Should you hate industrial civilisation just because it’s killing the planet and it’s too late to stop it?

”[What will it] look like as this all begins to disentangle, as the pressures of climate change drive the largest human migrations in history and the ability of national and international political institutions to defend the global flow of capital and trade begins to crack and fade[?]. Jacob Bacharach. Truthdig

That quote comes from a piece on Truthdig entitled The Trillion-Dollar Fantasy at the Heart of the Global Economy. It’s about the popular delusions that underpin starry-eyed stock investors’ valuation of Apple. Which, any way you look at it, amount to very little.

Apple’s ‘valuation’ has nothing to do with its potential earnings. It’s a business already showing signs running out of steam, control and ideas. The techno-Utopian hype mostly reflects people’s personal investment in the idea that Apple – along with Tesla and Uber – well, anyone willing to promise self-driving flying cars for everyone – embodies mankind’s manifest destiny: per handheld gadgets ad astra.

Apple never asked to be a talisman for a safe future for humanity, although it has been happy to run with the idea in general and the money in particular. It’s us humans who want to see a towering tech giant with colossal systemic dependencies as the stepping stone to an incredible future.

The reality is that all the dreamy reach and connectivity of what we may as well call ‘Civilisation 3.0’ depends utterly on the extractive, fire and steel economy of (industrial) Civilisation 2.0 … born c.1750, became terminally ill c.1970.

Civilisation 2.0 is still what keeps the 95% of the world economy afloat. Its successor is merely a thin veneer on top of it epitomised by the vanity skylines of the likes of Dubai – brittle progenitors of every cut-and-paste Sci-Fi movie megacity.

The system needs to grow at two to three per cent a year or it dies. Albert Bartlett was never fashionable and now he’s dead so hardly anyone groks what exponential growth means. Two to three percent means the system doubles in size every 23-35 years.

If it pulls off that trick one more time, in 2050 our civilisation will want as much in the way of energy, resources, demand and the rest as it got through in all the preceding years since Civilisation 1.0 got going on a dusty riverbank 10,000 years ago.

Hint. That won’t happen.

What we have is a huge, shiny, totally unsustainable system that is now eating away at its own life support system ever more rapidly. It is brilliant for the elites. They always have the best of everything, and “21st century best” is hundreds of times better than any previous era.

It is still pretty damn good for the next rung down; that is, middle class humans in developed countries (guilty m’lud). Which is why very few will admit that the system is nearing the tipping point, and fewer still would try to prevent that happening even if it were possible.

And it’s not possible. Whenever that train left – possibly between the First Oil War, 1914-18 and the Second but certainly in my lifetime – humanity voted to keep its feet on the station platform. Which now really is becoming a burning platform. Which in turn is rather ironic in the sense that ‘burning platform’ is corporate jargon for a situation requiring great willpower to resolve: humanity as a whole displaying almost no desire to kick the consumerist habit.

Industrial civilisation seems pretty well determined to shove itself into a bottleneck.

bottleneckCover-sm

It will be much to the surprise and disgust of those of us in the developed world that the bottleneck will apply equally if not more to us than to those in countries we tend to think of being there to do the slaving and suffering on our behalf.

Civilisation is not to blame. We are. ‘Modern life’ is novel and exciting and extremely comfortable by any standards, let alone compared to pre-1950 ones. Such a shame the arrangement is auto-destructive.

Honestly, the best anyone can do is manage the transition through the bottleneck as humanely as possible. Or possibly not humanely in the sense of “having qualities befitting human beings”. Isn’t that how we got into this mess?

So let’s not hate civilisation. We should feel sorry for it. Even apologise. We set it up. Made it work hard for us. And when we saw where that was going, we opened the throttle hoping to maximise our own pleasures and die naturally leaving the bill to our descendants.

A few years ago I’d have thought that, as I’ll be nearly 70 in 2025, I had good odds on foisting that unpleasant little trick on the next generation. Now I’m not so sure.

The intended suckers – the Millennials and younger generations – aren’t buying the programme (shedloads of debt and shitty jobs to compensate for diminishing net fossil energy flows for supporting the elites). Hence the increasingly deafening volume of propaganda and visual distraction designed to keep the masses in their place while the elites prepare to withdraw to technologically-cushioned boltholes until it’s time to resume control in Civilisation 4.0 – which if the surviving masses are fortunate will be like Civilisation 1.0 but with proper dentistry and mass literacy.

