Saturday, 30 May 2009

Bulls win Super 14 in landslide victory

Bulls win Super 14 titleThe Bulls beat the Chiefs of New Zealand with a resounding 61-17 victory in Pretoria today. It was their second S14 title in three years and the scoreline was a record defeat for a Super 14 final. The Bulls put on a fantastic display of attacking rugby and scored eight tries. It could have been more, considering the chances they created. Bulls scrumhalf, Fourie Du Preez, was brilliant and simply emphasized the fact that he's the best in his position in the world.

Bulls vs Chiefs Super 14 Final - match report

I just hope the Stormers, the Cape Town based team I support, will do better next year!

All bodes well for South African rugby but it will be interesting to see how this victory affects the selection of the Springbok team against the British and Irish Lions this month. As much as I rate the incumbent Ruan Pienaar, Bulls flyhalf Morné Steyn surely must have played himself into the Springbok starting lineup. He has been sublime all season.

Springbok Sevens win IRB World Sevens Series for 2008/2009The South African Sevens team also won the IRB Sevens Series title for 2008/2009 today when they reached the Cup quarter finals at Murrayfield. This is the first time the same country has held the World Championship title in both the 15-man and Sevens code, at the same time. Read more on "Bulls win Super 14 in landslide victory"!

Several whales beach at Kommetjie

Whales beach at KommetjieFifty five whales have beached at Kommetjie in Cape Town today.

Several volunteers have swarmed the beach to assist marine biologists to try and rescue the whales.

Reasons why whales beach

Beaching of whales may seem like a strange phenomenon but there are several reasons/theories why whales beach: Illness could affect their sense of direction. Strong currents could push the whales into low tide areas and then the whales get caught in a race against time to get back into deeper water.

Volunteers trying to rescue the beached whalesIn Kommetjie some of the whales that were freed, were stranded again on the same beach. This however is not uncommon. Again, a problem with their sense of direction could lead them back to the beach, thinking that they're heading for deeper waters.

It could also be that the rest of the whales followed one in distress and got caught in low tide. If a whale stays stranded on the beach for too long, the absense of water could lead to the whale suffocating due to the sheer weight of its body.

Whales to be euthanized

According to Eye Witness News the whales which were still on shore will be euthanized as their conditions had deteriorated.

Update: 34 of the whales had to be euthanized. 20 of the whales were successfully rescued.

Related links
Dozens of whales beach at Kommetjie - IOL
Beached whales to be euthanized - EWN
Photo source Read more on "Several whales beach at Kommetjie"!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

FC Barcelona - Champions of Europe

FC Barcelona winning the 2008/2009 UEFA Champions LeagueThe impressive FC Barcelona beat Manchester United 2 - 0 tonight in a one-sided affair to be crowned as the winners of the 2008/2009 UEFA Champions League. It wasn't much of a contest since Barcelona completely dominated possession and had the better of almost all the exchanges. Their passing was simply relentless. Andrés Iniesta, Barca's attacking midfielder was simply incredible. He gets my vote for Man of the Match.

Lionel Messi scoring the second goal with an impressive headerSamuel Eto'o scored first after 10 mins and then the diminutive Lionel Messi, scored in the 70th minute with a remarkable header to wrap up the match. There's always an ongoing debate whether Man United's Ronaldo or FC Barcelona's Messi is the best player. My vote goes to Messi. The scoreline was a good reflection of affairs but if Barcelona scored another goal, it would not have been unjust. Barcelona captain Puyol was unlucky not to score late in the second half.

FC Barcelona completely dominated the Spanish domestic league this season and their coach, Josep Guardiola, is the youngest Barcelona coach ever to win the Champions League. He's had a phenominal year and it's only his first season as manager.

Manchester United, who won the title last season, certainly didn't play their best game today but were gracious in defeat. Read more on "FC Barcelona - Champions of Europe"!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

NASA Shuttle Mission: Hubble Space Telescope

Atlantis Space ShuttleThe final service mission (4th) to the Hubble Space Telescope ended when the Atlantis shuttle landed at the Edwards Air Force Base in California today. Atlantis was initially scheduled to land in Florida but bad weather resulted in the shuttle being diverted to California instead.

Hubble Space Telescope

The STS-125 mission crew was sent to Hubble on the last visit to service the telescope and therefore extend its lifetime by another five to ten years. The mission was launched on 11 May. The Endeavour space shuttle was also on standby in case a rescue mission was required.

