Wanderings of a Tired Mind

I am knackered. Didn’t sleep well last night and had to get up for a delivery so I might fall asleep before finishing this. It’s not likely to make much sense anyway, my mind is wandering like a wandering thing that’s completely forgotten where it intended to wander to. Tinfoil is optional but be warned, this is going to get strange.

And I’m even sober! I have plenty of whisky but if I drink more than a little bit I know I’m going to wake up slumped over this desk with Quasimodo Neck and a bad case of qwertyitis on my face. Also fifteen pages of random characters typed here that will take ages to get rid of. The worst example happened about 20 years ago when I was writing in Word and fell asleep on the spacebar…

First off – book update. Edits are almost complete for the submissions so far to the Christmas anthology (deadline is the 30th) and there are other books in process, plus the end of this month is author payments time. Not looking good, no bugger has any money for books at the moment, it’s all going on heating, food, petrol and inflation. I can sympathise, I just paid for a tank full of heating oil. Ouch! That wood burner is going to get a lot of use this winter.

Right. The wanderings were triggered by this

Okay, Hz/second (not Htz) is a giveaway that we aren’t reading a science nerd here, since Hertz units already have the time function in them, but the idea is interesting nonetheless.

There have been many reports of creatures of vastly different species suddenly running in circles. The mechanism causing it? I have no idea. I also have no idea whether the theories expounded here and in other places are true or not. But it did get me thinking.

If time were to accelerate locally, so that Earth rotated in 16 hours rather than 24, would we notice?

The obvious answer is ‘Of course we would. We’d have eight hours less every day’. And yes, indeed we would. But would we know that?

See, if Earth sped up to a 16 hour rotation while Time remained unchanged, then we couldn’t help but notice. However, if the increased speed of Earth’s rotation was a consequence of an increase in the speed of Time, we wouldn’t. It would still affect us but we wouldn’t know why.

Now it gets freaky. Consider spacetime as a unit, rather than ‘space’ moving through ‘time’. That makes time a fourth dimension in our three dimensional reality. It does not manifest as a spatial dimension but it’s a dimension nonetheless (envisaging four spatial dimensions requires a lot more whisky than I’m willing to consume at the moment!).

So we can move at will within the three spatial dimensions but we can only move in one direction in the time dimension, and we have no choice but to move through the time dimension at the speed it travels. No, I’m not going to talk about time machines, it’s much weirder than that.

There was a rather neat theory that considered gravity as a function of time. If we consider time as a dimension within spacetime, then like the three spatial dimensions, it would be warped near large masses. So, when falling, you accelerate towards the ground not because of ‘gravity’, but because time is accelerated as it approaches the ground and if you don’t keep up, you’d vanish into the past. It does rather neatly explain the atomic clock experiments where the ones sent out into space appear to run slower than the ones on the ground. They are actually running at exactly the same rate within their own frames of reference but the frames of reference are different.

So if Time speeds up and the Earth rotated at 16 hours instead of 24, we won’t see it. Within our frame of reference (the surface of the Earth) everything speeds up together. The clocks we use to measure time, whether analogue or digital or even atomic, are speeded up by the same amount as the rotation of the planet. They still measure one rotation as 24 hours because they are affected by the same time speed as the planet. Except now, an observer outside Earth’s ‘gravity well’ sees the planet spinning faster.

Within our frame of reference, nothing has apparently changed. Except… maybe we feel we aren’t getting enough sleep. Our bodies want 8 hours and they think they’re getting 8 hours but really they’re getting less than 6. We have developed within a particular spacetime set of rules and the rules have changed, but we haven’t.

Oh sure, life would adapt, but if the speed of time changed rapidly we might not be able to adapt fast enough. Things would seem to be happening much faster than we’d like and we wouldn’t understand why. Within our frame of reference, nothing has changed, as far as we can tell. The 24 hour clock is still 24 hours, we won’t see clocks spinning faster, we’d just experience sleeping far longer than usual or feeing much more tired than usual from not sleeping enough.

Things you’d expect to last a month might only last three weeks. Things you’d expect to take three weeks to complete might take a month. Otherwise, you’d still see a 24 hour day because your clock is in your time frame and it’s measuring sunrise to sunrise as it always has. You do not see a difference in time. You just have a feeling there’s less of it.

Has it happened? Personally I don’t think so. I would have expected at least one of the robot population of Mars to have noticed if it had. But… they are tied to earth time…

These speculations are fun but they are no more than speulations Story ideas. Nothing for those who live in the real world to worry about.

Assuming, of course, that there is a real world and it’s not just vibrations

Nikola Tesla would disagree 😉

Filthy Fake Food

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but during my time as a freelance Rogue Scientist I did a lot of commercial work for food companies. One, a small but growing concern at the time, had a preparation consisting of several (can’t tell you, I signed a thing) components that they wanted to add to a range of foods to see if they were beneficial. One of the components was a live bacterial probiotic. Perfectly safe, I’d worked with the same species they were using for many years.

