morning about an ISPA Take-Down Notice (TDN) regarding a post from 2009 on 6000 miles…

Now, first off, let me say that I fully understand that my hosting provider has signed up to the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) of South Africa, and as part of that, they are obliged to follow the rules of that organisation. Those rules state that when a TDN is issued against a site that they host, they must ask that site to remove (take down) the content, and in the event of the site not doing so, “disable the whole site”.

I mean, it’s completely over the top, but that’s what they agreed to, and (presumably) that’s what I agreed to when I signed up with them.

What alarms me is the way in which the ISPA handles these requests: basically, you can force removal of any content on any South African hosted website simply by filling in a form. No evidence required.
Literally, all that the ISPA will do with that form is to check that you filled in all the fields, make sure that the ISP involved is in their association and decide whether the remedial action requested is feasible (e.g. “take down a post” vs. “set light to all the servers in Johannesburg”).

They will then pass it on to the ISP concerned, who are bound by the terms of their ISPA membership to act upon it, and that’s how anyone can fill in an online form and have the content of any SA-hosted  website without question.

The ISPA even boast about how successful their policy is:

In approximately 95% of all cases, lodging a valid take-down notice results in the removal of that content.

“Valid” in this case meaning that you fulfilled those three criteria above, not that the reasons for your request have any veracity or are in any way reasonable.

Of course, as the website owner, you can contest the notice, but notably only after you have taken down the content in question:

If you wish to contest this take-down, you will first need to comply with it and then take this up with the complainant, who’s [sic] information is supplied below, should they not be compliant in finding an amicable solution you then will need to make this a legal matter and address it in court.

Given that the post in question here is about a guy whose company tried to rip me (and it would seem, plenty of other people as well) off for (in some cases) several tens of thousands of Rands (and is apparently still at it), I can’t see this “amicable solution” happening.
And is the legal thing really worth it? Only if it’s sponsored by someone with a lot of time and money, I suppose. Does anyone have any experience of fighting these sort of cases – please get in touch (Email: 6…@6…o.za).

Looks like the only way immediate way around this is to host the “offending” content somewhere away from the unreasonably draconian paws of the South African ISPA then.

Like… I dunno… Google Drive for example.
MAYBE I WAS A BIT TOO SUBTLE HERE.
CLICK THE GOOGLE DRIVE LINK TO SEE THE DELETED POST!