Crayfish that glow in the dark
SO WE'RE to move from a programme of coal-fired electricity generation (by-products: smog/soot, greenhouse gases, hydrogen sulphide and acid rain) to a truly massive R300 billion programme of nuclear electricity generation by plants strung along the coast (by-product: crayfish that glow in the dark).
Does anyone remember the Tugela Basin? That natural feature here in KwaZulu-Natal that scientists and economists and engineers spent decades researching, coming to the conclusion that it has the hydro-electric potential to support several really large cities?
Unless those scientists, economists and engineers were smoking doob over all those years, the Tugela and its tributaries have the potential to meet most of South Africa's energy needs, if not all.
And then there are the Inga dams on the Congo River, that are also supposed to feed hydro-electric power into the South African energy grid. And there's the river system of the Eastern Cape, which the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry had planned to connect to the Tugela system in a canalisation and aqueduct programme that would have created mass employment for decades.
Could there be any more "green" way of producing energy than hydro-electric?
The research has been done. It's all there in the exhaustive studies and reports of the old Natal Town and Regional Planning Commission, which employed some of the best minds over a range of disciplines.
Now here's a depressing thought. It's a pound to a pinch of nannygoat manure (as they say in the classics) that the fellows driving the coal-fired and nuclear options have never even heard of the Tugela Basin and its hydro-electric potential.
DISCUSSION in recent days of Springbok and C to C cigarettes brings back memories to reader Frank van Vloten of schooldays during World War II when he and his friends would collect and swap the cards enclosed in the larger cigarette packs.
"I used to badger my sisters' troopie boyfriends for cards, if they happened to smoke; and by the end of the war those of us who had collected seriously had built up a good pile of very educational cards on various subjects which we then stuck into handsome albums with very informative write-ups, produced specially by the tobacco companies and sent to us on receipt of a "tickey" postal order (threepence, the equivalent of two-and-a-half cents today).
"The subjects were: South African animals and wildlife; South African flora; works of art (international); South African artillery and weaponry; and no doubt one or two others that other readers would remember. We were sorry when it was all discontinued at the end of the war. They were popular references and I for one learnt a lot in general from them."
RUSSIAN scientists have managed to grow a plant from prehistoric seeds hidden 30 000 or so years ago by squirrels that built burrows in the permafrost of east Siberia. Sylene stenophylla is the oldest plant ever to be regrown in this way and is fertile, producing white flowers and viable seeds.
The scientists say permafrost studies search for the ancient genetic pool of pre-existing life, which hypothetically has long since vanished from the earth's surface. It might even be possible to find tissue of vanished animal species, such as the woolly mammoth, and regrow them.
It sounds a little alarming. How long before Hollywood cottons on? The Woolly Mammoth from the Black Lagoon.
· "We'll have to rehearse that," said the undertaker as the coffin fell out of the car.
· "It's made the grass wet," said Tom after due consideration.
· "I don't think I want to eat eggs this morning," he waffled.
· "Keep in step," Dick said archly.
· "But there is no bathroom," said Harry uncannily.
A CHURCH has regular seminars for husbands. Guiseppe's 50th wedding anniversary is approaching and the parish priest asks him to share his thoughts on enduring love and marriage.
"Wella, I've-a tried to treat her nice-a, spenda da money on her, but besta of all is, I taka her to Italy for the 25th anniversary."
The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.