Heretic!

I am a scientist. I reached PhD level in 1987 and have worked in microbiology ever since. I went self-employed as a rogue scientist in 2005 and apart from a dry spell (more to do with politics and devious maneouvering than anything else, but that’s a different story) I’m still here. Still involved in science. So when I hear some smug shitebag telling me to ‘do some research’ I have to restrain myself from going full blast at them. Research is what I do. It’s what I’ve done since I passed my first BSc in 1981. I have researched using the library stacks in the basement. I know stuff that isn’t on the internet.

Yes, there was a gap. I worked as a technician for a while after the BSc. It wasn’t enough. And other things happened. Not relevant here.

These days I do commercial science. I do stuff for food companies. No, I don’t test their chickens for Salmonella, that’s easy and not very interesting. I research new products for animal and human health. It does, however, mean I can’t publish it or say too much. I have to sign ‘no speak of this’ papers in order to get paid. Companies don’t want their research given away. They pay me both to do it and to shut up about it.

So that’s the disclaimer. I know how peer research works, I have a long publication list to prove it (before going commercial) and I have peer reviewed other people’s papers. I have supervised PhD and MSc students and none of mine have ever failed.

I have built – and since refined greatly – a device in which I can test the effects of additives on the gut population without involving any animals. I have built – and published – a model estuary which maintained not only bacteria but also Nereis, Coprophium and Macoma species. For weeks at a time. Basically, until I needed a day off. It even had a tidal system. Yeah, it was the hard way but it worked, and produced a lot of insights into chitin degradation in estuaries. Some I still hold back for fun and potential profit  😉

You might infer from this that when it comes to science, at least biological science, I have at least some idea of what I’m talking about. Or you might prefer the crap you read in the modern lefty hack-rags masquerading as certain science journals. That’s your choice. I’ve put my cards on the table. Let’s see yours.

I’m not rich because I’m honest and well, a bit blunt. I was once asked to try putting probiotic bacteria into vegetarian sausages. I told them it can’t work because sausages have to be cooked right through so the bacteria would be dead.

They said ‘But it’s vegetarian. No meat’.

I said ‘It doesn’t matter what sausages are made of. What matters is how they are made. Any contamination at any stage will go right to the centre. You always have to cook them right through.’

So I didn’t get the project. I could have. If I had been unscrupulous I could have spent months or even years pretending to try to get it to work, knowing it never would but banking the money anyway. Unfortunately I have something fatal for a scientist trying to get rich. Scruples.

I could have presented results showing long term survival of the probiotic in the sausage, given them shelf life details, all of it. Just… never mention what happens when they are cooked. I’d have got away with it too, but I don’t want to be that kind of person.

There are plenty of that kind of person around, and plenty of jobs for them in the modern lie that is ‘public health’. They would have taken that project and reported a resounding success. That success was a certainty to anyone who knows how Lactobacillus species interact with vegetable matter in a zero or restricted oxygen environment such as a sausage.

The probiotic would have thrived in there but when you cooked them, you’d have silage sausages with no live bacteria inside. On paper, a great success. In practice, pointless and… yeuk.

I smoke. I’m doing it now, here in my office room. I restrict smoking in the house because it’s rented. There is no ‘no smoking’ rule. Just a rule that says ‘don’t leave a mess’. Basically, if I turn the ceiling yellow I have to repaint it before I leave. That seems fair. It’s unfurnished so all the nicotine-saturated furniture either leaves with me or gets dumped.

But yes, I smoke. I like it. I don’t do it to deliberately kill anyone or to deliberately annoy anyone. I don’t ‘promote’ smoking. I really have no interest at all in whether anyone else smokes or not. It’s not something I get a commission on. It’s not a pyramid scheme. If you don’t smoke, I gain nothing by persuading you to try it. So I don’t. I, like other smokers, am happy to let you live your life the way you want. If only the medics thought that way, they might turn out to be good at their jobs and not be almost universally termed ‘quack’. It seems that’s all we have now. The British Mallard Journal is the strongest evidence for this.

CStM recently returned from Denmark with ten packs of cigarettes. Vikings. I like them but you can only get them in Denmark and they are about £3.50 for 20. On open display too, and we are talking corner shop prices not supermarkets. Seriously. Don’t blame the EU for plain packs and Doors of Shame. We are the only ones who fell for it. The UK government are the only stupid bastards in the whole of Europe who fell for the probiotic sausages researchers.