Related links
All missions and media briefings by NASA can be followed live on NASA TV
STS-125 Mission details and timeline
Follow NASA on Twitter Read more on "NASA Shuttle Mission: Hubble Space Telescope"!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Wolfram Alpha - Computable knowledge

Wolfram AlphaCape Town to London? South Africa's GDP? R250 + 38% ? Ohm's law? weather tokyo 1971? 2 slices of swiss cheese?

Wolfram Alpha is a new knowledge search engine that will interpret your question and calculate any possible mathematical answer for you. It offers something completely different to the Google search engine. Here's some examples of the type of queries you can enter. I had a lot of fun playing with it, try it out! Read more on "Wolfram Alpha - Computable knowledge"!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Manchester United wins Premier League title

Manchester United wins English Premier LeagueManchester United won their third consecutive English Premier League title with a 0 - 0 draw against Arsenal. This gives them an unassailable lead with one game to play against Hull City. Man U now equals Liverpool's record 18 English Premier League titles. Their coach, Sir Alex Ferguson, who is the most successful coach in modern football, has confirmed that he will not retire but will focus next season on winning the EPL again, to beat Liverpool's record outright.

Manchester United play in the UEFA Champions League final on 27 May in Rome, against Barcelona FC. It promises to be a classic final since the two best performing sides in Europe throughout the season will be involved in the clash.

Manchester United official site
Manchester United Supporters' Club of South Africa Read more on "Manchester United wins Premier League title"!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

VLC media player

VLC media playerThere are a lot of media players out there but my alltime favourite has to be the cross-platform VLC media player. It plays just about any video or audio file format you throw at it (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg... as well as DVDs, VCDs, Flash and various streaming protocols as well).

The biggest advantage of this free software is that you don't need to download a seperate codec every time you want to play a lesser known video format, like with most other media players. It just plays most of them anyway. There are also several skins available if you don't like the default skin.

VLC list of features
Download the VLC media player Read more on "VLC media player"!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

South Africa's new Cabinet appointments

I was expecting the Minister of Communications to be Roy Padayachie, the former Communications deputy minister. Instead, former South Africa National Defence Force (SANDF) chief, Siphiwe Nyanda, was appointed instead. This will definitely be a surprise to the industry. I sincerely hope that Nyanda does not slow down progress, the way the previous minister, Ivy-Matsepe Casaburri, did.

Here's South Africa's new Cabinet appointments, as announced by president Jacob Zuma today:

The Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa - Kgalema Petros Motlanthe
  1. Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries - Tina Joemat-Pettersson
    Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries - Dr Pieter Mulder

  2. Minister of Arts and Culture - Lulu Xingwana
    Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture - Paul Mashatile

  3. Minister of Basic Education - Angie Motshekga
    Deputy Minister of Basic Education - Enver Surty

  4. Minister of Communications - Siphiwe Nyanda
    Deputy Minister of Communications - Dina Pule

  5. Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs - Sicelo Shiceka
    Deputy Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs - Yunus Carrim

  6. Minister of Correctional Services - Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
    Deputy Minister of Correctional Services - Hlengiwe Mkhize

  7. Minister of Defence and Military Veterans - Lindiwe Sisulu
    Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans - Thabang Makwetla

  8. Minister of Economic Development - Ebrahim Patel
    Deputy Minister of Economic Development - Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde

  9. Minister of Energy - Dipuo Peters

  10. Minister of Finance - Pravin Gordhan
    Deputy Minister of Finance - Nhlanhla Nene

  11. Minister of Health - Dr Aaron Motsoaledi
    Deputy Minister of Health - Dr Molefi Sefularo

  12. Minister of Higher Education and Training - Dr Blade Nzimande

  13. Minister of Home Affairs - Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
    Deputy Minister of Home Affairs - Malusi Gigaba

  14. Minister of Human Settlements - Tokyo Sexwale
    Deputy Minister of Human Settlements - Zou Kota

  15. Minister of International Relations and Co-operation - Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
    Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation (1) Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim
    Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation (2) Sue van der Merwe

  16. Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development - Jeff Radebe
    Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development - Andries Nel

  17. Minister of Labour - Membathisi Mdladlana

  18. Minister of Mining - Susan Shabangu

  19. Minister of Police - Nathi Mthethwa
    Deputy Minister of Police - Fikile Mbalula

  20. Minister of Public Enterprises - Barbara Hogan
    Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises - Enoch Godongwana

  21. Minister for the Public Service and Administration - Richard Baloyi
    Deputy Minister for the Public Service and Administration - Roy Padayachie

