News24

ET, home phoned

2012-05-29 08:42

David Moseley

In a dreary week where all the talk in South Africa centred around a little prick and a newspaper editor who managed to insert herself and her brand so expertly into the story that she became the story (and a nauseatingly boring one at that), it’s quite possibly time for us to all enjoy a little perspective.

In the week that was, let’s look at the important things that happened around the world:

In Miami, a naked man was shot 12 times after he refused to stop eating the face of his homeless victim. Naked. Face eating. Twelve times. Savvy and well-read readers will know that this heralds the start of the Zombie Apocalypse. Buy your baked beans now.

Nineteen miners were trapped in an old Northern Cape mine. Ten of them died. They’d gone into the old mine to search for diamonds because, with 95% unemployment in their region, scrabbling through a dangerous and disused mine is actually more appealing to them than sitting around doing nothing. Oh, and they needed money for food.

And of course, let’s not forget Syria, where so far since Sunday over 30 children have been massacred. Because, you know, that’s what you do when you have a gun.

Marty, I’ve built a time machine

But never mind all that, because here, a fucking painting managed to generate more headlines than the incredible news that we are just one phone call away from discovering ET. That’s right, suckers. We are going to phone ET’s home.

In amongst the moralising, hurt feelings and paint flinging of the last few days comes the stunning news that South Africa will host the largest portion of the Square Kilometre Array (or SKA). So, apart from a Jamaican influenced calypso blues form of music, what is SKA? For the science, I now hand the baton over to Dr Kelvin Kemm, a nuclear physicist, who wrote the following in the Sunday Independent (I buy papers with the best front page pictures, not because someone told me to):

“SKA will be a radio telescope. It monitors radio waves rather than light.” Meaning, of course, that if ALF was tuning in to Highveld, we’d soon know about it. “Few realise that astronomers can generate accurate pictures built up from radio waves.” True. I did not know that.

But here’s the really good stuff: “The radio waves that astronomers want to view have been travelling through space since the birth of the universe, so when they get a snapshot of these waves, astronomers will actually see a picture that was created at the beginning of time.” (No religious folk, that doesn’t mean we’ll actually be able to see Adam and Eve cavorting in the Garden).

In essence, SKA will be able to see back in time. But wait (in your best Verimark voice), there’s more. SKA will be so sensitive (just like our president) that, “if there are alien beings living on another planet orbiting a nearby star we will be able to detect their TV broadcasts.” And so, one of the greatest unanswered questions of our time will finally be resolved: is the scariest horror movie in all of alien life called… Human?

I’m no man of science, but I’ve watched everything from Alien to Event Horizon to Galaxy Quest. Space is undeniably cool. And in a fortnight where a South African-born man sent his SpaceX Falcon 9 ‘Dragon’ to dock with the International Space Station (making his the first private company to launch and dock a vehicle to the ISS) and where a bunch of clever South Africans won the honour of hosting the world’s first viable time machine, space has never been cooler.

Do yourself a favour. Check this out www.skatelescope.org and www.spacex.com. Learn about stuff that matters. Not trivial, over opinionated fluff that makes us all look like fools.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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Comments
  • Trevor - 2012-05-29 09:20

    Briiliant !! and Boy so true -enuff of the Bloody Zuma crap -its freaking boring and as bad as the City Press Editor!-oh i see Julius is about to buy her out -go Julius......

  • Vernon - 2012-05-29 09:37

    Hi David, Maybe thats what all the fuss was about, the painting was not hung enough,if it showed a bigger spear ,maybe it wouldnt have been a problem. I hope when we find the little green men out there ,that they eat politicians and pee petrol.

      LanfearM - 2012-05-29 13:42

      LOL! That is what I thought, perhaps Zuma felt insulted because the spear was too small?

  • winston.mullany - 2012-05-29 09:40

    Why's ET's eyes so big? Because he saw his phone bill when he phoned home!!!

