Pangolin threat

Apologies in advance for the language, but with pangolins sharing the dubious pleasures of being the world’s most illegally trafficked animal, and a strong contender for host of the COVID-19, this headline just made me laugh:


From here.

It does seem likely that potentially unsavoury human behaviour may have (at least in part) led to the Coronavirus outbreak which is still slightly worryingly out of control. I suppose that if this leads to a decrease in pangolin smugglery (it won’t), then at least something good will have come out of this whole thing.

In the meantime, we’d better watch out for whatever novel diseases are carried by rhinos, tigers, elephants and hornbills (who knew?), and might be just around the corner as the next potential pandemic.

Take On Me on toothbrushes

Yep. With the a-ha concert in Cape Town mere days away, it seems reasonable to share this version of their most famous offering:

Wow. That keyboard dot matrix printer solo at 1:30! Near perfection.

I don’t think I’ll hear a better version of this song this week!

Respiratory illness

Your daily reminder that as it stands, Influenza is far more likely to infect and kill you than 2019-nCoV: the all-singing, all-dancing new virus coming straight out of Wuhan.

Fortunately, there’s something you can do about influenza – vaccinate yourself and your kids. If you do it in SA, you’ll pay about R50 and if you have medical insurance, you’ll pay nothing and they’ll give you a million points for doing it.

I lived with, cared for and slept next to a very sick wife with influenza for 10 days last year and remained wholly unscarthed (by the virus, at least). Guess who’d had the vaccine and who hadn’t?
We’re both going to get it this year, and so should you. And your family.

And if anyone tells you not to – they’re no friend of yours. Why on earth would you wish a serious and wholly preventable disease upon anyone, let alone a friend?

So yes, avoid these sort of people and this sort of shit:

Full story here. Sample paragraph here:

One recent post came from the mother of a 4-year-old Colorado boy who died from the flu this week. In it, she consulted group members while noting that she had declined to fill a prescription written by a doctor.
The mother also wrote that the “natural cures” she was treating all four of her children with — including peppermint oil, Vitamin C and lavender — were not working and asked the group for more advice. The advice that came in the comments included breastmilk, thyme and elderberry, none of which are medically recommended treatments for the flu.

We’re all (rightly) concerned about the influence of social media and fake news in elections around the world, but there are other (literally life and death) situations where less effort seems to be being made to halt the tide of disinformation reaching (clearly) vulnerable parents.

This needs to be addressed, and quickly.

UPDATE: We have a problem.

Life lessons from Eskom

Eskom (our state-notverywell-run power utility) has warned again of potential loadshedding this evening*. Of course, the system could always go tits up well before that, or not at all. I realise that this isn’t an exact science and despite also being really pissed off about it, I do see that there’s no point in pretending that their predictive abilities should be 100%.

Don’t shoot the messenger.

And while not wanting in the slightest to normalise loadshedding (because we should be angry and vocal about it) we still need to get on with our lives. Being aware of what might be happening later allows us to plan ahead and be prepared. We don’t have to enjoy it, but it does make a crappy situation slightly more bearable if you know it’s coming.

Equally, if there are simple actions we can all take to mitigate the risk of loadshedding, I don’t see why we shouldn’t take them. Surprise, surprise: most of these actions involve using less electricity. People mock Eskom as being the only company in the world trying to dissuade customers from using its product, but actually, most utilities (water, gas, electricity) around the globe recognise that sensible usage of resources is a good thing. I remember visits to school from the Yorkshire Electricity Board telling us to switch off lights and not overfill kettles – it’s just the same sort of idea.

An aside: When Eskom announce these “ways to cut down on your electricity usage and help us avoid loadshedding” things, some people will always respond with something along the lines of:

Screw you. I’m going to use as much electricity as I can, just because you said not to. I’m not listening to your advice, you useless, corrupt bunch of [afrikaans anatomy]. Switching ALL my lights on RIGHT NOW!

These people are fucking idiots, and will be the same ones who complained about the size of their electricity bill just a few days previously. Not only will this raise the chances of loadshedding (albeit by a tiny amount), it will also cost them more money at the end of the month. Tosspots.

Anyway, I digress. Often.

Eskom really took the proverbial biscuit this time around, by telling South Africa how to use… a window and some curtains.

Seriously:

Right. It’s a complex set of instructions, but I’m going have a go at explaining it. I think (think) what they are saying is that when it is light outside… and you need some of that light to come inside into your living room or bedroom… you should open your curtains and/or blinds. This will allow unfettered passage of light through the transparent aperture in the window space, and into the room in question.

So that’s light… from outside… coming inside. Still with me? Good.

But oh noes! This will surely only work during the day! That’s because after the day, the sun goes to sleep and is replaced by the night shift crew of the moon and the stars, so there is no light. Apparently, the technical term for this is “dark”. Even if you open your curtains and blinds at this time, no light will come inside from outside, because there is no light to come inside from outside.

It seems that at this point, the general advice is that you should switch on electric lights. Assuming that electricity is available to make them work (and really, who knows if that will be the case), this will allow the room to be lit from the inside. You should probably remember to close your curtains and blinds if you are taking this approach, because otherwise, the light will escape to the outside and the Luftwaffe will know where to bomb.

Not good.

Wow. I’m already exhausted. I think we need to take a break here, before we overload on how to use “curtains” and “blinds”. It’s all just so deeply technical.

So let’s leave it here for now, maybe read through this again when you’ve had a quick nap. But be warned: tomorrow, we move onto “doors” and “doorways” and the advantages of them being open when trying to use them as a means of entering or exiting a room.

But don’t worry about that right now. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Today is all about windows. And loadshedding.

 

 

* post written Thursday lunchtime