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Sunday, April 03, 2016

The Machine Stops

From today you have 23 days left to listen to The Machine Stops, a dramatization of the short story by E.M. Forster.  If you have never read the short story (and aren't likely to) I recommend it.  Otherwise make for the text of the short story, which is available here.

I first read The Machine Stops as a teenager in the 1970s.  It seemed then like a lot of science fiction, partly futuristic, but containing some language and elements which struck me as old fashioned, like many of the works of C.S. Lewis and other writers of that age.  It was written by E.M. Forster in 1909, and given that television and radio were in their infancy at that stage, he was able to imagine a world far ahead of its time.  That much was clear in the 1970s when I related the screens and sounds to tv and radio, but didn't really understand the irritation which minute delays caused one of the characters in the story.

The next time I read the story was in the late 1990s, when the internet had become a thing.  I got online in 1998, and soon recognized just how prescient Forster had been, with his imagining of the machine connecting people around the world having hundreds of messages from people in many different places.  Having started with a dial-up connection which often failed to connect me to the BBC website, one of the few UK places to have a website then, I understood the frustration and wish to hurry up by then.

Hearing the story in 2016, I realise that there is much I didn't understand in the 1990s which makes more sense to me now.  In 1998 I was very rare in the UK, writing a blog, uploading it via ftp to the Geocities website.  I was listed then in a list of blogs, and counted only seven UK blogs.  People would say "What's a blog?" and look puzzled if I told them.

The brilliance of the imagined world includes so many of the elements which apply to the internet and the way it works today.   In 1998 being able to attend Webinars was still in the future, and the rise of ideas and originality as a driver for success was still in its infancy. 

More than that, there was a message in the story which I believe was meant to warn us against polluting the atmosphere and making the world into a hostile environment.  The modern listener will immediately conclude that nuclear war has made the surface uninhabitable, but of course the invention of nuclear weapons was not to come for another 20 years when Forster wrote his story.  The industrial wastelands of the north of England and industrial towns elsewhere in the world may have given him reason to believe we might be heading in this direction.

Today I fear that we face a choice, between the continuation of fossil fuel reliance or putting our all into the development of renewable forms of energy.  Our country doesn't have long to take that decision between investing in a future world which can sustain life, and one in which we have ravaged the environment in the search for cheap fuel.  Already in America there are towns subject to poisoned water, increased earthquake activity and pollution from fracking, which have reason to regret allowing corporations with money to direct the policy they follow.

I worry that we are being swept up by a machine comprised of corporations which have mission statements that amount to "make money" which are blind to the damage they are causing, annd the human cost of the pursuit of wealth in the short term at the cost of our futures.  Indeed, the government machine in this country is busy crunching up the poor and disabled and spitting them out, in the pursuit of an ideology which has been dreamed up by rich people who have never had to search down the back of the sofa in order to buy a pint of milk.  They don't understand life in poverty and think that everyone has a support network which will pick them up when the state sanctions the benefits you rely on for food and heat.

Perhaps the message of the story is that we should all beware giving up our human compassion, human life, human failings, in favour of a perfect machine, whatever that represents.

Tum-ti-tum-ti tiddly no more

I used to love the Archers.  I'd listened all my life, initially unintentionally, because it was on in the kitchen in my childhood, and then gradually by choice.  I enjoyed the everyday story of farming folk, and it seemed to me to be fairly true to life - the occasional argument, the odd accident, the ebb and flow of normality and a window into a rural life where it was necessary to get up at 5 am for morning milking or do the night shift in the lambing shed.

I felt affectionate about the characters in the programme, and the way that they matured over time, the antics of Nigel the upper-class twit and tearaway in the local mansion gradually giving way to Nigel the responsible landowner and Nigel the family man.  It was easy to listen to, gentle and entertaining, on a Sunday morning over bacon and eggs, and seemed as English as afternoon tea.

