Blackjack is almost ready

The interior of the book has been ready for a while. I’ve been working on cover images and the back cover text. Having had to redo the cover for ‘Ransom’ I want to get this one right first time.

Mark Ellott, the author, has provided artwork for the back cover. All I have to do is fit in the book description – and that’s not as easy as it sounds. Not many words but space is tight so every word must count. This isn’t a one-story novel, it’s a collection of shorts so summarising it in a way that will get someone to at least open the book isn’t easy.

It’s a really good collection, covering a wide range of genres. So I really want people to at least ‘click to look inside’ and maybe get interested enough to buy it.

Well, I’d better get back to work. I promised myself I could have another visit to Frank Davis’s online smoky-drinky once this book is done, and it’s sooo close now.

Here’s a preview of the front cover. It should be online within a week.

Books update

My own writing has concentrated on ‘Victor’s Will’, a zombie tale with a message of hope for all the Politically Correct – when you die, you come back to life and nobody can tell the difference.

I should have concentrated on ‘Panoptica’ because more of it just came true. It soon won’t be worth writing it, it’ll just be a reality show.

“This tyrannical bill is nothing but social engineering to the nth degree, all in the name of political correctness,” Jeff Gunnarson, vice president of Campaign Life Toronto, a pro-life political group in Canada, told LifeSiteNews.

That’s what political correctness is for, didn’t you know? It’s a control mechanism designed to ultimately control what you are allowed to say or even think. This law was always part of its intention. Expect the first Newspeak dictionary any day now. One more generation and dissent will be impossible because there won’t even be a word for it.

Anyway, on to the other books.

‘Ransom’, by Mark Ellott, has been updated with a new cover and interior, same story but with a few typos taken out. Note that Amazon keeps changing your search to ‘Elliott’. There’s no ‘i’ in the name. You have to be persistent. Trust me, it’s worth it.

‘The Goddess of Protruding Ears’, by Justin Sanebridge, has reached the desk of the Belgian ambassador to Indonesia who has read it and has now put it on Facebook. International fame for the author and also, of course, for Leg Iron Books.

‘Blackjack’, a short story collection by Mark Ellott has completed editing and is now at front cover stage. I have just emailed a couple of first-go covers to the author to check they are how he envisaged his description.

‘Cultish’, by Hugo Stone, is a costly book because it’s a big one. I have an idea that might reduce the page count without changing a single word. So hopefully I can soon reduce the price of that one.

‘The Mark’ by Margo Jackson and ‘Han Snel’ by Dirk Vleugels have not required any modifications. I’m getting better at getting it right first time.

I’m also getting better at cover art, and am developing a proper photographic studio for the photos. I already had most of the gear, I’m just getting better at using it. Now I have some good plain backdrops too, for those ‘no weird shit in the background’ photos.

Marketing is the tough one. I started from the level of ‘I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing’ and I’m rapidly finding out why marketers drink so much.

Anyhow, Dirk Vleugels has a book called ‘Tales from Under the Drinking Tree’ which is in Dutch, but I’m really hoping he’ll do an English translation of that one. He’s translated one story and it’s a belter – and a true story too! The Dutch version will come out first because it’s ready to go and I can’t do much editing in there anyway.

I have a self-imposed target of publishing a book a month. One more week to get ‘Blackjack’ finalised. Dirk’s book in Dutch should be really quick to deal with because I have to take his word for what’s in it.

So, I am open for submissions. There is still a queue but it’s getting shorter.

I can take short books for eBook-only publication if it’s too short for print. If you have several short ones they can go out as individual eBooks very cheaply and as a combined-volume print book. It has to be around 100 pages to be worth putting into print or the cost per page gets crazy – especially if you want it in colour. ‘Han Snel’ is expensive but it’s a very market-specific art-world book.

Niche market stuff can be expensive, those interested will buy it but it won’t be a best-seller. The same is true of science books. Nobody outside a particular branch of science will be interested so they have to be expensive if the author and publisher are going to make anything at all.

Some time back I floated the idea of a blog-book, using blog posts to make up a real life book. That’s back on the agenda. Not immediately, there’s no rush, but a smoky-book could be on the cards this year or early next year.

Especially now that smoking is blamed for racist hate speech

Koldskål!

I’ve been trying to radicalize Leggy to the ways of the Danes. This has included teaching him how to say bad words in Danish like “Røv”, “Knep” and more useful stuff like “Øl”. In the food department I started out slow with Danish meatballs (Frikadeller). We then moved up to Grønlangkål with ham and caramelized potatoes. Grønlangkål is kale that has been boiled for a few minutes, then chopped to death and in the end put in a cream heavy white sauce.

