Archive for November, 2007

What My Genes Say About Me

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Wow. I just read an article that blew my mind. It’s about the latest that can be done to have one’s DNA analyzed for health risks and other things. Amazing. Read here. If you only read the first page you will get the picture, but I couldn’t help but read the entire article.

I don’t know, maybe I have been behind the times, but I am amazed this can be done on a large scale and cheaply. I will seriously consider this, as I think many young people would.

North Sea Storms Stink

Friday, November 9th, 2007

So you may or may not have heard about the storm that is currently over the North Sea. Well if not see here. Basically a big storm is going over the North Sea, and flooding was feared for a while, as well as disruptions in oil production. The worst seems to be over in the coastal areas, but where I am right now it’s still not good.

Biggest effect this has had on us is with our fresh water supply. The sign below was posted around the platfrom last night:

No Laundry

Our fresh water is shipped in to us and stored locally, and with the storm ships are unable to come and replenish our supplies. So we’re effectively sitting ducks, rationing our water until the storm passes, and have no laundry in the meantime. Now this may seem like no big deal, but trust me, it is. See, no one comes offshore with 5 or 7 or 10 of everything. Most people do laundry every other day, and have only a couple of sets of things to wear.

I myself have only 3 t-shirts and maybe a couple more underwears. And I arrived on Wednesday, and tomorrow is day 4 of my stay, so guess what? I begin cycling the shirts I wore already. A couple days after that I will do the same with underwear. And you know it can’t be good when everyone on the platfrom is doing the same. Latest news is that maybe Monday the weather will be better. And maybe not. And it can only get worse. We can still use the showers right now, but who knows how long that will last?

South Africa = Introduction to Africa

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

So on my latest days off (and probably my last days off here on my North Sea assignment) I flew all the way down to South Africa. I had heard a lot about the place, so I thought I would go see what it’s really like.

My impression is this: South Africa is the easy, tourist friendly Africa; hence it is not the ‘real’ Africa. It is pretty easy for an English speaker to get around, there are lots of tourist places to stay and visit, and the (white) people are generally well off and enjoy a decent standard of living.

That said however, there are other issues with the place. Some places are inherently dangerous, and you have to know about them and avoid them (dangerous as in Taxi driver groups having gun battles between each other and killing each other/bystanders, all over who gets to run what routes). One other issue is cultural (or more closely racial) inequality. Most of the well-off people are white, and the majority black population is still, in general, less educated and in lower paying jobs, or unemployed.

This inequality also affects the white population. Affirmative Action dictates that companies must hire 80% black people for new jobs. This makes it hard for employers because of the education level differences still present, and also for young white South African looking for jobs. The people I talked with say most white South Africans looking for jobs have to either go abroad or start their own business.

Some of these things make me think of the movie Blood Diamond, and the line TIA (This Is Africa), referring to how some things just are the way they are in Africa, and likely won’t change for a while. That’s how I felt about some things here in SA, the inequality and other points as well.

Anyways, that’s it for my sociocultural analysis, next post I’ll try and put up some nice pictures!

View from Table Mountain, Cape Town