When was that page made?

If you've ever wondered how to check to see when a specific webpage was last updated, here's a nifty tool.

Copy and paste the following script into the address line where you usually see the url of the page you're on:

javascript:alert(document.lastModified)

Or click here to see a demonstration.

It works well for static html pages.  Dynamic pages like CGI and PHP (e.g. this page) etc. will give the current date and time.  And you need to have javascript enabled for this to work.


CA 902 168

This gold Mercedes [CA 902 168] didn't seem to think that lanes applied to him, and in quite busy traffic, drove with his car about 80% in the right hand lane, and 20% in the middle lane.


CA 598 896

Another thing about Cape Town drivers is that they don't like to wait in line.  If there is a turning lane that is backed up, and you don't want to wait in line, you can drive in another lane to the front of the queue, and push your way in.  The best way to do that is to wait for the traffic light to be about to turn green, and move into the intersection.  When the traffic light turns green, you can turn the corner before the other cars start to move.  That way you don't even need to use your indicators - this guy has this technique perfected.

At the Arrive Alive website, you can report bad driving.


Eastern Cape drivers in Cape Town

Drivers in Cape Town are exceptionally bad drivers.  Ignoring traffic lights, not bothering about which lane they are turning into, and showing no concern for drivers who have right of way turning.  Never mind the nits who don't know how to negotiate a traffic circle correctly.

The Western Cape government should be ashamed of itself.  Its Traffic Department issues licences to people who shouldn't be allowed on the road.  And does nothing about it.  While it's clear that they haven't the least concern for road safety, they have now made it clear that they don't care about the safety of patients on the way to hospital by ambulance either.

Near Tygerberg Hospital, they have made a complete mess of the roads.  Apparently the engineer was fired, because where the road curves, it slants the wrong way - causing instability.  On a bend, the road slants at an angle, to allow for stability when driving through the turn.  This road slants the wrong way.

Now they seem to be re-tarring the road, and have blocked off several lanes, making traffic slow to a snail's pace at even the quiet times of the day.

And, being near a hospital, one expects ambulances to have to drive along those roads regularly.  On my way home today, there was an ambulance, lights flashing and all, unable to move because of the cars creeping along.  Nobody could move out of its way - there was simply no room.

Thanks, Roads People!

Back to bad drivers - this one a) drives in Cape Town, and b) drives a 4x4.  Obviously a bad mixture.  4 wheel drivers know they are superior, and own the road, and are entitled to do as they please - and this one did just that.  Since he drives a Colt with a Northern cape number plate, he has likely been in Cape Town for some time, and knows that he can do as he pleases.

On my way past him, he was typing things into his cell phone.  SMS to the wife to say he'd survived yet another intersection by forcing his way through the traffic that had right of way?  Maybe he was phoning the manufacturers of his Colt to say that he's thrilled to have such a superior vehicle that allows him to express his disdain for other people who clog up the roads made for him.

At around lunch time today, some old bat thought she could still make it across an intersection after the cars had started moving into it.  I hooted at her, which left her somewhat stunned, because she ended up not knowing which lane she was in, so nobody could pass her on any side of her, in either of the two lanes going in her direction.  After I hooted until she decided which lane she should be in, she was too ashamed to meet my eyes.

She was driving a Honda.  Had she been a rich middle-aged woman in a BMW or a Mercedes, she would have known she owned the road, and had every right to push other cars aside.  At least this woman felt guilt.

Cape Town drivers know they're bad.  I am sure the Traffic Department knows this too.  Unfortunately, I don't know where the greater incompetence lies.


UFO school

A flying saucer school has opened in Russia which teaches its students how to react if they happen to meet an alien.

A school to learn about UFOs ... fun.  UFO article here.


Gauteng drivers in the Cape

Gauteng drivers in the Cape learn fast how to drive badly.  This one still considered the traffic light to signal his right of way, even though the lights were already green for the other side.

Unfortunately, in spite of taking my webcam along, the resolution wasn't good enough for catching the number plate.  Next time I'll remember I need to be closer than that.

Maybe he was a Cape Town driver, and just happened to be driving a car with a Gauteng registration.


How long will this driver live?

Today this driver was demonstrating the very low probability that she will survive beyond her current bout of PMS.  Driving like a lunatic, on everyone's tail, just to get there (wherever) a few seconds before the car in front of her.  She started off in front of me, and ended up about the same distance in front of me 3 kilometers later when she got onto the N1 towards Cape Town.

I need a camera with better resolution than my cell phone's one.


CY 74718

More on Cape Town drivers.

Today, on my way to work, I was in a line of cars approaching an intersection.  There was a filter light to let cars turn right, and the light turned orange to indicate the end of that part of the cycle.

In Cape Town, that means that it's time to accelerate, and get your hand ready on your hooter (US: horn) to give the car in front of you a good blast if they dare stop.  Often 3-4 cars can still enter the intersection once the traffic lights have turned red, because the cars from the other direction haven't started moving yet.