One of the foods they wanted me to test was vegetarian sausages. I immediately pointed out that their probiotic will be killed by cooking because sausages need to be cooked right through.

“Oh but there’s no meat in it. It’s vegetarian.” It’s probably a good thing they asked me and not some shyster who’d have taken the money knowing that one part of the testing is not going to work.

You see, it doesn’t matter what sausages are made of, what matters is how they are made. The raw ingredients are mixed throughout so if there is any possibility of any contamination, it will be throughout the mix, not just on the surface. You have to cook it all the way through, and that will kill the probiotic, often faster than some of the potential pathogens. You cannot take a chance on telling people it needs just a light grilling because one day, a contaminated batch might slip through. If it does, your business is finished.

I did run tests on some of the other foods they wanted to add it to, the ones that didn’t need to be cooked, and the results were pretty good. Those preparations would still need testing for microbiological safety, but then everything does these days and at least their probiotic component wouldn’t be wiped out. Except in olive oil. Nothing grows in that stuff, and even bacteria deliberately added will soon disappear. I use it all the time now.

Unfortunately, the Thing I signed does not allow me to reveal any of the components of this stuff (it’s not the same as the stuff I’ve talked about before, it’s much more complex), I won’t even say the genus of the bacterial probiotics (although anyone who’s done any work in this area can narrow it down pretty fast). I can’t tell you who I did the work for or the name of the product. Those company lawyers really know how to shoot free advertising in the foot.

I have never had a problem with the existence of vegetarian sausages. Berating them is the same as saying ‘should lesbians be allowed dildos?’ or the PhD I once met who told me that vaping should be banned because it ‘looks like smoking’. We had just left a place where a vegetarian was eating sausages that ‘look like meat’ but as I was getting a lift home and it was a long walk otherwise, I declined to pursue the argument.

There is a ‘vegetarian bacon’ that almost, but not quite, looks like cheap streaky bacon. It’s been around for quite some time. I have no idea what it’s made of nor what it tastes like, I’ve never tried it. Never will. It doesn’t interest me. That does not mean I am ‘against’ it, it just means I won’t buy any. I’m quite happy with the real thing. But… if you’re vegetarian, why do you want something, anything, that looks like (and might even taste like) meat? I’m genuinely curious.

And so we come to the world of fake meat. There is a lot of it. You might argue that the mushed insect burgers are actually meat, since the insides of insects could be classed as a kind of meat. I’m not eating it. I don’t fancy picking cricket legs out of my teeth. Chitin, the outer hard shell of insects, is not digestible by humans and not even by insect-eating birds. They just crap that stuff out. It’s broken down by bacteria and fungi in the environment at a rate only a little faster than many plastics and if all humanity is shitting that stuff out we will very soon have a brand new form of pollution. But hey, that’s ‘Green’.

Then we have 3D-printed meatless meat, which is a very expensive way to avoid killing a cow. Except it doesn’t avoid that, because they want to kill all the cows so you have to buy the pretend meat. In my world, cows become food (and jackets and sofas) and their species continues. In their world, cows die for nothing, become extinct and they can’t 3D-print your jackets and sofas. Give it a little thought before you decide which world is better.

It is indeed a very strange and sickly shade of Green that has decided animals are bad for the environment. I really don’t expect their blue-haired idiot zealots to ever grasp that.

Finally we come full circle, to Beyond Meat who are producing fake meat from plants like it’s some kind of new idea. It’s been going on for decades and it’s never been a big thing because it’s a niche market. Always has been and always will be. Trying to make it mainstream was always going to fail, the existing niche suppliers could have told them that. Some things can only work as a small scale operation.

Look, I have no issue with wannabe vegans who want to eat meat-flavoured or meat-looking things. I do not care about companies producing fake meat for fake vegans. It’s their issue, not mine. It’s human nature – if there is a demand for it, someone will produce it. That does not mean the rest of us are forced to buy it. I won’t buy it but I don’t want to ban it. It is simply of no interest to me.

What does interest me is the discovery of Listeria and moulds in Beyond Meat fake meat products. Just like those probiotics in vegetarian sausages I spoke of earlier – just because a product has no meat, it does not automatically mean the product is safe.

In terms of bacteriological safety, meat is by far the safest option of all the options discussed here. When you get a steak, as long as the animal had no infection, the only contamination will be on the surface. A quick sear in a pan and it’s clean. No need to cook it right through.

Poultry is an exception – Campylobacter gets into the bird’s muscles so you do need to cook it right through. Salmonella can be all over the surface of the chicken but it won’t be deep in the meat. Campylobacter, like Salmonella, is killed by cooking but it’s in the meat, so make sure there are no rare chicken bits around. It has so far proved impossible to eradicate Campylobacter from poultry, so always cook it all the way.

Still (apart from poultry) there are no microbial contaminants inside the meat from a healthy animal. The only possible contamination would be on the outside.