One reason the system managers give Apple such a massive approval rating is its effectiveness at keeping people’s eyes hooked to its devices instead of what’s actually going on.

Bon chance, everyone!

Times extradition story turns out to be just another tiresome bullshit job

If The Times is, as the surtitle on its banner claims, ‘Britain’s most trusted newspaper’, the only question can be: ‘trusted for use as what? Composting?’

I’m featuring today’s Times front page lead story not because it is a particularly novel or blatant piece of common-or-garden spin, but out of a sense of wonder that the MSM are still going through motions of foisting pathetic, kludged-together tripe like this on their collapsing readerships in 2018.

Because it most definitely is just another tiresome bullshit job from the establishment typing pool formerly known as Fleet Street.

The structure:

  1. Scarcely-credible headline With Keywords
  2. Sub-head not borne out in the body copy
  3. Fact-lite, unsourced story, pretty much entirely contradicted in two key paragraphs.

The only noteworthy aspect of the piece is a para contradicting the headline at the half-way point. Unusually high up the story for this kind of job.

There’s no need to take it apart line by line. It makes a big claim – UK plans to extradite Russian poisoners – and then expends 450-odd words on putting precisely no substance behind it.

All it offers is a lot of ‘it is understood that’ and ‘it is believed that’, from ‘security sources’. But ‘government sources’ tell the paper no warrants are being prepared. Nor is an extradition application planned.

The one named individual in the story, a former British Army intelligence officer and chemical weapons expert – thankfully not the ubiquitous and compromised Hamish – says the police are under political pressure to come up with names for the perps.

But nine paragraphs earlier, the story, which took no fewer than three Times staffers to ‘write’, says: “Scotland Yard detectives are understood to be confident that they have identified the would-be assassins.”

Well, obviously not, according to our former Army intel officer.

The only other para worth quoting in full is the last one:

“The Metropolitan Police, CPS and Home Office refused to comment.”

Exactly. Unsubstantiated rumours from anonymous sources who contradict each other throughout. Not a shred of information from any of the bodies responsible for the criminal investigation or a prosecution/extradition should either of those ever take place. If I’d submitted this piece as a junior reporter, it would have ended up on a spike, not a front page.

In some ways, though, you have to give the article some credit as a slice of propaganda.

It’s primary role is put the headline out there on the supermarket and garage forecourt gondolas, where those keywords are the only element that passers-by take in.

…extradite Russian poisoners

And away go Mr and Mrs Public, vaguely sure that they’ve now learned that Inspector Knacker has absolutely definitely pinned Salisbury on the Russkies and that plucky Britannia is in the processes of forcing the big bully to hand over the miscreants.

And although the poison(s) used in Salisbury behaved nothing like novichok, and no-one has produced evidence that unequivocally ties whatever they were to Russia, our most trusted national newspaper manages to slip in mention that Charlie Rowley was “left seriously ill from the effects of the Russian-made nerve agent” as if Russian provenance were fact.

So there you go. Today’s cut and paste bulletin from State central. Disgusting but effective.

Like an enema.

(And maybe I shouldn’t pick on the Times. The Beeb, the Guardian and all the other Handmaids all ran much the same propaganda)

The Independent celebrates quality of UK reporting on #Novichok case with inept photoshopped cover pic

Whoever had the job of giving the cover photo on today’s Independent a bit of ‘extra impact’ either wasn’t paying attention to their work or they ran out of time before print deadline.

As a result, a pic of a man with three heads and possibly four arms illustrated the Indy’s credulous rehash of a lurid, evidence-free Press Association bulletin about a supposed gang of Russian poisoners.

Either that, or the miracle properties of the allegedly massively-deadly-but-rarely-fatal agent purportedly roaming Salisbury in perfume bottles now also include instant mutations. What aren’t we being told?

Of course, the Independent was simply trying to cobble together two or more agency images from Reuters to make the cover punchier by adding the left hand figure – or is it three of them? – to the two on the right. But they cocked it up, leaving two disembodied heads and at least one extraneous pair of gloved hands dangling off the searcher on the left.

It was a very Freudian slip. A terribly-stitched-together image used to illustrate an even ropier official narrative.

