Camp protectors evicted, legal observer arrested, and the fight far from over!

The short version is that Dart Energy have been given permission to test drill for a fracking site about a mile-and-a-half from where I live.  We’ve had a camp of protectors on the site since.  On Friday 21st, a judge in Manchester gave them 24 hours to leave the site.  Yesterday, the National Eviction Team came with heavy police support to evict them.

By the time I got to the camp road at about nine, the police already had it blocked and three officers stood guard. Walking to camp I passed a police van and another three officers.

Bailiffs stood in the camp, wearing hard hats and black jumpsuits streaked with mud. A dozen police officers milled outside the camp. The peaceful protesters supporting the camp from outside came armed with cameras and phones and over a dozen of them watched the site. But we chatted about the cold and the mud and made sure the kettle was always full of hot water. And we chanted and sang our support as comments from the live feed were read out. The number of cameras grew and included some folks from the news, the BBC and Daily Post included.

Half-a-dozen police officers in high-vis jackets mill around the site

Dread bag, our guy. Nipple hat, their guys.

All attempts by the supporters I saw to talk to the officers and bailiffs were met with silence. I saw an officer trying to clean the mud off his shoes in a puddle. I laughed and told him it was a lost cause, and didn’t even get any acknowledgement I existed.

Some time in mid-morning, one of the legal observers turned up to cheers from the supporters. He tried several times to enter the camp, and was turned away by both the police and the bailiffs. He explained to them, again and again, that he was an impartial legal observer with a legal right to watch the eviction. He was threatened with arrest by the police, who refused to answer questions about what he’d be arrested for. He was threatened with arrest by the bailiffs, and he reminded them they didn’t have any powers to arrest him. The supporters demanded he be let in, that the legal rights of the camp protectors be respected. We were met with silence by the bailiffs and police both.

The observer breeched the fence twice. The first time the bailiffs roughly pushed him back over into a crowd of waiting police officers. The second time, the bailiffs grabbed him by the shirt, march-dragged him across the field, and bundled him over the other side of the fence. I didn’t see how he landed, but I did see feet waving above the crowd of bailiffs’ heads. Police officers lead him down the road to one of their waiting wagons, assuring him that he was being detained, not arrested. We soon found out he had been arrested as soon as he was in their van, charged with ‘behaviour likely to cause a breech of the peace’. The bailiffs, who assaulted him and breeched the peace, received no detention and no arrest. I’ve found out since that the observer was released without charge when the eviction was over.

A crowd of police officers and bailiffs surround a man in an orange high-vis jacket as he's bundled over the fence

He was charged under the ‘stop hitting yourself’ law, which would allow the bailiffs to press charges for the damages his face did to their fist.

Teeth chattering, I took up a spot by the ever-burning fire and tried to get the feeling back in my hands. The roadside support tent was as well stocked with tea, coffee, and biscuits as ever, and we lamented the lack of marshmellows to cook, discussed the varying shades of veganism, and about how we needed to upgrade our fire bucket to an old washing machine cylinder.

It was another few hours before the bailiffs escorted out the first camp protector. The supporters whooped and cheered as he came over the fence. He came out peacefully, on his own two feet, and as full as fire as ever. Over the next half-hour or so, all the remaining protectors were escorted peacefully from the site, and all greeted with whoops and hugs.

Then someone called out that the bailiffs were emptying the camp, and people should come and collect anything that belonged to them. The supporters were only too happy to. They collected their belongings, walked across the road, and set them up in the new camp. Glancing around at all the officers and bailiffs, it did strike me as a lot of effort to move the protectors twenty-five yards away. As the last of the belongings were passed out the camp, someone called out, “hey mate, can we have a few of them pallets for over here?”

A crowd of solum, silent men in black jumpsuits stand in the muddy camp field, and stare out.

And when the bailiffs come back, we’ll be waiting for them!

Where do Character Go When they Die?

*** Spoilers follow ***

Where do characters go when they die?

It’s a question that dogs me. I know where flesh-and-blood people go when they die: whatever funeral customs are observed, they get returned to the ecosystem that they came from, that’s nourished them their entire lives, and then the Sun swells up and we all become stardust again. Parts of them live on in memories, expressions, habits, all taken in and made part of other people, just the same way we take in food and air and liquid and make it part of ourselves. Flesh, action, and thought, we are all part of the same ecosystem, we are formed from it, remade by it every moment of our lives, and then return to it.