  22. Minister of Public Works - Geoff Doidge
    Deputy Minister of Public Works Hendrietta - Bogopane-Zulu

  23. Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform - Gugile Nkwinti
    Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform - Dr Joe Phaahla

  24. Minister of Science and Technology - Naledi Pandor
    Deputy Minister of Science and Technology - Derek Hanekom

  25. Minister of Social Development - Edna Molewa
    Deputy Minister of Social Development - Bathabile Dlamini

  26. Minister of Sport and Recreation - Makhenkesi Stofile
    Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation - Gert Oosthuizen

  27. Minister of State Security - Siyabonga Cwele

  28. Minister in The Presidency (1) National Planning Commission - Trevor Manuel

  29. Minister in The Presidency (2) Performance Monitoring and Evaluation as well as Administration in the Presidency - Collins Chabane

  30. Minister of Tourism - Marthinus van Schalkwyk
    Deputy Minister of Tourism - Thozile Xasa

  31. Minister of Trade and Industry - Rob Davies
    Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry (1) Thandi Tobias
    Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry (2) Maria Ntuli

  32. Minister of Transport - Sbusiso Joel Ndebele
    Deputy Minister of Transport - Jeremy Cronin

  33. Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs - Buyelwa Sonjica
    Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs - Rejoice Mabhudafhasi

  34. Minister of Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities - Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya
Read more on "South Africa's new Cabinet appointments"!

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Zuma's inauguration

Jacob ZumaJacob Zuma, controversial ANC-leader, will be inaugurated as president of South Africa today.

Outgoing President Kgalema Motlanthe will bestow the order of Mapungubwe on Zuma, the highest honour in the land, and he will be sworn in at 11h20. Interestingly, Motlante will become the deputy president after Mbete, who was expected to remain deputy president, opted for a golden handshake instead.

Zuma has his critics but did win a landslide victory during the elections in April. He is a charismatic leader but is expected to have a pragmatic approach. He has a few big challenges ahead of him. He'll have to juggle the interests of markets and labour since labour wants more government spending due to the millions of South Africans still living in poverty. Crime, education, health and unemployment are high on the agenda and he will also have to steer Africa's biggest economy through the current global financial crisis.

A new era dawns.

Related link
South Africa - Elections 2009 Read more on "Zuma's inauguration"!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Ben Southall wins "Best Job In The World"

Ben SouthallTourism Queensland in Australia advertised a job in January for "Caretaker of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef". Applicants had to submit a video online for public voting. Ben Southall, charity fundraiser from England, was selected from 16 finalists. There were 34000 applications worldwide, therefore quite a lot of publicity generated for this job. Interestingly, only one Australian made it to the finals.

His primary duty will be to promote the Great Barrier Reef to the world by blogging about his experience online. He'll be based on Hamilton Island with free lodging in a multi-million dollar villa. His contract is for six months and he'll be paid AU$150 000 (about R950 000 at time of writing). Not bad!

Island Reef Job - Ben Southall

YouTube link

Islands of the Great Barrier Reef showcase

YouTube link Read more on "Ben Southall wins "Best Job In The World""!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Springbok injuries continue

New Springbok emblem The Super 14 rugby tournament has already taken its toll on several key Springbok players. With the important test series between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions only a few weeks away, this is now a really big concern.

Jean De Villiers (groin) - inside centre - 2008's best player in SA
Butch James (knee) - flyhalf
Schalk Burger (calf) - flanker
Andries Bekker (ribs) - lock
Conrad Jantjes (broken leg) - fullback
Frans Steyn (knee ligaments) - backline utility

Incumbent flyhalf Ruan Pienaar was out as well but seems to have recovered successfully.

The reality is that these are some of our top players and the incumbents in their positions in the Springboks squad. It will therefore make a huge difference since they don't appear to stand a chance of playing against the Lions.

The Springboks are the favourites to win the Test series since they're the current World Champions and because they beat the british teams on their last tour in November '08. However, with all these injuries in key positions, it really levels the playing field. Any more key injuries and the Springboks will be in serious trouble.

Related post
Springboks vs British and Irish Lions Read more on "Springbok injuries continue"!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Pavement drawings - Anamorphosis

Julian BeeverI've always liked art that are offbeat in some way. Here's a few pavement drawings by chalk artist, Julian Beever. They appear to be three-dimensional yet they're done on a flat surface. Quite amazing!

Square Block

Portable Computer

Batman and Robin

Politicians Meeting Their End

See more on Julian Beever's website. Read more on "Pavement drawings - Anamorphosis"!
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