Trying to Cause Nature Less Harm – 2

Well quick update as per my last post. I bought the Soda Stream as per advice from Headstuff as part of the War on Plastic. It was like time travelling back to my childhood. It’s handy in that you don’t need to plug it in anywhere and five good presses of the button and you have fizzy water. If it’s tap water there will be an aftertaste but you can avoid that by getting a filter for your water if you so wish. Unfortunately I ruined my lo-plastic ideal by inadvertently purchasing a bottle of dilute fruit cordial. Ok, it’s LESS plastic but still not ideal.

Also I will not have buy-in from all members of the household until I find a diet coke flavour ūüôā

Next on the list: check out the local farmer’s market for purchasing vegetables and look into using shower gels and cleaning products that do not use plastic e.g. Lush. Also I think there is a new milkman service. We live in an apartment so not sure if that will work but checking it out.

Trying to Cause Nature Less Harm – 2

Trying to Cause Nature Less Harm

This has not got much to do with writing or books but has been increasingly on my mind the last few years. It has become evident that the presence of humanity and the maintenance of our throwaway global culture has wreaked disaster on the world we depend on. Every battle to save nature and wildlife, or conserve resources, is blocked and frustrated and battled.

Along with others, I am in my own small way part of that problem. My first world life is an imposition on the environment. I use plastics and drive a car and the electricity I use is powered by the fossil fuel which environmentalists and scientists are urging us to keep in the ground. I consume the foodstuffs which are intensively farmed at an expense to hedgerows and wildlife. I am a bystander – worse, an active user – while species are being destroyed and lands gouged out because we want convenience, now, always.

I am not a revolutionary and I will never be “green enough”. I lack the sheer guts of Ellie O’Byrne, who along with her family, went entirely plastic free¬†for a month. (I think it says something when you read how difficult the system made it for her to do that.) If I try I will only depress myself with failure, as when I was at college and tried to change my personality to make myself more reserved and interesting to people. (Note: that doesn’t work unless you don’t care what people think.)

What I will try and do is small, local things – one every fortnight – to improve my impact and interactions with nature. I know it is hopeless against the behemoth of The Economy, which we are all supposed to worship. After reading the Headstuff article on reducing plastics (warning – starts with a lot of info about the plastics in the sea which may trigger depression on reading) my first action will be to purchase a Soda Stream as we consume a lot of fizzy drinks and it would cut down on a major source of plastic. I undertake to do that within twenty four hours of this post.

I am not by any means “virtue signalling” – I am very unvirtuous in this regard. I fall short in every way. I’m just hoping that if I say what I’m doing it might spark the idea in others. I will try and blog every fortnight about a thing I have done as it helps accountability. I will do it during Lent, where I have established a custom of abstaining from social media, but not yet sure if I will blog during that time.


Trying to Cause Nature Less Harm

Writers in a Dangerous Time

I am finding this post a necessary respite in the midst of all the dreadful news that bombards us day in and out – it is hard not to feel that times are now the worst they have ever been and battling depression is difficult. Writing seems like an indulgence in times like these and this blog post reminds us of why it’s important NOT to abandon our art. Please note that it is a patreon site so I have made a (small) rolling donation and if you can spare it you might like to consider doing likewise.

Story Hospital

Dear friends,

I am committed to giving advice to any writer, anywhere, but today’s post is specifically for those of us in the U.S. and elsewhere who are deeply distressed by the thought of President Trump and deeply anxious about what comes next for the U.S. and the world. It’s a modified version of my post-election piece on goals and deadlines in a time of strong emotions. This one is more general, without the NaNo-specific content, and I hope it will be a post that you can come back to again and again.

As we face difficult times as creators of art, we will face a lot of pressure from different sides, and from within ourselves. We will be pressured to make art. We will be pressured to stop making art. We will be pressured to make different art, to be more radical or more moderate, to be commercial or to…

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Writers in a Dangerous Time

An Offensive Article

I condemn without reservation the decision by¬†the¬†Irish Times to publish yesterday, in its online edition, an article to which I will not link purporting to be a “glossary of the alt-right”. This article contains the most infantilely racist and offensive terms, articulated with glee. Such language has no place being presented without comment on its harmful and ignorant nature.

To treat the “alt right”, a group of angry white men suffused with preening, terroristic vanity, as if they’re just one big laugh altogether elides the harm and nastiness caused by their depredations online and off. Just recently the curator of the @ireland account was harassed and abused by a swarm of trolls egged on to attack her by masterminds on white supremacist forums – on account of being black and plus-size. It wasn’t that the trolls were wittier, or that she was over-sensitive or not resilient enough. It was that there were deliberately so many of them that she could not continue with her curation for a while. By sheer numbers they make their target look weak for not being able to rebut them all. They silence by this kind of swarming and people might decide it is not worth the hassle of confronting them. Twitter facilitates the folk who mastermind their attack and that’s another part of the problem.

It is a grievous dereliction of editorial responsibility to treat this group of people, and the vile racist slurry it spews out, like just another interest group. I hope other authors will agree that this is unacceptable, and that the editor of that section will drop his ridiculous idea that airing this stuff in any way constitutes “challenging debate”.

An Offensive Article

Armistice Day, 2016

Since White Feathers came out, I have posted an armistice day post every year.

Over the years, the ceremonies to commemorate the dead of the wretched First World War and its successors have become marked and tainted by nativism and rage. The poppy which graces the cover of my novel was originally the symbol of doomed Adonis. Now it has been turned into a fashion statement. Make no mistake: those who boast it most stridently are the spiritual descendants of those who forced men to fight in 1914.

I sought to tell a story. I sought to cry injustice. A man who refused to salute such authority and paid a deep price. A woman who swore to fight forever to restore his name. A love that was severed by a self-satisfied, violent state order. A story that is told, and told, and told.

I now live near the place where the bodies from the Lusitania were brought in to harbour. The sinking of that ship eventually brought the United States into World War I. The graves are in an ancient plot left undisturbed behind a German supermarket chain. They carry the simple gravestones of the Commonwealth War Graves. A tacit recognition that these men and women, although civilians, died as a result of war.


It breaks my heart to see that in recent months, a malicious backlash from the privileged has imposed a deep discourtesy on the res publicae, across the Irish Sea, across the Atlantic, throughout the world. Those who have sacrificed nothing, who are devoid of virtue or humanity, are elevated and revered. Those who strive against all odds have their striving belittled by people who have been given everything. Greed allows pillaging and soiling of our beautiful Earth without a whit of remorse.

Today I am going to include Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man”.

At the going down of the sun, we will remember them.


Armistice Day, 2016

“You Have Sacrificed Nothing” – How War Rhetoric Remains Relevant

Donald Trump is a busted flush. I am confident that he can not now win the US Presidential election. Which must come as a relief, whatever the shortcomings of his rival, given the nature of his campaign so far, no less the nature of the man.

His doom was sealed when a gentleman called Khizr Khan was invited to speak at the Democratic Convention. His wife standing beside him, Mr Khan spoke of his son, a US Army captain, who was killed during the Gulf War when he told his comrades to stand back while he investigated a suspicious vehicle. The purpose of the speech was to criticise Mr Trump’s comments on “shutting down Muslims” from entering the US (The Khans are Muslim.) However the real victory over Trump was established when Mr Khan instructed him to “go to Arlington Cemetery, where you will find all faiths, genders and ethnicities” (at 4:13 in the Youtube clip.) He then adds:

You have sacrificed nothing – and no one.

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“You Have Sacrificed Nothing” – How War Rhetoric Remains Relevant