Actually, the narrative isn’t even fully official. Ben “Novi-check” Wallace, the UK security minister, quickly dismissed  the PA story as belonging in the “ill informed and wild speculation folder” (Ben Wallace MP/Twitter).

Ben, we don’t believe any of it either. And we mean any of it.

Or perhaps the cover cock up was the Independent’s own way of having a sly dig at the improbable opportunists behind the Skripal/Russia narrative.

What do we see over the screamer headline, FOUND: NOVICHOK HIT SQUAD …?

A photo that shows three people looking at … nothing. Merely at the suggestion of a couple of people.

No hit squad here. Just another poorly-executed attempt at manipulating people’s perceptions.

and they all fell to playing the game of catch-as-catch-can till the gunpowder their credibility ran out at the heels of their boots.

King’s new clothes. The naked lie at the heart of the Novichok story

We went to war with Iraq on the basis of UK government lies about WMDs.

Now we’re being lined up for a hotter confrontation with Russia on the basis of UK government lies about Soviet-era chemical weapons being used on British soil.

Virtually nothing about the known effects on their victims of the Salisbury and Amesbury poisoning cases supports the government’s contention that the agent involved was the massively-lethal nerve agent Novichok.

Everything about the Sturgess/Rowley case points to it simply being one of the growing number of opioid overdoses among UK heroin users.

With the Skripals, the symptoms they exhibited – described by witnesses as hallucinations, rolled-up eyes and shortness of breath – led medics to treat them for fentanyl/Carfentanil/3MF poisoning.

They were thus treated. They did not die. Indeed, Yulia Skripal told her cousin there were no lasting effects. She appeared to be quite well in the brief media appearance she was afforded before she was ‘disappeared’ into some kind of protective custody.

Novichok on the other hand is an organophosphate-based poison that acts rapidly on the central nervous system (2-30 second onset after exposure). It typically produces seizures on the way to causing heart failure.

Survival of Novichok is extremely unlikely and is expected to be accompanied by permanent nerve damage – as was the case with Andrei Zheleznyakov, the only known human to live after exposure to actual Novichok. He was left with “chronic weakness in his arms, a toxic hepatitis that gave rise to cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy, spells of severe depression, and an inability to read or concentrate that left him totally disabled and unable to work” until he died at his breakfast table a few years later.

There is a massive discrepancy between what we know happened in Salisbury and Amesbury and the government’s line that the chemistry involved was Novichok. But of course, there is a laughably simple explanation:

It. Was. Not. Novichok.

I’m going for fentanyl. Definitely in the Rowley/Sturgess case, and probably in the Skripal case.

With the Skripals, while the government’s Novichok story is clearly bollocks (which I bet a lot of senior politicians are now really regretting getting into), the person or persons who apparently deliberately attacked the ex-spy and his daughter might have used an incapacitating agent such as BZ (3-Quinuclidinyl Benzilate), which produces similar symptoms to a fentanyl overdose.

It was so incredibly stupid of the government to agree to go along with the Novichok angle it was sold by its spooks and military equipment suppliers after the Salisbury incident. And absolutely moronic to double down on the idiocy by dragging the Amesbury opioid overdose into an already-tottering narrative.

If the Russians had been behind the Salisbury incident, the UK government would have had legitimate grounds to condemn them whatever substance was sprayed on the Skripals, be it BZ, fentanyl or joke shop itching powder. Playing the Novichok card was as big an example of jumping the shark as Blair’s WMDs dossier.

The government has been able to sustain its ludicrous fairy tale about this miraculous instant/delayed-action, rain-proof/not persistent, deadly/not deadly ‘nerve agent’ and its elusive peekaboo container by browbeating civil servants (Of A Type Developed By Liars – Craig Murray), doubtlessly putting pressure on the police and medical services, and by relying on the media not to ask any hard questions – gagging them if necessary to close off key lines of enquiry.

The parallels to the tale of The King’s New Clothes are unmistakable. Sooner or later something will come out of left field to puncture the illusion. The government will doubtless shrug and say to itself ‘some you win, some you lose’. We don’t live in an age where lying to the public and screwing-over the population of a world-renowned historic city is reason for a government to fall.

How the mainstream media will justify its sorry connivance in the affair is another matter entirely.

