80kmm

Road accidents claimed over 14,000 lives in South Africa last year, and almost 15% of those deaths were blamed solely on speed. Now, you might think that I would therefore be advocating for lower speed limits, but I’m not. That’s because no-one in South Africa obeys the current speed limits anyway. And then, if they do get caught speeding, no-one pays their fines. So there’s no respect for the law, because there’s limited enforcement of that law and very limited risk of ever having to answer for your naughtiness.
But we all still like to complain about the taxis, don’t we? Where are the police (funded by your traffic fines) when you need them?
Well, you didn’t pay, so they don’t exist.

But I digress. Often.

Given the appalling record of South African drivers and speeding, this seems like a very bad idea indeed:

Now, I know that m usually refers to metre, but that doesn’t make any sense here. So m must refer to some length of time. We’d expect speed limits to be given in the traditional metric kilometres per hour (kph), but since hour begins with h, so we must therefore reasonably assume that m here is minute.

So 80km per minute (kps). I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and that’s 4,800kph or 2,983mph.
Just under Mach 4. 3.89 times the speed of sound. Woosh.

This appears to be awfully fast to me. Especially given the warnings about the somewhat wriggly nature of the road ahead, and that koppie standing pretty much straight on if you miss the right-hander ahead, because you were going a bit quickly or something.
Or because you sneezed. Because when you sneeze, your eyes close for about half a second. If you’re driving at 80kph, you’ll travel 11.1m with your eyes closed. If you’re driving at 80kps, you’ll travel (a rather prophetic?) 666 metres completely blind. Mind out for that obstacle you haven’t even seen in the distance yet.

4,800kph. That’s eight times faster than the world’s quickest dragster over a standard ¼ mile course. On the one hand, that was from a standing start, and there will clearly be no requirement for that here. But on the other, there were no corners for the driver to negotiate, and he was going 8 times slower than drivers on this road will be, so he didn’t die.

Thankfully, 4,800kph is still less than half the speed of a Saturn V rocket, so you could probably expect to die a quick and fiery death by being completely obliterated on that hillside and without actually leaving earth’s orbit. Small mercies, silver linings and all that.

Drive safely, folks.

Quite Astonishing Sunset

Suiderstrand, this evening. Seriously (and I have given this some thought), the most amazing sunset I think I have ever seen.

This is the Instagram upload (but #nofilter, ok?) because I don’t have bandwidth and service to upload the “proper” pictures from out here in die bos.  I’ll tag a link to them when I get back to Cape Town, so come back tomorrow evening.

UPDATE: Here they are.

This evening, though?
Quite astonishing.

SA OK

Just a reminder on this Freedom Day that South Africa is fine and has been so since last weekend’s mass prayer meeting in Bloemfontein.

Malice, hatred, violence, murder and corruption here in SA packed their metaphorical bags and all left the country at midnight on Sunday, and thus we have spent the past few days luxuriating in what has been nothing short of a halcyon bliss; the placid tranquility a wondrous and welcome change from turbulence and barbarity we had encountered on a daily basis right up until Oom Angus intervened.

Sure, we were a bit put out by the violent protests in Lichetenburg and Lenasia on Monday, but at least one of the those was attributed to a mysterious “third force”, and we all know that God has quite enough on His hands sorting out first and second forces, and can’t really be expected to deal with third ones as well.

And then there was the new 5fm lineup reveal, which has caused shock, distress and anguish across the whole nation. But God has forsaken the SABC for many years now anyway. And rightly so.

Oh, and Helen Zille still has a twitter account. You must just have overlooked that though, right guys?

So yes. Thank you, Angus and your myriad disciples with your little misogynistic asides and dodgy, archaic views on homosexuality. Everything’s fine here now, and we’re all looking forward to you sorting out the Middle East, Justin Bieber, North Korea, Donald Trump, climate change and that Helen Zille thing over the coming weeks.

Get to it.

Protest

Bit of a weird one, this. Weird because I’m writing something about a very fluid situation and I’m writing it four days ago*. So it might not make any sense by the time you read it. Hell, it might not make any sense by the time I’ve written it. I’m struggling already and we’re only 50-odd words in.

Today is supposed to be a day of national protest in South Africa. Well, as I’m writing this (four days ago), it is. It’s also a normal day of work (except it obviously won’t be) and right now no-one seems to know what to expect, save maybe for the Presidency and chums ignoring whatever protests do occur.

The thing is, South Africa is such a diverse and divided nation that any coherent mass protest action is terribly difficult to organise. While individual political parties and organisations can raise their own demos, no-one has really managed to successfully mobilise across all racial, political and social classes. And that’s why JZ and friends have happily got away with it all so far. It’s also why things need to change if today’s action is to have any effect.

Look, there’s enough support for the protest, but it’s completely fragmented. Already, as I am writing this (four days ago, remember) people – supposedly on the ‘same side’ – are questioning the basis for people’s anger, arguing and fighting about the legitimacy of some protesters with superb logic like: “if you didn’t protest against (a) then you can’t protest against (b)”. Because obviously there are rules for being allowed to express your viewpoint on any given subject.

It’s a phat, public mess and Zuma must be loving every minute of it.

Obviously, people need to look past their individual grievances and try to find common ground if this is to have any chance of working. And I do recognise that that is much easier to say than to do.

I believe that there are many reasons for getting rid of this rotten, corrupt regime. Whatever yours is, today is a day – even more than any other – when you need to recognise and respect that others may have their own reasons too.

 

* All will become clear on this bit tomorrow. 

Eclipse later today

In Southern Africa (or Patagonia) this evening? Don’t miss the partial solar eclipse later on today.

Weather permitting, Durban, Johannesbeagle, Cape Town and the rest of SA will all able to see a bite-shaped chunk missing from the side of the sun as the moon passes between us and it.

The Astronomical Society of South Africa website has all the details you need, including (but not limited to) this gif:

Yes, I was a bit concerned when the sun suddenly fell out of the Durban sky first time I saw it, too. Everything’s ok though. It’s just that we get a bit more eveningsworth for our money in the Mother City.

PLEASE, PLEASE! check their “How Do I Look?” section for hint and tips on safely watching the eclipse. It’s never safe to look directly at the sun, even if it’s almost half hidden.

And please share this post far and wide so that others get the chance to see the eclipse too. Thanks.