It has to be admitted that the programme began dramatically with fires and disaster in the 1950s but it had settled into a very happy and beloved institution where things seemed normal... a balance of good and bad, nice and less nice, as you find in real life.  With added farming detail.

Then, they drafted in a producer from soaps and everything changed.  There started to be more dramatic events than normality.  Everything suddenly became fly-on-the-wall and first hand, instead of dramatic events being gossipped about over the counter in the village shop, or at the village pub.  Nastiness crept into relationships, and more and more drama was injected until there was nearly no-one in the village who didn't have a difficult relationship or difficult life.

Where the programme had been used throughout its run, sometimes a bit cackhandedly, as a way of informing the public or the farming community about government initiatives or  current concerns in farming, they didn't seem to want to use the dramatic storylines to inform the public in other ways.  Most of their social interest is skin deep nowadays.

The end really came for me when they cynically pushed Nigel off a rooftop, for dramatic effect, not because the actor wished to leave or the storyline called for it, but just in order to punch up the drama.  I hated that, and really I haven't been able to listen to it consistently since.  I felt they'd crossed a line into the type of soap on tv like Eastenders, where constant misery is an excuse for ever more dramatic events, usually centering around a celebration like Christmas or Easter.  Yay!  Happy Christmas, we just ran over/burned/decapitated a beloved character....

I've tried to come back, but instead of the easy, gentle listening experience which used to be the omnibus on Sunday morning, it's become a teeth-clenching, awkward, unhappy event.  I usually last five or ten minutes.  This morning it was two before I was driven to rant in my blog.

I'm sad that the programme has been taken in the direction of Eastenders.  I'd like the original programme back, but I've stopped listening.  It seems to me that Radio 4 has gone in pursuit of another type of audience, and I don't fit the bill any more.  Which makes me sad, because Radio 4 used to be everything I wanted from a radio station - and Radios 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 don't fit the bill for me, not at all.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

All is one and one is all

Twenty-one years ago I was walking down uxbridge High Street with my daughter in a pram.  I wasn't thinking particularly spiritual or meditative thoughts.  It was an ordinary day, the high street in Uxbridge is always busy during the day and there were people everywhere around me.

One moment it was normal, and the next minute I was floating high above the market house in Uxbridge, aware that I was a part of God and all that is, and also myself.  I could discern other individuals there with me, but I was distinct from them.  There wass overwhelming peace, love, all those things which people who have hd a peak experience talk about.

My attention was turned towards the love I felt towards everything around me.  It's held together with love, that's what holds it in the material world.  I realised it wasn't love towards my fellow man or the birds and other animals only, but love towards the roof tiles, the bricks, the things we think of as inanimate, everything that forms part of the world we live in and beyond.

I have always had a conviction that we - humans - are all connected, and that some people are able to access the consciousness which runs beneath and connects us, but it came as a shock to realise that the oneness of all extended to the inanimate things of the world.  I was at the same time the consciousness that was loving the material world and the consciousness which was surprised by the fact that the love extended to bricks and roof tiles.  I was both at once and myself.

I do not know how long the experience lasted, and I don't know what my body was doing while my consciousness was off in the sky.  I do know that since then I have not had to be convinced of the oneness of all, I have experienced it.  I know it.  It's not something I know intellectually, I know it in my heart.

I don't remember if I told anyone about my experience at the time.  It took a while to process.  But when I did share it some years later, I got such a negative reaction that it was years before I shared it again. 

When terrible things happen, like the bombing in Brussels, the shootings in Paris or the constant bombings in Iraq and Yemen currently, I feel the sadness and pain that the families of those killed and maimed in the bombings have experienced, and I feel the desolation that it causes for those who are close or far from the blasts.  I know that we are eternal beings and so for the individuals who have been killed, they have been, as Penn says, turned over from time to eternity. 

