Happy birthday Pointman’s.
It doesn’t seem like it, but it’s been a year since I started this blog. I started it for a number of reasons and with more than a few reservations but with some modest hopes in sight, so now seems to be an appropriate time to think about how it’s doing and the experience of being a blogger. I’ve made some mistakes but I’ve learnt a lot too. It’s been a journey from some hopeful aspirations to more realistic expectations.
I wanted to establish a stable forum where reasoned discussions could take place free of the commercial vicissitudes of blogs which are owned and operated by media interests and therefore out of the control of the blog’s author. Nobody owns this blog, neither me nor any of its contributors and nobody, including me, is making a penny out of it. It, like me, has no buttons to be pressed or pressure points to be exploited by any external parties whatsoever. That is a real measure of freedom.
There were already many good blogs out there but I’d always felt that while they covered various aspects of the global warming debate, the dedicated political blog of a certain type was conspicuously absent. Yes, they all of course touched upon it occasionally and some more than others but it was nearly always within the context of a blog whose mainstay was the science or commenting on the news. I felt there was a worthwhile niche, which discussed the Realpolitik and most especially the information war aspects of the thing.
Realpolitik or reality politics is all about assessing trends dispassionately from the viewpoint of someone who has no particularly strong politics because that can cloud your judgement. It’s about seeing it as it is rather than how you’d like it to be or how you’ve been led to believe it is. The Arabs have a saying that the distance between the truth and a lie is the width of a man’s hand; that’s to say, the distance between his ear and his eye. It’s what you see in front of you with your own eyes that matters, not what you’ve been told about it.
The climate activists do information war, not science. That is merely a veneer of authority to be used selectively in any way which will advance their political objectives. They do information war in all its guises; propaganda, disinformation, censorship, misrepresentation, character assassination, lies, intimidation and the rewriting of history. Science just provides ammunition in the form of sound-bite bullets of information which are to be used judiciously or suppressed if they aren’t on message.
Global warming has always been about politics, not science. Climate science just allowed itself to be used by a loose collection of diverse interests as their bitch. It has erected a sequence of straw man conjectures masquerading as scientific theories, which many very good blogs and their contributors have spent a lot of energy demolishing but while that was occupying them, the activists have had free rein in the arena of public opinion. In the main, this blog dwells very rarely on science, a thing I love, and on the few occasions when it does, I’m careful not to assume any particular expertise on the part of the reader. If you’re writing very technical or very clever stuff that nobody but yourself understands, then it’s a complete waste of everyone’s time. That’s the vanity blogging trap.
I do have some knowledge about certain areas of science, so those are always the difficult simple pieces to write. The blog’s intended audience is the ordinary person who knows vaguely something is wrong and would like a clear understanding of the issues. My aim was to attempt to provide those clear explanations. While they may not be persuaded by anything here, at least they’ll hopefully understand the issues a bit better or failing that, come to understand a skeptic’s viewpoint. Who knows, perhaps for once they’ll get a realistic picture of a typical skeptic.
In its heyday, the propaganda arm of the movement, in the form of the mainstream media, decided to marginalise any who would criticise it to the lunatic fringe. We got banished to the UFO and crop circles crowd and that played for a decade or so. It was the usual dehumanising of opponents that every totalitarian movement goes in for. They’ve never quite decided if we’re supposed to be ignorant rednecks or the paid lackeys of big oil. It’s easier for them to think about us in terms of those simplistic stereotypes, which is why they don’t really understand us. That has been a persistent mistake on their part; you should always get to know your enemy intimately.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with being underestimated because it gives you more room for manoeuvre than you might otherwise have. I do spend time on alarmist blogs, especially the militant ones, and have contributed to them on a regular basis for a number of years but it’s only ever been about studying them. If you listen long enough to a person, they’ll eventually tell you exactly what’s in their heart. I sit at their feet humbly and listen to their ramblings and learn about them. They make their plans and I occasionally help out but I craft my own ones too.
I understand them. They’ve been taught not to believe in anything substantial and been told that’s somehow slick and sophisticated by a politico-media machine that’s only there to exploit them and extract the last buck out of them. They reject Capitalism but the designer label of the moment is very important to them. They’re picky about their food in a way that only a person who’s never missed a meal in their life is. They think in predictable patterns and only group-approved ones as well. In their own way, they’re uniform and strictly conformist, though they don’t realise this. They desperately want to belong to something, anything, just as long as it has meaning.
There is something essentially sad and angry and empty about their lives and this is perhaps because when you have the idea firmly planted in your mind that humanity is somehow a destructive plague on the face of the Earth, then it’s difficult to find in your heart any real love and affection for your fellow human beings. It’s easier to commit yourself to fighting some nebulous Armageddon an unspecified number of years off into some vague and distant future. That way, you don’t have to confront the real sweaty human problems of today. They are at bottom the orphaned and alienated products of parenting and an education system that was so considerate of their rights, it was too hesitant to give them anything to believe in. Vacuums always get filled. I suppose the appropriate saying at this point is that if you believe in nothing then you’ll believe in anything but it’s more than that, so much more than that.
