Next: Science is now so complex that we can no longer ask What? We can now only wonder Why?

This Blog used to be about the question: What is Science?
Now, it asks: What is Happiness?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Under siege....

I often use this space to comment on the high level of crime in South Africa and indeed a few days ago I mentioned a taxi hijacking in Nairobi which made the newspaper and where the incumbents were merely relieved of their cell phones. I then said that no doubt in my home suburb in Durban, there would have been at least one highjacking and several muggings, robberies and a rape or 5. Well, the reality is even worse!
Quoted from the local crime report...this is just one street!

From: Tim Brauteseth <>
Date: Wed, Jun 17, 2009 at 1:37 PM
Subject: Re: Incidents in Dale Road last week
To: Lesley Jessop <
>, Peter Rutsch <>, Graham McCallum <>

Hi Lesley, Peter,
I have just returned from a meeting with Sup. Van Zyl and can give you the following info. Can you please forward this your areas?
The incident occurred early this morning when Michael's father went outside to open his gate which leads onto a walkway beteen Archer & Dale. He was letting his dog out for a walk.
As he opened the gate, the two black males were outside and used this opportunity to attack. He was stabbed in the neck and then dragged into the house.
It was at this point that Michael confronted them and was attacked and stabbed several times. The house was ransacked and then the attackers fled. The only item missing was a cellphone.
Michael's father managed to raise the alarm at 63 Archer Crescent and the SAPS and Ambulance were called.
Sup Van Zyl also attended the scene shortly thereafter and has advised that the forensic, crime intelligence and housebreaking units are already involved in the matter.
It was clear in my visit to the SAPS that the police members are angry about this incident and are doing everything in their power to apprehend the perpetrators.
Sup Van Zyl was close to tears when he described Michael and his career. He was proud that Michael had recently completed his LLB degree and was in the second year of his LLM.
The two attackers are described as being between 17 - 25, of slender build. Due to quick work and sharing of resources, one of them has already been identified. He is 18 - 19 but appears to be only 16 years old - he has a very young face. The identified attacker is known to the police and he is currently the target of a manhunt.
There is also a strong suspicion that the same men are the ones involved in a spate of recent attacks in the area.
Residents are warned to be extra vigilant when leaving and entering their properties. The SAPS believe that when the gate opened the men saw an old, frail man and took their opportunity. It is vital to protect against this.
Sup Van Zyl has undertaken to increase patrols in the area and get his reservists patrolling the area on foot.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 10:23 AM
Subject: FW: Incidents in Dale Road last week

Hi Peter

I have passed this onto my community but please could you advice why we are not receiving any security correspondence from your area. It is vitally important that the entire community is informed of anything that happens.



From: Lesley Jessop
Sent: 17 June 2009 10:20 AM
Subject: Incidents in Dale Road last week

Dear Residents

Please see below regarding incidents last week in Dale Road.



Hi Lesley,

As you seem to be keeping track of incidents: I am not sure if you are aware of the two that occurred in Dale Road last week. Sharon, a friend of mine had a young black male enter her kitchen one morning, with a knife in hand and threatened her daughter to keep quiet. He stole her bag from the kitchen. Then a few days later they had a smash and grab during the night. Two males threw a brick through the kitchen window and stole her laptop. They suspect the same guy.

This madness has to stop!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Brisbane in style

Well, as it happened, the real world and the virtual collided. Simply not enough time to take a gentle 200kt flight over the Pacific. So I hung around till I got a cheap ticket on Quantas and flew in a vintage 747-200 to Brisbane. Now, I have an Aunt and Uncle in this equatorial Aussie town, so I will catch up with them for a day or two and then regroup for the 300 odd Nm flight up the Gold Coast to the Great Barrier Reef and Rockhampton.
Looking at the classic Jumbo Jet shape as a passenger gives little idea of how much has changed with this most classic of big iron aircraft in the 30 odd years they have been around. What was a dense array of analogue instruments is now a neat and colouful digital display that somehow removes us from actually how complex aircraft systems really are. Both are well represented in the flight sim world but for me, there is no substitute for the old steam driven stuff. The RFP 747-200 is easily the finest example of a pc based sim getting as real as can be. Whilst it is not possible to create a total immersion with just your laptop this product certainly has a suspension of disbelief rate higher than most others.
Back to the blurry world of simreality.....took off from New Caledonia at 20h30 and after a well deserved 2 and a half hour sleep we touched down at Brisbane International.
Well, it was not all sleep as I had an hour long chat to a girl in the seat next to me. A Chinese-Australian, she told me how Australia is fast becoming the place of choice for many people from the Far East to settle.