I believe that when we die we experience our lives from all perspectives and experience the impact of the things we have said and done, from all angles.  I pray for the people who blew themselves up and those who are contemplating doing the same, as they are about to experience the oneness of all, and learn the consequences of their actions.  Who would need a hell?  Experiencing first hand the pain and grief that they have caused in their lives will be punishment enough. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Christian Country

The Prime Minister likes to appear on television around thie time of year to tell us that we are a Christian country. I suppose before you can judge what a Christian Country might be, youd have to come to some agreement about what being a Christian is, and from years of inviting in the people who come to my door to tell me what their version of Christianity or sect associated with it might be, I know that even individual members of the same faith community may have widely divergent views about it.

However, there's one thing that all versions of Christianity concur upon - yes and most other religions around the world. It's that you should treat other people the way that you would like to be treated. It's not good expecting others to be forgiving or merciful when you do something wrong or selfish or dishonest if you do not forgive others when they do similar things to you. The whole philosophy is included in the idea "love your neighbour as yourself".

 Can we say that we epitomise that philosophy? I used to think we did. We had a welfare state that cared for the sick, disabled, elderly and poor, and provided the with the means to live. Nowadays, when people have their benefits taken away from them because they didn't send paperwork they did send, or because they missed an appointment because they were in hospital with a sick child... nowadays I don't think we do. Would Mr Cameron want to be forced through constant assessments for his fitness to work if he had some sort of disability? Would he want to see his wife sink into a depression because she was treated like a skiver when she had cancer, or an amputated limb or blindness?

Of course that's never going to happen to them... but that's not the point. Christianity if it does anything at all, asks you to put yourself in the place of the other and imagine how you would want to be treated. And I don't think this is it. In any case, the idea that we have put all these jobs in the hands of private companies who make profits from the jobs that used to be done by civil servants and public employees, seems bad economics to me. If you have a limited fund of money then it ought to go on doing what you need to do and not on making profits for third parties.

The Conservative party have had a pretty easy time of it, as they managed to persuade the country that they were a safe pair of hands for the country and those profligate Labour people shouldn't be trusted. Except that isn't true, is it, Mr Cameron? Another example of unChristian behaviour, lying and spinning the truth in order to retain power. Companies are playing the game of transferring their HQ to other countries and paying little or no corporation tax, and Boots is one of those companies.

We should be insisting that they pay tax in the country in which their profits are made, and refuse to allow companies to play that game. The trouble is that the people in parliament are also benefitting from that arrangement and so it is unlikely to change soon unless we make it clear that's not acceptable. Personally, I think any MP who gains from those sorts of arrangements with family trusts or companie profits or even large shareholdings, should be disbarred from parliament. They expect people to pay their taxes... treating them the same as themselves would require them to pay their tax honestly too.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Being represented


 I was shocked to learn recently that Boots have moved their headquarters in order to avoid paying corporation tax in the UK. They have been sold and resold in the last few years and have gamed the system to stop paying corporation tax here although there hasn't been a big change in the number of outlets that exist in the UK, or the amount of business. I'd been thinking about the nature of representation in parliament anyway.

 The way that party politics in the 20th and 21st centuries has played out, it is easy to think that MPs and MEPs represent their parties and not the electorate, in parliaments, but that isn't supposed to be the case. They are there to speak for all of us, whether we share their politics or not. They are there to represent the interests of their constituency. That being the case, it is extraoordinary that we have the type of company laws that allow a company to play games with the rules and transfer their profits out of a country where they are made. In the case of Boots this is going to mean that the tax payer is supporting those people who aren't earning enough at Boots to pay their bills, and yet the taxpayer is gaining very little benefit.

What is the benefit to us of attracting multi-national companies who don't pay any tax in the UK? We seem to have reached a place where the ordinary person can be driven to suicide because the government has cut or suspended their benefits, and yet big corporations making billions in profit, are not pursued for their tax - or have been given concessions in the laws of the land that make it possible for them to pervert their company structure to take those profits elsewhere. Should this be allowed? Would most people in the country allow this if it were put to them? I'd expect not. So how have we been represented by people who do allow this? How have the laws of the land been changed to make transferring your assets to your wife and making her a non-dom, or transferring the HQ to a country where you have no branches, possible?

