Thursday, January 20, 2022

Murder's Effects

Two days ago, I blogged about the murder of a cousin, just over a year ago. Shortly before this, one of the younger cousins in the family was murdered (pictured). Another pupil stabbed him in the neck at school. Recently I made copies of a group photo for family in South Africa's east, without realising that he was in it. OBSERVATION: If it seems like mayhem, it is mayhem. What strikes me about it is that these are not merely crimes against individuals, but against society. A murder has huge effects, in various ways.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Insects Fall Silent

Very often, when I do experiments, something interesting turns up that I hadn't thought of. I sought today to record Cape Town's noonday gun, together with its rolling echo (my fourth attempt). The recording didn't do as well as expected, but I made this discovery. Using a 2 kHz high-pass filter, when the gun goes off (at 1:47), insects fall silent for seven seconds, and appear to lose their rhythm for thirty seconds, over an area of about ten square miles.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Complementary Approach

A cousin of wife E -- in Xhosa kinship terms, a brother -- was murdered in a public house. In addition to that, an ambulance stopped by, but would not touch him (he was still alive at that point). The murder was witnessed by multiple people, and the name of the culprit was and is on everyone's lips. But the investigation appears to have stalled. Interpret this how one will, but the murdered man appeared in a dream to a young cousin -- in Xhosa kinship terms, a sister -- and said that he could not rest in peace until justice was done. I myself have now become involved, but gently. There are people dealing with the harder aspects of the matter, and sometimes a complementary approach can be of great value.

Monday, January 17, 2022


In the Eastern Cape this month, I sought to renew a few contacts. I had a nice surprise when I visited one of wife E's aunts. It was the first time I had seen her in years, and she didn't know I was to visit. When I walked in the door, she cried out, "Unyana!" ("Son!"). OBSERVATION: This reveals, not only affection towards me, but more broadly, the kinship thinking of Xhosa people. There are brothers and sisters and parents and children everywhere. One does not experience this, or even know that it exists, as an outsider.

Chop Shop Bell

This historic Congregational Church bell is likely a heartbeat away from the 'chop shop'. It is a Prindle Station bell, manufactured in the USA. I first photographed it in April last year, when it was still intact. Part of its mounting has now been removed. OBSERVATION: In South Africa, at the moment, anything that can possibly be stripped, gets stripped. It is the Congregational Church bell in Kareedouw.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Red Plant

Earlier this year, I posted a photo of a seeping spring in the Table Mountain World Heritage Site -- marked by a red plant, as such springs often are. This is a close up of the same plant. I do not know its name.

Saturday, January 15, 2022


I once wrote up a list of things which were tolerated or accepted under my ministries, with endorsement of the Church. The purpose was the advancement of the gospel. Here are some things we decided deliberately to allow (there were more besides):
• Minor property damage
• People wearing drag
• Communist party T-shirts
• People ululating
• Children walking in the aisles
• Breast feeding in the pews
• Poor English
OBSERVATION: The last refers to spiritual input in the Church, say a prayer or testimony. Ululating was a close call. One reason for that was its religious origins. There were just a few things we decided not to tolerate, such as drunkenness.

Friday, January 14, 2022


I attended a burial last Saturday, of an aunt. I have taken some interesting photos of burials (elsewhere on this blog), but felt that I wanted one with a difference. It resulted in this, which is in fact two photos electronically stitched together. I was a pall-bearer here, at the grave.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Memorised Sermon

Every year in recent years, the United Congregational Church has asked me to lead services in its far-flung parishes, or preach -- without notice. I always declined this double challenge (an unprepared service or sermon, in Afrikaans). Last Sunday I attended a United Congregational Church (above) -- and just in case, I memorised an entire sermon, in Afrikaans. Then there was no sermon at all! OBSERVATION: I said that next time, they could count on it that I would be ready.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Undertakers' Motives

Years ago now, I posted about an undertaker, who hurried around the graveside with advertisement boards, so that photographs at the graveside would advertise the undertaker. It gets worse. Now undertakers drop a coffin at a funeral service and hurry away to deliver the next one. Mourners are left looking about helplessly, wondering when the coffin can go. The undertakers drop the gravestone on a pile of dirt, to have it at the ready for speedy deployment. Then they fill a grave while people are worshiping at the next one, the wind blowing dirt in their faces, and the scraping of shovels drowning out the preacher. OBSERVATION: It is all a question of motive.

POSTSCRIPT: As if to confirm it, my blog posts were scanned and turned into advertisements for "cheap funeral plans", "cheap cremation" (and so on), on my computer screen.

Perpetuating Passivity

I've had awful problems with my bank. They corrected course, though, and sent me an apology and a good-will payment (I joked that it was hush money). This post is about a hedge clause they keep sending me. This immediately impressed me for its gravitas, so I ran it through a computer analysis -- with this result: 

Readers need a 15th grade level of education to understand.

Therefore, to comprehend the bank's hedge clause, one needs a three-year university education. Like so many documents, this contravenes the legal requirement of plain language in South Africa. It not only means that (likely) the majority of customers consent to something they cannot understand, but I think it perpetuates the passivity of the poor especially, in seeking to understand their own affairs.

POSTSCRIPT: While I first named my bank in this post, it is not vital to the point of the post, in fact could distract from it. I removed it, on my own opinion.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Rolling Echo

The happier side of the last post is that I used the PP3 battery for a new design. I have been thinking on it for months. Cape Town has a noon day gun. Years ago now, this gun went off as I was sitting below the face of Table Mountain. For about ten seconds, the echo rolled across the face of the mountain. I tried last year to record this. In spite of using a stereo CD-quality recorder, I didn't obtain a good result. I decided to design my own stereo microphone, therefore -- using a PP3 battery. OBSERVATION: I have tested the microphone successfully, but not for its ultimate purpose.

Super Life (Not)

Recently I bought two PP3 batteries. The company which sold them to me packaged them before I saw them. Well, they looked promising on first impressions. They are Varta batteries, with (see the photo) SUPERLIFE. But look for their rating, and it is nowhere to be found. Read the small print (also in the photo), and it says ZINC-CARBON. This in fact delivers the worst life on the planet. OBSERVATION: Perhaps SUPERLIFE refers to the yellow paint?

Monday, January 10, 2022

Explanation for Intrusions

During the past year, I had various intrusions in my Internet accounts. This included edits of my accounts, some of which very visible -- the most recent being last week, open to public view. In two cases, Google identified the source of intrusions as IP No other source was identified. IP Location Net then provided -33.9258, 18.4232 as the first location result. ‘Organization Not Available’. Now look that up on Google Maps (shown). It is the prosecutors’ rooms in Cape Town. OBSERVATION: I have said that the Internet can play tricks on one, but I have asked the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for an explanation. This seems reasonable. I hope to indicate their response below this post.

POSTSCRIPT: The NPA typically responds within 24 hours, if only to acknowledge receipt. A week later, they are silent. I have re-sent my request.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Everybody’s Lapdog

I say that some lapdogs are everybody’s lapdogs – only one doesn’t know it till one sees it. There are officials who are lapdogs to superiors. What a superior doesn’t always know is that their lapdog is everybody’s lapdog. So one may have the curious situation where an official shows great loyalty towards a superior, yet betrays them just as easily and eagerly, without their knowledge. OBSERVATION: This is not the same as the official who parts with a superior for reasons of conscience.