Listeria is not part of the natural microflora of animals. It’s a soil bacterium and is an external contaminant. It’s not a good one to catch but it’s pretty easy to avoid. Sure, it’ll be on vegetables including salads – cooking kills it, washing salads will get most of it off and there won’t be enough left to cause any infections. Again, it’s only on the surface.

So why is it such a problem for plant based meats? Well, they do use a lot of plants and since Listeria grows at soil temperature, a contamination with it will be able to multiply in scraps of waste left around. It could reach risky levels – and if it does get into the mixture it’ll be all the way through, not just on the surface.

The same is true of any other contamination that gets into the mix. Not just on the surface but all the way through the finished product. Finding moulds and Listeria in a factory producing any kind of minced or mixed foods is a very bad thing.

So what about 3D printed meat, or insect derived meat? Same thing applies. 3D printing puts down layers, the risk of something landing between the layers can be minimised of course, but it’s there. And crushing, mixing and compressing insects is just as much of a risk as making a burger from mince – with the added caveat that the meat used to make the burger didn’t have the guts still in it. Really, nobody is going to sit at a table and gut ten thousand cockroaches. They go into the blender whole.

The potential for a really bad contamination with meats is low, other than poutry and any kind of minced meat. Putting it through a mincer will mix any surface contamination throughout the meat. However, these are known risks and easiy dealt with. Make sure the risky stuff is well cooked right through.

As the opening paragraphs pointed out, (remember those? It was quite a while ago) some of those involved in making vegetarian foods consider them to be a far lower risk than eating meat. In fact they can be a very much higher risk of contamination and unlike meat, the contaminants that can arise from very highly processed plant or insect material aren’t well known yet. We haven’t processed them to this extent before. We don’t really know what to look for and the food safety tests applied to meat-based foods are very probably looking for the wrong things.

These days, things get rushed to market without going through rigorous testing. Oh, they’ll claim they were rigorously tested and they probably believe they’ve covered all the angles but in reality, nobody knows what the angles actually are. These fake meats are unknown territory and if they do cause some new infections to arise, we’re going to have to find out the hard way.

Well I say ‘we’ but I mean ‘you’ of course. I’ll be over here taking notes and eating pieces of some unfortunate animal.

An animal I don’t want eradicated from the face of the earth.

Round 2

An interviewer once pointed out to Bill Gates that the initial terror over Covid had abated and people weren’t scared of this pandemic so much. Billy Gates Gruff, with his trademark smug-faced smirk, responded with ‘The next one will get their attention’.

All viruses are capable of mutating and, as they spread, they tend to mutate into less vicious forms. The reason for this is simple. The initial deadly version kills its victims fast and it kills at a high rate. People learn to isolate those infected – and the infected ones aren’t in any mood to move around spreading the disease. They are generally bed-bound.

A milder mutant, that doesn’t make people ill quite so fast, and doesn’t kill as many, is able to spread more easily. The infected aren’t all confined to bed, they might have a few days of spreading before they show symptoms, so that variant will spread further and faster before it’s noticed. If you catch that one (and survive it) it’s close enough to the original that you’re immune to that too.

So, the deadly original will gradually die out, the still-nasty-but-not-quite-as-bad variant will throw out another, less dangerous variant, and the process continues until the virus becomes no more than an inconvenience.

Of course, this doesn’t always happen over the course of one infection season. It can take decades, or even hundreds of years, depending on the mutation rate of the particular virus. There will be a few that might never get weaker until after we all go extinct. Most, however, will.

Respiratory RNA viruses mutate so fast that they will soon, often over a spell of years rather than decades, join the ranks of viruses that cause the common cold. This is good for us and also good for the virus. The cold is a mere inconvenience – but if the virus remained deadly, then, as with smallpox, we would go all out to eradicate it from existence altogether. We get annoyed with cold viruses but we aren’t going to have a massive program to wipe them out. It wouldn’t work anyway, there are so many different ones now and new ones keep appearing.

This is clearly happening with Covid although it’s complicated by the lunacy of mass vaccination with a lousy vaccine while the virus is highly active. It’s what happened with Marek’s disease in poultry and I’m not going to go over all that again.

The decline to a relatively harmless variant depends, a lot, on how vicious the little sod was in the first place. Covid started with a kill rate of less than 1% of those infected, no worse than flu, so it won’t take long to decline into a cold.

Ebola is a whole different ball game. And we have a suspected case in the UK now.

There is some evidence to suggest that it’s declining in deadliness with new variants but this bugger started with a kill rate of up to 90% of those infected. It’s now down to around 50% so it’s still a very very long way from being described as ‘mostly harmless’.

Of course, the case might not be Ebola. It has not been confirmed. Early symptoms are similar to a lot of other common illnesses, like Shigella, the gut-emptying shit-through-the-eye-of-a-needle bacterium. That little swine can be common in crowded places, like schools, because it’s so very contagious. It doesn’t last too long outside the body but it just takes one carrier to grab that toilet door handle without washing their hands and… kaboom. Literally, for the next poor bugger to grab that handle.

