With the world’s population growing at 200,000 per diem, the world’s children of the 2050s face the very real risk of never being afforded the opportunity of walking through a wood or even playing sport on a grassy field. In Gauteng, the towns of Pretoria, Joburg and Van der Bijl Park have already almost converged into one megacity within the past 30 years.
Contrast this with early man. Was the impact of these peoples such as the Aborigines of Australia or the Maoris of New Zealand as benign as is supposed? Or is modern man with its industrial scale re-engineering of the topography, the proverbial poster boy of environmental destruction or despoilation?
Main picture: An aboriginal woman performs the Woggan-ma-gule morning ceremony on Australia Day in Sydney, Friday, Jan. 26, 2007. Australia Day marks the arrival of the first European settlers in 1788. (AP Photo/Paul Miller)
The introduction of any new technology has unintended consequences. Foremost amongst these is the status quo or the way that things are done. The prevailing consensus would long since have determined the modus operandi for an existing process whether it be social, work or political. All these processes will have their gatekeepers who will ensure conformity and uniformity.
Ordinarily the role played by such custodians of Best Practice is vital to the efficient operation of these interactions. This blog highlights what occurs when new technology disrupts or invalidates the perceived wisdom, M.O. or Standard Operating Procedure.
This blog deals with a number of contemporary examples as well as historical instances where this occurred with disastrous consequences.
Main picture: Business person holding a media image of city in the palm of the hand
Once smoking bore the cachet of cool, elegance and sporting. Viewing the adverts of half a century ago they are so utterly laughable that it strains one’s credulity to believe that adverts would tout smoking as an elixir. Yet they did. Much like latter day adverts proclaiming miracle cures for obesity, their continued message is believed when manufacturers and human belief coincide.
Main picture: Amongst the many supposed benefits of smoking was weight loss
Last year I had to make 26 airflights in the space of 3 months to Pietermaritzburg. As this is a small airport, the planes are usually small & some even minute. Most flights do not experience too much turbulence but one of them was extremely bumpy the whole way, dropping by hundreds of metres as it hit an air pocket. I was happy to forego the inflight snacks but I had one hour to contemplate the what-ifs and attendant dangers of airflight.
Falling out of the sky may well be most passengers’ worst nightmare when they board a plane. Perhaps a detachable cabin is an elegant solution to this problem. It would certainly reassure many passengers that their chances of survival are enhanced over the crash-into-the-ground option currently in vogue.
Main picture: Parachuting gently to earth instead of the crash-into-the-ground option currently in vogue
A week ago my blog “Landing without an Elevator or Rudder” showcased a South African example of a miraculous escape when an airforce Dakota was almost downed by a Soviet SAM-7 anti-aircraft missile. This week’s example relates to a US Airforce B-17 Bomber which had accidently been rammed by a German fighter over Tunis harbour. To say that their air crews changes of survival were negligible is an understatement. Yet they did.
This is their story.
Main picture: A crippled B-17
An aphorism that I strenuously advocate is that animals should be free. That is why I am averse to zoos and even caged birds. Like humans, all animals have certain rights and one of those is freedom. Amongst others is that they must be able to feel real grass under their feet and not to be confined in the animal equivalent of “solitary confinement.”
Main picture: Rusty, the dog, that was chained to a fence for over 10 years
Imagine an unmarried mother even half a century ago. Her lot was wretched. Judged within the narrow conservative confines of morality of that epoch, they were castigated, vilified and ostracised. According to the prevailing prudish norms they were no better than sluts or prostitutes. Since then a seminal shift in attitudes has transpired in this regard. Within the past two decades even homosexuality has been legalised. What remaining elements of immorality have yet to be challenged and vanquished?
Main picture: Martin L. Lambert married conjoined twin Violet Hilton but not her sister Daisy
Like everything else, language also changes. It is a constant process. Nevertheless it performs a utilitarian purpose in allowing one to communicate succinctly and comprehensibly with another person. This fact is even more crucial when one or both of the parties to a conversation are conversing in English as a second language. Why should we be concerned? What is the future of English? Continue reading
The McCleland household has the anomalous situation where my huge German Shepherd Dog terrorises the smaller pets in the house? In fact she derives considerable pleasure in having them cower in terror as she tramps them underfoot and pins them to the floor. But going to the vet is a different story. It brings into sharp focus her cowardly dispossession. Without even mentioning the word “Vet” just in case Layla’s English lessons are bearing fruit, she senses that the reason why she is being ushered into my BMW is because she is visiting her nemesis – the Vet. At that point she will disappear, tarnishing her image as a tough-as-nails take-it-in-her-stride guard dog.
Layla’s ruthless streak dissolves into a whimper.
This maxim is also a truism. Some objectives might be possible to achieve whereas others are merely a figment of somebody’s overactive imagination. Whatever it is, once one becomes fixated on that goal, life has a way of opening doors. In reality, one becomes “lucky” not in the sense that opportunities are presented to one but rather those that one seizes what to the average person is not an opportunity.
Firstly I will deal with some examples from my personal life; then I will present some more extreme examples which take the notion of an alternative lifestyle to a whole new level.
Main picture: Is this how you would like to spend the rest of your life? Either earn pots of money or, failing that, become a ski instructor