Monthly archives: August 2023


More and larger conservation parks are needed

A study has shown that conservation areas can effectively boost biodiversity outside the area they cover as well as inside. However, this works best for larger parks, and smaller ones can have little to no impact on surrounding areas.

https://theconversation.com/leakage-or-spillover-conservation-parks-boost-biodiversity-outside-them-but-theres-a-catch-new-study-shows-212014


Properly punishing deadly drivers

Scotland could soon have new sentencing guidelines for cases involving drivers who kill pedestrians and cyclists. I’m not holding my breath on the rest of the country adopting them, though. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tories campaign against them. On past form, that would lead to Kier Starmer saying Labour are against them too

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-66593086?at_medium=RSS&at_campaign=KARANGA


The cost of failure, and mutiny, in Russia

In a not at all surprising development, Yevgeny Prighozin- leader of the Wagner mercenary group- is reported to have died in a plane crash. This is what happens when you try to overthrow Putin, I guess.

There’s some speculation that the crash is staged, and Prigozhin isn’t one of the bodies recovered at the scene. Presumably, in this scenario, he put one of his doubles on the jet, and is now planning to lay low somewhere safe. It’s straight from spy fiction, but wouldn’t be a huge twist after the black farce of everything Wagner has been involved in.

I think he’s really dead. But if he isn’t, I don’t think he could stay quiet for very long, and would just put himself back in the crosshairs rather than living in luxurious anonymity.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/aug/23/yevgeny-prigozhin-on-private-jet-that-crashed-near-moscow-russia-wagner


Another Summer of Hate 4

This was originally posted on Patreon. Sign up for as little as £1 a month to get chapters and YouTube videos before they go public.

One of the things about first drafts is realising that a bit belongs somewhere else in the story. This should really go before part 3, mostly because I changed that bit to night time after I started it, and partly because the last line of this feeds into it quite well.

This is another info-dumpy piece as well, with possibly more Irwin lore than I’ve put in all the previous Rain & Bullets stories combined. Again, later drafts will probably prune this and feed relevant information out in smaller chunks elsewhere.

Miles’s partner in climb was called Fouzia. Fearless as she had been tackling obstacles in the gym, she became shy and self conscious when introduced to a new adult. Her father shook Peter’s hand and commented that most of the other boys didn’t like to climb with a girl, which made Miles a true gentleman. Miles’s grin was so wide his head might explode.

Irwin watched the exchange in glances up from his phone. He had done some background digging the night before, but Peter had added extra details and background. A few more names went into a spreadsheet, to be run through the many open source intelligence sites Irwin had access to, and crawled for across social media. The boring work of spycraft, and hopfully this little favour for his old boss would stay that way

His work for MI6 had primarily been data analysis, working with information gleaned by others or skimmed from the dark corners of the web. The one time Irwin had gone out in the field for MI6, he had ended up on the wrong end of a knife. It was mostly luck that meant he was alive to feel the ache of the sliced muscle in his shoulder when the nights got cold. It had been the optional training he had taken with ex-SAS men that meant his attacker was dead.

A simple sting operation in Berlin had turned into a double cross. Irwin’s survival, and the work he did from his hospital bed digging into the corruption in German intelligence, had earned him an early retirement, enemies, and a very rare dispensation to carry a firearm in the United Kingdom. It was harder to carry the Glock discreetly in warmer weather, so he was channeling Bond, and had a Walther in a holster inside his trouser waistband. It looked like he had a large and clumsy wallet and could be uncomfortable when he sat for too long. He had stopped carrying even that smaller gun, until the message from The Jedi dragged up old memories and trauma.

He had seen more action and danger since leaving the service than he had whilst in it. Almost every time, it had started with a call from Jeremy Simpson- known as ‘Jed The Jedi’ for his unnerving ability to judge the motivations and emotions of others. The pair of them had made a vow some time ago that they would use their skills to help those the intelligence services and, increasingly, the Police, didn’t seem to care about. Then they had forgotten about it when opportunities to play Robin Hood hadn’t popped up. This job fit the rough outline of their proposed crusade, but was primarily a family thing for the Jedi.

The brief was simple. Do an assessment of the risk, if any, that Peter’s estranged wife and her transphobic grandstanding presented to him and Miles. Then tighten security and teach father and son any appropriate tradecraft. That latter part should be almost too easy. What eleven year old boy wouldn’t want to play at spy?

Pete exchanged phone numbers with Fouzia’s father, Hamid, and there was talk of play dates, the other events put on by the gym, and rock climbing in a repurposed church. When Hamid and Fouzia left, Peter guided his son to the table. “This is Irwin.” he said. “He’s going to help us get settled in.”

“How?” Miles asked, sizing up the stranger.

“I know all the best value furniture shops. But I specialise in security, so I’ll be working on the burglar alarms.” Both statements were true, though Irwin had not intended to volunteer as a personal shopper.

“And making sure Mum doesn’t find us?”

“Miles….”

“But it’s true, isn’t it? I heard what she said about me. I heard what her friends were calling you.” Miles had grasped his father’s wrist, his stance protective, bristling with anger a child shouldn’t have to feel toward a parent.

Before the silence became uncomfortable, Irwin admitted, “I can help with that, yes. I have some experience.”

“Good.” Miles couldn’t maintain the anger much longer. “Are you a Policeman, then?”

“No, but I know some Police.” Irwin’s main Police contact didn’t hate him, but was never happy about the trouble he tended to bring whenever he called her.

“A bodyguard? I know, you’re a spy.”

