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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Electric Kettle Syndrome

In this post I will try and give a realistic appraisal of the many reasons why South Africa has become a fully fledged Third World Country. No further efforts will ever be able to reverse that. We have regressed too far.
Last week one of our illustrious leaders declared that that Science will be the salvation
of South Africa. Since every other means to save the sinking ship has failed.
First of all let me state that the white mans science can not fix the black mans problems. It is as simple as that.
Just for starters the education system is in a state of paralysis if not worse.
We do not produce any graduates of the required caliber let alone in sufficient numbers.
We do not offer sufficiently advanced courses in the few Universities which still function to produce innovative engineers and scientists.
All we offer is some watered down subjects tailored in such a way that even retards can pass.
We have no major industries, like ship building, a home grown automotive industry let alone
more high tech ones like Semiconductor or Bio technology or any other requiring a fair number
of intelligent, educated human beings.
We import everything from toothbrushes to airliners. We export raw materials which we then re import
as finished goods. There is talk of forcing industries to beneficiate these raw materials before the are
exported. Great idea. But who will do the job? We do not have the suitably educated personnel or
the expertise let lone the electricity needed.
Right at this moment we have a number of smelters shut down as there is not sufficient electricity to run them.

If one compares the achievements of the rest of the world over the past 40 or so years with what has
been achieved here in the same period we should hang our heads in shame.
This is little wonder when one considers that emigration of skilled people is encouraged.
A number of politicians openly stated that they don't mind at all if skilled people leave.
Well, a million or so did. And I am also not going to hang around forever.
And by the way it's not a case of the rats leaving the ship. It's the other way, more like the ship
leaving the rats.

No major infrastructure projects successfully completed come to mind. There are a few on the go
but it remains to be seen if they will ever be completed on time let alone on budget.
Our beloved Gautrain, the high speed rail linking the airport with Jhb and Pretoria is still being
plagued by cable theft forcing it to stop operations. Besides it is rather expensive so the majority of the
population can not afford it.

Most of our once beautiful infrastructure is in a sorry state, roads and rail network in dire need of repair.
Especially the rail network is so poor that most goods have to be moved by heavy trucks instead of by rail.
This exacerbates the road infrastructure problem.  A while ago I had to see a client 150 km southeast of
Johannesburg. Knowing that the roads are bad in that area I did not use my Porsche with its low ground
clearance. I went in a 4x4 with 20 inch tires. To keep a long story short I had to turn back halfway as the
road was in such a shocking state that it was becoming extremely dangerous to drive. Potholes galore.
So I turned back and returned by helicopter the next day.

I keep a Go Pro camera in the Porsche so I have a video of any accident I might be involved in.
When I review these videos I always keep count of the traffic lights I go through. Then I count how many
are not working. The average number of faulty Traffic lights is about 40%. After a few days of rain
that figure goes up to 60%.
I once saw a photo of a submerged street in New Zealand after a river burst it's banks.
The road must have been 5 feet (1.5m) under water. But the traffic light was still working.

Then of course is the problem with our electricity supply. On very shaky grounds. Partly because
of lack of maintenance and partly because of lack of forward planning.
I have installed a R500,000 ($50,000) Solar Photo Voltaic System almost 2 years ago.
We had rolling blackouts a few times per week often lasting 12 hours.
So I got extremely pissed off and installed the PV System. No problems since then.
Thank God for the intelligent mans technology.

Large chunks of all major cities are run down and virtual no go areas. Although some effort
is being made to improve the situation, once again it had reached a point where no intervention
can do much except to fix the worst problems.
Whole buildings have been abandoned by their owners when the area turned bad and the original
tenants moved out. So the rent money stopped. Then the buildings got high jacked by criminals
renting it out to the poor. With no electricity, water or lifts they soon became hell holes.

Crime is so bad these days due to failed economic policies that unemployment is at an all time high.
Youth unemployment is at 50%. Other unemployment is not far behind.

Our police force is battling not only criminals but is being choked by criminality within it's own ranks
to a degree that the internal watchdog is unable to cope.
Police corruption is endemic. Ordinary people are just seen as a meal ticket for personal enrichment.
I don't have to cite examples. The papers are full of them.
Only last week 4 cops were arrested for rape. 2 in the Cape and 2 in Johannesburg.
This is an ongoing problem with them. Nothing new. Over a 1000 cops in Johannesburg have been
or are under investigation for criminal activities.

Being very involved in aviation I have a particular interest in our Air Force.
Just today there were a number of newspaper articles reporting on the sorry state of affairs in what
is one of the oldest Air Forces in the World.
Apparently all 18 Augustas 109 Helicopters have been grounded due to lack of funds.
The same also applies to our Grippen Fighter Jets. Their maintenance contract has expired and has
not been renewed it said in the newspaper story. Most are in long time storage and are being
cannibalised for spares to keep the others flying.
It also reported that the Air Force is considering selling off the Helicopter operations.
Not sure what that means. Outsourcing? To a private company?
As one defence analyst remarked. A army without helicopters is a Dinosaur stuck in a swamp and                an Air Force without fighter jets is a sitting duck.
The same also applies to the Police Air wing. 40% of aircraft are not serviceable.
A friend who flies for the police says he has not flown in months.

A country blessed with every resource under the sun, including our superb climate, wildlife,
astounding vistas, gold and many other minerals and we can't make it work????

Has it ever occurred to anybody why countries with the least natural resources have the greatest
industrial output.  Oops sorry, for got to mention that these countries have a working education
system and an intelligent workforce.

Now let me explain what is meant by title of this post 'The Electric Kettle Syndrome'.
This will explain most of the above comments.
A while ago I evaluated a few recent graduates from our top engineering universities as
possible candidates for some job vacancies due to our rapid growth.
One of them always comes to mind immediately whenever that topic crops up.
Besides having absolutely no understanding of the subject matter he spent 4 years studying
he also was totally unable to reason logically. Now that is one of the main attributes of an
Electronic Engineer. At least in my humble opinion. If you can't analyse problems logically
how the hell are you going to solve them.
But what really put him out of the race was that he was unable to operate our electric kettle
to make himself a cup of coffee. He could not figure out how to open the lid to pour water in.
Admittedly it is a fancy Russel Hobbs kettle found only in upmarket homes but he was a
professional electronic engineer. And we depend on  people like this to innovate and be the
driving force of the economy.  Why am I crying? Must be somebody cutting onions in the kitchen.



To be continued........




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Vorna Valley Johannesburg

Vorna Valley Johannesburg
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My Life Philosophy

My Life Philosophy