The Devil’s Enzyme

I’ve been reading a lot of bollocks about Luciferase. That it’s a marker that glows under UV light and that it’s linked to Satan, all that stuff.

When I was working on my Honours project for my first degree (1980/81), I had the stinky project. I was working on the gut microflora of Eiseinia foetida, a type of earthworm that lives in compost heaps. Well, the career got gradually stinkier and much nastier after that but that’s not the point.

A friend of mine was working with a marine bacterium called Vibrio fischeri. He grew it in flasks on a flask shaker in an incubator room. When he turned the light off, there were all these rotating flasks giving off a green glow. V. fischeri produces bioluminescence in response to oxygen. How brightly it glows depends on how much oxygen there is, and that glow can be used to detect oxygen down to nanomolar concentrations. Of course, at that oxygen level you can’t see the glow, you need a photomultiplier and associated circuitry, but it really does work. I actually made use of that technique during my PhD, but it was a fellow student who developed it into a useful method.

This bacterium, and many other bioluminescent organisms, produce light using a compound called luciferin. It’s activated by an enzyme called luciferase. The enzyme itself does nothing without luciferin present, and luciferin is not activated without luciferase. UV light is irrelevant here. The mechanism produces visible light, it’s not activated by outside light. It is entirely dependent on oxygen concentration.

If you’ve ever been somewhere warm, even UK-summer warm, beside the sea, on a nicely dark night, you might have noticed a glow flickering through the water as it rolls against the shore. It’s usually called ‘phosphorescence’, and it’s the light produced by marine microbes when the water gets a blast of oxygen as it hits the shore. This is the luciferin/luciferase reaction. It’s perfectly natural and probably millions of years old.

Some say Monsanto or Pfizer or some other demonic company have patented luciferase. That’s not possible. It’s a natural material and can’t be patented. However, they might have patented a technique that makes use of it. I’ll come back to that.

Incidentally, I am also seeing claims of ‘luciferase’ on the swabs used for the ramrod-up-the-nose nonsensical tests. ‘Proof’ consists of running UV light over the swab and observing that the stick doesn’t glow but the cotton pad does. Cotton pads fluoresce under UV light. Try it with any cotton buds. It’s the cotton that lights up.

Now I’m not saying those cotton ramrods aren’t contaminated, there have been quite a few examples of what could be shoddy production techniques or could be deliberate, I don’t have enough reliable info to speculate on that. However, when you light them up with UV they will glow even if they are perfectly clean and sterile. Luciferase isn’t there, and if it was, it would be a waste of extracted enzyme because it won’t do anything – and won’t even last long – up your nose.

The ‘Lucifer’ link merely refers to the light produced in the reaction. It’s really not sinister at all. It’s been named that for a very long time and it was just some scientist thinking it was funny to name it that. Most of scientific research is unbelievably tedious so we do grab any chance to spice it up a bit. It really isn’t controlled by, nor in any way linked to, any demonic entity.

So, luciferase is nothing to be scared of. It’s an enzyme that catalyses a reaction with a compound called luciferin in the presence of oxygen and produces a rather pleasant glow. So, what nefarious purposes could it be put to?

Not many, really. Enzymes, especially when injected into a living organism, don’t tend to last very long. They are proteins and proteins entering your body are either regarded as food and dismantled, or regarded as invaders and smacked down by your immune system. Injecting yourself with luciferase is never going to get you that lovely Chernobyl glow. Even if it is active, it won’t be active for very long and with no luciferin to act on, it has nothing to do.

I really can’t see how Billy Gates Gruff’s ‘quantum tattoo’ can make use of it. If you want something invisible until illuminated with UV, this won’t work but there are many stable compounds that would. Still, it has become abundantly clear that Billy Gates Gruff is an idiot and there are many researchers out there who are more than willing to take full advantage of an idiot with a lot of money to spare.

The only possible way I can see it working in a quantum tattoo setting is if the tattoo contains a stable form of luciferin (not easy to do) and then you dab a swab of luciferase on it. Then it would glow on its own, no need for UV, in fact it would work best if your hand was in a dark box. It seems an unnecessarily complex way to go about things anyway. Surely it would be much easier to just use a traditional tattoo technique, or if you want to get all fancy, a stable fluorescent compound that will show up under UV.