The TTIP is an agreement supposedly between the US and the EU, which is going to put in place a lot of rule which will be adopted in law, which allows companies to charge governments the cost of complying with new rules and regulations if they economically disadvantage the companies concerned. The question is, who benefits, and who is driving this agreement - it isn't the American government, who complain they are unable to see the text of the agreement except three hours at a time, and they aren't able to record the text of the agreement which in the EU is being brought under the 30 year secrecy rule. It isn't the EU who are under the same constraints, not able to read it except in three hour shifts, no recording, etc.

So who exactly is in charge of the agreement? And why should any representative who has the best interests of their constituents at heart, agree to it? I can't see any reason, unless they have a financial or some other self interest involved in the agreement. It is extraordinary that David Cameron has refused to make the NHS exempt from this agreement, and I believe that it will mean the end of the NHS if it is allowed to go through. I can't honestly see what we have to benefit from it, either. I've seen nothing except vague promises of trade with America, to justify signing any sort of agreement. Some countries already signed this type of agreement with america and have lived to regret it. If they have American companies selling power to their people and they decide to fix the tariff for electricity, the companies have to do this, but then they can sue the government for compensation equal to the amount they have lost.

 This applies to any change in law - so if we suddenly decided that, for example, all employees in noisy environments must be provided with ear plugs and headphones to protect their hearing at a lower noise level than is currently set... the companies would do that and then charge our government the full cost of implementing that change. Sound like something we should do? The TTIP includes in it the condition that secret international tribunals should decide on any dispute, and those tribunals will be able to impose vast fines on governments if they impose a change in the rules - however justified - which costs the companies money.

Why WOULD we agree to this? I cannot understand it. Why would we agree to keep the terms secret - shouldn't the population as a whole have a right to know what has been signed in their name? Why would we sign something we haven't been allowed free access to? Would YOU do this for yourself? You'd assume that if some shyster lawyer asked you to read a contract without taking any notes, or having a copy of it that they are trying to hoodwink you. But who is it doing the hoodwinking? I'm assuming it is the rich and powerful corporations in America.

And we shouldn't be even talking to them if they expect to impose these ridiculous constraints upon the process. And I don't understand why we are. If you don't agree with TTIP and you want your representatives in parliament and the European parliament to take the NHS out of the agreement - and not to agree with it, make some noise, write some letters, make a protest. AND DO IT NOW!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Fifty shades of Argument

Got into a twitter conversation - well it started that way - with someone about Fifty Shades of Grey and was put in the odd position of defending a film I hadn't seen and a book I don't have strong feelings about.  People declaim that 50 Shades is a bad book, but really no one who has ever read a Mills and Boon novelette could ever claim that it's the worst book.

It is neither good nor bad, but what it did brilliantly was to wrap up female fantasies of dark and handsome stranger, lots of money and shopping and someone who wants you for yourself despite the fact that you aren't their type.  That's pretty appealing and parts of it tap into most women's fantasies at some point.

I have always thought that was what the Spice Girls managed to do - whether you were pretty and feminine or feisty and sporty or blunt and slightly scary - there was a Spice Girl like you.  If they'd included a fat one they'd have been unstoppable.  As it was they pretty much cornered the market for a while.

They keep sending men to review Fifty Shades of Grey and that's never going to work.  They need a woman on the job.

People in the BDSM world are pretty cross about the misrepresentation of BDSM in the film, where the interaction between the two characters is actually the opposite of consensual, as the woman is not interested in the BDSM part of the relationship at all, and doesn't consent to it.  Also the idea that the reason Christian Grey is interested in BDSM seems to be some dark abuse in his past.  That's not the way it is... most BDSM relationships are enthusiastically consensual, particularly where someone who enjoys submission is matched to someone who likes to dominate.