A man smokes a marijuana joint during a march in favor of the legalization of marijuana in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, June 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)

We’re all, like, part of some great cosmic being, man…

But fictional characters, people who aren’t flesh and blood… Just because they’re not fleshy doesn’t mean they’re not ‘real’, and so don’t matter. In the end, we’re all going to be stardust. Nothing we do, think, feel, or make will last forever. So what matters is here, and now. What matters is what we’re thinking and feeling, if we’re happy or sad and why. All we have is our experiences of the world around us. And, when we connect with someone, they become an integral part of those experiences. They become a thread in the tapestry that is us. And there’s no reason why a fictional character can’t be just as important as any other thread. In fact, there are fictional characters that are far more important to me, far more integral parts of my tapestry, than a lot of flesh and blood people.

But these people don’t have fleshy bodies which break down and become part of the ecosystem again. And they’re even really dead–all I need to do is flick back to the beginning of the book and they’re alive and well. So where does that leave them? Trapped in an ever-repeating, never changing set of actions that I can flick through at my will, are they little more than animated gifs?

A .gif of a dancing banana

… not the touching tribute I was hoping for.

Well of course they’re not. Any work of fiction is a conversation between author and reader, the story hanging between them like the third body in a relationship. And although the words may not change, the reader will and so their side of the conversation will and, so, the third body will. So a character is not just one character. They are different every time someone new comes to their story, and different every time someone old returns to it.

Like a lot of humans, I find stories comforting. Here’s a story about fictional characters that makes me feel a bit better: a fictional character is like a river. As a reader or viewer or listener or whatever, we wade into the stream, dip in our cup and take a drink. Part of the river becomes part of ourself. But like any river, it is never the same when we return to it we can’t drink the same cup of water twice. But no matter how much we drink, how sweet or bitter or painful the drinking, the river will always flow.

I don’t know if that will comfort me next time I can’t read or watch because I’m crying. There’s still part of me that needs to know where Nighteyes and Hazel are. Much like there is a unique part of every person, some combination of parts to make whole that is lost when the parts are separated, there is a unique combination of parts which make a character. You can never visit the same river twice.

A photo of the American Falls, one of the Niagara Falls.

And the Niagara Falls are retreating at a foot a year in an attempt to sneak across the boarder to Canada without a TSA agent stealing their laptop and giving them an anal probe.

And so, I’m still left wondering: where do fictional characters go when they die? What happens to their soul? Perhaps if I had an answer to that, mourning them would be easier.

 

Smoker from here, and my apologies to him.  Weed’s never made me think like that, it’s just made my brain go mushy.  Dancing banana from here.  Niagara Falls photo from here, and there’s some pretty cool photos in there of the American Falls completely dry.

Blog Hop: Accessing the Future

*Blows dust off the CSS*

It’s been a while.  Know what I love about nature?  You leave something for long enough, dandelions and clover will grow through the cement, seeds will grow from the cracks and in a few years you’ll have a new ecosystem.  You leave an Internet space for long enough and it just gets buggy and eventually falls apart, good for nothing.

Anyway, it’s taken something far more interesting than me to get me back here.  The Future Fire are crowd funding a new anthology, Accessing the Future:

“This anthology will call for and publish speculative fiction stories that interrogate issues of disability—along with the intersecting nodes of race, nationality, gender, sexuality, and class—in both the imagined physical and virtual spaces of the future. We want people of all abilities to see themselves, as they are now and as they want to be, in our collective human future.”

 A stained-glass bird's wing, gray and blue feathers on a red background

Pretty damned awesome idea.  Sci-fi has a habit of erasing disability–science fixes us and makes us all able-bodied!–or just plain ignoring it entirely.  I’ve found that there’s no ‘fixing’ my depression and so I’m working to make it part of me.  Not a disease that needs to be cured, but part of my identity, without pride or prejudice.  After all, why go through my life hating part of me?  Maybe it even has something of value to offer to me.  Something beautiful I would never have if it was ‘cured’.  Perhaps people with disabilities feel the same.  In a genre that’s supposed to be all about exploring new world views, it’s criminal that any non-able-bodied world view has been erased and ignored for so long.  Who knows what beauty, or experiences, we’re not sharing?

Anyway, in order to help spread the word, The Future Fire are doing a blog hop where authors talk about their latest work in progress.  After being nominated by Jo, and then Allegra, and even being name-checked in the Future Fire’s blog, it’s probably time I hopped onto my blog…

 

 1)  Tell us about your Work In Progress (WIP) / Current Read (CR) and the world it’s set in.