  • arthur.hugh - 2012-05-29 09:41

    Great article! I must concur! Perhaps if everyone had a hobby to release their pent up frustrations they wouldn't take to venting when trivial things like willies are hung out to dry.

  • adriaan.dutoit.3 - 2012-05-29 09:49

    "...editor who managed to insert herself and her brand so expertly into the story that she became the story..." This has to be one of the most hilariously contrived and over-simplified attempts at political commentary I've ever read. Leave the cynical intellectual posturing to those with the insight to pull it off, Moseley.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-05-29 10:10

      How is it contrived? I think he's saying it pretty much how it is. I beg to see you better that or explain at least, why you think it's so contrived?

      adriaan.dutoit.3 - 2012-05-29 10:21

      Firstly, the notion that only the audience that produce material themselves are allowed to criticise someone's out put is totally illogical. The same could be said for those praising it. My criticism is as valid as your praise, regardless of our journalistic outputs. Secondly, it is contrived because the comment is so obviously engineered to appeal to Moselely's audience. It's overly cynical without making any real statement on Haffajee's decision. I put it to you and to the writer that in a robust democracy where our political leaders' behaviour and policies are scrutinised by a healthy fourth estate, it is IMPOSSIBLE for editors of media brands NOT to become part of the story. Especially when it involves a topic like freedom of speech. To view Haffajee's involvement in such a simple, cynical light, betrays Moseley and his readership's ignorance. The comment in question panders to the mindset that leans towards criticism without real understanding. And, if my dictionary is to be believed, this is the very definition of the term 'contrived'.

      david.a.moseley - 2012-05-29 10:46

      Adriaan, no need to get personal. And don't tell me what I'm thinking. There's no way you can know that. Why can't I make a cynical swipe at an editor who turned the story around and started prattling on about herself and her (fake) buddy Patrice, who begged us all to buy her paper only to do an about face the very next day. Go on, then. Go on.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-05-29 10:57

      Thanks, I wasn't expecting such a good answer to be honest. In the same way that you think the authors line is contrived I could say your response is just as much so - who are you to judge or assume the meaning the author intended (which I think was mostly tongue and cheek personally) and political alliance or stance of the author? Secondly, why pull that one sentence out of an entire article which essentially says (I believe quite truthfully so) that people are enamored with trivial political spats instead of far more interesting and positive things going on? My favour for the article isn't in the details or the authors opinion on politics, but the gist of the article itself.

      adriaan.dutoit.3 - 2012-05-29 11:35

      David: My level of personal critique is entirely fair in in the context of this article and the discussion. As is my speculation about your thoughts and intentions. I afford you no more or less courtesy than you do Ferial Haffajee. Also, you can take as many swipes as you want, but don't regard yourself above a swipe or two. Your ivory tower isn't THAT impenetrable. Hugh: I was not addressing the general content and tone of the article. I was referring to the comment about the Ferial Haffajee. It is my right as a consumer of this article to criticise any aspect of it I deem appropriate. If there is one statement I take particular exception to, it is my perogative to address it. Who am I to judge his intended meaning? I am a reader of the article. A News24 user with an opinion. This provides me with all the permission I need to criticise what I regard to be an unfeasabily broad criticism of a complex dynamic. Lastly, the interpretation of the Spear Saga as nothing more than a 'trivial political spat' perhaps illustrates the main difference between your opinion and mine. I cannot imagine something more relevant and important for South African citizens and journalists to be debating right now. Relegating this vital topic to a level below astronomy and the macabre roadside activities of some American junkie is, frankly, unthinkable. Hence the use of the term 'contrived'.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-05-29 12:06