Novichok. Novicheck. The UK government can’t even get the name of the alleged Salisbury nerve agent right

We can be pretty sure, thanks to the BBC’s extremely well-briefed security correspondent Frank Gardner, that police currently believe they are searching for a cosmetic spray bottle that was used to deliberately poison the Skripals and accidentally (it seems) fatally poison Dawn Sturgess and seriously injure Charlie Rowley with some kind of nerve agent.

We can also be absolutely sure that the police still haven’t found any evidence of who did it. It’s also abundantly clear that the substance in the missing perfume bottle, if said bottle exists, is highly unlikely to be the A234 ‘Novichok’ nerve agent, despite what the UK government claims.

From its symptoms and survivability, the apparently-not-Novichok agent used in Salisbury was quite likely something like trimethyl fentanyl (3MF) or Carfentanil; extremely powerful synthetic opioids which have been around since the 1970s and whose toxicity has been compared to that of nerve gas.

Carfentanil and 3MF produce initial symptoms similar to those reported by witnesses who saw the Skripals on the bench in March. Medical personnel in Salisbury initially diagnosed the Skripals as having taken fentanyl and they apparently treated them accordingly.

It is worth noting that the extreme toxicity of 3MF, Carfentanil and similar compounds available on the illegal drugs market requires medics, law enforcement personnel and clean up teams teams to to take maximum precautions. The familiar-looking photo below isn’t from Salisbury or Amesbury but from the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s briefing guide (PDF) for first responders specifically when dealing with fentanyl and its more-powerful derivatives.

dea-fentanyl-reponders
Not Novichok: this image is from the US DEA protection guidelines for responders dealing with suspected fentanyl

The Russian authorities used Carfentanil in aerosol form as an incapacitating agent in the botched operation to subdue Chechen terrorists during the Moscow theater hostage crisis in 2002. The 125 people who died in the theatre from respiratory failure were found to have died because the rescue teams underestimated the amount of Carfentanil antidote they needed to have on hand.

Although the Moscow theatre debacle does fit the UK government’s narrative about Russia having ‘form’ around using powerful narcotics in public places, it doesn’t in any way correspond to them allegedly using a massively-deadly, organophosphate-based military nerve agent on a supposed FSB target in an English shopping centre. But, as we’ve seen, the effects of whatever was used on the Skripals bear little resemblance to those of Novichok poisoning (i.e. rapid death or, in the unlikely event of survival, permanent damage to the central nervous system).

On the other hand, if the substance used on the Skripals was fentanyl or a super-strength fentanyl derivative, that would explain why the treatment for fentanyl poisoning that they initially received in Salisbury helped to prevent them dying.

Also bear in mind that the government identification of the Skripal substance was made from blood tests on the victims. We were told these tests revealed a very pure form of A234 Novichok. Which was odd, since A234 is so deadly that you’d expect a ‘very pure’ form of it to have killed them on the spot.

Indeed, it is this curious, delayed-action, deadly/not deadly behaviour of the alleged Novichok that has led the UK authorities such a merry dance around doorknobs and car ventilators, as well as around diametrically-opposed versions of the poison’s weather resistance, to explain its refusal to act like A234.

Even the docile BBC appears to have lost some of its willingness to stick to the ‘always blame Novichok but never give the same version of events’ narrative over the weekend.

On the BBC Radio 4 Today programme last Thursday (5 July), John Humphrys interviewed the UK security minister, Ben Wallace, MP, about the poisoning of two people in Amesbury. Humphrys began by lobbing the minister the softest of balls so that he could bat the blame squarely in the direction of the Kremlin:

Humphrys: Ben Wallace, good morning to you. Let’s deal with that Russian responsibility first. Obviously, if it’s Novichok, and we now know it was Novichok… It’s a fact, isn’t it? They have confirmed that? Just a ‘yes’ to that will do because Scotland Yard confirmed that last night. … presumably the government authorised it?

Ben Wallace: Yes it’s been confirmed that these two victims are suffering the consequences of exposure to Novicheck [sic] nerve agent.

Novicheck? Wallace has been in post since 2016.

John Humphrys: Right. And therefore it must be Russian because they’re the people who do it?

Ben Wallace: Based on the evidence we had at the time of the Skripal attack; the knowledge that they had developed Novichok; that they had explored assassination programmes in the past; that they had motive, form and stated policy, and that the targets were linked, we would still assert to a very high assurance that Russia was behind … that the Russian state was behind … the original attack.

