Ivo backs me, rubbishes Christine’s Brilliant Idea

The eagerly-awaited “fracking the Karoo” column from Daily Maverick “Opinionista” Ivo Vegter has finally arrived, bringing with it further discussion of the dubious brainwashing tactics used by the anti-frackers (Lewis Pugh, TKAG et al). It’s nice to see that Ivo has finally jumped on-board with 6000 miles… after our previous differerences over… well… everything, really. And although he doesn’t actually mention this site in his column, you can tell he’s read it and then put it in much more technical (read: better) English.

Lewis Pugh was rousing. He invoked Mandela and Gandhi and the brave people who fought and died for freedom. The propaganda was spectacular and alarming. There would be war over water, he warned, if we permit Shell to prospect for shale gas in the Karoo.

This is about our children’s future, and that of our children’s children, he preached. Shell is proposing to destroy our environment, he said, launching into stirring rhetoric about the ravages of global warming. Then he invoked the political tyrants being toppled in north Africa, and deftly juxtaposed “corporate tyranny” as if it’s the same thing.

It was grand oratory, concluding in Churchillian fashion with a call to arms and a vow to fight on, so “good will triumph over evil”. Yes, he actually used those words.

It was a slick performance, full of emotive appeal and rhetorical hyperbole. Dutifully, the mainstream media – whose sympathies I may have mentioned before –cheered this green David, standing up against the corporate Goliath.

But just because a little guy is facing up to a big guy doesn’t make the little guy right.

Ivo quotes from several apparently pro-fracking papers, reports and article, which I have not had time to read (remember kids, this is his job, it’s merely my pastime). But the gist is that the main opposition to fracking in the Karoo is flawed by being based on incorrect information, poor data and/or downright untruths. Still, this opposition is cleverly presented as fact with a huge helping of emotion on a sideplate, and is then dutifully lapped up and regurgitated by their supporters.

But while Ivo might agree with me:

One keeps hearing how Big Oil lobbyists are evil spinmeisters and insidious manipulators of public opinion. Don’t forget that Big Green lobbyists can deceive the public with the best of them.

he pours scorn upon Christine’s Brilliant Idea™ – as documented yesterday on this blog.

Oh, and one other thing. Ditch the word “fracking”. It is a barbarous bastardisation of a perfectly good English term. Using it has only one purpose: spin.

It is designed to make people who don’t know better fear a perfectly ordinary industrial technique that has been in used safely and successfully around the world for many decades. It permits cute, but crude, phrases like “Fracking up the Karoo”. It should be beneath any self-respecting journalist.

Christine will surely be heartbroken.

Me? I’m off to try and find a “self-respecting journalist”. hahahaha!

Just be aware

Just be aware:

Is this true for you…?
And if so, is that a problem? Discuss.

How did I miss…


as I was told earlier, anything deep fried – even a scorpion – is edible. But to deep fry beer? That’s something very special indeed.

The beer is placed inside a pocket of salty, pretzel-like dough and then dunked in oil at 375 degrees for about 20 seconds, a short enough time for the confection to remain alcoholic.
When diners take a bite the hot beer mixes with the dough in what is claimed to be a delicious taste sensation.

Inventor Mark Zable said: “Nobody has been able to fry a liquid before. It tastes like you took a bite of hot pretzel dough and then took a drink of beer.”

I have never been tempted to visit the USA before, but Mark Zable’s remarkable invention may have changed all that. And he beat me to it. I was desperately working on a recipe for deep-fried beer, but kept drinking the ingredients. And I continue to do so. This is the same issue that has also held me back in my quest to produce the world’s first Castle Milk Stout ice cream.

Mr Zable previously invented dishes including chocolate-covered strawberry waffle balls and jalapeño corndog shrimps.

And how did I miss them?

Quota Quote

Here’s something a bit different – a quota quote.

The heaviest armour afloat, when attacked by an 18″ gun, would not appear to be, metaphorically speaking, much better than cardboard.

Sir Robert A Hadfield, 1925

Hadfield was referring to these armour-piercing shells, made in Sheffield and used extensively to great effect during the First World War:

Hadfield‘s was the only firm in the UK to make 18 inch shells. Between 1916 and 1919 only 500 were produced.
The shell could penetrate up to 1.2m of steel plate – rendering it effectively useless as a defence and hence his likening heavy armour to cardboard.

This shell is held at Sheffield’s brilliant Kelham Island Industrial Museum. [photos]

Brian on Art

Regular readers will know of my fondness for Brian Micklethwait’s blog and his narrative, no nonsense style of writing.

Today, Brian gave us a collage of Anthony Gormley’s exhibit(s?) in London during the summer of 2007. But it wasn’t the pictures that piqued my interest so much as Brian’s commentary:

For some damn fool artistic type reason that need not concern us unless we want it to, Gormley called these Men “Event Horizon”.  (Artists who make nice things but talk bollocks about them are a characteristic type of our time, I think.  I don’t blame them.  If they didn’t talk bollocks they’d never get their careers cranked up.  Anyway, it makes a change from a generation ago, when the things they made were almost entirely bollocks also.) The Gormley Men are all based on Gormley himself.

Critic Howard Halle (see here) out-Gormleyed Gormley by saying this:

“Using distance and attendant shifts of scale within the very fabric of the city, [Event Horizon] creates a metaphor for urban life and all the contradictory associations – alienation, ambition, anonymity, fame – it entails.”

Whatever.  In other words, you see in these metal Men whatever you want to see, much as you see whatever you want to see when confronting actual men.

I can’t agree with Brian that what artists produce these days is any better than what artists produced a generation ago. Lest we forget that during this year’s (at least partially) publicly-funded “Infecting The City” arts “festival” in Cape Town:

City “treasures”, including King Edward’s statue on the Grand Parade, were covered in clingwrap and trees on the station forecourt were draped in toilet paper.

Which, to me, almost entirely indicates that things in the art world really haven’t moved on at all in the last 30 years.