      I agree, of course you have a right to criticize the article, I'm not saying you can't. You're criticizing the opening line of the article, when the rest of it explains clearly why - hence my retort earlier that your response is just as contrived. It's not that the furor and political / racial debate was meaningless, but that it was such a MASSIVE furor that is seems unwarranted. Why has the ANC and it's followers not destroyed Ayanda's painting from 2010 which was far cruder? Why are people so angry about a painting when babies are being raped? Why aren't we all hugging each other with joy and excitement that SA is part of an amazing space program instead of fighting over a painting? Newspapers are out to harvest as much of the furor as they can, no matter what the content is, to ensure their ratings which affect their advertising revenues. So I agree with the author, City Press (rightfully so) decided not to remove the image and became the center of attention for a while, some people threatening to boycott them and others saying they're buying 20 copies in support. It really was trivial considering far more pressing issues happening around the world and here in SA. All the furor around the painting offers no solutions, only a bunch of people riding the limelight, scoring votes and making bucks.

      david.a.moseley - 2012-05-29 12:34

      Fair enough (regarding your rebuttal). Agree to disagree then. We clearly believe that different things are important. Which is fine. Makes humans interesting. I don't regard myself above swipes. I'm happy to take it on the chin.

  • Vicnesh - 2012-05-29 09:51

    This is one of the best articles I have had the pleasure of reading .love anything to do with space and the science of space and I have been waiting for the chance for south Africa to be at the forefront of space science ,so it is very refreshing when someone writes an article like this to point out to us that there is more to south Africa then JZ and the ANC this project will been the largest science experiment in human history and we have the pleasure to host it this will boost the study of science in this country and the rest of Africa instead of having to worry of J.Z family jewels being on display we should be celebrating this great achievement .Today the ANC will march to the Goodman gallery for a painting that has already been destroyed when they should rather go to sandton and be part of the recording of the happy birthday song being done for Nelson Mandela's next birthday ,instead of the ANC choosing to be part of a great uplifting event they would rather march for a painting .The world has more pressing issue's and yet in this country J.Z jewels is the main story in all the news papers and any other form of media .Its said very said when you see this useless behaviour .

  • Chris - 2012-05-29 10:42

    I never miss your column and always enjoy your frankness and openness. This week however you exceeded everything you have done before and moved into a galaxy far beyond!! I like most other citizens, am so sick and tired of headlines regarding paintings/corruption/poor or no service delivery/Bankrupt municipalities/toll gates/etc/etc. Wake up people and look at the other things happening around us. Get off your lazy bums, kick out the ones that do nothing but enrich themselves to the detriment of the working class - get the country working again!! At the moment we are not working and probably won't until after that big meeting at the end of the year!!

      LanfearM - 2012-05-29 13:52

      Yes and agreed! And did you see the shocking "news" on the thursday evening before the friday announcement of SKA? Dozens of people interviewed didn't even KNOW about our country's drive to obtain SKA, or even what SKA is. The worst is though, when they were informed by the reporters, that many made ludicrous comments such as "can't we spend the money on something better"? WHAT?! People can be such ignorant fools in so many ways.

  • Bergie - 2012-05-29 12:00

    Great article!

  • wesley.bischoff - 2012-05-29 12:21

    Great article. Instead of these morons focussing on the greats that our awesome country has produced and achieved, they focus on a f**king painting of a tired old sex-maniac with a small cock. 'Tis such a shame VIVA SKA! VIVA SPACEX!

      ted.burg - 2012-06-01 09:19

      Oh hell. I thought his wanger was quite big. Clearly I'm hung like a hamster...

  • semakaleng.thulare - 2012-05-29 12:50

    Oooh at last! The radio telescope will show us whether Adam and Eve are black or white...or Apes! And finally we can put this colour thing behind us. This is cool stuff!

  • Amangwe Amza Vatsher - 2012-05-29 13:18

    Sounds interesting.

  • LanfearM - 2012-05-29 13:43

    Well said David! And fully agreed

  • chaze.damonze - 2012-05-29 14:28

    Awesome article David! Im sick of hearing about the spear. I'd prefer getting my news from you

  • binarycape - 2012-05-30 09:58

    Good one David.

  • Janco Siecker - 2012-06-04 20:51

    LOL!! Nice article!

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