Sometime in your life, you must decide what’s important to you, what lines you will not cross and what you will actually stand for against all comers, irrespective of the cost, because if you don’t stand for something real, you’ll fall for anything and it’ll be by slow degrees; you won’t even notice each well-intentioned step crossing those lines all the way down the pathway to Hell until you arrive there. But enough about them, they do make me feel sad, especially because I have a genuine affection for some of them.
A minor reason for starting a blog was the prevalence of trolling on other blogs I contributed to. All too often, a thoughtful article was never actually discussed because the thread was immediately hijacked by what was obviously a flash mob of obnoxious creatures manufactured on demand by sites like George Monbiot’s Trolls R Us, who were only there to do precisely that. They are Orwell’s sheep at the back of the meeting room, orchestrated to drown out dissenting viewpoints. A simple problem with a simple solution; this blog is a troll-free zone, the policy is zero tolerance. If I should fail to spot them on the way in, that’s okay. When they eventually give themselves away, they’ll be banned and every comment they’ve ever made here will be deleted. Sometimes, it’s nice to be God.
The reservations I had tended to be entangled with the objectives. A common format of blog articles is to quote and comment upon content from another source and while I’ve no problem with that – it’s fair commentary after all and it’s the sort of analysis blog I like to read – I wanted to do something a bit more old-fashioned, articles along the lines of discussion documents or essays, if you will. Not quite the thoughts of Chairman Pointy but definitely my honest personal viewpoints.
I’ve been given to understand by a friend in the advertising business that the average website gets on average 38 seconds of the average visitor’s time before they bop on out to somewhere else. Given those simple metrics, I knew what I wanted to do at Pointman’s would never catch on in any mass market because I can’t do 38 second articles that have any meaning. I also choose not to shrink-simplify things into 38 second sound bites and if you’ve got to this sentence, maybe you’re one of those persons who knows not everything can be shoe-horned into 38 seconds. You choose to read it then you get me too, with my all too human warts and all.
On the warty front, it’s all too easy to start thinking about how what you’ve written will make you look but right from the start, I made the decision to be brutally frank, even if that’s to be at my own expense. I’ve never been dishonest with the reader or told a lie on this blog. If there’s one thing missing from articles and so much of the modern fiction I read, it’s honesty. Everyone seems to have gone to journalism or writer’s skool and skipped out the bit of knocking around in life long enough to actually learn something about it. They are TS Eliot’s hollow men with nothing inside them to write about so they write about nothing and it sells. If I’m wrong, then I’m honestly wrong, even if hellfire awaits me. That damn Latimer has a lot to answer for.
The pale substitute for honesty seems to be a contrived contrarian sensationalism, which is just another way of short-changing the reader and lying to them and it’s no mitigation if you’re doing that in a good cause. We all may have to get down and dirty occasionally and use some sharpened entrenching tools in the fight but basic dishonesty is the sort of crap I’m fighting against.
Writing anything takes time; simple clean English takes a lot longer. It’s for that reason I thought I’d be hard pressed to get two decent pieces out a month but looking over the year’s content, I appear to have done slightly better than that, which is a surprise. Like every other blogger, I have to multitask so any activity that doesn’t address life’s essentials or bring in a bit of money, tends to get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. There are a number of other factors which will ensure this will never be a daily blog.
This is not a news blog, too many other blogs do a fine job of that. I don’t do content-free and I don’t do dumbed-down; if I’ve got nothing meaningful to say about a particular topic then I won’t be remarking on it. If the whole of the blogosphere is commenting on a particular event, then I’ll only ever cover it if I think I’ve got something new to contribute to the discussion. Clarity of expression is important to me, so I work on an article until I’m satisfied with both the content and how it’s expressed. I work for a very tough editor but he always lets me decide when something is ready to see the light of day.
There were some very real security concerns about coming out from under the radar and establishing a fixed abode on the internet. There are individuals and certain groups out there, whose dedication to the grand task of saving the planet means there are no bounds and no limits to what they are prepared to do. I had some nasty experiences with them back in the days when I rather innocently commented under my own name but I learnt from those experiences. It was not happenstance that the very first post in a series of articles here on internet security was about the merits of anonymity. To underline the point, it was followed by a few technical articles on the internet which should have left nobody in any doubt that I know something about the esoteric arts of the darker side of the net.
Despite having painted my shed on the internet with lurid black and yellow warning stripes, I’ve had to make a public example of someone who was sent here to play public games and on two occasions, private examples of wannabe hackivists, who thought they were safely hidden. They know better now. First and last warning; next time around, I do the names, addresses and all connections thing as a blog piece. Everyone will get their fifteen minutes of fame. Everyone.
