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!

Christine’s Brilliant Idea

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The letters pages of local newspapers are the places to go if you want something to blog about. This morning, I didn’t particularly want something to blog about, but because I read the letters page of a local newspaper, I now have something to blog about. That thing is a letter from Christine Durell (no relation) from Montagu – and most specifically her brilliant idea.

Christine has written an open letter to Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, the President of the Republic of South Africa, about Shell and their plans to explore for natural gas in the Karoo (see this blog and every bunnyhugger (sorry) site in SA, ad nauseum). JZ probably won’t read her letter, because he’s flying to China today and they’re not big on people writing letters to the media in China.

Anyway, Ladies and Gentlespoons; without further ado, I give you Christine Durell (no relation)!
[smattering of applause from assembled readers]

Dear Mr Zuma,

The more I hear and read about the diabolical things Shell has planned for our beloved Karoo, the more worrisome it becomes.

If I might just interject here, Christine?
Sorry – that was lovely so far: passionate, full of emotion, lovely.

I can’t help but notice, though, that you used the word “diabolical” there, after the latin root diabolus, “pertaining to, of, or characteristic of the Devil; Satanic”. Do you really mean this? It begs questions regarding the things you’ve heard and read.
What Satanic plans do you think Shell have in mind, exactly? Sacrificing virgins within a pentacle? Calling forth the demons of Hades and then asking them if they smelt any methane on the way up? Because I thought that the exploratory work in question was more about digging a few holes and having a quick look around 6km down. It sounds like you might have Shell confused with Hell.
Or… something.

Not only the process itself, but the fact that our country could be sold piecemeal to the highest bidder for a filthy short-term project which will make some people very rich indeed, is worrying.

Sorry, Christine. Me again. Are you perhaps suggesting that you would be appeased if we sold our country piecemeal to one of the lower bidders, thus making some people slightly less rich? Would that cause you less worry? I’m just asking because I can’t help but think that your approach would cause chaos in the property and general retail sectors. Have you considered this rather concerning side-effect?

It would be my dearest wish that our president could just stand up, be a man…

Hang on a sec, Chrissy love. You’re talking about a bloke who has 3 wives, 2 ex-wives, 20 kids and sings about wanting his machine gun. I think he’s “man” enough already thank you very much.

…and be remembered as the best president this country would ever have had, by just saying: “No.”

So, putting this in perspective, Christine, you think that if Jacob Zuma says “No.” to Shell, then he would automatically overtake, say… just for example, Nelson Mandela, as “the best president this country would ever have had”?
Has anyone told JZ about this?

Come to think of it, has anyone told Mandela about this?

I also noticed that you “would have had” used the past perfect conditional tense (or some form of it) there as well, Christine. Are you perhaps holding out for a future president to say “No.” to some other company and therefore leapfrog JZ into top spot.
I’m thinking that you’re thinking Julius Malema, right? Yes?
Meaning that the Christine Durell (no relation) list of all-time great South African presidents (post-Apartheid obviously, because none of them were that great before 1994) would read like this:

  1. Julius Malema
  2. Jacob Zuma
  3. Nelson Mandela

That looks awesome. But haven’t we forgotten someone…?
No. No, I don’t think we have.

Moving on – what if JZ does say “No.” to Shell and does become the best president this country would ever have had?

After that, he could probably get away with almost anything.

Once again, Christine, I am left wondering what you have heard and read. I don’t think that your conditional promise will cut much ice with Mr Zuma, because, you see, he already kinda does have those privileges. You’re offering him nothing new here. You’re essentially wanting something for nothing. Is this somehow related to your “don’t sell to the highest bidder” plan? Can you now see the confusion that it’s causing already?

But I have been so very disparaging about your letter thus far when really, all it has been is a lead up to the best and most original brilliant idea ever. Ever ever. An idea so brilliant that if it was ever to become president of South Africa, it would make Julius settle for silver and knock Madiba right out of the medals. Boom.

Bring it, Christine. Bring your brilliant idea on:

And in the meantime, to all those who continually use the four letter “F” word, let’s change it to the five letter one. As in, “frack off”, “no fracking way”, etc.

I’m lost. Incredulous. Bewildered. Blown. Away. Because if they say that the simplest ideas are the best ideas, then this is Sheer “fracking” Genius! (see what I did there?).

How – and I ask this question from my current position seated on the floor, because I was unsure that my legs would still hold me given the effect that your brilliantly simple, brilliantly original, brilliantly brilliant plan would have has had on me – how has no-one come up with this before?

I, for one, Christine, think that rather than placing that sort of idea in an open letter to the president of the republic in a regional newspaper, you should perhaps get some sort of trademark on it and use this as a filthy short-term project to make yourself very rich indeed.  Maybe get some placards and posters made up with “Frack off, Shell” or “Not in my fracking Karoo”.
Perhaps charge journalists a royalty each time they used it in a headline – I have a feeling that if they had thought of your brilliant idea, they’d probably use it as a headline in most (if not all) of the stories they wrote on this issue. Probably.

But these are just my humble suggestions – I recognise that a great mind such as yours will probably have some other brilliant ideas in mind for your brilliant idea.

If nothing else, when Shell see what you have done here, they will surely be forced to immediately shelve their plans to explore the Karoo for natural gas and go and find some other remote wilderness to destroy.

Christine Durell (no relation), we salute you.