FRAW site updates (in reverse chronological order)
Banburyshire’s Radical History, Monday 8th August 2022:
In 1772, a Quaker went on a journey through England, visiting the meeting house in Banbury, to preach about the ills of slavery; a journey that would end with his death in York at the beginning of October. The words he spoke during his life are just as true today, and in the context of today’s materialistic society, are even more revolutionary than when he spoke them over 250 years ago.
‘An Anarchist’s Cookbook’, Part 6, Lammas 2022:
‘The Great Coffee Economy Con’
Coffee, the addictive obsession of the affluent class, can tell us more about modern society than just retail trends; it is an indicator for how the modern neoliberal system operates, and its current shift toward new economic extremes.
Banburyshire’s Ancient Trackways, 29th July 2022:
For some time I’ve been hoping to update and extend ‘The Jurassic Way’ page, with more detail about the route as a whole. As the local buses have now been ‘reorganised’ (i.e. cut) it seemed a good time to do so. Details of the new bus services are included, as well as new maps and images.
‘Ramblinactivist’s Videos’, 2022/23, 23rd July 2022:
‘Electric Shock!’ – Technological Complexity and the Modern Lifestyle
There is a myth, accepted across modern society without question: ‘Technology makes life better’. It’s a proposition treated as a ‘rule’, when in fact it is a ‘function’: A certain level of technology certainly improves human lifestyle; but beyond a certain point technology creates a ‘trap’ – where growing complexity creates a higher risk to our well-being should those systems suddenly fail.
Long Walks & A/P, Part 7, Hay Moon 2022:
What inspired this post was a recent comment in response to another posts. To paraphrase: ‘I’m not going to read that because other articles on that site are anti-technology’. What I say in response is that I am not ‘anti-technology’, but ‘pro-science’.
‘A Book in Five Minutes’, no.15, 15th July 2022:
‘Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism – The Unbridgeable Chasm’ (1995)
The problem with the label, ‘anarchist’, is that the moment it is defined, it contradicts the principles it claims to represent. It was this contradiction that Murray Bookchin sought to explore in his 1995 book, in the wake of the complex political transformation that occurred after the 1960s.
‘A Book in Five Minutes’, no.14, 16th June 2022:
‘Food for Free’ (1972)
The 1970s surge in ecological awareness saw many books published on our relationship with the natural world. ‘Food for Free’, by Richard Mabey, was published fifty years ago in 1972.
Banburyshire Rambles Journal, 31st May 2022:
‘North of Banbury along the Ironstone ridges’
Friday 27th May 2022: A circuit out from Banbury, following the long ironstone ridges that rise from the northern fringe of the town towards Edgehill.
‘A Book in Five Minutes’, no.13, 24th May 2022:
‘Silent Spring’ (1962)
An historically significant book, its hypothesis proven right, its message undimmed by the passing of six decades – and yet it is so seldom discussed today.
‘The Meta-Blog’, 19th May 2022:
The media is exercised by the ‘cost of living’ crisis; but they’re ignoring the greater structural economic trends that are driving it – and thus the difficult questions that these trends raise for our future.
‘A Book in Five Minutes’, no.12, 6th May 2022:
‘Rules for Radicals’ (1971)
In this review of ‘Rules for Radicals’ I’m not going to list those ‘rules’. Nor the oft-neglected list of ‘means and ends’. That’s because, if you read the book, that’s not the point of these lists. Alinsky’s philosophy is broader than that.
‘Ramblinactivist’s Videos’, 2022/16, 1st May 2022:
‘Minster Lovell Hall & its ‘Romantic’ Graffiti’
Minster Lovell Hall has a surreal quality; especially if the weather adds to the atmosphere. It’s a classic ‘ruin’, but at the same time you can see that centuries of less reverent visitors have scrawled graffiti over many parts of it. More then anything, it’s just an ethereally beautiful place to visit.
Banburyshire’s Ancient Sites, Beltane 2022:
Minster Lovell Hall has a surreal quality; especially if the weather adds to the atmosphere. It’s a classic ‘ruin’, but at the same time you can see that centuries of less reverent visitors have scrawled graffiti over many parts of it (a practise common before modern times). And while today it seems a backwater, the history of the site ties it to some major events in history.