If it’s Ebola, it progresses from feeling terribly ill to wishing it would hurry up and kill you. I mean, you might think ‘man flu’ is really bad but that’s a stubbed toe compared to Ebola. Your chances of getting out of it alive are roughly 50/50 and there might not be much left of you if you do. You will start to spontaneously bleed, internally and externally. Every drop of that blood is infectious. Nobody wants to touch you. Even your decaying corpse will remain infectious for years.

But… it’s not as bad as it sounds. You’d have to come in contact with the bodily fluids of someone infected in order to get this. It’s not airborne. Although it can be in droplets from, say, sneezes, it’s not free-floating like a coronavirus. If you have a mask that stops droplets, it can stop droplets containing Ebola. It still won’t stop a free-floating virus like Covid but if we get an Ebola outbreak, Covid will be nothing more than a welcome excuse to isolate yourself from the disease-riddled zombies.

Now, when I say ‘bodily fluids’, I know exactly what you filthy minded lot are thinking. Trust me, if you do get this thing, you are not going to feel up to emitting that particular bodily fluid. It’ll be in every fluid that comes out of your body. Spittle, urine, faeces (these are not normally considered a fluid but if you have this, they will be), tears and sweat. In the later stages, it’ll be in the blood that leaks out of everywhere.

I suspect sweat would be one of the biggest spreader sources. Why? Well, Ebola outbreaks are mostly in equatorial Africa, where it’s always hot. It’s never appeared in Scotland where a really warm summer is when it gets above 20oC. If you want to get really sweaty here you have to put quite some effort into it. At the equator I suspect you start to sweat from the effort of opening your eyes. I would certainly be incapable of drying myself there.

Here, north of the Ice Wall, touching someone who is sweaty results in ‘Ewww!’ It’s not normal to us. I can envisage that, living in a place so hot that everyone is sweaty all the time, it would feel just as odd to touch someone whose skin is dry. Well, you know, I speak as someone who avoids most contact with pretty much everyone most of the time so I can’t claim to speak for everyone here.

Anyway. If you have a disease spread by bodily fluids – including sweat – it’s going to have a much easier time spreading in hot countries than in cold ones. If you want to get Ebola in Scotland you’re going to have to find someone willing to sneeze, bleed, pee or shit on you and while I recognise that those things aren’t entirely out of the question in certain places, for those of us living in the rurals it’s not really an issue.

If you live in equatorial Africa, you just need to be in a crowd of equally sweaty people. Brush against someone, you have a thorn prick or insect bite in your skin, it’s in. Gotcha. People don’t tend to wear multiple layers there because it’s so warm. In Scotland the virus will have to get through layers of clothing to reach your skin and those layers also make us pretty much thorn and insect proof too.

So, yes, Ebola is a very, very nasty disease but it is not a winter disease. It’s not like the respiratory viruses. It really needs a warm, preferably hot climate to get going. It needs people to actually touch, and without layer upon layer of clothing in the way. Winter is the least risky period for this disease. Certainly in the UK and definitely in Scotland.

So, I know they have an mRNA pretend vaccine ready to go. I’m not taking it. And I won’t be taking any PCR tests for something that, if you have it, you know all about it. It’s not asymptomatic, this one hits you like a speeding truck. You have a 50/50 chance of survival.

That’s actually a lot better than what you get by interacting with modern medics.

No Qatar

I have absolutely zero interest in any format of the various kick-ball games out there. Not even in stick-ball, which is very popular here in Scotland and not even in my native land’s ‘run with an almost ball shaped thing and slam it down at the end of the field’ game. They all seem entirely pointless to me.

I have, however, been somewhat entertained by football’s decision to host the world cup in Qatar. It is a highly religious country – and I don’t care about religion either – so there has been much ribbing of virtue signallers like Gary with Ears like Walker’s Crisps and so on, who are all happy to take money to go to a place that does everything they virtue signal against.

The stadiums are built with slave labour, many of whom have died during construction, but apparently that’s all the fault of us honkies. There are no human rights there, there is only Sharia law and if you aren’t Muslim, or even if you are a Muslim woman, you’re less important than a goat. But all that is fine when there’s money on the table for the virtue signallers who claim to be against these things.

I have seen US and UK football idiots complain that there will be no booze available. I am waiting for the reactions when they find out there’s no pork chops or bacon rolls available either. They have actually used the phrase ‘but it’s our culture’ and these cretins have never grasped that it only applies in countries that are dim enough to let people claim that shit.

Qatar does not. It is a Muslim country. If you go to their country, their laws apply. No booze. No bacon. No wandering around drunk with your moobs on display, resting on your hairy belly and flapping in the breeze. Mere seconds spent on the internet would tell you what to expect if you go there. It’s not rocket surgery.

The thing is, it’s what the West expects now. Our countries have bent over to take it without lube for every immigrant’s ‘culture’ and people truly expect a reciprocal arrangement. There isn’t one. There will never be one. We’re just suckers.