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Yesterday we had that one summer day you seem to get in Scotland so my inner Dane came jumping out demanding koldskål. This is a slightly weird Danish dish that is traditionally eaten in the summer. Those warm nights where you don’t feel like playing Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen you can buy a carton of Koldskål, a bag of kammerjunker (a type of small, hard biscuits) and pop it in a bowl and dinner is ready.
Now you may be wondering what the heck is this weird Danish contraption that seems to only show up when it’s warm and has a name that literally means cold bowl? It’s is a cold soup made from buttermilk and other good stuff.

I personally can’t remember a summer at home where we haven’t eaten this stuff at least once. In my quest to tell Leggy about the gloriousness of this this food I wikkied it and apparently in the summer of 2013 Arla sold 3,8 million liters of this stuff. Which is rather impressive when you think about the fact that there’s only about 5,7 million Danes. That’s how popular this is.

Now I somewhat naively figured that since I couldn’t buy the ready made variant here that I’d make it myself. I pulled out my trusty Frøken Jensens kogebog (Miss Jensen’s cookbook a treasure trove of Danish recipes) and thought that looks simple enough. That was until I casually mentioned to Leggy that I’d need to get Ymer at the next shopping trip. Clearly the Scots doesn’t have the same appreciation of the finer nuances of dairy because all I got was a blank look and a “Bless you”. My description of, it’s somewhere between yogurt and A-38 wasn’t much help either. Back to wikki!

Then came challenge number two. The recipe called for pasteurized egg yolks. I cornered an unsuspecting Tesco worker, which these days is getting harder and harder. I suspect I’ve worked up a reputation for being the one who asks for all the weird things they’ve never heard off, much less carry. First was the German nougat and cardamon powder for Christmas biscuits, then potato flour, a non modern can opener and now the pasteurized egg yolk. I could find pasteurized egg whites but no yolks.

In came the lovely RooBeeDoo with a link to a site on how to do it yourself. All you had to do was add lemon juice and water, microwave it and whisk it every once in a while. Sounded simple enough. Of course that went as wrong as it probably could go.

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A call later to the mothership and I was using yogurt instead of ymer and used eggs that I had poured boiling water over in the hopes that I wouldn’t kill Leggy from exploding arse.
So if you want to try it out here’s the recipe

Koldskål

4 pasteurized egg yolks
6 tablespoons of sugar
8 dl Buttermilk
3 dl yogurt
The seeds from one vanilla pod

Whisk the sugar and egg yolk together until fluffy and airy.
Mix in the buttermilk, yogurt and vanilla seeds.
If you want you can even add a bit of lemon zest.
Leave in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Here served with strawberries

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Smoke and fire

I have a new fire pit. The weather hasn’t been good enough to use it yet but it’ll happen. I already have a wood burning stove in the living room, a chimenea and incinerator bin in the garden and plenty of space (and landlord’s permission) for all the bonfires I could ever want.

My recycle bin contains cans and plastic. I don’t throw away cardboard any more. The trees here shed branches at a rate to delight any firebug and there are a lot of trees. Pine cones in abundance – they burn very nicely too. I don’t burn plastic because it gives off an acrid black smoke and tends to leave horrible lumps in the bottom of your fire device.

Paper for starting the fire is no problem. Junk mail has a use here.

These things save me from my natural firebug tendencies. Rather, they save the rest of the world from me.

This does not make me at all unusual. Humans have been lighting fires since humans first learned to bang rocks together. Fire and smoke have accompanied our species throughout our history.

So, why aren’t we all dead from lung cancer?

Well, New Scientist, lefty propaganda hack-rag though it currently is, has reported that humans have a gene that made us more smoke resistant than the other kinds of humans – so they couldn’t tolerate living in a cave with a fire. (thanks to @mihotep who retweeted the link on Twitter).

We still have that gene. It’s not a superpower, we can still be overcome and die of smoke inhalation when it’s intense but even in visible smoke, we can tolerate it. I can’t, offhand, think of another species that can tolerate smoke as long as we can.

Naturally, this won’t include tobacco smoke because that is magically different from all other kinds of burning plant material. That’s why people were routinely dragged unconscious from pubs in the old days and resuscitated outside, and why every workplace that allowed smoking always kept a respirator and oxygen bottle handy.

What? That didn’t happen? Well, the antismokers will no doubt soon tell you it did.

All those diseases on the rise, all blamed on smoking that’s now in decline, are more likely to be caused by fire – actually, the lack of it. There are other factors, the almost-sterile cleanliness of many modern homes, the sprays and strange chemicals people use to make them smell like a countryside they’re afraid to actually visit because the ground is made of dirt.