Long Walks & A/P, Part 6, New Flower Moon 2022:
Metal containers for boiling water are ‘ancient’; but what do you think ancient Greek (their word, ‘kotyle’) or Roman people used to heat their pans? Electricity? Kerosine? Compressed petroleum gas? Heating water is foundational to human society – a technology that defines us. How do we maintain that skill in an increasingly uncertain world?
‘Ramblinactivist’s Videos’, 2022/14, 18th April 2022:
‘The Awakening Moon’ (sunset & moonrise time-lapse)
I was uncertain about this one. I made it for myself, but wasn’t sure about sharing. However, having slept on it, perhaps others will find it pleasing too. A time-lapse of the setting sun and the rising ‘Pink’ or ‘Awakening Moon’, Saturday 16th April 2022.
Banburyshire Rambles Journal, 17th April 2022:
‘The Awakening Moon ’
Saturday 16th April 2022: I want to add a couple more locations to my ‘Ancient Sites’ collection. It’s also the full moon, which Americans call the ‘Pink Moon’ and Europeans call ‘The Awakening Moon’. Either way, this evening the moon will rise almost the same moment as the sun sets, and that sounds like a perfectly good excuse to sit in a field and make some tea.
‘A Book in Five Minutes’, no.11, 13th April 2022:
‘A Short History of Progress’ (2004)
This is the last in a series of three ‘techno-critical’ reviews, examining the excuse that underpins the whole project of industrialisation: ‘Progress’ – looking at Ronald Wright’s 2004 book that, 18 years later, still provides well-observed (if bleak) view of the future.
‘Ramblinactivist’s Videos’, 2022/12, 8th April 2022:
‘A Frosty April Dawn’ (sunrise & dawn chorus)
A lovely frosty Sunday morning, out on Bretch Hill to the west of Banbury, to watch the sun rising over Crouch Hill; then looping around the woodland near North Newington to hear the dawn chorus in the woods.
‘A Book in Five Minutes’, no.10, 29th March 2022:
‘My Name Is Chellis and I’m in Recovery from Western Civilization’ (1994)
This second in a techno-critical review trilogy might seem unrelated to the previous book on ‘The Luddites’, and yet it provides the same kind of criticism from a completely different angle – that of ecopsychology, and the trauma that the modern lifestyle creates for many of those subject to it.
‘The Meta-Blog’, 23rd March 2022:
Rarely is there such a thing as, ‘just numbers’; too often people see the ‘magnitude’ not the ‘meaning’ that those numbers convey. Here I explain how a graph can show more than just raw numbers, and what that tells us about why change is so hard.
‘The Meta-Blog – short-form’, 16th March 2022:
Some days I have, ‘irony issues’. It probably comes from having a memory, which allows me to place past events alongside the moment I’m in, and thus appreciate the duplicitous nature of the modern political and media environment.
‘A Book in Five Minutes’, no.9, 16th March 2022:
‘Rebels Against the Future’ (1995)
In the late 1990s, on the back of the rising and soon-to-burst dot-com bubble, the media often featured Kirkpatrick Sale. His 1995 book, ‘Rebels Against the Future’, presents a detailed history of the Luddite movement, and what that historic movement represents to our ‘modern’ society today.
‘An Anarchist’s Cookbook’, Part 5, New Sap Moon 2022:
‘DIY Oat Milk’
Contemporary ‘consumer’ veganism has an over-packaged/over-priced credibility issue. This is especially true of plant-based milks, and their impact compared to ‘DIY’ options. In this post I explore how you can avoid this by making your own oat milk – cheaply, easily, and with minimal waste.
‘Ramblinactivist’s Videos’, 2022/7, 9th March 2022:
‘Venus, the Crescent Moon, and a Blackthorn Winter’s Dawn’
I hadn't intended to make this video, but the images from the walk, and the especially the music, were bugging me. Sometimes the only way to excise such demons is to make them whole. The original Monplaisir music track sounds nothing like it does here, but with a little knob-twiddling I was able to recreate how I heard it in my head after playing the track a few times that week.
Banburyshire Rambles Journal, 1st March 2022:
‘Venus, the Crescent Moon, and a Blackthorn Winter Dawn’
Sunday 27th February 2022: Wednesday is the new ‘Sap Moon’, and right now Venus is the ‘Morning Star’. I decide to get out early as the two should be close together, sitting on the dawn horizon. Leaving the road at Weeping Cross I find the ground crunches beneath my feet – there’s a good frost just to add a little spice to what will be a clear, bright dawn!