Journeyman mages travel a pre-industrial land, looking to be hired by rich patrons.  The dead are angry and not only attack the living, but launch raids from the Otherworld, stealing crops and possessions and burning houses.  With one foot in both the physical and the Otherworld, the mages can protect their patrons far more effectively than the apprentice-produced charms the common folk have to rely on.

The narrative character is John Sunwish, a journeyman mage who should have stopped travelling and taken up residence in a college as a master years ago.  But he craves master to serve, and is following an unarticulated voice he hears in the wind to find them.

The story started as a way for me to explore my own submissive nature.  I’d far rather be a background character, someone who supports a main character on their shoulders.  In the version of DS I’m familiar with, the submissive surrenders a portion of control over their life to their dominant.  In return, the dominant ensures the submissive’s emotional needs are met.  By taking away a portion of the submissive’s responsibility for meeting their needs, the dominant eases the constant, sometimes overwhelming, pressure, cuts through the Gordian emotional knot the submissive can’t hope to start unpicking.  Almost every single story I’ve encountered says we need to be the main character, we need to be independent, stand up as individuals, serve no one, be an island, be in full control of ourselves and our lives.  I don’t want to be, and so I wanted to write something that said it’s okay to be a bit character, that it’s okay to want someone else to help you manage your emotional needs.

 

2.   Who are the most powerful people in this world?

The mages hold the living world in their hands.  It’s because of them that the Otherworld doesn’t destroy the living world entirely, that the dead don’t over run the living.

There’s no one more hated and despised in society than a mage, and no art or craft so reviled as magic.  When a journeyman mage becomes a master, they stop traveling and stop the grotesque act of actually performing magic, instead studying it and teaching it to the apprentices.

If they wanted to, the mages could rule the world.  So non-magical society ensures they internalise the idea they are low, disgusting, unworthy.  They drive wedges between mages so they don’t organise and talk to each other; the internalised self-hatred is easy projected onto other mages.

A nuclear explosion, the mushroom of fire rising and topped with a halo of smoke

In lots of magic systems, mages can make matter with a snap of their fingers. This is roughly the amount of energy science needs to make matter. You’d better bet that any group of people who can do this with a snap of their fingers could rule the world if they damned-well wanted to.

So social power rests with merchants.  The political and social system is kind of underdeveloped at the moment, both because it’s not important to the story I want to tell, and because the story is still in a first draft.  The ‘country’ the story takes place in is a series of independent city states and affiliated towns and villages, connected by trade and common culture.  Each city state has it’s own political system, but the merchants control the flow of goods between them and so control who has grain and cotton and silk.  Maybe there’s even a merchant’s guild, a kind of cartel that could bring a city state to its knees if it wanted.

 

3)  Where does their power come from?

As ever, it’s who you know that counts.  Born into the right family, move in the right circles, have a lot of money to begin with and you’ll do well.

I’ve not done a huge amount of research into how these sorts of societies operated historically, so I’m mainly going on guess work and assumption.  It’s a dangerous combination.

However, the power of the merchants comes from the fact that everyone has basic needs that must be met for them to live.  And, once those basic needs are met, they have other needs they come to believe are basic and come to believe they have a right to expect to be met.  The city states are too populated to be self-sustaining and, even if they were, there would be luxury goods people would demand as a right.  With no overall authority to forcibly move goods from one area to another, the market decides.

 

4)  What physical and/or mental characteristics underpin their positions of power?

They need to be able to travel long distances in horse-drawn carriages, on horseback, by barge or by sea—none of which make for an easy journey.  So, a degree of physical resilience is needed.  They also need to be able to adapt to different climates and different diets.  As I’ve done no research what-so-ever into disability in pre-industrial societies, I’m not going to make wild stabs in the dark about what is and what isn’t possible.

They also to be able to get on well with people, to socialise, to convince people do work for them and do business for them, so a degree of neuro-typicality is needed.  ASD, social phobia, some types of PD would all be a serious hindrance to schmoozing.  You also need a dulled sense of empathy—after all, your profit comes from someone else’s loss.

Scrouge, as played by Michael Caine in The Muppets' Christmas Carol

Mankind should have been my business…? You’re right… There’s lots of money in the slave trade!

 

5)  How does this affect the weakest people in the world?

I’m reluctant to say that the mages are the weakest people in the world.  Socially, maybe they are—everyone else, no matter how low, can point and say, “at least I’m not them”.  But they’re fit, able-bodied, strong-willed, insightful, and have a grasp of human nature that can only come from seeing the Otherworld.