It’s not too surprising. They are far too busy trying to destroy relations with our biggest trading partner after Brexit, the USA, to trouble themselves with what those who elected them actually care about.

They pander to minorities. I’m not talking about immigrants. I’m talking about a much smaller minority. The health hate machine.

The health hate machine has noticed us. We little bloggers. Frank Davis, Junican, Dick Puddlecote and many more. They have become upset that we are not talking through their own forums where they can moderate us and slap us down. They want ‘antismokerphobia’ to be a Thing like Islamophobia and other made up crap. They want criticism of their new religion of NewScience to be illegal. Don’t they all?

You Must Believe! Never mind that it makes the atheist attack on Christianity’s ‘sky pixie’ (they never seem to mention the Islamic moon god or that they revere a lump of stone, isn’t that odd?) look like a compliment. At least the atheists recognise the (potential) existence of the enemy they don’t believe in.

The Baccy Haters don’t like us. We’re questioning the gospel.

I have a book on the Spanish Inquisition somewhere in my piles of unsorted books. They worked in exactly the same way. Denounce someone and they were guilty. There was no innocent. They had to tell you what they were guilty of and they’d decide a punishment. Might be small, might be big but if they came for you they were never wrong.

The Inquisition acquitted nobody. If they arrested you, you were guilty of something. You might be sentenced to six Hail Marys or a burning at the stake but you wouldn’t get out without a confession.

14th century. Seven hundred years. That’s no time for an evolutionary change and there hasn’t been one. The staff of the Inquisition are still here. Same people, different methods.

They used religion to get their way and debased it to a laughing stock. Islam is a bit late to the game but the same will happen to them. Sooner than they think.

Now they use science and medicine to get their way and have ruined both. Those pillars of Western civilisation have crumbled.

Science used to decry religion but it has become a new one. Believe what we say or you are a heretic and must die. Do not question our research because we didn’t do any and don’t need it, our personal preferences are proof enough.

 

 

I am a heretic. A smoky-drinky heretic.

I dare them to burn me.

 

Game of Moans

They’re everywhere. Moaning and groaning and bleating and crying ‘I’m the victim’ while they beat someone senseless with their ‘no more violence’ placard.

They are the victims of votes they don’t agree with. In the UK, in America, in more and more countries across Europe soon, they wail and insist they are the majority. They believe everyone sensible thinks like them, when the evidence suggests they barely think at all.

And what the hell is ‘alt far right’? It sounds like some kind of computer reset code. It’s the latest label for those who actually think before they speak – indeed, for those who dare to think their own thoughts rather than the thoughts they have been instructed to think.

There has been much rumbling over Donny Trumpton’s attempt to ban travel from seven countries. There was no such rumbling when Barry O’Blimey bombed six of those countries. The Tiny Blur has been out telling us we must do what politicians say because he knows best. *cough* Iraq *cough*. Middle East Peace Envoy? Oh how we laughed. At him, not with him.

Gary ‘Skidmark’ Lineker and even John Cleese have been siding with the thoughtless. Rich people talking about socialism. They really haven’t got a fucking clue what it would mean if it really happened. I used to laugh at John Cleese’s comedy. Now I just laugh at his tweets. It’s pure Lefty handbook stuff. Insult, belittle, ridicule, block but above all, do not debate. Debate is dangerous, it might force the Lefty mind to generate actual thoughts and they might start to question what they’ve been told.

Neither Trumpton nor O’Blimey, nor any other leader for that matter, have ever imposed sanctions, travel bans or gone to war against Saudi Arabia. Are they really so powerful that even America dare not offend them? No, they have no need of any army. They have money and oil in abundance. That’s why they get away with everything. Incidentally, they were building a border wall to keep ISIS and the resulting refugees out. Nobody seemed to mind…

That’s why the West does so much to appease Muslims. Saudi Arabia tells their leaders to and if they don’t, well, a shortage of oil would be a terrible thing, wouldn’t it? The leaders pass it down the line to their idiot drones and useful rich idiots who believe what they are told. Or maybe they’re paid to believe it. Rich people love getting more money. Socialism has made quite a few people very, very rich while making millions more very, very poor.

How can a socialist with many millions in the bank and several businesses decry capitalism and get away with it? Simple. You only enlist gullible idiots at your grassroots level. There are plenty of them out there.

They will demand redistribution of wealth while never noticing that you keep all yours.

