Day 7: Bring a Machine-Gun to Work Day

Haven’t we all experienced the sensation of wanting to rid the world of certain people because of some element that really irks us? I wonder where the whole moral dilemma of killing people came around. Other species on the planet that number around six billion really don’t have a huge problem with killing of a few for the greater good of us all. Take sardines for example, though that might be a bad example seeing that there might be more than six billion of them around. But I’ll use it anyway – if you’ve seen those documentaries on the Great Sardine Run that occurs up the KwaZulu Natal coast every year, you see the methods they use to stay alive which includes forming huge shoals. If a few get eaten from the peripheries of the shoal, it’s not too bad because altogether, a greater number survive. A similar technique is used by other animals – lay a few million eggs and hope that a few do survive through the advantage of numbers.

The differing element is the way our minds work. The emotional attachments and the analysis that happens up in our cranium are what make the difference. I doubt the sardines worry about the one’s that got eaten. We, on the other hand, would have a problem if someone we grew up with from the time we were in nappies, was eaten by a shark in a singular bite. Anyway, so this is really what holds us back from blasting the guy that cut us of in traffic to kingdom come. Using the whole technique I talked about a few days ago, it is up to pure choice – the guy would have cut you of for some reason that you don’t know that could be valid. Change your way of thinking rather and see it from a different angle. All good and easy but, well, where do you stop changing your own thinking and recognising that that person is really just a doos?

The Eskom annual results came out a while back and from a profit of R6 billion, it drop to a profit of about R600 million. That is a huge drop and one of the factors that influenced this was the increase in diesel use. From using 11 million litres of fuel last year, this year, 400 million litres was used. Couple with the massive increase in fuel cost, this was a recipe for financial disaster. Now, what were the reasons that so much fuel was used? The main reason was that there was no power and Eskom HAD to produce power somehow to keep the country alive. The load shedding that happened between February and April showed exactly what problems did occur when South Africa was not with enough power. Now with the base load, coal stations undergoing either planned or unplanned shutdown, the only option was to run the gas-fired turbines in the fleet. Now, IF it was known long in advance that these expensive devices would be needed, as a decision maker, you would have done some studies and found an optimal solution to make these run as cheaply as possible. But, this was NOT know long in advance, the reaction was not to do these optimisation studies that would take a few months but instead, get these suckers running in the way that you have at your disposal. In this case, these gas-turbines would be run with diesel fuel. The reason for this would be that in Eskom, there are current agreements with diesel suppliers to provide what is necessary and since you need power right now, you’d use this option as it would require the least red tape and it would be quick and easy to implement. The result would be a slightly higher bill for producing the power but at the end of the day, the country has power which was the primary aim.

However, there are other sources of ignitable gas that do exist. Things such as Natural Gas, gas from Underground Coal Gasification, Biomass and even Biofuels could have been used. All have certain pluses that come along with the technology but the bottom line is, these technologies weren’t available at such short notice. They haven’t been utilised before because the need did not arise. Or, if they have been utilised, the technologies would be undergoing or have undergone rigorous tests to determine the usefulness of it all. Moreover, since the gas fired stations are new, studies would have been done to figure out whether these options are viable. This is basic engineering practices – nothing fancy.

Now, to tie this up to the beginning of the story – if this is the case, it boggles the mind to have someone blaming the fuel bill on Eskom utilising diesel. It was proposed that instead of using diesel, Natural Gas should have been used. All good and well but, as I said before, the country was in a crisis. Diesel was readily available and Natural gas was not. Natural Gas would be the better option as it burns cleaner and is cheaper if it was available. But it was not. It’s like buying drinks in a club. You pay a premium price just to get drunk whereas with all the money you spent on getting yourself drunk, you could have gone to Makro and bought enough alcohol to get five people much more drunk than you were! However, you chose to drink the alcohol in the club because it was available at the time whereas at that time (which was some ungodly hour early in the morning) Makro would be closed and much further away that the bar that you are leaning against. You wanted to get drunk at that moment in time and the bar was the “only” option whereas if you wanted to get drunk sometime in the future, you would have bought from Makro. Just like the analogy, in this case, diesel was the option that had to be taken and the consequences of these had to be dealt with. Now, the part that got me thinking about the “Bring a Machine-Gun to Work Day” was that this was suggested during my Self Management course with a facilitator that has nothing to do with Eskom during a lecture that had nothing to do with power cuts. This is where it should to stop. It does not work when people try to indoctrinate beliefs into the wrong forum with the wrong people in order to show off how intelligent you are or degrade other people that were forced into making immediate decisions. It is fine having a lot of good ideas but what good does destructive behaviour serve?

Sacrificing such person would be in the greater good after all? It would have been rather cool wielding a machine-gun at that point in time! Lol. Mr. Kalashnikov would have been super proud of me! But anyway, the question then needs to be asked: Who determines what the greater good is and where does this greater good stop? But that’s another issue altogether!!!

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