I guess they are trying for something that can’t be easily faked by a backstreet tattoo artist but getting hold of V. fischeri is really not that hard (for someone like me anyway, I just need a jar of seawater). Isolation on agar is possibly one of the easiest isolations you can do – just look for colonies that glow in the dark. Extracting luciferin/luciferase would take time but I have the equipment here. Then I just need someone with tattoo skills and the pattern it needs to take. So it can still be faked and some of us would make an absolute fortune out of it 😉

I am getting to the opinion that the whole luciferase thing is a red herring, designed to get the tinfoil hats spinning. Sure, it might be possible to produce such a glowing mark, but really it’s far too much bother and far too unreliable to be much use at all. Luciferin is a protein too, that tattoo won’t last long. Then again, repeat application of medication does seem to be the modern profit model…

Really, I don’t think this whole luciferase thing is going anywhere. It feels like a handy distraction, the name alone gets people all worked up and the glow can be used to boost the creepiness factor. It’s never going to produce a reliably useful branding mark and there’s no need anyway. The chips are already ready to go, and have been in use for quite some time now. People don’t need to be coerced into it, they fight to be first in line.

As for curmudgeons like me, it might eventually be the case that if you don’t have a chip in your hand, you can’t get into shops, or onto public transport, or even start your car. That would be far, far easier to accomplish than some fancy biochemistry embedded in your skin.

They say the Devil’s greatest trick was convincing people he doesn’t exist. This time, I suspect the trick is convincing people that something imaginary exists, to distract them and keep them panicked over fantasy demons.

Meanwhile, the real demons continue unopposed…

Transformers

‘Boys will be girls and girls will be boys, it’s mixed up muddled up shook up world except for Lola’. Might not have that exactly right, I have the song on a cassette tape that wasn’t invented when I was born but which has now passed into the mists of time along with VHS, Betamax, CDs (which were featured on a TV show called ‘Tomorrow’s World’ when I was merely a minor anomaly in the world) and laser discs, 5.25″ and 3.5″ floppy discs, and more.

But first things first. The deadline for Underdog Anthology 18 is extended to 4th October because this year is an expensive mess and lots of things are in the way. Future son in law’s stag weekend, CStM’s father’s birthday (end of September), daughter and his wedding (end of October, since he survived the stag weekend) and many things wrong with the car and it looks like it’s beans on toast for Christmas dinner.

Also, I am currently undergoing blood tests galore, I can only assume they are drinking the stuff the amount they’ve taken so far. Can’t blame them, it’s probably at least 40% whisky anyway.

Well I should have known. I was nagged into getting tested for IBS or wheat allergy, mostly by daughter, so I went to the doctor. They haven’t seen me for so long they tested everything, in the hope of finding something wrong with me. All they found was that I seem to have too much iron in me.

Okay, so I have to avoid magnets. Ah no, it’s not so simple. That finding leads to more tests which, if positive, lead to more tests, and if those are positive I’m Dracula’s snack bar for the years to come. There’s no other way to get the excess iron out and if I don’t, I risk all kinds of horrible effects. Well, it just means those mediaeval doctors were right about leeches, I suppose. At least it doesn’t involve any pills.

I could have pet leeches. I could name them after politicians. I’d need quite a large collection.

Anyway, I digress. As usual.

There is a current fad to turn boys into girls and girls into boys. Whether they like it or not. Why? Well, money of course, and lots of it. None of the ‘doctors’ involved give a shit about the future suffering of those kids wrongly transitioned, and neither do the vocal and somewhat ridiculous caricatures calling themselves ‘activists’. They are not activists pursuing a noble cause. They are idiots, useful to those who profit from this debacle.They will never accept nor understand this because they are idiots. That’s why they are used.

It does, of course, massively assist the current depopulation agenda (you can scoff and claim ‘tinfoil’ if you like, but don’t come crying to me when they cut your grandchildren’s bits off) because every transitioned child is rendered eternally sterile. If you want to be a grandparent and you go along with this, you won’t be. Your bloodline has ended. Your family has died and it’s entirely your fault.