‘A Book in Five Minutes’, no.8, 28th February 2022:
‘The Conquest of Bread’ (1906)
Peter Kropotkin’s 1906 book doesn’t just challenge the power elite. At its core it challenges the general approach of ‘the left’, and the left's infatuation with lofty ideals rather than the basic needs and conditions of the people.
Long Walks & A/P, Part 5, Imbolic 2022:
‘Ancient Roads and the Wroxton Fingerpost’
There are events and periods of history that are not talked about; they raise difficult, political questions about that history. Viewing how the past has created the world as it is today, with all its perceived faults, can be a journey into that unspoken, ‘taboo history’.
Banburyshire’s Ancient Sites, Imbolic 2022:
Most people speed past it along the A422 Banbury to Stratford road. Even if they notice the monument, they may not realise what it is. When you get up close to ‘The Wroxton Fingerpost’, though, if you really think about it, it’s telling you a story which – in the modern context – seems to make no sense.
The ‘Meta-Blog’, no.19, 1st February 2022:
Fuel Poverty, the Cost of Living Crisis, and Climate Change – A Data Blog
Finding solutions to immediate problems and our future needs requires some difficult decisions, and if not thought-out, short-term thinking might create contradictory responses.
Free Range Network, 21st January 2022:
A New Year's Message to the Muggled Masses: For the last few years the Free Range Network has been rather 'quiet', for a whole number of reasons; with the world finally grinding back into motion following the populist pandemical paranoia, that period is now coming to an end. It’s time to 'reboot' – time to try a new approach.
‘A Book in Five Minutes’, no.7, 19th January 2022:
Forty-two years on from its publication, Bill Devall’s paper and its clear critique – now realised in the predicted failure of the movement to make change – deserves a much greater audience.
Banburyshire Rambles Journal, 1th January 2022:
Wednesday 22nd December 2021: I saw the sunrise yesterday morning, but was detained by events later that day and couldn’t go out to greet it. Out well before dawn this morning, the scene was immeasurably better as I was greeted with clear skies and a good frost.
Ramblinactivist’s video, 1st January 2022:
Another dawn, another frost, and hence cause for another walk. Except this time there’s an added impetus: The Winter Solstice. The landscape, now asleep, will wake in the coming weeks to give a new Spring, another Summer, and the promise of an Autumn with a harvest of roots, fruits, and seeds. Our ancient ancestors knew that, and marked its significance.
Banburyshire Rambles Journal, 19th December 2021:
Can't sleep. It's 6am. It's frosty outside. Only one thing to do: Go for a walk. I pound through the town centre and head east towards Nethercote and Overthorpe, to catch the frosty sunrise across Warkworth and Astrop.
WEIRD, Thinking Beyond Technology:
An edition for the long dark nights on why a radical change to property rights in Britain is essential to changing our global impact, looking at UK 'land rights' in the context of the ecological crisis, not simple land ownership.
Banburyshire Rambles Journal, 8th December 2021:
This is what I like to call ‘a quick around the block’ walk. I realised that being near Solstice, the sun would set roughly down the line of Canal Lane between Warkworth and Bodicote. I headed out not expecting much, but the gathering cloud provided quite a spectacular scene illiminated by the sunset and dusk.
Ramblinactivist’s video, 29th November 2021:
Out to greet the first hard frost of the Winter, I wander east to see the frozen sunrise.
Banburyshire Rambles Journal –
Banburyshire’s Ancient Sites, November 2021:
The remains of a large, ancient enclosure sit above a large groups of springs in a local hidden valley. Though not well preserved, it’s a lovely location to pause and take-in the surrounding landscape.
Ramblinactivist’s video, 17th November 2021:
It started out as just a walk 'around the block' to view the slowly fading colours of Autumn. It ended up as something a little more out of the ordinary as the temperature fell and the mist rose. Earlier that day I'd been listening to a lovely piece of free improvisation by Daniel Triunfo, ‘Mental Break’. As I walked into the dusk, spotting planets and stars, somehow the music just seemed to fit with the mood.