Nigeria has banned the use of white actors in TV adverts. You will have no trouble imagining what the blue hair brigade would have to say if we did the opposite here in the UK. We wouldn’t anyway, there are now a lot of non-honky Brits and have been for several generations but just imagine the reaction.

I have never been to Qatar and probably never will visit. Two of my favourite things are whisky and bacon and those are both banned there. I have no problem with that. It’s their country, they can run it how they like. But it’s not my kind of place and they won’t like me so the simple solution is to just not go there.

It might, however, teach a lot of our own idiots a lesson. All this ‘It’s my culture, innit’ crap does not apply universally. You can claim it’s part of your culture to drink beer and eat pork sausages when watching football but when you go to a country that doesn’t want those things going on, no fucker cares about your ‘culture’.

Get it into their heads, and maybe they’ll see the claims of ‘it’s my culture to rape children/slaughter animals in my backyard’ etc differently when they get home. Just maybe, a few of them will see what’s really going on.

It won’t affect the blue haired screamers, of course, since their pipe cleaner limbs don’t allow them to get involved with anything harder than charging their phones and their minds have atrophied to the point where a dessicated mushroom scores higher than them on an IQ test… but it might get through to those the blue hairs have spent decades indoctrinating.

One last thing – so many Western football clubs are going with gay iconography on their planes and football strips.

They really should have looked into what seriously Islamic countries will do to them.

There is going to be an incident in Qatar this year. The provocation will be intense and it is likely to get a harsh response. There will be much hand wringing from the well paid virtue signallers, but nothing will be done.

It’s their culture, innit?

UPDATE: Apparently it’s worse than this. The booze ban only applies to the paying plebs. The VIPs, many of whom have their jollies paid for by the very taxpaying plebs who cannot now have a beer, will still be downing champagne and wine in their Virtue Boxes.

So it seems ‘It’s my culture innit’ does work for a very few. Just not for those paying for it. I suppose we should be used to that by now.

Apocalypse soon

So, a couple of missiles have landed on a tractor in Poland. They were assumed to be Russian but they are S-300 SAM missiles. Both sides use them. They don’t have the range to reach that tractor from Russia. Since both sides use this ageing hardware, it seems more likely they came from Ukraine.

Well, the rocket in question does not have the range to have come from Russia, It’s also one that Ukraine uses to deal with incoming cruise missiles from Russia and that could be why its debris landed in Poland.

So. If Russia is really losing badly in Ukraine, as popular news proclaims, (incidentally, the war is on the opposite side of Ukraine from Poland) why would they want to bring NATO into the fight by bombing a Polish tractor? Why would they want to escalate to WWIII if they are already losing?

I suspect the Polish landing was a stray Ukrainian missile. Those SAMs are old enough to have a lot of failed shots, misfires and strays.

Of course, the warmongers are already drooling over turning the planet into glowing ash. They think ‘We’ll nuke Russia and of course they, and their allies, won’t nuke us back’. Fucking idiots. You start this and the ending is the stone age but with shorter lifespans, if anyone is left alive at all.

It looks to me like an accidental crash of a misfired rocket just over the border between Ukraine and Poland. It is, of course, terrible that two innocent Poles were killed but I don’t think that was intentional. Making it into a new world war is the part that’s actually evil. Pretending it was a deliberate Russian strike against a Polish tractor is, frankly, derisory. And yet many will fall for it.

This is all politics so the loonies in charge can get what they want. More war-money and power.

If they get what they want, they will be ruling over a world of ashes.

Text Message Scams

Two new text message scams appeared this week.

First, ‘Hi mum, I broke my phone and I’m using a friend’s, and it’s an emergency’. Respond and they’ll ask you for money which they’ll ‘pay back’. Nope.

I ignored it. If it was really a kid in trouble they’d have tried again. They didn’t.

Second, ‘Someone accessed your Amazon account, if this was not you go to (dodgy website that clearly has nothing to do with Amazon)’. This one arrived on a phone number that isn’t linked to my Amazon account so that was easy. If in doubt, check your email. Amazon always email if there’s anything suspicious, and they’ll address it to you by name.

I expect everyone, by now, has seen the ‘We tried to deliver your parcel today but you weren’t home, and it’ll cost you a trivial amount to have it redelivered.’ They don’t care about the trivial amount. They want your bank/credit card details. I’ve never heard of any delivery service – especially not Royal Mail – who charge for redelivery.

Text message scams are on the rise. Watch out! Some are very plausible and well made, others are so amateurish you’d be mortified if you fell for it.

I’m sure they’ll think up some new ones soon.

Musings

It’s been a busy – and somewhat expensive – few months. Son in law’s stag do in Newcastle, CStM’s father’s birthday in Denmark, then Daughter’s wedding to son-in-law, and finally (and least expensively) Mother’s visit until yesterday. Also several car fixing events caused primarily by its inactivity during lockdowns. It should now be all over until the car hits MOT and service time in December.

So, there is an awful lot in the news, by which I mean the real news, not the MSM propaganda. I haven’t had time to process most of it. Very little of it is good news.