Travel gives one a novel perspective and I cannot help wondering how this compares to the Chinese 'invasion' of Africa that we are experiencing in our part of the world. Such is chance, that as a result of who I sat next to on the plane I will be seeing Brisbane with entirely different eyes.....and will eat out tomorrow night at the best Eastern restaurant in the city! That's if I can find the hurredly scribbled mobile number for Wan Lee.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Will all passengers for Rockhampton....

First....WISDOM from the KITCHEN!

Says Gran with a rather deadly looking kitchen knife in her hand....
"The Indians are killing each other wholesale - as soon as they get cross with their lovers they kill them. Then they commit hurry curry. I far prefer the plain dried peaches for my stewed fruit. The apricots are very sour. (Well, say I, just take the apricots out). No, that's not necessary. I cook it all and the sour taste goes away."

The image above comes from a magnificent and inspiring web adventure site...a must for all aviators and/or anyone with itchy feet!


I came across this site whilst researching the route for the virtual flying adventure I conceived of in my previous blog. It is indeed exciting to have stumbled upon like minded fellow travelling wilberries and I am hoping they are happy for me to use some of their images to promote their and my (virtual cousin!) adventures!

Well, route planning is now complete and all systems are set to go.
Before I leave, I shall once again explore the reasons for such an apparently time consuming exercise. The entire route is approx. 3400Nm. That equals 6500 km. At an average flying speed of 200kts it will take 17 hours in the air. That is 17 hours of my time, my laptop time and my broadband time. What on earth can justify this?
Well, unless I turn into Superman or that Peter Speed lookalike who owns Virgin Air, I am unlikely to ever visit places like Rockhampton, Australia or Kudang in Indos. my fingertips I have the greatest information resource in the history of mankind, the Internet, and I realized long ago that, combined with a definite mission, this enables me to have a very close experience of things that otherwise are out of physical reach.

Every decent game has a set of rules and these are mine:
1) At all times the aircraft is flown to real world safety and procedural norms.
2) Real weather conditions are to be dowloaded and used.
3) Where ATC is available on the IVAO network it must be used.
4) It is not strictly required to fly IVAO where no ATC is available as the MSFS option provides a reasonable traffic and ATC model. However all hours must be logged.
5) En route photos must be taken and archived as proof of the journey. These are to be integrated into the Google derived narrative of the journey.
6) Additional benefit and kudos are gained by having close encounters with the real world. For example, encouraging other virtual fliers to join me or making contact with real people or organizations en route.
7) As far as possible real world times are to be observed. However, if the scenery flown over is particularly impressive then it can be justified to shift time zone but retain real weather.
8) The ultimate aim of this venture is to add to my experience as a virtual/real aviator, increase my knowledge of the world and its people and push myself towards more real life travel and adventure.
9) All virtual time must be balanced out by outdoors physical experience of some sort, lest I become a laptop potato. The trouble is this leaves very little time for work.

The aircraft I am using is a Pilatus PC-12, the only single engined plane to be rated for trans-oceanic flight. I have built up this aircraft specifically to my own requirements with 2 onboard radar systems (Forward looking ground and TCAS traffic radar). Having spent some time in the right seat of a real world PC-12 I have come to respect this immensely safe and reliable plane.

Another reminder to check out

It is a real world story of a bunch of aviator-adventurers who did what I am doing in the virtual world. Now why didn't I know about them when they were recruiting a filmmaker!! It is also the first example of how merely getting an idea and running with it attracts all sorts of exciting possibilities! Let's see where this one goes (Just got to make sure I stay alive and healthy!).

Here is the first leg:
1) Depart Ils Des Pines AP (New Caledonia) and head west over the Atlantic Ocean for the Eastern Australian city of Rockhampton.
2) I know little of Rockhampton except that its airport was voted Australia's top AP in 2007 and approx 66000 passengers pass through it annually. By the time I leave Rockhampton, I will know a lot more and maybe, even know some people there!

1) World Route Map.
2) Departure Location
3) Destination Location

Once I am in the air on this leg my intention is to spend some of my flying time (in between checks) reading up more about Flight Planning over long distances (esp over sea).
Wikipedia has a marvelous resource on this:

Enough now....time to file a plan and head off into the sunset!

