I Can’t Breathe

Remembering George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery

My mind has been in a tangle following the events that resulted in the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police on 25 May 2020. My mind keeps on picturing that arrogant and callous cop with his hands in his pockets while kneeling on the neck of the cuffed George Floyd. A part of me gets really angry when I see this nonchalant abuse of power by somebody who is supposed to ensure/enforce “law and order”. 

As expected there were demonstrations and protests and those rapidly degenerated into riots. Once a lawless mob becomes intent on destruction,  “authority” gives the order to pull the trigger, shots will get fired, innocent people end up being killed, shops get looted, allegations are made from both sides and it becomes a counter productive exercise. It achieves nothing. George Floyd would have deplored the violence committed in his name, but a portion of the population would hope that the triggers would be pulled. This brings us back to racism: is there a campaign against African Americans? Is there some unwritten rule/policy that says “they are black and male and therefore are guilty”? In February this year Ahmaud Arbery was killed while out jogging in Georgia. If he was seemingly perceived as a threat or possible burglar why were the police not called? and had they been called would he have been arrested automatically and “questioned” later? What gave those who shot him the right to be judge, jury and executioner? 

It is a difficult situation at this point in time, my gut instinct says that saner heads need to prevail. Sanity must be restored. The death of George Floyd must be impartially investigated and the former cop who knelt on his neck needs to feel the might of justice upon him. Right or wrong whoever decided that it was police policy to kneel on the neck of a restrained suspect needs to be on the receiving end of a knee for 8 minutes. A preliminary autopsy found no indication that George Floyd died of strangulation or traumatic asphyxia, but that the combined effects of being restrained, underlying health conditions, including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease, and potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.  Until an independent autopsy is performed I will distrust those findings.  

The death of George Floyd should make us all angry, or should I rather say makes many of us angry because there will always be a group that gets a vicarious thrill out of an incident like that. They will nod knowingly and agree that he was a bad man whom the police had rightly prevented from doing a heinous crime. Those people scare me because I have met their ilk before, I often read their ravings on social media, I walk past them in the streets, I see them gloating as they polish their AR15’s. I saw them shoot Jews in black and white documentaries from World War 2. It is the ugly face of humanity, a face that will always be with us until the next incident, and the next, and the next ad infinitum.  

Racism in any form is never okay and should never be tolerated. We no longer live in the dark ages. We live in a word beset by a global pandemic, it can kill us all irrespective of whether we are policemen or bystanders. That tiny virus is more dangerous than any police force,  it can kill us all and just maybe it should. 

**Update 02/06/2020**

The independent autopsy report “determined that asphyxiation from sustained pressure was the cause” of Mr Floyd’s death.  The autopsy performed by Dr Michael Baden and Dr Allecia Wilson said “neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain” according to Mr Crump’s statement. Furthermore, the doctors found the “weight on the back, handcuffs and positioning were contributory factors because they impaired the ability of Mr. Floyd’s diaphragm to function“.  (Express, published20:29, Mon, Jun 1, 2020)

DRW 2020. Created 01/06/2020


Past Pics

Once upon a time (and I am talking last century here), cameras could not produce colour images, or should I say that photography was a monochrome activity. Like so many others of my generation I have a whole stack of images of family members who are no longer with us, and all of these images are in black and white. I have to admit I have a soft spot for mono images, they can be extremely atmospheric and their quality seemingly does not deteriorate as quickly as a colour print. Ship photographs in black and white are not as rare as you would think, and even in the time when colour photography was normal a lot of professional and press photography was in black and white. Over the years I have picked up some odds and sods and I want to put them up here for posterity. At some point Google will spider this page and they will become a part of the internet and hopefully survive long after I have popped my clogs.

Royal Navy.

I somehow acquired some images of the Royal Navy in Malta, and particularly prominent were 2 images of HMS Courageous.  She was sunk by U29 on 17 February 1939 with the loss of 519 of her crew. Originally built as a the lead ship of  Courageous-class cruisers she participated in the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight in November 1917 and after the war was converted into an aircraft carrier between June 1924 and February 1928. How do I know it is Courageous? It was written on the back of the pic. 

HMS Courageous

HMS Rodney and HMS Courageous

 

The fleet is in. This image shows elements of the Royal Navy supposedly in Grand Harbour, Malta. It may also be back to front. Unfortunately I cannot ID any of the vessels. 

The image below is part of a Christmas card that was amongst the collection. The Spithead Review of 1953 was a large one, and our RFA was in “Line H”. A number of the ships names are familiar to me, but notables are: Amerigo Vespucci, Pretoria Castle, HMS Eagle, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Vanguard, Andes, THV Patricia, HMS Sheffield, HMS Maidstone, RMS Mauretania, etc. There is a nice pdf at http://cloudobservers.co.uk/ that shows the ships names and layout of the fleet. 