So the poor are probably the weakest.  Those who, for whatever reason, can’t work and don’t have a rich, sympathetic family to support them.  They are never going to meet anyone from the right circles and don’t have anything like the money to make it on their own.  I should imagine there are a fair amount of beggars who literally live on what people throw into their bowls.

As in our world, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  The rich rig the system so they stay rich and there’s bog all the poor can do about it.  Maybe some of the city states have a social security system, either state or privately owned and funded.  Maybe some have a social expectation that those who can’t look after themselves will be looked after by their community.  Maybe in some vagrants get chopped up and used to fertilize crops.

~*~

 So, that’s my blog hop.  I now need to educate myself about disability in historical settings, especially in Europe from the middle-ages to the Victorian era.  And I then need to make sure that I include more of what I learn in my work.  So, my thanks to Djibril and Jo for helping me to realise that.

Now, I’m supposed to nominate three other people.  Unfortunately, I can only think of three people to nominate and two of them have already nominated me.  So, Katie Casey, I nominate you!

~*~

In other news, I’ve spent the last month or so learning to draw and have a Fur Affinity and a Deviant Art page.  Check them out!

Nuclear explosion from here.  Scrouge from here.

Humans: the Civilised Animals

I like reading books that blur the line between the human and the animal. Things like Watership Down, or Call of the Wild. Or the current book I’m reading, Royal Assassin (book 2 of the Farseer trilogy). Watership Down and Call of the Wild are both written from the point of view of the animal, personified enough to have a narrative view point. The main character of the Farseer trilogy, Fitz, has the ability to share thoughts and senses with animals.

In every single book I’ve read where animals have a voice, there’s a marked disdain for civilisation. There’s the recurring idea that our society and cities are unnatural, that our way of life is stilted and artificial, that what we need to do is tear away the veneer of civilisation, of polite society, and get back to the basics of eat, sleep, kill, survive. That those are the only truths in life and we humans smother them in manners and concrete.

A supermaket isle, special offer signs having off every one

Civilisation: eat; sleep; consume. DO IT NOW!!

There’s a fairly new movement out there called Uncivilisation. They believe that our current society is unsustainable and deeply damaging both to us, and to the ecosystem we live in. Both beliefs I share. However, there’s also a strong current in the Uncivilised movement of ‘civilisation bad, wild good’. There’s the same mantras of unnatural cities and societies, of the only truth being in eat, sleep, kill.

I’ve been reading the Tao Ti Ching over the last few months. (It’s taking me a while to get through, because I read a couple of pages and then have to think about them for a few weeks.) The basic thrust seems to be that the entire world is an illusion, and you need to learn to look past it to understand the truth of the Tao (the way, or path). It makes a lot of sense: once you start saying, ‘x is good’, then there must be ‘y is bad’ otherwise ‘good’ is a meaningless term. Because the basic definition of ‘good’ is ‘not bad’, and the basic definition of bad is, ‘not good’, both concepts are entirely circular, so both are illusionary and can be discarded. Human beings are microcosms of the universe, and so the Tao is inside us. We simply have to be still, and listen.

I don’t know about the Tao, but ruminating on the Tao Ti Ching and poking the illusion that is what we normally call reality has made me more aware of what’s inside me. Under all the thoughts and angst and narratives I’ve internalised. Once we have found the Tao, we must work with it. Like working with the grain of wood when carving something. So I’ve been trying to work with the grain of me.

And so I’ve been thinking about this, ‘wild good, civilisation bad’ thing.

First of all, I’m not sure animals would be quite as disdainful of our civilised lifestyles as these authors imagine. “What? So… you sit around all day, and someone else kills your food and brings it to you, someone else builds your shelters and your beds, you don’t have to worry about weather, or famine, or being ill, you don’t have to kill to keep your children safe, you don’t even have to walk anywhere… And all you have to do is obey a few silly social rules? Dude, that sounds fucking awesome!”

Staffordshire terrier puppy and gray cat. Isolated on white background

We have that already! And all it cost us was our balls and fallopian tubes! … No. No it wasn’t worth it.

Secondly, human brains are incredibly plastic. They are designed to re-wire themselves to best exploit the environment they are in–and ‘environment’ also includes the bodies that they’re in. Society and circumstance change our brains on a biological level. So it’s impossible to describe any human tendency as ‘innate’. By the time time we’ve been out the womb three months, it’s already impossible to separate nature from nurture. We are Nature’s wild cards.