This car, CY 74718, a maroon Audi A4, is one of those:

The photo is unfortunately somewhat poor, as it was taken with a cell phone, and facing into the sun.

The traffic light (filter arrow) for the turning lane (turning from the road we were in into the perpendicular road) turned yellow, then off.  Then the car approaching stopped.  The lights were now red, and in the rest of the world, that means stop.  In Cape Town tradition, however, the car behind [CY 74718] wanted to still make it through the intersection before the other cars began to move into the intersection.  The driver was angry that the car in front had stopped, and used hand signals to insult the driver in front of her who had stopped for the traffic light.

This intersection is a particularly bad one, and often cars still enter the intersection after the lights have turned green for the cars in the other direction.


Cape Town drivers

Cape Town drivers are known for bad driving.  They drive slower than Gauteng drivers, but are far more incompetent, which probably accounts for the slower speed.  This may be due to the lazy atmosphere created by living at the seaside - it takes far longer for Cape Town drivers to recognise a red traffic light and to come to a stop - when the lights turn green, cars usually have to wait till the intersection clears, and quite often have to wait until cars stop entering the intersection.  And which lane one is in is not really relevant - if you want to be in another lane, just move across - the other cars have to brake, because Cape Town Drivers have right of way.  This is especially true in turning lanes, where they don't seem to care who has right of way in which lane - they just turn from whichever lane they please into whichever lane they please.

So far, the only reason H5N1 avian influenza hasn't killed people in Cape Town is because it hasn't yet reached here.  If and when a pandemic occurs, and if and when it reaches Cape Town, one has to wonder

Today, going home from work, the traffic lights turned green, but we had to wait for a further 5 cars that continued to enter the intersection.  No reason to stop at a red traffic light if those who have right of way are still stationary, is there?  In Cape Town, the answer is a loud "No!"

This is the 5th of those cars - I ended up behind her, and while standing still, I got a photo with my cell phone camera.  Somewhat unclear, but cell phone cameras are not always ideal for detail.  The licence number: CFR 54571.

Arrive Alive has a place to report bad driving online.


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!


Thoughts on school teachers and corporal punishment

School teachers can be classified as three different types:

  1. Those for whom teaching is a true vocation,
  2. those for whom teaching is an occupation, and
  3. those for whom teaching is a means to feel powerful in a world where they would otherwise be psychologically impotent

Unfortunately, the first category is not common - 10-15% of the teacher population, I suspect.  Unfortunately, the third category is perhaps a bit more common.

As the second category teachers grow older, they tend to shift into the first one, as a result of increasing experience and wisdom.  Many, however, just burn out - and this is the general tendency of the third category - they eventually experience the impotence they feared.  (Note to any such teachers reading this: it's impotence, not importance.)

Where does corporal punishment fit in?

  • Those for whom teaching is a vocation are the ones who usually get to administer corporal punishment.  They don't enjoy it, but realise it's for the good of their students.
  • Those for whom teaching is an occupation are the ones who send the pupils for corporal punishment.
  • Those for whom teaching is a power trip are the ones who enjoy administering corporal punishment.

I was lucky to have most of my class teachers fall into category 1.  They helped shape where I am today.  Category 2 teachers are not bad - there isn't anything wrong with having a job because you need to work, or because you enjoy it - but their ultimate purpose in life falls somewhere outside their workplace.  They did a good job educating me.  Category 3 teachers taught me pity.  They are like people who become doctors because they like to see breasts, or people who become police because they like to shoot stray cats as kids.

I think people reading this will be able to identify which of their teachers belong in each category ... and if they are teachers themselves, they'll recognise - with pride, with content, or with externally projected self-loathing - which of the categories they belong to.


Google print

Here's an interesting post on Dr Baggas' blog - Google print beta, and a few tips on cheating its limit for how much of the books you can get.


South Africa's Heritage Day

South Africans are obviously proud of their heritage.  On Heritage Day, 24 September 2005, this was the scene outside/inside Fountains Valley, in Pretoria (these photos are circulating by e-mail as bigger files - see those if you want more photos, and better quality images.)  Fountains is a really beautiful area, a great picnic spot ... and South Africans have chosen to make it even more stunning!  Notice the empty dustbins!!

Fountains - rubbish and litter at entrance

Fountains - rubbish and litter on trail

Fountains - rubbish and litter near dustbin

Fountains Valley serves as the entrance to Groenkloof Nature Reserve.  Directions and further details can be found here.  The City of Tshwane (previously Pretoria, our capital city) is a proud place to be - not only do we conserve nature, but we conserve litter too!


The Post Office strikes again

The South African Post Office has surpassed themselves again.

Whenever postage rates go up, people joke that the increase is to pay for more room for storage - delivery times are usually good, but can be horrendous at times.

Two and a half (2.5) months ago, I sent some papers through to my parents.