I think it was the poet WH Auden who said words to the effect that “as every school child knows, those to whom evil is done, do evil in return.”
There is an additional bonus to blogging anonymously, it allows you to be franker than you might otherwise be. A friend, who’s well into analysing people, said there’s someone else inside me that I don’t share. This is true of most people but in a very real sense, blogging gives me uninterrupted time to let that person explain themselves. It allows me to talk openly about the things I find joy in and the things that hurt me too. Some stuff goes deep either way and that’s just the way everyone’s life is. Being able to share those highs and lows with others helps you appreciate or cope with them.
A very big benefit of blogging is you get to meet a lot of new people. A blog is nothing without interaction from other contributors. Some prefer to comment here directly and some do so by email for their own reasons. They’re drawn from various countries in Europe, the Americas, the Orient and the Antipodes. It’s fascinating to read their take on events in their homelands. Some go to the trouble of posting in English rather than their mother tongue and I deeply appreciate that. If that should ever get too frustrating for them, I’d encourage them to post in their own language; we can all use Babelfish and google translate. We’ve yet to hear from anyone in Africa but I’m hopeful that might happen one day.
The big reservation I had about starting a blog was my estimate of how ineffective blogging actually is in terms of its effect on the broader public. Realistically, we’re a long way from it being anything like a mass opinion former, though I hope the argument that blogging may be influential in certain policy framing quarters might possibly be true. I think of that as the Optimistic Domino theory of blogging.
If you are skeptical of the whole man-made global warming movement, then there are elements of sensory deprivation to it, in the sense that you can’t help but feel you’re quite isolated. Your views are not reflected in any reasonable fashion in any of the organs of the mainstream media and your attempts to present a counter argument are usually censored. So often, I write a piece and I can sense the commentators heaving a silent sigh; thank God then, it’s not just me that thinks it’s rubbish. Blogging, if it accomplishes nothing else, breaks that isolation and unites kindred spirits around the globe.
This blog exists because I believe if you’re going to blog, you have to commit it to something and then fight for it and fight again and keep on fighting. My intellectual commitment and what talents I bring to bear are merely products of my mind but they originated and are always fuelled by my feelings of anger at the damage being done to the defenceless and invisible victims of environmental politics in the developing world. They are the always overlooked collateral damage of our trendy experiments in feel good lifestyles. At the end of the day, even their own political leaders don’t give a damn about them. More often than not, their energies are devoted to diverting the wealth of the country and any foreign aid monies, to their retirement funds in Switzerland.
Strong emotions like anger and hate are out of fashion nowadays, we’re not supposed to do them, but experience has taught me that sometimes, when there’s nothing else left in the fuel tank, they’ll keep you going just fine. It’s a deep deep well I dip into during the inevitable black moments when I wonder if it’s worth blogging at all. One look at the latest stats of deaths caused by the switch from growing staples to biofuel crops, rampant Malaria because of the DDT ban, famine and starvation caused by a refusal to let the developing world have access to genetically modified crops and infant deaths from respiratory diseases caused by the smoke from having to burn dried animal dung indoors because there’s no other power available to cook or for warmth and it puts me right back in the field with a vengeance.
I’m in the fight for them and though in the long run, I know in all likelihood my efforts may not make any difference at all, they just might make some, so I won’t be going away. Around the world, one of the biggest killers of infants is still dehydration, brought on by chronic diarrhea. Their lives could be saved by a one nickel tablet containing not much more than chalk. I don’t have those tablets and I’ll never have enough nickels and maybe there just aren’t enough nickels in the world but I can remind people that’s the world we should really be fighting to save and perhaps I might plant a seed of doubt in the minds of those who’re so certain they know exactly what’s best for other people.
In the last twenty years, it’s been estimated that 98 billion US dollars have been spent worldwide on the science to study man-made global warming, though whether it’s actually getting warmer, never mind mankind being the culprit, are still highly debated and debatable points. It’s late and I’m tired and I don’t know off the top of my bloody head, but just how many nickels are there in 98 billion dollars?
Don’t worry about answering that. It doesn’t matter any more. The money has already been spent and it’s gone, just like those kids.
I’ve come to think of blogging as occasionally writing a message on a piece of paper, rolling it up carefully and putting it in a bottle. I put the cork back firmly and walk down to the shore of that great heaving electric-blue ocean of information that the internet truly is, and I wait for a particularly strong incoming wave. When it arrives, I throw the bottle as hard and as far into it as I possibly can and I hope. I stand and watch it bobbing in the surf until it eventually floats out of sight and wonder what strange shore it might wash up on and who might open it and then I walk home.
The act of faith is complete until the next time.
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