I was, however, brought back to musings on the atheist position – ‘if there is a God, why doesn’t he just show himself and stop all the bickering?’ It’s a valid argument but if there is a God he can’t do that. It would bugger up the experiment.

Before I say any more, let’s make my position clear. I adhere to no religion of any kind, but I don’t call myself ‘atheist’. I am an apathist. There might be a God or a whole pantheon of gods. Or not. I don’t care. If he/they exist, they will judge me on how I conducted myself in this life and not on whether I went to a particular church. If they are so shallow as to insist I had to beleive in them to live a good life, I don’t want to know them.

As for Satan and Hell, well I don’t care about that either. So they have no hold over me.

I’ve said often that whether you believe in Satan and associated demons or not really doesn’t matter. Those who do believe will sacrifice you anyway. Whether it’s real or not, you end up just as dead. Don’t fear Satan, fear those who believe he is real.

As for the argument ‘you should believe in God as a safe option’, well that won’t work. I don’t believe. If I pretend to believe and it turns out there is a God, he’ll know I was faking it all along and that’s likely to just make my eternal punishment worse. I’m better off being honest about it, I think.

Which brings us to the crux of the argument. As Douglas Adams wrote, ‘I refuse to prove that I exist’, says God, ‘because proof denies faith…’ …and it also refutes free will. Which is the experiment I mentioned. One very important detail in any kind of experiment is that the experimenter must have no influence at all over the experiment while it is in progress.

So. Adam and Eve were kicked out of Eden, where they were in direct conversation with God. He gave their descendants free will – Adam and Eve didn’t have that, they had met God in person so didn’t need to believe. We now have free will. I imagine God wondering what we would do if he just let go and let us do as we pleased. If God is real, I don’t think he’d be happy with the result. Although the book of Revelations suggests he was expecting exactly what has happened.

All of Adam and Eve’s descendants had free will to believe or not believe in the existence of God. Sure, he turned up now and then to those like Moses and Elijah but only when they were alone, so the ‘belief’ experiment still works. Someone tells you a burning bush gave them the plan for all life? How would you react? Elijah’s descriptions of angels sound like a bad LSD trip.

You have the freedom to believe in an omnipotent God who created everything, or to not believe. It is entirely your choice. I have chosen to be in the control group who believe nothing. Others have chosen to take the belief route. Maybe they are right… but which one is the real god? What if nobody follows the real god and we are all going to Hell anyway?

What if… all the things that happen here are our problem, and no god is coming to save us?

If there is a God, he cannot reveal himself without wrecking the free-will experiment. If God suddenly appeared in your local shopping mall, well that throws belief out of the window, and free will along with it. You could no longer be an atheist when you’re face to face with an actual God. Although, free will does let you say ‘Oh, it’s just some homeless nut with a Gandalf beard’ but I think the rapid-fire miracles (like, say, the sudden apearance of a honest politician) might sway you.

So God, like a good scientist, has to remove his influence from his experiment or it can’t work. He has interfered a few times but only with individuals, never with whole populations. We still have free will to believe or not believe what those individuals reported. The atheist insistence that he show himself to everyone would ruin the experiment so he can’t do it.

So, at the end of the blog post, the question remains… is there a god? I don’t know. Maybe the religious are right, maybe not. I will not argue about it for one simple reason.

I don’t care.

Entertainment – The Calling Pill

While our new Prime Monster is busy installing his cabinet of all the talentless (really not much different from any other in recent times), let’s have a story to take your mind off it all.

This one is in ‘The Hole in the Veil‘, and it’s a bit early for Halloween but there’s a lot going on here at the moment and I might not have time on actual Halloween. So, here’s an early spooky treat 🙂

The Calling Pill

Mortimer sat on the edge of his hospital bed. The new medication didn’t seem to do much, he’d had three doses and his chest still hurt like hell. Still, he supposed Dr. Blackthorn knew what he was doing.

A movement, quick and dark, seen from the corner of his eye, made him turn his head. There was nothing. There never is. I’m imagining things. Probably from being cooped up here.

Another movement. Mortimer ignored it. And another. He clenched his teeth, determined to ignore these silly hallucinations. Then the sounds started.

Whispered words. Faint laughter. They seemed to come from all around him. This is new. I haven’t hallucinated sounds before.

Most likely it was some passing nurses, out in the corridor, their conversation faintly echoed from the stark bare walls of the room. Mortimer raised his eyes to the ceiling as he stretched his neck.

Something dark and indistinct stared down at him. Mortimer blinked. It must be a shadow – but how does a shadow have eyes? The shadow moved across the ceiling, then more of the shapeless black things appeared. Deep black eyes stared at him from shifting, formless bodies.

The shadows opened mouths filled with needle sharp grey teeth. Mortimer clutched at his chest, his already damaged heart racing. The whispering started again, this time accompanied by an occasional cackle or a hiss.

Mortimer tried to cry out, but the pain in his chest made even breathing difficult. He had no voice beyond a weak croak. The shadows detached from the ceiling, sprouted ragged wings and flew at him.