Irwin simply smiled. Miles grinned back. Now he knew a spy, and the excitement about that could lessen the worries about his situation.

“Right. Time to get you home. I bet you’re starving.” Peter announced.

“Can we have noodles? I really want noodles the way you do them with chicken and an egg.”

“I think we have the ingredients in.”

“Are you coming for tea Mister Irwin?” Miles asked.

“Not today. But I’ll be visiting soon. I’ve got to find out some information, and I’ve ordered some security bits and pieces.”

“Cool.”

They went their separate ways at the main door. Peter and Miles lived within walking distance. Irwin had parked his car around the side of the building. He scanned the area, from force of habit, but nothing registered as suspicious. With luck, this would be how everything stayed.


Twitter sinks further

I shall avoid calling it by that stupid new name for ever if possible.

Twitter under Musk has seen hate speech rise rapidly. His answer to this isn’t to rebuild the team that used to deal with the problem, but to sue when people investigate it.

He really is a pathetic little man. Even worse, he has me rooting for Zuckerberg, hoping the uncanny valley mannequin who thinks he’s a real boy will beat Musk to a pulp in this cage match they’re pretending to have.

https://www.wired.com/story/twitter-x-ccdh-lawsuit-data-crackdown/


What makes a traitor?

The term used in the book discussed is collaborator, but I’m sure there are many who’ll argue either term is appropriate.

The commentators and politicians who’ve been giving support to Russia over Ukraine are a twist on the traditional collaborator, with so many at a safe distance from the reality of the conflict. They have to be driven by money or ego, given that self preservation isn’t an issue.

https://theconversation.com/what-leads-people-to-collaborate-with-the-enemy-ian-burumas-latest-history-considers-three-troubling-examples-207809


Another Summer of Hate 3

Read Another Summer of Hate first on Patreon!

I need to be producing more than one of these scenes a week, or the story will still be going this time next year.

Introducing one of the antagonists. Nelson is inspired by two groups of equally unpleasant people- ‘Gender Critical’ reactionaries and religiously inspired ‘Satan Hunters’. Later drafts may tease out the hypocrisy and stupidity of Nelson’s beliefs and world view, but for this first one, I wasn’t so subtle.

The girl was in Manchester, Robert Nelson was sure. Her uncle, the homosexual, lived in the city. The father would certainly have turned to his brother for help with his evil plans for kidnapping and mutilation.

But the mother, the heroine, had people who supported her, and would make sacrifices to get her daughter back. Believers, who had the power of the Lord on their side. Robert Nelson was one of them.

Nelson was not a vain man, and everything he did was for the glory of God. He was one of those chosen to lead a blessed and pure life, to guide others onto the path of redemption. Or to strike back against the evil they did, if Satan had taken them completely. Which was surely the case here.

Women were created to give birth, and to raise and nurture children. To push a girl down a path that would take her away from that was surely the work of those inspired by the Devil. Who but Satan would think it right to slice off breasts and sterilise a potential mother. They might convince her that this was what she wanted, but in her heart, the doubt would surely always remain.

That was why Nelson was determined to rescue this girl, and return her to her brave and beautiful mother. She had others helping her, but they needed the intelligence Nelson would provide if they were to complete the mission. Which was why he was reconnoitring the area around the brother’s home, to find a base for surveillance.

Nelson had not known about the ‘Gender Crisis’ until recently, but it made so much sense to him. He had spent many years campaigning against and investigating the Satanically inspired homosexual agenda that this made perfect sense to him. Of course the Devil’s disciples would take their campaign even further and deny the reality of sex. Just as the bottom was not made for procreation, a girl could never have a penis. To claim otherwise was a clear sign of delusion or the evil intent he had sworn to fight.

The brother’s house was a recently built semi-detached. He lived there with his ‘partner’, another man. Nelson had walked past it three times before finding the ideal position to observe from. Across the road from the house was an area of undeveloped land. Fast growing bushes had sprung up on it which would be perfect for him to set up a hide with a view of the front of the house.

It was two in the morning, and there was no traffic but the occasional taxi. Nelson still kept to the shadows as much as possible, moreso now he was so close to the house. Rather than approach the scrub directly, he went down the nearest street, then cut across and used an alley to enter the far side of the open ground. Crouching down, he sneaked toward the bushes.

He had kit in his backpack, which he had accumulated when he had been hiding from the Police after revealing how many were Masonic Satanists. More recently, he had used it again to keep watch at a nudist beach, looking for the perverted goings on he just knew happened there. Nothing had happened that he could report, but the photos were all on his computer, and he went through them often, seeking incriminating images. There was a new memory card in the camera, and several spare batteries, and he had new binoculars with anti glare lenses. He pushed the pack under the bush ahead of him, and went in to set up his hide.

A padded waterproof sheet covered the ground between the thicker trunks of the bush, then a camouflaged bivvy sheet covered him up. He might sneak out during the day to see how well it worked, but he was confident only a close look would find him.

There was food and water in the backpack, and he could do supply runs when the brother and his ‘partner’ weren’t in. Now, though, there was time for some sleep before the vigil proper started. He pulled the light sleeping bag over himself and settled in.


Traces of the Anthropocene

There’s still debate about whether we have really created a new geological age. If we have, the markers for future geologists are all waste and pollutants, sadly.

There’s mention at the start of the article of a lake in Canada where sediment is being laid down evenly to give an ideal record of the era. I had visions of tourists trekking out to it to throw in mementos to really confuse whoever digs it up.

https://theconversation.com/plastic-rocks-plutonium-and-chicken-bones-the-markers-were-laying-down-in-deep-time-209788