This week I got the letter back - marked for return to sender, with a stamp saying "Box closed."  The stamp was signed by Hugo on either 12/6 [i.e. 12 June] or 12/8 [i.e. 12 August] (not very clearly written,) so they must have used their extra storage for this letter either before or after stamping, as it only arrived back this week - 25 August.

One wonders if the delivery to the PO Box was attempted from the outside of the Post Office, because obviously from that side it is closed, so that the general public can't scratch through other people's post.

The PO Box in question still works, and has received letters sent since that date.

A scanned copy of this stamp can be seen below.

An aside: they have currently got the most peculiar postage rates.  In previous years, things were usually a multiple of 5 cents to make change easier.  Now, for a standard domestic letter, the cost is R1.77.

International airmail prices are still logical amounts - R4.25 for a standard size/weight letter to countries outside Southern Africa.  But how to come up with that by adding postage stamps together is something they never thought of.  Two standard stamps - R1.77+R1.77 - comes to R3.54.  And they don't seem to produce a 71c stamp.

The Post Office's error


Jury nullification

Justice Often Served by Jury Nullification - Cato Institute

This article really interested me ... while it could result in a huge amount of abuse, it could certainly do a lot of good.  Too many people are prosecuted for silly reasons, it seems, here and in the USA.  We have no such system here.

A common question I get from people disturbed by these kinds of cases is, "What can we do?" Well, here's one thing the average citizen can do: Serve when you're called to jury duty, and while there, refuse to enforce unjust laws. If a defendant is guilty of harming someone else, certainly, throw the book at him. But if he's guilty of violating a bad law, or if you feel the law has been unjustly applied to him, by all means, come back with "not guilty," no matter what the judge, the prosecutor, or the evidence says.

Not only is this your right as a juror, some would say it's your obligation.




SAA strike update

The friend at work I mentioned - he missed the rugby due to the SAA strikes.

He came back with a story about someone he met at the airport - 1500 guests invited to a wedding, food etc. planned for the wedding, and the bride and groom were the ones who missed the wedding - thanks to SAA!




More on the SAA

SAA slapped with R45m fine for abusing its position

It looks like the SAA is hitting the headlines a lot at the moment, between strikes, and now this evidence of corruption.

"SAA has been fined R45 million for abusing its dominant position in the domestic airline market and could be facing a further cost of R200m if the proposed civil action by Nationwide Airlines is successful.

"Yesterday, the Competition Tribunal announced that it was imposing the largest fine in the history of the Competition Act on SAA for the use of what it described as "an objectionable" incentive scheme.

"The scheme was designed to encourage travel agents to sell SAA tickets to their customers regardless of what was being offered by other airlines such as Nationwide and BA/Comair."




SAA and its service

Several people I work with were left stranded by SAA due to the recent strike.  Two were on their way to Rio for an HIV conference, and couldn't get from Cape Town to Johannesburg for their connecting flight - which was cancelled anyway.  So they never made it to the conference.

One was in the UK at a shooting competition, and got stranded there, waiting for a flight back.  She got back safely without being shot in the head several times, or even once, in spite of the fact that she and her team were carrying around cases filled with rifles and other such items.

And one was meant to be back today for the rugby at Loftus - although the strikes are over, with pilot strikes threatening on the horizon, there may still be a backlog of passengers to get back to South Africa.  I have yet to find out if he made it back for the rugby, or if he had to waste R350 (something like that) because of the SAA strikes.

Some links on the strike:
SAA sends jets to pick up stranded - SAA has has sent eight jets to collect stranded passengers at various international destinations as a ground and cabin staff strike enters its fourth day. - 25 July 2005 11:00
SAA and unions agree on CCMA intervention
South African Airways officials and labour union chiefs have agreed to seek assistance from the CCMA in a new bid to resolve the workers' strike that has crippled the airline. - 25 July 2005 18:23
Strike is costing SAA millions every day
Economist Mike Schussler says the South African Airways strike is costing the airline more than R20-million a day and is also having an effect on the catering and hotel industries. - 26 July 2005 16:13
SAA strike is over, say union officials
The South African Airways strike is effectively over, according to the United Association of South Africa, whose representatives have promised that airline workers will return to work before the end of the week. - 27 July 2005 19:13
SAA back in business again, says chief
South African Airways CEO Khaya Ngqula has announced that the national pay strike is officially over. The two labour unions involved in the recent mass action have accepted a wage offer from the airline. - 28 July 2005 15:52
Now pilots' protest may add to SAA's woes
Just as South African Airways recovers from a crippling week-long strike by cabin crew and ground staff, the national carrier could find itself hit by a pilot strike. - 30 July 2005 16:26

And on the rugby:
Springboks squeeze past the Wallabies
The Springboks had to dig deep before they recorded yet another Tri-Nations victory over the touring Wallabies, 22-16, at a packed Loftus Stadium in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon.




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