Ah, now it’s Novichok, although it’ll go back to ‘Novicheck’ again later in the interview. Also note that Humphrys is assiduously framing the discussion around the ‘fact’ that, in his inelegant phrasing, “it must be Russian because they’re the people who do it.” Even then, the minister still equivocates: “…we would still assert to a very high assurance that … the Russian state was behind” the attack on the Skripals. Or as they say, “plausible, plausible, plausible”.

Craig Murray described back in April how senior civil servants were still deeply sceptical of Russian responsibility for the alleged ‘Novichok’ attack on the Skripals, despite intense Government pressure to point the finger at the Kremlin.

Earlier in last Thursday’s programme, Humphrys was assured by another regular player in the official Novichok narrative, Hamish ‘wanna buy a gas mask?’ de Bretton-Gordon, that both pairs of victims would have had to ingested the substance to be poisoned by it. Mere skin contact wouldn’t be enough, he said. This angle seems to be an attempt to reassure the long-suffering residents of Salisbury that they will be safe enough as long as they avoid licking their fingers after touching discarded perfume bottles.

However, the ingestion claim is absolutely not true of either Novichok or 3MF/Carfentanil, which can both be absorbed in lethal doses through the skin.

Ben Wallace, despite being unsure of the right pronunciation of the alleged Russian nerve agent, correctly answered this point. “Novicheck [sic] in the smallest form can kill thousands of people,” he told Humphrys.

“Your skin would fight it off,” persisted Humphrys.

“No, it would kill you,” countered Wallace, winning the argument with Humphrys but trashing much of the government’s wider Novichok narrative, since the Skripals are still very much alive in spite of allegedly encountering the agent in a very pure form (and likely inhaling it if it was administered as an aerosol spray from a luxury perfume bottle).

One might get the impression from Ben Wallace’s interview that he’s not as well briefed on the affair as some other people are. The BBC’s Frank Gardner sometimes seems so well-briefed that he could be part of the security services themselves – though now even he seems to be having trouble reconciling the proliferating contradictions in the official narrative.

During an interview with Gardner on this morning’s Today programme (9 July), John Humphrys did a reverse ferret;  now being as keen to point out that there’s no actual evidence the Russian state did it as he was keen last week to suggest the Kremlin were the most likely offenders:

John Humphrys: Part of the problem is, I suppose, though, we don’t have evidence – I stress evidence … the sort of evidence that would stand up in a court – that it was the Russians who did it?

Frank Gardner: That’s exactly the problem. It gives the Kremlin enough wriggle room to say: “It wasn’t us. There are lots of different theories.” You are absolutely right; I have still yet to see – obviously I talk to lots of people about this – I have yet to see any kind of real smoking gun as it were. There is nothing that… and they may never find it. I mean, some people I have spoken to are confident that even if it takes three years, they will find the culprits. I’m not so sure.

‘No evidence’ is a bit more than simply wriggle room, Mr Gardner, surely? And you assert that the people who say they’re sure they need to look for a perfume bottle or ‘luxury item’ actually haven’t the foggiest idea who carried out the Skripal attack and probably still won’t have in three years’ time. All we think we know is that someone tossed away a potentially deadly cosmetic item in an unknown location, where it was eventually found by Sturgess and/or Rowley.

Even that angle could be a red herring. Fentanyl-related deaths increased sharply among UK heroin addicts last year. Although the problem has been mainly associated with the north east of England, there are reports of heroin being mixed with Carfentanil in Wiltshire.

So here’s one hypothesis. Dawn Sturgess, tragically, is the latest in a growing roll call of British heroin addicts killed by the highly risky trend for mixing heroin with Carfentanil. The fatal agent in her case was the same as the one that poisoned the Skripals: just not a Novichok as was too-rapidly alleged by the spooks who sent the Government down this rocky road back in March.

That road is becoming a morass of contradictions, which the government can barely manage and which the media seems to be finding increasingly embarrassing to overlook, despite the two D-Notices slapped on it.

If the person or persons who poisoned the Skripals did indeed do it with an aerosol spray charged with a fentanyl derivative, then the perfume bottle/luxury item delivery system angle might be a surmise by the police, since that is the kind of object a homeless addict might pick up in the hope of selling it or just enjoying a touch of opulence.