They will insist on higher taxes so you can cream off even more money while they starve. They will idolise you while you do this and see no contradiction. They won’t mind you avoiding taxes. You’re one of theirs. That ‘crime’ only applies to the other side.

And when they lose a vote, they will insist that they are the majority and the vote is only democratic if they win it. They will see no contradiction in this either.

They will initiate mob violence and claim victimhood. No realisation of contradiction again.

They will call everyone else ‘fascists’ and ‘Nazi’ without once pausing to reflect on their own actions. They haven’t even bothered to look up what those words mean. They are too busy polishing their jackboots for the next round of head-breaking.

So, ‘democratic’ now means do as we say or we’ll kill you. Never mind what you want, only what we want has any validity and disagreeing with us means your life has no value. We can wear T-shirts proudly proclaiming we punched you and we can call you violent and still claim to be the victim.

That is the Lefty mind. That is the future they want. Even though they really don’t know what it means.

Kim Jong Jingly Jangly must be oh so proud.

More book stuff

There is going to be an Easter anthology. I Have Decided. I have to move fast but I’m damn well going to do it. Last time there were delays, some due to external factors and some due to inexperience. I can now deal with the latter much more easily. The former, well, I don’t plan to move house (and all the craziness that goes with it) for some time yet. That was the biggest delay.

So, can I do it in a month? A lot depends on you guys. I need stories with an Easter theme. Any genre, any subject, gentle or supernatural or gory or romantic. Based around Easter, that’s the only rule.

Well, there are other rules. No child abuse of course, no violent rape and (new but fixed rule) no antismoking or antidrinking or any story where the control freaks win unless they are clearly the bad guys. I will not be a propaganda machine.

So far we have:

The Underdog Anthology

Cultish, by Hugo Stone (skirts the very edge of the rules and touches the limits of common decency – but very funny with it).

The Goddess of Protruding Ears, by Justin Sanebridge (a sexual, but only slightly kinky tale of romance across time).

All these are available from many other eBook outlets.

Next up is Longrider’s novel ‘Ransom’. I’ll put up the author name when he’s definitely decided what to use. Probably his own name again but it’s common decency to wait until contract time. This one has to be done this month for two reasons – to keep up my self-imposed ‘one a month’ production rate, because I have the Easter Anthology to do and because I have a backlog.

Three. Three reasons.

I have, in the backlog, a short story collection by Longrider, a Dutch translation of The Goddess of Protruding Ears, two novels by MJ (again, can’t give a name until the author has decided what to use) and a biography of the painter Han Snel. Also a few novels of my own.

The backlog has enough to keep pumping out one a month until July without my own books. This little publisher is climbing the ladder, one rung at a time.

Next month is the Easter Underdog Anthology plus one of MJ’s novels. She’s been very patient in the queue. I know, because I’m an author too, everyone wants their own book dealt with first. It’s natural. After spending all that time writing it you want it in print right now. So do I.

But I’m a one man operation. A bloody-minded and determined one man operation but just one all the same.

The way this thing is going, that might change, and sooner than I expected.

But then I’d have to move somewhere with a government that doesn’t do its damndest to slap down anyone who tries to build a business.

Pity. I quite like Scotland otherwise.

The Revenge of the Poultry from Beyond the Gravy…

Salmonella and Campylobacter. Sigh. I have grown enough of these in a single experiment to bring down a medium sized city.

Oh it’s easy, when you use growth media designed to make them grow fast. It’s how we find them quickly when there’s an outbreak. It’s also how we test food before it goes on sale. Sometimes it’s in the supermarkets before the test is complete but we can recall it pretty fast.Heavy contamination will show up in 24 hours but it takes about 4 days to be certain it’s a negative.

We test for other things too but the big names in chicken and turkey and general poultry are Salmonella and Campylobacter.

At the end of the experiment, everything goes into a big pressure cooker called an autoclave. Fifteen minutes in there and there is no life anywhere inside it. It’s not magic, it’s exactly the same principle as a home pressure cooker, just scaled up so you can fit a disobedient technician into it. In the past, we actually used home pressure cookers in the lab as benchtop sterilisers for small amounts. of stuff. Now there are custom built benchtop ones. They do the same thing but they look more sciency and they have timers so they don’t go bang if you forget.

For these two nasties, all you need is to have the centre of the meat exceed 80 decrees C and they’re dead. Cook that chicken properly, don’t handle salad with chicken grease on your fingers and you’re fine. It’s only dangerous when it’s raw, or when you let it contaminate stuff you aren’t going to cook.

