Fracking Earthquakes In Search Of A Headline

In seismic shift, Britain orders immediate moratorium on fracking

That’s a Reuter’s headline from today.

A seismic shift in position to match the seismic events – the earthquakes that have followed fracking explorations in the north of England.

Such low-hanging fruit is better left hanging on the tree. The pun on the word seismic is too cute, and better resisted.

The facts cry out for a headline that puns, the journalists might say. Well, not exactly the facts, some assert. Some say that the statement is just a pre-elction publicity stunt, and that the Government will reverse its position as soon as (if) it wins the election on December 12th.

It’s a hard one to come back from, but some people believe that some Governments change their minds, or never intended to carry out their promise in the first place. They fudge evidence and show how contrary to what they said earlier, the truth is now the opposite.

A decent amount of time, a few months, other more important business to conduct, and a quiet Government statement that floats out under the wire, and fracking begins again. That’s how the critics see it.

Newspapers won’t be able to use the headline again. A seismic shift in intent that follows an earlier seismic shift that followed a previous course of action? No, that’s too many seismic shifts. What would it have to be, next time? It would need a ‘full and thorough investigation’ (or some equally high-sounding phrase) that reveals that fracking is no threat to the stability of the landscape. 

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom (a loathsome person in the eyes of some) said on the radio that the Government has always been clear that it will follow the science, and that as they cannot be certain that shale gas can be extracted safely, they are imposing a moratorium until the science changes.

Until the science changes. Hah! Those opposed to the cull that is wiping out tens of thousands of badgers have the backing of science. But the Government presses on killing badgers.

Project 100,000

There’s a scene in the film Full Metal Jacket where a raw recruit joins the platoon and is instructed not to leave the path. He is of limited ability and unable to follow instructions. No sooner does he join the platoon than he leaves the path and is skewered in a Vietcong man trap.

In Apocalypse Now there’s a scene where the young soldier, hardly able to follow any orders, wasted on dope, starts shooting wildly. He is out of control, as much a terrified observer as an active combatant.

And in Forrest Gump the hero joins the army and miraculously manages to survive and do well despite being odd and below average in IQ. The way things work out well for him are fantastical. That’s a device used repeatedly in the film.

The connection between Full Metal JacketApocalypse Now, and Forrest Gump is the that the war in question in each film is the Vietnam War.

You might wonder how men of below average IQ ever got into the army. I knew people from poor backgrounds, disproportionately black, were the ones who were most likely to be drafted, but I didn’t wonder at all beyond that. I just watched the films.

Hamilton Gregory

But today I watched a talk by Hamilton Gregory, a man who volunteered for service in Vietnam. He was a college graduate, so he could well have avoided the draft. Many middle class young men did. They didn’t have to try hard; there were exemptions of which they could take advantage.

But Mr Gregory volunteered and as chance would have it, he was ordered to escort another recruit to Fort Benning in Georgia. That recruit was educationally subnormal. He didn’t know that America was at war. He didn’t know in which state he had been born.

Hundreds of thousands of men like him were drafted under Robert McNamara’s Project 100,000. That was the project under which young men of poor IQ were inducted each year.

Robert McNamara

Robert McNamara was the U.S. Secretary of Defence, so it was his call. The army couldn’t get people to go to Vietnam, So McNamara lowered the IQ requirement. He said that the army was one of the world’s best educators, and it could raise the IQs of the draftees. So people who were previously unfit to server were now fit.

In battle they were too slow to react, too slow to understand what was going on, two slow to formulate a plan. They were poor marksmen, erratic and a danger to themselves and their fellow soldiers. And they died in Vietnam at three times the rate other soldiers were killed.

Unofficially, the soldiers in McNamara’s Project 100,000 were called McNamara’s Morons. Nice, eh?

Hamilton Gregory was so appalled by Project 100,000 that after the war he gathered whatever evidence he could and wrote McNamara’s Folly: The Use Of Low IQ Troops In The Vietnam War. And that is what he was talking about in the video I watched.

So now I wonder whether the makers of Full Metal JacketApocalypse Now, and Forrest Gump knew all about Project 100,000 and whether they were making an oblique reference to it?

the beach and the sea