‘A Book in Five Minutes’, no.6, 7th November 2021:
A book which traces an arc of how the shift from Feudalism into Capitalism, via the reciprocal Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, not only changed the landscape, but also created many of the social ills that still afflict society today.
The ‘Meta-Blog’, no.18, 25th October 2021:
This is an over thirty-year long story about my involvement with contaminated sites, and helping communities to get action to clean them up. This tale is innately connected to my home town, Banbury. It’s an average small town; a backwater on the border between the Midlands and the South East. Yet in the 1980s, this place taught me about the issues of waste and land contamination. Not because it was exceptional, but because these issues affect communities across Britain.
Ramblinactivist’s video, 7th October 2021:
Walking the ancient Roman Salt Road east from Banbury – a diminutive relic of its status to the west of the town – I consider how property rights and land access continue to define our relationship to “the land”, and hence “this Land”.
‘A Book in Five Minutes’, no.5, 4th October 2021:
Murray Bookchin foresaw the rise of consumerism, and the changing dialogue in society towards a politics of ‘post-scarcity’. ‘Post-Scarcity Anarchism’ is an anthology of Bookchin’s essays around this theme.
The ‘Meta-Blog’, no.17, 2nd October 2021:
Britain is to become part of a US network to ‘dominate space’. The UK government are promoting this as a way to create greater ‘security’ for our technological lifestyle. The reality about what this system is for, and the US military’s strategy behind it, is somewhat different to that public message of greater security.
Ramblinactivist’s video, 23rd September 2021:
Walking into the twilight of an Autumn Equinox, I forage for blackberries, and try to see just how far I can push my video camera into low-light conditions.
WEIRD, Thinking Beyond Technology:
A special edition on the white-heat of eco-research about British consumption 'on-the-never-Neverland'. In summary: We are not in a situation of having ‘problems’ with ‘possible solutions’; we are in a ‘predicament’ with only a few, mostly unwelcome ‘outcomes’ to choose from.
‘A Book in Five Minutes’, no.4, 20th September 2021:
I think there are very few books that you can truthfully say, ‘this book changed my life’. When I first came across it almost forty years ago, this one changed mine. It explained clearly to me what it was I needed to know to eat well.
‘A Book (or report) in 5 Minutes’, no.3, 15th Sept. 2021:
Each morning the Sun comes up. We instinctively know this. The problem is that in the modern world, people sometimes find it difficult to tell the difference between: Natural phenomena – like the Sun rising; and the grandiose myths we tell ourselves – like the functioning of the economy.
‘A Book in Five Minutes’, no.2, 8th September 2021:
The most effective books are able to transcend time; by applying a relatively broad, well-observed analysis of the roots of complex issues in the past, that continue to have relevance today. This is such a book.
‘An Anarchist’s Cookbook’, Part 4:
Preserving food is not just 'cooking'; preserving food requires that you think about the future. Hence why growing and preserving food can be a window into planning a new future.
‘A Book in Five Minutes’, no.1, 1st September 2021:
Published in 1972, and shrouded in controversy since that date, ‘The Limits to Growth’ is the most successful econometric projection ever made, and a groundbreaking ecological book that the environment movement itself has a deep-seated fear of discussing in public.
The ‘Meta-Blog’, no.16, 28th August 2021:
Did you know that, weight-for-weight, potatoes can store more energy than lithium-ion batteries?
Ramblinactivist’s video, 22nd August 2021:
This track has been brewing for some time; ever since I saw Boris' presentation to the world – representing us! – where in setting the stage for how we are going to tackle climate change he attacked 'mung bean munchers'.
Ramblinactivist’s video, 19th August 2021:
Some days you wake up with a bass riff in your head and it just won’t go away. It has to be exorcised…
The ‘Meta-Blog’, no.15, 12th August 2021:
YouTube has become a warped subliminal marketplace; a confidence trick of misdirection. Digitally disembodied people pretend to be your best friend, while the platform they use fleeces your computer of as much information as possible in order to commodify your soul.
‘Radical References’ No.2, Lammas 2021:
Written three-hundred and seventy-two years ago, this prologue outlines some of Gerrard Winstanley’s key phrases and ideas. It’s about the importance of action to create change rather than ‘just talking about it’, and the unwelcome reality that too many people talking about change delays the achievement of it through direct action.