However. We do seem to have a definite tendency to form complex societies. We form groups, and those groups adopt customs, beliefs and expectations. Those groups tell stories, share experiences, share crafts, create art, acquire and record knowledge.

Society, if not ‘civilisation’, seems to be part of the grain of humanity. All that stuff which keeps us away from eat, sleep, kill is the stuff which makes us human. While we deny part of ourselves, there will always be a lingering sense of dissatisfaction.

So this, ‘let’s get back to the wild! Get back to honest living! Eat, sleep, kill!’ isn’t a solution. The wild/civilised dichotomy is a false one: part of the human ‘wildness’ is civilisation. A return to a beast-life is no more a solution than eating nothing at all is a solution to not liking broccoli. ‘Wild’ is defined as ‘not civilised’, and ‘civilised’ as ‘not wild’…

A mediveal woodcut of a woman throwing a baby in a stream along with the bathwater

Look on the bright side, kid:  at least you’re never going to have to eat broccoli.

So what is the solution? Find out what needs our civilisation leaving so unfulfilled that there’s this repeating desire to throw out the baby with the bathwater and run around the wood howling at the moon. The Uncivilised movement is having a fair crack at that, or at least parts of it are. And me? Of course I’ve got to do the same thing. Macro and micro are illusions and doing one without the other is like making a cake with half the ingredients.

Neutered cat and dog from here.  Supermarket from here.  Woodcut from here.

I, For One, Welcome Our New Evil Overlords

I’ve just rewatched the extended trilogy, and I’ve realised that I have a problem with Lord of the Rings. Well, there are many problems, but I have a different one.

A shot from the end of Lord of the Rings, Gollum sinking into the magma of Mount Doom

Gollum sinks?! This franchise is dead to me!

Let me just let you know where this is going to eventually end up: I’m going to forgive it and go back to loving it. When I first read the trilogy I went away and created my own epic fantasy world, and wrote two novels set in there. It captivated and inspired me. I’ve come to terms with Star Wars and I’ll no doubt come to terms with Lord of the Rings.

Now, back to getting my hate on. Actually, wait, one more thing: I’ve not read the Silmarillion, the appendixes, or any of the additional works. I’ve read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and I’ve seen the movies. So that’s what I’m talking about here, because stuff like this should never happen in the first place, let alone be patched up in obscure ‘bonus material’.

First, who the fuck awards the contract for making rings of power to a guy called ‘the Dark Lord’, who operates out of somewhere called ‘Mount Doom’? Frankly, you deserve what you get. If your characters stare at each other and say in hushed voices, “Evil McEvil the Lord of Evil from Fuck You Mountain betrayed us…” I’m not going to have a huge amount of sympathy for them. All it would take is Gandalf taking one minute to say, “he was not always known as the Dark Lord. Once, he was called Sauron the Ringmaker and his skill at the forge brought likes of Mr. T and Sonic the Hedgehog to his Mountain of Gold and Fire.” Then I might feel a bit sorry for Elrond instead of wondering why on Middle Earth everyone thinks he’s so wise, and making Mister Anderson jokes.

Elrond facpalms

He… he gave me mate’s rates. It seemed like such a bargain at the time…

And talking of the rings of power, there’s something even more fundamentally wrong with them. Here’s Gladerial’s introduction at the beginning of Fellowship of the Ring, the very first words in the film trilogy:

“The world has changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost. For none now live who remember it. It began with the forging of the great rings. Three were given to the elves, immortal, wisest and fairest of all beings. Seven to the Dwarf Lords, great miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls. And nine, nine rings were gifted to the race of men, who above all else desired power. For within these rings was bound the strength and will to govern each race.”

So each and every time Gandalf, Aragorn, Elrond or anyone else talks about the ‘free people of Middle Earth’, what they’re actually talking about is a people enslaved to the ringbearer of their people. The ‘free people’ of Middle Earth live under a magical, despotic dictatorship. So now my choice of sides to cheer for becomes the magical despotic dictators, or the guy trying to overthrow the magical despotic dictators (MDD from here on). The MDD have labelled their opponent ‘evil’ and keep saying he wants to enslave the world, but when have despotic dictators ever said, ‘the opponents of my regime actually have a good point and maybe we should listen to them’.

Creating a clear ‘us and them’ line is an incredibly effective way to manipulate people. “We are Good. Anyone who is not Us is Evil. I decide who is Us, and who is Them.”