Log: 090607 - 16h45 - depart NWWE

Had to delay my departure by 15 minutes as some oke in an Embraer jet flew in (from the wrong direction), no landing lights and no communicating of his intentions. He (or she) then disappeared (maybe for a loo break) then just as I was lining up on runway 1o there he appeared at the other end of the runway, about to take off! Being a man of reason, I communicated my intention to vacate, got no reply and off he took. What a rude little person! But what the heck, there was a bright moon and half an hour into my trip I was greeted with the first glimmers of a Pacific Ocean sunrise. The reason that it is in front of me is because I diverted back to New Caledonia after a radio call came in requesting pilots to help in the Canary Islands as a new ATC guy was doing his exams. What the hell, let's suspend reality for a while and help out.
ps. note the natty little TCAS radar on the left. A nice added bit of realism is that you have to keep a watch on the traffic otherwise a midair collision is quite possible, especially when in uncontrolled airspace.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

and the Latter Day Saints..

Last time I thanked Beverley for inspiring me to get off my thin ass and blog. Today, I must thank Cheryl King for her parting volley and insight that has inspired a whole new direction in my life. This mail came at the very end of a long debate about the merits of superstition V a naturalistic universe. To quote:

Dear Budgie

This is far too wordy too wade through, I don’t have time at work for chain letters or people who (it appears at a first quick glance/skim through) like to think their own intellectualism compares with Einstein.

All the best as you try to convince people to line up with your great faith in whatever…..


What a good idea! I had not thought of that! Start my own religion...
First I need a management team, some saints. Well, last night, one of the new recruits came to me in a dream. He looked remarkably like David Basckin, the well known Durban stand up comedian and coffee aficionado.

Thus spake he: "Verily I say unto you, mere sleeping intellectual charlatan. Dwell not in the fleeting illusion of the moment. For as each second comes so surely does it come to pass, leaving little or no time to ponder upon the nature of the firmament. Take instead upon your time, the graven image of an LG Wide Screen TV, for herein lies the Truth, the frontal Truth, the sideways Truth and a 3 year all risks warranty. And so it shall pass, that the time it shall take to take in all that HDTV can offer shall be no less or more than one day being 1 sixth of the time taken in the creation of All. And in as much as thou shalt dwell in the presence of this one day, be content in that which is written to be 'living in the moment.'"

"Phew, St. David of the coffee machine, can I have that in simple language"
"Sure thing," he replied.

If you really want to live your life, then treat it as a series of days, each one containing everything that you wish for or strive for in Life. If you live from moment to moment, there is no time between expectation and history, but in a day there are many hours which, if well spent can allow us to live our lives one fruitful and bountious day at a time. Imagine that the day's possibilities fill the image on an LG Widescreen TV before you. Get up, get out and DON' TALK...DO! Live your life each day!

I am now going to go on a mini adventure to the Pavilion Mall to meet people, buy batteries and tapes and get some fresh air, for tomorrow it's off to the land of the Zulus!

There is however, space for my regular, Wisdom from the Kitchen!

Mum: Zuma says he's going to give electricity to everybody and now Eskom says they are putting up the price by 75%! It went up 30% last month and I am now paying R300! If they double it I will be paying R500. Pay is the name of the game at the moment.
Our South African marmalade's not bad at all.

(Ed: Zuma: new S African president. Eskom: Electricity Utility Company. Currency: $1 = R10)

On a sad and serious note:

The murder of Dr. George Tiller, one of the nation's few providers of late-term abortions despite decades of protests and attacks, brings into sharp focus the recent online debate I have engaged in over the danger of the fundamentalist religious right and the tacit support given to their lunacy by seemingly more innocuous incarnations of religiosity.

There was no immediate word of the motive Tiller's assailant. But the doctor's violent death was the latest in a string of shootings and bombings over two decades directed against abortion clinics, doctors and staff.

Long a focus of national anti-abortion groups, including a summer-long protest in 1991, Tiller was shot in the foyer of Reformation Lutheran Church, Stolz said. Tiller's attorney, Dan Monnat, said Tiller's wife, Jeanne, was in the choir at the time.

President Barack Obama said he was "shocked and outraged" by the murder. "However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence," he said.

Whilst many prolife organizations have condemned the murder, the voice of the American Taliban is loud and clear still and it is not difficult to see how this can fuel the fire of murder and mayhem.