I suppose I can be a bit smug here. I actually live in the countryside so all I need do to get the countryside smell in the house is open the windows. The windows are all open whenever weather allows. That gets the air in the house changed. It’s an old house and there are plenty of draughts but all but three of the fireplaces are sealed and the windows and doors are new, double glazed ones. Frequent air-changes are important.

It’s not that long ago that everyone had a fireplace with a blazing fire in it. The local pub still does – even though they aren’t allowed to allow smoking in there. They do have a covered and heated smoking area at the back though.

I know, we’ve been through this before but there’s a whole generation who might never have seen a fireplace, certainly not one in actual use. These days it’s central heating, underfloor heating, invisible heating in hermetically sealed boxes. It’s nice, I can’t deny that. It means you can set the heating to come on half an hour before you get out of bed in the mornings. Nobody has to freeze while they get the fire started up. I have central heating and I do use it but in winter it’s still nice to get the wood burner fired up. Especially as the landlord is gutting and rebuilding another house he owns nearby so I have an almost endless supply of free wood.

I’ll repeat, then, for the benefit of any smoke-terrified youngsters who might happen by, why the coal/log fire was so damn good.

Apart from being a plaything, and something to stare pensively into, the fire did a really important thing. It sucked the air up the chimney really fast.

The room didn’t run out of air. New air came in through every available gap, any open doors or windows so the air in the room didn’t deplete. As a bonus, if people were smoking in there, that smoke got sucked up the chimney too.

Along with the smoke, up the chimney was the fate of anything breathed, sneezed or coughed out of anyone else in the room. It was the fate of a lot of dust and airborne bacteria and viruses and fungal spores. Now, with no chimneys and eco-sealed draught-free homes, all that crap stays in the atmosphere to be breathed in over and over again.

People don’t even open their windows now. Certainly not often enough. Condensation leads to black mould growing and that stuff will cause a lot more harm than having a few smokers in the room.

Six chimney breasts have been sealed over in this house. If I owned it I’d reopen them all. It would mean having to uncap the chimneys and have them swept and inspected to make sure they’re still okay to use and it certainly wouldn’t be cheap. Well, not the kitchen fireplace. That now has the cooker in front of it and the old chimney contains the vent for the gas hob. Also, the gas pipe comes in through there because it’s the thinnest part of the wall. It’s only about a foot thick at the back of the fireplaces.

Living out here, surrounded by woodland, with plenty of fallen branches and dead trees and a landlord with loads of old wood he’s trying to get rid of, I could heat the whole place for the cost of a box of matches. What do you do if the power goes off and your heating doesn’t work? If it happens here I light up the wood burning stove. I can even boil water on it and have a cup of tea. How about you?

I’d also have continuous airflow through the house. That would be far healthier than sealing the place and breathing the same air over and over.

Best of all, I could sit by the fire smoking my pipe again. A pipe in a sealed room with no chimney draught soon causes something akin to smog. With an active fireplace it all just disappears.

There’s one thing I’d still need the central heating for. If the place is empty in winter, an hour of heating morning and night will keep it warm enough so the pipes don’t freeze. If there’s a power cut for a few hours, it just means the timer will be a few hours out. No biggie.

All those sicknesses on the rise, now blamed on smoking, were never anything to do with smoking. They were caused by the eco-freaks’ insistence on letting no heat escape the house and insisting we can’t burn stuff because ‘the environment, man’.

The environment has coped with humans burning stuff for millennia. Sometimes the environment will decide to clear a forest with fire and produce more smoke and flame than a generation of humans. The environment doesn’t die when that happens. In fact, forests need to burn down once in a while. Otherwise they’d be full of old dead trees shading the new growth from light. A clearout is Nature’s gardening tool.

Even in the 1900s when we had factories and steam engines belching smoke everywhere and smog in the cities, the environment didn’t die. It didn’t even change very much. We really didn’t have that much effect. There was no global warming then, so pretending it’s happening now that we have reduced our emissions so much is really pretty silly.

It’s like blaming the rise in asthma on smoking: global warming is worse now that our emissions are less.

The sealed homes,. the closed fireplaces, the lack of airflow, breathing the same air over and over – there is your asthma link. Most of the other infections too. Those in charge dare not say it, since they forced you to live in what amounts to a Tupperware fridge container.

I say it and I’ll keep on saying it. Smoke and fire are part of human existence and always have been. We have been playing with fire for so long now we are dependent on it – take it away and we become sick and feeble.

The Neanderthals couldn’t use fire indoors. They couldn’t tolerate smoke. Ask them how that worked out.

Oh. You can’t.