I’ve never had either infection despite my cavalier cooking methods and despite working with them (and other nasties I haven’t personally caught) for almost 40 years. They aren’t hard to kill.

They are, however, very hard to get rid of at source. For Salmonella, many UK poultry farms use a vaccine introduced via drinking water. It won’t wipe them out but it will reduce their numbers. On a bird carcass, Salmonella is mostly surface contamination. Inside surfaces too – it lives in the guts and can get into some internal organs. Still, that’s easy. As long as the surface is cooked, it’s dead.

Campylobacter is a little different. This one lives in the gut too but it can get into muscle tissue. It can be inside the meat. That’s the one you need to kill by cooking the chicken all the way through. Getting the centre of the meat past 80C is enough – you don’t need 200C in the centre. If you achieve that, you have a roast chicken that will shatter like glass when you try to carve it and will probably be about the size of a quail.

Minced/ground meat is a special problem. For any meat. If you have a beef steak you can flash-fry the outside and the inside can be pretty much raw. The only contamination is on the outside. Ostrich steaks are also best quick-cooked. Even though they are birds they don’t seem to suffer Campylobacter infections.

If you make steak mince, you have mixed the outside contamination all through the final product. It’s now internally contaminated and – as with sausages and burgers – you need it cooked right through.

So with poultry mince you will now have both Salmonella and Campylobacter all through the finished product. Nasty.

Not if you cook it thoroughly. It’s mince. If there are no pink bits left then all the bits are cooked and the nasties are dead. I admit, when making any dish with mince, I cook the mince completely before starting with any added sauces. I take no chances with high risk foods.

Should the mince be a no-risk food? That’s impossible. You can never be sure the processing plant is perfectly sterile even if the starting product is clear of pathogens. The processing plant is staffed by people and if you sterilise your staff in an autoclave their productivity will suffer and you might get nasty letters from their relatives. People carry diseases. It happens. Deal with it.

How do you deal with it? Cook it thoroughly and wash your hands after handling raw meats. Disinfect kitchen surfaces (the spray stuff is good enough, you don’t need a flamethrower) and wipe down with disposable paper towels, not a cloth. A contaminated cloth is a stupid thing to have in a kitchen.

That’s it. That’s really it. Poultry, mince, any raw meat is a risk but it’s an easily managed risk. Just do what your grandparents did. It worked for them and it’ll work for you.

Each year, the article says, 830,000 Americans get sick from eating contaminated poultry. There is no excuse for this. All it takes is a few simple things – proper cooking and kitchen hygiene.

You are not going to eradicate these bacteria at source. You’re dealing with living organisms and chickens are, it must be said, among the most disgusting of living things.

But they taste so good. Just cook them properly.

 

Leg Iron Books – still alive.

logobasicI’m growing fond of the crow. I think I’ll name him Bob.

I have not abandoned this project. Lots of weird real life stuff has happened but Longrider’s novel is next up and will be a February release if it kills me. Well obviously not if it really kills me, but even if it damages me to the point where I actually say ‘no’ to a whisky, I’ll still get it done.

It’s a good story in good shape so it won’t take long.

I also have to send some copies of The Goddess of Protruding Ears to Justin Sanebridge. He lives a long way off, still on this planet but only just. I have to get to a main post office for this one. That’ll be later this week.

Next month I’m going for two books published. I really want an Easter Underdog anthology so if you have ideas, write them now. I’m afraid the pay won’t be as generous this time, since looking at the accounts means if I keep paying at that short story rate I’ll be bankrupt in no time.

Novels and single author books of stories are different. Those are paid on royalties – if they sell, even one copy, the author gets something. Not much, I need to keep the final price low because we are talking an unknown publisher of unknown authors here. It’s going to take time to build up but I guarantee every book sale gets something for the author.

Anthology stories I pay for once, up front. I then take the risk that I’ll sell enough copies to at least break even. Hasn’t happened so far but one day, maybe…

There is a backlog. A short story collection, a biography, two novels, and then there’s my own stuff to do too. If I put out at least one a month I’ll be in business until the summer on what’s already submitted.

I don’t want to make too much this first year. The taxman’s ridiculous ‘tax on account’ game where you pay this year’s tax double so you’ve paid next year’s too is what kills small businesses. Too successful too early, the taxman will wipe you out.

It was the Brown Gorgon’s brainchild but the Tories have done the square root of bugger all to change it. I can only assume the Tories don’t want small businesses to succeed either.