A BDSM relationship is normally openly negotiated, which means that the couple discuss the things they will or won't do for each other, and where the boundaries lie.  It's much more healthy than a vanilla relationship where sex is never discussed and one partner may be extremely unhappy with their sex life but doesn't like to mention it.

The abusive, controlling picture of BDSM is certainly not the norm.  It seems to me that some people enjoy particular things in bed, and some people need particular things to function sexually.  What turns you on can be anything from ice to ball gags, but people (and it is generally men) who need a particular element in their sex life to be able to enjoy it, will normally seek out someone who shares their desire from the other side.

The idea in the book and the film is that he wants her for herself - never mind that she doesn't share his passion for BDSM, he wants her, and her alone, and will make sacrifices to get her.  That's a persuasive fantasy for most women.  She doesn't properly submit to his desire until she cares for him. And that, rather than the spanking and handcuffs frippery, is what made it so successful. That and the fantasy shopping.

Elves and the shoe destroyer...

Sometimes I think my life is the opposite of the Elves and the Shoemaker.  I go to bed with the kitchen in reasonable shape and then in the night some devil goes in there and creates a mess to clear up in the morning.  I think I know who though....

Afterlife studies

My children are very skeptical that there is anything but this material world.  When you're dead, you're dead as far as they are concerned.  My experiences in life have led me to believe that the material world is just part of our experience, and that there are things beyond the material.

I am now part of the Quaker Fellowship for Afterlife Studies, which includes a lot of people who have experienced the possibility that life continues beyond the death of the body. It's a relief to have contact with people who are open to the ideas... for whom I don't have to explain and argue for my beliefs before getting to discuss something I've read or heard, but who are prepared to believe that someone may have experienced death and returned to tell the tale.  My children's view is that if someone returns to tell the tale, they weren't dead.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Signs of age


Start the week with a bit of guilt and shame

Listened to Start the Week on Radio4 this morning as I sorted recycling for the tip.  The theme was guilt and shame, and there were a variety of guests.  For those unfamiliar with the programme, it consists of a presenter and a round table of topical people who have usually published books or directed plays, talking about a topical theme, or one drawn together from their books etc - or unusually just a series of discussions on the topics of their works.

Jon Ronson, one of my very favourite writers and broadcasters, was one of the guests today, as he has recently published a book about internet shaming.  Go and explore his website!  There is a lot to enjoy.  To be honest I didn't pay very good attention to the other guests which included someone who thought public shaming has its uses, a man who is directing an Arthur Miller play with a related theme, and an academic talking about Judas.  If you want to hear the programme it is on the iplayer, available free to anyone in the world on the BBC website, and I believe it is available as a podcast too.  Tom Sutcliffe is the presenter, who also presents Front Row from time to time and the Saturday Review, all worth listening to, and they keep me up to date with what's happening/coming out/hot.

They talked about public shaming, and refusing to be shamed, and the feeling of guilt, and whether Judas could be culpable for betrayal of Christ if it was part of God's plan.  What they didn't talk about, and what preoccupied me, was the idea that innocent guilt is impossible to assuage. If you are guilty of some transgression you can do penance, apologize all those other things.  The sort of thing I was thinking about was survivor guilt, rape victim guilt, the sort of experience which makes you feel guilty even though you have done nothing wrong. I suppose the ironic-tweet-that-everyone-took-seriously IS an example of this sort of guilt.

It occurred to me that the Catholic Church has always been very hot on guilt, while giving people an easy way out of their guilt.  Once upon a time you could buy your way out by paying for hapless monks to pray for your salvation, or you could buy indulgences, a sort of get-out-of-gaol-free card for naughtiness.  Then there are the other penances that people put themselves through - self-flagellation, doing pilgrimages, walking on your knees to a shrine etc.  My mind goes off at a tangent wondering if those count if you enjoy them....