Frank Davis makes Smoky-Drinky a virtual reality

I haven’t yet tried this out but over at Frank Davis’s place there is a Smoky-Drinky bar online. And a new blog to go with it.

Hopefully my woeful internet connection can keep up with this kind of modern complexity. Lately it seems internet packets are being delivered by blind lame snails travelling the long way round. It’s a downside of living well clear of what passes for civilisation these days.

Anyway, I have to try. I might finally put faces to some of the names I’ve seen online over the years.

The madness of the modern world

Well, it’s here. The world is now officially insane.

Tessie May took her time about visiting the Grenfell site. That was indefensible, and she’s been rightly pilloried for it. However, she has not sought to blame anyone for the fire.

Labour on the other hand have used the tragedy to whip up local people into a frenzy. ‘It’s the Tory cuts!’ ‘May must resign.’ ‘Take to the streets to remove this government.’ Yes, that last one is real. They are officially fomenting rebellion over an accident.

When the Islamists blow up children or go on knife rampages in the streets, all the politicians on every side call for calm. Muslim leaders play the ‘we are the victims’ card while laughing at the kaffirs’ idiot leaders.

This fire was caused by a faulty fridge and was made so much worse because the building was covered in cheapskate cladding that let the fire spread very quickly indeed.

Sadiq Khan, already linked to the companies who supplied the non-fireproof exterior cladding for the building, is insisting the Government release the true number of people who died in the fire. There are even pretend reports that there is a D-notice on the casualty list. There isn’t. The Government cannot release that figure because they don’t know what it is yet – and might not know for weeks.

Searching a burned-out tower block is not something you can do in an afternoon. Every step has to be taken cautiously. One wrong step on the fifteenth floor and you might find yourself heading for the ground floor at considerable speed.

There are likely to be a lot more casualties in there. It is indeed a tragedy and I can understand that people who have relatives missing will want to know whether they are among those casualties. However, nobody can find that out quickly. Storming the council offices will not speed up the process.

Blaming the Tories is ridiculous, when one of the members of the board that ran that building is now the MP for the area. Yes, the Labour MP for a Labour constituency with a Labour council and Labour mayor. The Tories have no control here, they do not decide on how buildings are maintained, they were not in government when that tower block was commissioned and built and they did not order that cladding. It’s all Labour.

And yet it’s the Tories who are being blamed. They are strangely silent on this. It’s ordinary people who seem to be digging out the information here. Labour MPs and activists are using the deaths to incite people into a Tory-hating frenzy and it’s going to lead to riots. Why are the Tories silent on this?

There are two possible reasons that I can see. Maybe there are more but these two seem most likely.

One – the Tories are letting Socialism show its true, violent face. Letting Labour voters see what they have voted for. Then they can call another election and use footage of the incitement and riots all through their campaign. That would be a sensible, if callous, approach.

Two – and worse – there is still the Civil Contingencies Act. Labour’s ‘enabling act’ that was installed under the Blair/Brown government. The Tories didn’t put it there but it’s now available to them.

It’s basically the same as Hitler’s ‘enabling act’ that allowed his to take over as a de facto dictator. In the event of a national emergency, the government can take complete control. They no longer answer to the people, elections are suspended, the government can make emergency laws unopposed… you think this is a police state? Oh you haven’t seen anything yet!

Corbyn and co. have been stirring up a coup to overthrow the Government. Not in secret, they’ve been doing it on TV. May has a minority government who needs the support of a small hard-line party. She’ll have to cave in to some of their demands. They have her over a barrel and they know it. We don’t yet know what they’ll get but anything they get is going to send the socialist snowflakes into an apoplectic rage.

The EU is gleefully pressing to start Brexit talks and they are offering to take us back on an even worse deal than the one we’re leaving. They expect to clean us out before we go. This shouldn’t be a problem since Labour are also pro-Brexit so should be supporting the talks. However, they hate the Tories so much they are willing to send an army of maniacs onto the streets to start a war, and are still claiming they won the election with fewer votes and fewer MPs than the Tories.

If Corbyn gets his way, the streets of London will soon be out of control. If the EU get their way, those ‘austerity’ measures are going to look like ‘luxury’ measures. We’re going to be another Weimar republic after the EU is finished asset-stripping us. Money that is worth less than the paper (or plastic) it’s printed on.

With a minority government, May can’t restore order or keep any hold on the economy without invoking the Enabling Act that Blair/Brown put in place.

Then, the rounding up of the useful idiots who gave them total control will begin. Oh and Islam? They won’t need you any more either.

After that… it’s jackboots time. For all of us.

And who put this all in place, ready for this day? Hint: It wasn’t the Tories.

I bet they get the blame though.