So, you have to be cunning to survive as a small business in the UK. Make no profit – or even a loss – in the first year and build up slowly. Do not be an overnight success because the taxman will kill your business by the next morning.

Last time I started a business (rogue scientist) I survived because I had a big redundancy payoff as backup so I could take the hit of double tax at the end of my first year. If you get past that it gets easier since you’ve already paid a chunk of the following year’s tax. You’re really mostly paying the year-after-that’s tax. Getting past that first year as a penniless startup is impossible. Unless, of course, you make little to no profit in the first year.

The second year, you can make a little profit. Not too much because the same business-killing rules still apply. A little more the third year, a little more the fourth…

If you want your business to survive the startup-hating Government we have in all colours now, you have to sneak up on them slowly.

Leg Iron Books is rising, but it won’t be an overnight success. It’s not popping over the parapet to be an easy target for the tax-hungry government.

It’s sneaking up on the big boys.

Why is this news?

Apparently, warning children that snacks are going to make them fat just makes them want the snack more.

Surely every parent already knows this, starting with the very first parents right at the dawn of humanity? Tell a child they can’t have something and their brain immediately defaults to ‘You’re keeping the good stuff for yourself!’

They have to try it, to find out why it’s not allowed. Tell them not to touch fire and they’ll touch it to find out why. In that case only once, but tell them not to eat chocolate and they’ll test that assertion over and over.

The antismoking crusade is what drives children to smoking. It’s bad, it’s evil, you can’t have it… so they have to try it and find out for themselves. Some won’t like it, some will. The same goes for alcohol, sugar, salt… That’s because children are people, and people are all individuals with different likes and dislikes. Something modern medicine can’t seem to grasp.

Children aren’t stupid. Repellent, unhygienic and despicable yes, but not stupid.

Children want to be grown up. They want to try grown up stuff. Okay, when we grow up we realise we were far better off being children, but what child knows this apart from those of us who never really grew up?

So, tell them they can’t have it and it’s grown-up stuff. It exists therefore someone has it. It must be the grown-ups. They want it for themselves. Why can’t we have it?

The concept of ‘one day you’ll be a grown-up’ is entirely lost on children. On most adults too. They cannot envisage the future, only the past – and for children it’s often just the ‘now’. That’s why children don’t see consequences, and why most adults don’t see them either. They cannot think ahead. They don’t know how.

I’ll soon be 57. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Most people follow a path through life. Not me. I just bumble through and most of it (barring a few utter disasters) seems to work out. I’m alive, and eternally broke, but I can pay the rent and buy food and put petrol in the car so everything is good. I don’t want to be rich. There is nothing I need that much money for.

I remember being a child. I had a Dalek suit made of PVC. It was floppy and didn’t hold the Dalek shape but it was fun. Armed with a sink plunger and a whisk. I had a Scammel tank transporter steel toy and a tank (can’t remember which) to put on the back. I melted many, many toy soldiers on the coal fire.

I had Action Man toys, Batman’s Batmobile with plastic flame from the exhaust, Joe 90’s car, Bond’s Aston Martin, many many more. These would all be worth a fortune now if I had thought ahead. Kept them pristine and in their boxes. All are gone.

But I was a child. Joe 90 died in a mid-air collision with Thunderbird 2. Batman and Bond failed in their missions in spectacular style, involving a screwdriver and deadly curiosity. I took things apart to see how they worked. I was not thinking of the future. There wasn’t one. There was only ‘now’. The future happens after sleep and it’ll be the same as today.

Yeah, I was told not to touch the drinks cabinet. So obviously I had a go at the sherry, the easiest one to open. I was strangely uninterested in my dad’s cigarettes but then he never told me not to try them. Either he assumed I couldn’t light them, or that I wouldn’t be interested, or that it was so obvious he didn’t need to tell me. Whatever the reason, they weren’t on the banned list so weren’t interesting.

I have stuck a knife in the toaster and I have run with scissors. I’m still here. The scissors were closed and held point down and I unplugged the toaster before digging out the stuck crumpet. They don’t tell you that part. Just the overall ‘it’s dangerous’, not the way to make it not dangerous.

Snacks won’t make you fat unless you eat a lot of them and don’t move much. That is not the warning that’s ever given. There is no safe level of biscuits or crisps – that is the warning and it’s patently ridiculous.

Children see it. Medics and pressure groups don’t. Can you?