Quite by accident I have an old Illustrated London News from 1953 that has a section on the Coronation Review of 1953, and there is an image of part of the fleet with the RMS Mauretania steaming between the columns en route for Southampton.  (Image is 1500 x 675 px)  

Not all of the images that I got were from the Navy, a number featured passenger ships too. It is either the Armadale or Kenilworth Castle. 

This is either Winchester or Carnarvon Castle as built, or possibly Warwick Castle. Unfortunately the image did not have a name written on the back.

Two more unidentified Union-Castle ships in Southampton.

The same collection had the following two images:

3 funnel ship in floating dock. Possibly RMS Majestic in Southampton? Unfortunately the image is damaged and  I will see whether I can restore parts of it.

RMS Aquitania in New York.  Unfortunately I am unable to find a larger version of this image in my files.

Many years ago I was given this image of the Queen Elizabeth in Cape Town during the 2nd World War. I was never able to scan it one piece because it was wider than the scanner was which is why it has a definite “join” in the image. 

I was also given this image that they said was of HMS Vanguard, however Vanguard had a transom stern and she clearly does not, It is actually HMS Howe (you can read the name on the ship if you look close enough).

And another that I was given: MV Diplomat. 

I also managed to scrounge some ship images that were taken in Cape Town, the physical images themselves are roughly 50 x 50 mm and they scanned quite well but within the limits of the originals.  They were also scratched and battered, but are better than nothing. I will try clean them up as best I can. (images open are 800×600)

Pendennis Castle

Windsor Castle

Randfontein

City of Exeter

Maasdam or Ryndam

Hamburg

Angelina Lauro

SA Trader,  Transporter or  Pioneer

SA Shipper, ex Clan Robertson.

Simonskerk

Unidentified (Harrisons Line?)

Unidentified Lykes Lines

Mormacsea

Patris Ex Bloemfontein Castle

Arundel or Windsor Castle

Unknown Mitsui OSK ship

   
   

DRW © 2020. Recreated 30/05/2020. Unfortunately I am unable to credit the images to anybody as I do not know the names of the original photographers, however I would like to thank them for recording this slice of shipping history. Special thanks to Ken Malcom for his ID’s of some of the ships.


Day 7356474

Yep, it is day 7356474 of our sojourn with covid-19, at least it feels like it has been 7356474 days. There have been a number of interesting developments since I last rambled about this so let us get it done with. From what I read at the Beeb many shops and businesses will be re-opening after the 15th of June and some schools may be re-opening on the 1st. However, it all depends on whether or not the criteria for re-opening is met or not. Unfortunately this is all uncharted territory and businesses will have to comply with a whole lot of rules before they can get back to work. The school issue is more complex though, but I cannot understand why they don’t keep them closed and then reopen them once the long summer holidays happen. It doesn’t affect me though so I am not overly concerned.

The numbers game:
Today Worldometer numbers are as follows: There are 5 601 521 cases worldwide, with 348 132 deaths.  The USA leads the log, with 1 706 226 cases and 99 805 deaths. The UK is still in top 5 with 261 184 cases and 36 914 deaths. South Africa currently sits at number 31 with 23 615 cases and 481 deaths. 

South Africa has moved to level 3 now although the Western Cape numbers may lead to it being reset to level 4. The big alcohol/cigarette ban is very contentious, and people are seemingly more worried about their smokes than they are about the people who do not have food on their tables. I read yesterday that the unemployment rate could rise to as much as 50% as a result of the pandemic. Unfortunately there are many strange rumblings afoot in the country, and the conspiracists are  having a  field day looking for ulterior motives. 

Talk about conspiracies; the whole Dominic Cummings lockdown break in the UK has been causing waves, with people questioning whether there was a set of rules for them and another for politicians. It is a valid point, and that is true not only in the UK but in the rest of the world  Personally I feel he should fall on his sword, you cannot tell people to do something and then do the exact opposite and expect them to listen to you ever again.   

On a personal note I was called up for a regular blood test by my local surgery, and frankly I was not in the mood to go there at this point in time and managed to get it postponed for 3 months. The fact is that it is really an unnecessary procedure given the situation we are in. Apart from that it is almost impossible to get an appointment that does not take me away from work. I would have take a days leave to have it done and frankly that is a bit of a waste too. Our department has been very busy for quite some time and getting time off is difficult. 

I did have a few other things to mutter about but naturally I have forgotten what they are so will end here and continue a bit later. However, be rest assured that I have all my ducks in a row.

On a side note.. today is my birthday so happy birthday to me!

DRW © 2020. Created 27/05/2020