Inevitably quite a lot of the talk was of the internet and its shaming tactics, but it seems to me that those are only skin deep.  I'm sure it is an uncomfortable experience to be shamed by the internet, but the ephemeral nature of the medium is that today's scandal is swept up and away through the stream of tweets and on to another thing.  It is different when people take their grievances offline too and threaten to kill or rape, or contact a woman's employers and demand that her head should roll.  That's of a different order altogether.  But for most stupid things said on the internet, they're here today and gone tomorrow.

The other type of guilt and shame... the things we did and regret, the things which were done to us and we feel guilty for, those things are ingrained deeper, but it is possible to let go of them.  If it is true that no experience is necessariy good or bad, it is just what we make of it, there must be a way to reframe the experiences which give us cold sweats in the middle of the night and make us hope for a large black hole to swallow us up.  Anthony Robbins talks of viewing an experience as though on a tv screen and shrinking it down, enlarging it, changing the memory.  Emotional Freedom Technique talks of running through the experience and changing it so that it no longer has the emotional power to control you.

In the end, guilt and shame are all tied in with what you believe about the world, and what you believe about yourself, and thus your way of handling it has to be individual too.  People, as someone once said, believe what they believe whether they like it or not.  It's true, and especially true of our memories of shaming or painful things.  It seems ironic to me that we might have more difficulty dealing with those things we haven't done - far more than those we did, which clearly point to the victim of our action and a means of reparation.

In the case of unwarranted internet shamings, where people have said ironic or sarcastic things and the irony has been lost in the translation, the ability to repair the damage is an ephemeral thing too... for although the twitter stream moves on, it entombs the things we have stupidly said, and they may take on a life of their own in a way that a scribbled note, letter, casual remark in the pub, never would have done. 

It's a good programme, thought-provoking, intelligent and interesting.  Listen!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snow news is good news

I once worked with someone who tried to get puns based on the phrase "no news is good news" into his stories.  He often succeeded, getting "no noose is good noose" into an article about rope making, and "snow news is good news" into an article on icebreakers. In memory of that colleague, Ted Crowley, I am using his headline for this blog post about weather forecasting.

I have followed Weather Action and Piers Corbyn for more or less the entire time I have been online, about sixteen years.  For those who aren't famliar with his work, Piers Corbyn is the wild-haired weather forecaster who runs Weather Action, a site which promises long-range weather forecasts to anyone who will pay their substantial monthly subscription fees. 

When I first came across Weather action, they were providing some short or medium range weather forecasts for free to the public, while they charged farmers and event organizers for long range weather forecasts.

Piers is a physicist who has developed what he calls the solar-lunar technique for predicting long-range weather forecasts.  He has documented the solar weather since he was a child and says that the sun has a greater effect on the weather pattern on earth than conventional forecasters realize.  He has allegedly offered to collaborate with the Meteorological Office on long-range weather forecasting, but declines to reveal his methods or subject them to peer review, and so they have refused.

He came to national attention as the only weather forecaster who predicted the sudden snowfall in December 2010 which brought the country to a halt.  He got considerable publicity as a result of that, because the BBC and other outlets were not predicting the heavy snowfall even a day ahead, and Piers had predicted it about nine months ahead.  He predicted the route and date of hurricane Sandy and was right about that, thus drawing some attention in the US as well.

His detractors say that these are flukes, that he is more wrong than right, and most damningly, that he claims success when he has failed and never apologises for his own mistakes while highlighting any shortcomings in the Met Office forecasts.

His supporters point to the many successes he has had with long-range weather forecasting and the fact that betting on his own predictions made him a profit in the years when he did that for the publicity value.  They say that commercial clients running farms and tourist attractions would not pay for the forecasts if they were wrong all the time.