Or the police could be searching for a bottle because the Skripals saw it and described it.

In the case of the couple from Amesbury, it looks even more like fentanyl was involved since they were, or had recently been, part of a section of the population where deaths from fentanyl/heroin are occurring more frequently. Ms Sturgess’s death may not be linked to the Skripal case in any way except that she happened to live in Salisbury.

Applying Occam’s razor to their situation; when someone with a history of heroin use falls ill with many symptoms of Carfentanil (or similar) poisoning, what is more likely? That they somehow stumbled across, then sniffed or licked, then lost, a luxury perfume bottle filled with possibly enough Novichok to murder a city, that had been heinously left lying around a park for four months by bumbling or utterly reckless FSB hit men?

Or that there was some China White mixed into their last hit? Or that they’d used straight fentanyl because it’s cheaper than smack?

Either way, the only thing we seem to be fairly sure of was that the Skripals were deliberately poisoned by someone. It doesn’t look like a Novichok was used. It does look very like a fentanyl derivative. Who did it and why are still questions that, per the extremely well-connected Frank Gardner, nobody but the perpetrator(s) knows the answer to.

The UK government can’t stop itself and its over eager media from handling the matter in a way that’s damaging to Britain’s credibility around the world and disastrous for Salisbury’s economy.

Perhaps the only hope is that, with her Brexit strategy falling apart at the seams and Boris Johnson finally gone from the Foreign Office, Theresa May will decide the Novichok malarkey is one mess too many on her plate, and allow the police to investigate the affair free from the constraints imposed by old style global paranoias.

I’m not holding my breath. Except when using an aerosol.

What a waste of a beautiful planet

From the poor to dirt rich
We all turn the same direction the earth twists.
….
Fuck spending my whole life in a job that I don’t like
To go buy shit that I don’t need.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap
I’m better than him, I got more crap.
Even if you’re not sure what you’re on this rock for,
You’re worth more than the money in your sock drawer

Seth Sentry. Simple Game

OK, got to get this off my chest or I won’t be able to focus on my Bullshit Job providing life support to the section of the auto business called the fleet industry.

The mountain of energy supporting our civilisation is beginning to erode away from the foundations.

erosion2

It doesn’t feel that way to most people yet. Like a cliff-top building that still 95% rests on solid ground, everything feels OK on the inside. Unless you go out of the back and look down into the dirt and waves boiling hundreds of feet below where the garden used to be, the only signs of trouble are occasional creaks and groans in the structure.

The building managers refuse to acknowledge the erosion threat. They prefer fighting among themselves to enlarge their personal corners of the structure. Each new story and cantilevered outcrop of high tech wizardry adds weight and erodes the energy base faster … bringing the toppling point nearer from both ends.

If someone does get them to listen to the creaks for a moment – climate change, loss of diversity, the fact that we’re burning fossil energy seven times faster than we’re finding it – they’re dismissive. Technology and human ingenuity will solve the problem. By which they mean that technology will magically insulate the managers at the top from the bruises inflicted on the bottom 90% by the accelerating cliff-fall.

And if this planet ungratefully fails to survive being relentlessly exploited, the crowd in the penthouse are pretty sure that clever Mr Musk will wisk them off to safety in a luxury gated community on Mars (despite his evident inability, on Earth, even to stop a modest motor business devolving into a kind of auto jumble in a big tent).

We’ve normalised excess. Gross excess. And we fight and kill and torture and imprison indiscriminately for the right to be the primary managers and beneficiaries of that excess. The complexity of the system is growing exponentially, already beyond the comprehension of the technicians, let alone the general managers and the ‘economic advisers’ whose voodoo religion provides them with a fantasy framework for managing.

There is no solution to this short of the managers changing their tune. If the 90% on the ground floors of the structure refuse to hold it up through turbocharged consumption, they know most of them will be crushed by the elites’ goon squads on the middle floors. But if they carry on consuming, they’ll undercut the foundations even sooner and end up going over the edge with the whole structure.

But like I said, the managers aren’t listening. Life is shiny and bright up where they are. And for now they’re succeeding in keeping the 90% if not happy then at least quiet with daily salvoes of hope and fear from their media flunkeys.