Mortimer thrashed at the creatures, trying to get enough breath to shout for help. His chest constricted in agony, the pain shot along his flailing arms and into his head.

Around him, the shadows circled in the air, whispering and chuckling. They swooped at him, never quite making contact, but close enough that he could smell their sewer breath.

His pulse pounding in his forehead, Mortimer stood and tried to get to the door. If he could get into the corridor there might be someone who could help. The shadows flew faster and faster around him, confusing his already blurred vision.

He sank to his knees, tears streaming down his face. His arms continued flailing around but more slowly. They felt like they were filled with lead and pain. The whispering grew louder although he could make out no words. Shadows took turns to swoop at his face and hiss, their teeth snapping shut just short of biting into his skin.

All Mortimer wanted at that moment was an end to this torment, and his heart provided just that. Stretched beyond its breaking point, it gave up and stopped beating. Mortimer fell onto his face, eyes open and drying in the dehumidified hospital air. Just before his brain shut down, he watched the shadows scramble at his face, desperate to inhale his dying breath. The silent darkness forming in his vision felt like one last blessed relief.

***

Doctor Ignatius Blackthorn popped open his cigarette case, took one out, lit it and took a long slow draw. He blew blue smoke into the air and addressed his audience of four.

“Well, gentlemen,” he said, “I think that was a quite convincing demonstration, don’t you agree?”

Three of the men opposite nodded their agreement. The fourth looked quite pale. That fourth man, Edward Thackeray, rubbed his hand over his face before speaking.

“It seems a somewhat inhumane way of killing someone. Is it ethical?”

Blackthorn could have snorted in derision but he maintained his outward calm. “Killing people at random can hardly be described as ethical, now can it? And that’s what we are discussing here. Besides, hidden cameras in hospital room breaks the ethics code right from the start.”

Thackeray ducked his head. “Of course, but it doesn’t really have to be so brutal, does it?”

“Well,” Blackthorn rubbed his chin. “It does look pretty brutal, but when they are found we want it to look like a heart attack. The drugs weaken the heart first, then the, ah, hallucinations induce the attack. They are found dead but there are no marks on the body to suggest foul play.”

Another man, Jeff Simmonds, raised his hand. “What was he seeing? We saw him thrashing around before he died but we couldn’t see what he was fighting against.”

Blackthorn ran his tongue over his lips and took a quick puff of his cigarette. “Hallucinations, brought on by the medication I gave him. Nothing for anyone else to worry about.”

“Indeed.” Samuel Vandt held a sceptical look. “We are aware of your interests in things that might not be properly termed ‘modern science’, Dr. Blackthorn.” He held up his hand. “Notwithstanding that, my question concerns the medication. If it is given in a pill form does it not eventually – ah – drop out of the other end, so to speak?”

“No.” Blackthorn took one last drag and stubbed out his cigarette in what appeared to the others to be a fake skull cap. “The contents of the pill are absorbed into the bloodstream where they assemble into the device required to produce the effect we desire. The effect can then be triggered by merely pushing a button and since pretty much everywhere is connected to the Internet now, that button can be pressed on the other side of the world.” He grinned. “You can take out one person or thousands at one press. As long as they have taken the medication.”

“And if they haven’t?” Tyler Ross spoke up. “How do we get the masses to take this stuff, and what do we do about those who refuse? There are going to be some.”

“Oh I’m sure there’ll be many.” Blackthorn sat back in his well-padded chair. “It won’t matter. It’ll eventually be in their food and their water. They won’t even know they had it.”

“But not ours, I hope?” Samuel Vandt narrowed his eyes.

“Of course not.” Blackthorn grinned. “Even if it was, you’d still need to press the call button to trigger the… effect.”

“I think we’ve seen enough.” Simmonds rose and buttoned his jacket. “You will of course furnish us with the necessary codes to target this weapon, and the means to trigger it?”

Blackthorn’s grin widened. “As soon as the balance of the payment hits my bank account. You will find it a very easy weapon to operate, so you will be able to remove any, ah, obstacles to your plans without arousing any suspicion at all.” He raised one finger. “As long as your subjects are not in public, or on any kind of camera, when you press the button. You really don’t want film of how they die making its way onto the internet.”

“Hell no.” Thackeray shuddered. “I don’t even want to see it myself. Better to just imagine that pressing the button turns them off.”

“That’s best. We don’t want anyone getting suspicious.” Vandt reached out to shake Blackthorn’s hand. “You’ll have the money by close of business today. When can we expect our deliveries?”

“They’ll arrive by private courier within moments of payment. I won’t be leaving any paper or digital trail, you understand.” Blackthorn shook the man’s hand. “Also, as long as nothing goes wrong – and it won’t – this is the last time we’ll meet in person. Goodbye, gentlemen, and I wish you well in your endeavours to create your brave new world.”