Seriously, when does Sauron actually do anything evil, other than have ugly servants? Does he really command Saruman to create an army to wipe out the world of men, to commit genocide? We only have Gandalf and Aragorn’s word for that. The only thing we actually hear from Sauron himself is “build me an army worthy of Mordor”.

The MDD hardly benevolent dictators. The only currency they understand is war. A leader must be a warrior, a fighter and a killer to be worthy of rule. The head of the vanguard is the only true place a king belongs. And all the thousands who follow him into the battle? The more who die, the more glorious the victory. And that’s the only use those of ignoble birth have. They are little more than cannon (… sword?) fodder for the nobles to play out their war fantasies. What drives a people to willingly throw themselves on the swords of their enemies for the glory of their unelected, unchosen leader? Maybe a magical ring that compels them to obey…

The power of the protagonists narratives (all the protagonists, with the exception of the hobbits, are nobles) extends beyond politics, magic and reason. In the third film, Merry rides into battle with the Rohirrim. The entirety of his martial training consists of a few seconds of holding his sword out for Boromir to hit. And yet, there he is, in the thick of battle, cutting down orcs who have spent their entire lives learning the art and craft of war. Anyone not of noble birth is there to fall upon the sword of the protagonists, to increase their glory, to prove the protagonist’s right to rule.

During both Helm’s Deep and the Battle of Gondor, Gimli and Legolas actually keep score on how many people they’ve killed. It’s literally a game to them.

The Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Day, 2012

Losers!  LOOOOOO-SERSS!

The whole story looks a lot less heroic when you realise it’s the enslaved people of Middle-Earth fighting to keep their war-obsessed MDDs in power against the free, but ugly, peoples of Middle-Earth rising up after centuries of being slaughtered simply for the crime of existing.

Oh, and one last thing: the Witch-King’s, ‘no man can kill me’. But a woman can. So, presumably, could an elf of either gender. Or a wizard. Or a dwarf. Or a hobbit. Or a horse. Or rat. Or a particularly bad cold…

So, yeah, there are problems with Lord of the Rings and right now, I can’t help but see them. Problems that make it more than an accidental exercise in privilege, that make it propaganda for white, male, Anglo-Saxon power founded on violence against those who don’t fit the ideal. Will I forgive it? As I’m white, male, Anglo-Saxon and raised until I was nineteen in Surrey, I’m pretty much the ideal audience for Tolkein’s Deep England bullshit. Maybe I’ll just have to learn to live with it’s ugly, ugly flaws until someone else makes a film just as epic with just as amazing battle sequences. And the book? I dunno. It’s going to take quite something to get me to read over a thousand pages of fail. Especially when there are plenty of alternatives out there.

Gollum sinking into the magma from here.  Elrond from here.  Cenotaph from here.

Nature vs. Nuture vs. Suicide

A study by researches at Indiana University in Indianapolis have found a possible biological indicator of suicide risk:

“Because of the brain’s complexity and inaccessibility, the search for predictors of suicide risk has instead focused on molecular signs, or biomarkers. These biomarkers help to indicate which people are at even higher risk… When the biomarkers were combined with clinical measures of mood and mental state, the accuracy with which researchers could predict hospitalizations jumped from 65% to more than 80%.”

As far as I can tell, the science reporting seems sound enough:  there’s no dramatic claims; there’s discussion of the methods and actual results; there’s the obligatory ‘the sample size is very small so more research is needed’.

As someone with both genes and suicidal thoughts, it feels as if I should have something to say about this.  I think perhaps the most I can manage is that the critical phrase in the entire article is, “When the biomarkers were combined with clinical measures of mood and mental state”.  There’s something in our blood that environmental factors may activate.

The combination of DNA and environment is not a surprise.  Our brains are plastic and re-wire themselves to best exploit our environment so, really, the line between nature and nurture is fuzzy at best.

A child stares at the camera, deeply bored

Pictured: lack of surprise

I’ve had this tab open for a while now, trying to work out what I want to say about it.  But the simple line I keep coming back to is, “I’m not broken, I just have a fault line other’s don’t have”.  If I even have these biomarkers.  It’s entirely possible my suicidal thoughts are entirely environmental.

So I guess the take-away is that what breaks me may not break you.  It’s not entirely my blood’s fault, or my brain’s fault.  It’s just something that happens.  And if my greater risk can be identified, I can take greater precautions.

And now, because depression is kind of, erm, depressing… cats!

Bored child from here.