Will it come unstuck? My guess is they’ll keep throwing money at pointless projects, and repression at people, right up to the bitter end unless a significant country or region goes tits up so spectacularly and un-spinnably that they’re forced to acknowledge the fact that this is the only planet we’ve got and the time’s come to start behaving like that fact matters.

Snapper-uppers get to suck up what they suffer for believing what the press say about snapping stuff up

“Snapping up” is a term that particularly tweaks this writer’s irritation nodes. Per the Cambridge English Dictionary, “snap up” means to buy or get something quickly and enthusiastically because it is cheap or exactly what you want. The operative words are ‘cheap’ and ‘quickly’. Snapping-up is clearly something you’d expect people to do in a store sale or at a car boot.

These days, though, snapping up takes place largely in stories in the property, business and finance media, where the commodities being acquired with alleged haste and enthusiasm are the opposite of ‘cheap’. We’re talking homes, cars, old masters and other repositories for the cash of the ultra-wealthy.

Nor, when the stories are hyping investments in obscure, unproven (but nevertheless ‘revolutionising’) products or start-ups, can the things said to be being snapped up be described accurately as being ‘exactly what the buyer wants’ … unless the buyer is so rich they’re not concerned about the risk that their snap investment will soon become devalued and illiquid.

A Google news search on ‘snapping up’ produced just one story in the first page of results where the use of the phrase matched the context – a piece about bargain hunting for cheap frocks in High Street summer sales.

All the other hits were about multi-million dollar homes, multi-million dollar footballers, multi-million dollar business deals and multi-thousand dollar vehicles. Indeed, is there a talented footballer left on the planet who’s been merely signed by or purchased from a club, rather than snapped up?

To some extent, this is simply language evolving. Snap up could possibly turn into another slang synonym for purchase, like ‘cop’ in UK English or ‘grab’. And you could also argue that journalists are only trying to inject a note of excitement into copy about topics covered dozens of times every day.

But there’s also something mendacious about the relentless application of a phrase to situations where what’s happening is the opposite of the phrase’s meaning.

For example, you can bet your sweet bippy that Oprah Winfrey’s extremely astute acquisition of 10 per cent of Weight Watchers in 2015 bore none of the hallmarks of “snapping up” the shares as described in the piece in the link. Her move was very carefully thought-out and stealthily executed so as put $58 million of Weight Watchers shares in her hands before anyone found out about it, since it was obvious the share price would climb immediately the company had the power and reach of her TV brand behind it.

Nevertheless, dozens of stories trot out the line that Oprah ‘snapped up’ WW as if she woke up one morning, looked at thousands of unemployed greenbacks strewn across her bedroom carpet, had a flash of inspiration and then knocked over the night stand in her haste to call her broker.

Likewise, only a minority of the people supposedly snapping up crypto currencies, Florida beach-front properties or timeshares (remember them?) are scurrying to make a quick purchase of something that is – because they are well-placed and can afford to take risks with their ample wealth – cheap by their standards.

Many ordinary investors cash-in laboriously-acquired savings, investments and pensions to keep up with those whom the media describe as ‘snapping up’ these apparent bargains. And that’s the key to the mendacity of using the phrase snap up. It allows journalists to get away with implying that a particular commodity is cheap and in heavy demand whether that is true or not.

It’s the MSM’s preferred way of lying: by implication and by omission.

So just as the answer to any headline framed as a question is probably “no”, the one thing you can be sure of when you read about people snapping up homes or vintage wines or whatever is that the window for making real money has already closed.

95% of the snapper-uppers won’t make money or will lose out.

When you read of snapper uppers who actually did make a killing, like Oprah, you’re reading retrospective stories about the 5% – the ones who got in under the radar ahead of the game, before the business media presstitutes started bigging-up the so-called opportunity on behalf of the same first movers.

Whenever you see the words snapping up in a press article, go back to the beginning and prepend the article with the phrase “Dear sucker”.

Anyway, that’s enough for today. Down the road, our local supermarket is selling beautiful, ripe, large Costa Rican pineapples for 49 pence apiece. That price is a travesty if you’re a Costa Rican pineapple grower but, as time-limited bargains go, it is both absolutely and relatively cheap, and I do love fresh pineapple.

Will we see stories about people in England snapping up pineapples, though? No – because in this case they’d be true.