Some months after the successful prediction of the snowfall, in October 2011, there were dire hints from Piers on twitter and on the weather action blog, of a storm surge to affect the coast of the Netherlands and the east coast of England.  Having a partner who lives in Rotterdam, I decided to buy the forecast to see what the actual prediction was.  I later realized that apocalyptic warnings of various types are stock in trade for Piers and Weather Action, providing click bait for twitter followers convinced that they must buy the forecast to understand what is about to befall them.  His infographics posted on twitter have to be seen to be believed, covered in capital headings and bold colours, exclamations and dire warnings.  He gives every appearance of having got his PR technique from the mad professor book of publicity.

The forecasts are pretty difficult to understand, and fairly vague in many respects, with different levels of confidence included in the forecasts, and comments about the date range for some pats of it. 

In the end in 2011, there was a storm surge, but it wasn't in the place it should have been and so affected the southern coast of England, and not the Netherlands or the east coast.  He claimed in his Autumn 2011 review to have been right about all major weather events, which is certainly not the case, unless you accept that floods predicted for the East Anglia, Netherlands and Belgium happening to be in Bournemouth instead is a "hit".  And there is the paradox about the whole service.  It seems to me that there is something to his solar-lunar technique and he is able to predict weather patterns and unusual events, but not with any accuracy or conviction which would make them useful to ordinary individuals.  The storm surge wasn't where it was predicted to be, and subsequent predictions have also failed to materialise:  of snow and ice last winter, and the hottest August "for 300 years" turned out to be fairly mild and not terribly warm.  He criticised the Met Office for their 2009 forecast of a barbecue summer which turned out to be damp and cold, but didn't apologise or mention his own failure in 2014.

Recent dire predictions of snow and ice have been wrong too, earlier this winter when the heavy snow apparently went to Holland and Germany instead of making landfall here, and for February 17-19, 2015, when Piers Corbyn warned of a period of diabolically cold weather, thundersnow and ice.  In fact in my area of the country it has been relatively mild, we haven't had the promised snow.  He noted that the snow might be delivered a couple of days late but it hasn't arrived, although it has become colder.  But then it is February.  I could have made the prediction that there might be snow, it would be cold and possibly windy.  Buying a prediction which says diabolical cold and snow is on the way only makes sense if it actually is.  If it doesn't arrive, or arrives in a different place or on a different timescale, it's useless.

From my observations I would say that it is incorrect to say that there is nothing to the Solar Weather technique, but it isn't accurate enough to be used for general weather forecasting and there is probably not enough evidence that it is a real mechanism for anyone to pay the website fees and buy the forecasts.  What irritates me most is that Piers Corbyn will jump on any defect in the Meteorological Office weather forecasts, and yet goes silent when he has got it wrong and advised the government to prepare for snowmageddon and it hasn't materialised.  It's fine to be critical of other people, as long as you apply the same level of discrimination and criticism to your own output - if you don't, you look like a charlatan.

I won't be surprised if time shows that there is some merit in Solar Weather Technique, but I shall be surprised if Weather Action is still in business when the time comes, frankly, unless it becomes a lot more reliable, and openly admits its mistakes when they occur.  At the moment, Piers Corbyn seems to be pretty much allergic to saying that he got it wrong - he always wants to explain why things were different from the prediction, or why it went the way it went, not realising that to a customer that part of things, the explanation,  is irrelevant unless you have apologized for charging them £25 for something which turned out to be a work of fiction.

He is a determined Climate Change denier, convinced that the climate change we are experiencing is nothing to do with CO2 and that man has not caused the changes.  He says we are in a mini ice-age, and is vociferous in his opposition to the idea of man-made climate change. I'd link to some more of the videos but they are pretty tedious, and mostly say the same thing: everyone else is wrong and doesn't understand what he understands.  The Weather Action channel appears to be dormant with the most recent videos having been posted more than two years ago, but Piers Corbyn's channel is still active.

I have some affection for someone who appears to be a great English eccentric of the old school, despite my criticisms of him and his company.  I expect Boris Johnson was glad he took his advice for 2010, but he may be less glad of the false alarms that have followed.