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Futures Implicit In Our Present (Chickens Coming Home To Roost)

Wednesday 2nd March, sunshine giving way to a darker sky and a tossing breeze. A blackcap singing on the cypress peak, blue tits and great tits, marauding starlings (I don't mind). The morning news is that Trump appears to have won the nomination, hands down, and Humanitarian Crisis (humanitarian crisis in this case means armed humans attacking other, helpless humans, on a major scale), previously something that happened elsewhere and faraway, has officially become a European crime again (Medecins Sans Frontiers). This darkening world gets darker and darker. How did it suddenly start happening so fast?

These days, I'm remembering that when I planned the Aleutian Trilogy, I wasn't entirely motivated by a desire to get to the bottom of what's wrong between men and women; or what's wrong between subaltern society and the bosses. I wanted to try the taste (in my head) of interesting times. To be like my parents (as a thought experiment); for whom World War II was the very heart of their lives, horrible and thrilling. I wanted a ferocious fairground ride to engulf my imagined world, pillar of cloud by day, pillar of fire by night. Signs and wonders. Unbelievable things, impossible events . . . But maybe you just have to wait until you grow older, and the clamour of your own personal life fades out, to get the special effects.

Maybe it's globalisation, maybe it's the internet. Maybe people will look back, a hundred years from now, and see nothing special going on, quite a benign time, really. I wonder what kind of people they will be?


Still following the Cuadrilla appeal in Lancashire, and still very short of flowers in the garden, so the Roger Hall camellia stays up.

Standard Rules vs Bespoke Permits

The Environment Agency's Fracking Consultation Response dropped into my inbox last week. Did the consultation end early (it was supposed to run until today), or is this a special announcement? I'm not sure. Anyway, here it is:

Standard Rules and Bespoke Permits

To summarise, at the outset of this consultation the EA was planning to wave HVHF applications through on the nod. Due to popular demand, any and every onshore Oil or Gas application that involves High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing will now require what is called a "Bespoke Permit", (who dreamed that one up???) ie a full-on environmental assessment , a public inquiry; the works.

Congratulations to us!

However, the business part of that term is still permit. No ban. Arguably, just a lot of money and time thrown at making sure the people believe the activists have nothing to whinge about, and that the fracking industry still gets in wherever it wants to get in. Don't put out any flags.

(in the heading of the email, the "fracking" word was used; in the document the EA is on its dignity, and insists on HVHF "fracturing". Maybe it's thought to sound better).

Fracking Headlines

& here is the link to Ruth Hayhurst's February Fracking summary, which in fact is most notable for an entry from The Ends Report, giving the actual wording of that new anti-lobbying clause. You know, the one where our government, having grasped that their anti-environment, anti-humanitarian policies were the main problem facing UK charities today, decided to go on giving the charities money (because it looks good) but ban them from using it to combat government abuses . . . Joined-up thinking's evil twin, but it works for the Tories! The full weasely wording deserves an airing here. Grant money can no longer be used for:

“activity intended to influence or attempt to influence parliament, government or political parties, or attempting to influence the awarding or renewal of contracts and grants, or attempting to influence legislative or regulatory action”


I did see Room, all by myself in the shabby old Odeon down by the sea; haunted by ghosts of Gabriel's childhood because we never come here anymore. We go to the movies at the Duke's or Komedia. I thought it was good, touching and engrossing (except the little boy clearly was not five!). Not as exceptional as people had been making out, but conversely more like an Oscar hopeful. The other main thing I thought was that Joy's fate wouldn't even have been a crime, in many of today's societies. A young girl, married by force? To a suitor of drastically limited empathy? He won't let her outdoors? Not even to go to the dentist? What's weird about that? "Old Nick" (the captor in Room) isn't a monster. He's not going to shackle her to the bed, cut off her hands and feet and rape her babies. He's just a regular guy, of limited intelligence and clueless determination, who has taken an unorthodox route to what many like him would consider marital bliss. (Including, possibly Joy's own father, whose horror that she's been sullied by rape and brought the dreadful proof home with her,seems to be his main concern). For many, many young women, some of them very young women, what happened to Joy Newsome happened to them with the full consent of their families and their societies; their plight is not called rape or wrongful imprisonment, their mental health is not thought to be imperilled, and they are not going to be rescued.

So, a disturbing, issues, movie for me, only not quite the issues it planned to be about, maybe.

Also watched, on the telly last week (I wasn't keen, when this came out. Been there.) Ex Machina

Good movie, as it turns out, but definitely not a movie about Artificial Intelligence. Or emergent machine consciousness, or anything of the sort. You are kidding me. It's a movie about gynoids. The Richard Calder kind, not the Gwyneth Jones kind, NB. If you thought Ex Machina was about Artificial Intelligence you are. . . You are, well, I just don't know how you managed it.