***

Alone in his office, Blackthorn considered his cigarette case. It was maybe too soon for another dose of his special blend, but what the hell. He had cause to celebrate. He reached for the case.

A shadow covered his hand. Dark eyes, black in black, stared at him. Grey pointed teeth smiled.

Blackthorn sighed and withdrew his hand. “You are right, of course. Too much can be bad for me.”

The shadow chittered. Blackthorn smiled. “Oh, don’t worry, my little incorporeal friend. You and your family will soon feast and grow. They will call you to those they think oppose them, and you will taste the final air to leave their lungs. There will be so very many.” He closed his eyes and sighed. “So very many. Those men think they will own the world. They think I’ve just sold it to them but they simply cannot grasp that their money is of no relevance here. It’s just part of the game. As long as people think it’s all about the money, they’ll never think to look for any other motive.”

The shadow chittered again. Blackthorn opened his eyes and ran his hand over the black-smoke wisps of its being. He smiled as the shadow curled around his fingers.

“You will grow stronger and bigger, and one day you will rival Baal’s Harab-Serapel. You will be glorious and powerful and nothing will ever be able to stop you. Moloch is going to be delighted with our work.”

The shadow purred.

Blackthorn took a deep breath. “Those men think they will rule the world. When they have done their part, you and your brothers will feast on their last breaths too. And then, when the herd has been reduced to a manageable level and you are all at your peak, we will truly have a world ready for Moloch’s rule.”

He reached for his laptop. “Are you hungry, my pet? There is someone in a private room, in another hospital, who is ready for you.”

Blackthorn typed a code and then pressed a button under his desk.

Chittering its delight, the shadow vanished.

_______________

There might be another one for Halloween itself, but no promises…

What’s behind the veil?

Well, Less Trust has gone. 44 days as Prime Monster. During which time her picks for Home Secretary and Chancellor were also forced out and replaced from the legions of the dead-eyed and the useless. So we are facing yet another Prime Monster.

Who will we get this time? There are rumours that the Fat Scarecrow plans to make a comeback, but it really doesn’t matter. None of them are in charge of anything, they all do as they are told by the men behind the veil. All of them are old, rich white men, by the way. Their lunatic fringes and protestors seem fine with that. Eat the Rich? Don’t be silly. You’ll be lucky to get to eat a rat, as long as you push the ‘net zero’ insanity. You’ll be living on a diet a labrador won’t touch.

Oh and you won’t have any pets either, especially those who are either edible or who require a meat diet. Companionship of any kind is a Bad Thing in the eyes of the New Lunatic Party currently running the show.

Lunatics? Well, how else would you describe those who cut down entire forests to burn for energy and ‘reduce CO2’ when the absolute best means of absorbing CO2 is… forests. Take a look at an oak, a Scots pine, a giant redwood. Every atom of carbon in there was once in the atmosphere. How much CO2 has a giant redwood sequestered by now? How about all those acres upon acres of crops? The carbon in a plant came from the air. It came from CO2. Take the CO2 away and all the plants die.

Since it’s the plants that produce oxygen (they use the carbon part of CO2 and ditch the oxygen back into the air), and since plants are the base level of every food chain, it’s not hard to work out what happens when they all die. The world is back to anaerobic bacteria to start all over again. Absolutely nothing else survives. No amount of money will save you.

And yet this is what the lunatics want. I don’t just mean their idiot drone children, it’s what the likes of Crazy Gates genuinely want. They say money can’t buy happiness. Well it obviously doesn’t buy intelligence either.

So who is behind the veil? Gates? Schwab? Soros? No, they are clearly on this side of it. Behind it are those whose plans keep failing and their patsys take the blame, but those behind simply regroup and try again. This time, perhaps, they have moved too far and too fast. This time there might be holes in the veil.

Anyway. We all need a distraction from the horror show of modern politics. So, here’s a look behind a different kind of veil.

Yes, the Halloween book is finally out. Smashwords and Kindle versions are up, the print one won’t be far behind. (Update: the print version is out now).

So… what did I put behind that veil? The cover is a photograph of some of my cutest ever creations behind a cloth, with a hole so this lovely lady could peek out –

The base is one inch square, to give an idea of scale.

Either side of her are her compatriots. A Grimghast Reaper…

… and a Chainghast. Same scale, the squares on the cutting board are one inch square.

He’s the other way around on the cover.

The back cover features this supermodel-figured heartthrob –

Or was that heart-ripper? It’s hard to tell.

And one of these guys, although he didn’t come out too well so he’s not as visible as he should be. Well, I can re-use him on a later book.

Their horses look a little underfed…

These are all from the game ‘World of Warcraft’ which holds no interest for me as a game, but I do like the little models. They might well feature heavily on future Halloween book covers, and my collection grows – slowly. I have found eBay sellers who will split a box of 10 or 20 of one type and sell one at a time. Sure, it’s more expensive per model, but I really only want one or two of each.

Well, it’s a book full of horror stories, although it’s hard to match the one we currently live in.

It’s very cheap though. And it takes your mind off the real world horrors.