Right. Real biology.

I know there are those who state ‘it’s all genetics’ and it mostly is, but not entirely. If you are XY you are male, XX you are female, but biology is not an exact science. Rarely, but once in a while, it throws up XXY, or XYY, or other combinations where you end up being mostly one thing but not entirely. There are really hermaphrodite people and there are really people who grow up in one sex but really, genuinely, feel they are the opposite sex. They are real people. They are rare.

In between, there exists every level of variation between the two ends of that spectrum. There are women who don’t like to wear skirts and are happier wearing trousers, but they still consider themselves women. There are men who feel more comfortable in a dress than a suit but they still consider themselves men. Heck, I’m fully hetero male and I live in Scotland so I own a kilt and woe betide any who poke fun of that. My sgian dubh is not a plastic dummy.

All of these are variations on humanity. We’re all different. If you’re a woman in a suit and bow tie or a man in a dress, there’s really no issue. Unless you use that as an excuse to demand entry to the opposite sex’s spaces, or you do as a woodwork teacher in America has done and wear a pair of prosthetic tits the size of a mastodon’s saddlebags complete with plastic nipples that could take a student’s eye out… come on. There is a clear line between harmless cross dressing and becoming an absolute caricature that even Eurotrash would raise their eyebrows at.

Clothing is irrelevant, really. Every Roman wore a toga, every Roman soldier had an armoured skirt. Were they girlie men? Well they managed to take over much of the known world at the time. So you think guys in skirts are weak? Come invade my daughter’s wedding, where we will mostly be in kilts, and see if you get out alive.

My future son in law had to undergo ritual humiliation on his stag do. Here he is, in front of an inflatable velcro dartboard…

Yes, we made him wear a dress. It’s all over farcebok anyway so no need to cut out faces. He shrugged it off, he’s north Scottish so it’d be like a kilt but far lighter.

At no time did he attempt to get into women’s bathrooms or changing rooms. No matter how he was dressed – and it did get worse than this – he remained, inside, hetero male. That’s who he is. He’s crap at woodwork though. We’ll have to teach him.

Okay. I know there are those whose gender is indeterminate and I know there are a a few-very few-who genuinely believe they should be the opposite sex. There are many who like ‘cross dressing’ and let’s be fair, trousers are a relatively recent invention. We were all in robes or loincloths before. It’s really no big deal.

But now it is being forced on children. Small children. For money.

Children who cannot possibly comprehend how it will utterly destroy their lives and on parents who will never be grandparents because they have agreed to the mutilation of their children. A mutilation that can never be reversed.

I admit, part of me thinks ‘Well, that’s Darwinism’ but it’s not really. It’s not about adapting to changes in envronment. It’s about making money for modern day Dr. Moreaus. They don’t give a shit about the consequences, they’ll just bank the cash and vanish. Leaving behind the crippled drones. Are we not Men?

The same ‘medical services’ who profited from killing people they pretended had covid are now going to profit even harder from telling you your son is a daughter, and scheduling surgery to prove it.

Object, and you will be declared insane and your children will be taken away and surgically destroyed by the… sane.

It is fast reaching the time when we won’t want to be among the ‘sane’.

Overkill

Some people object to the very idea of a monarchy, and that’s okay. I object to the idea of boy/girl/thing bands where there’s music in the background but none of them play so much as a kazoo. The actual musicians are never seen. We used to have barber shop quartets but they didn’t have backing tracks. Peter Gabriel did a modern (to me at least) version of that, at the start of this song.

Okay, I digress, but it’s a good song, and I still have that album on vinyl.

The point, I suppose, is that not everyone is happy with everything. Many people like those boy/girl/thing bands with nary a banjo, tea chest bass nor a washboard to be seen, as evidenced by how well they sell. Some people absolutely love the monarchy, others, like me, see it as just something that’s there, and still others want it gone completely.

My feeling is that if it’s gone, what replaces it? A president? Presidents have power. The UK monarchy doesn’t. King Charles III cannot make laws or raise taxes or dictate anything at all. He has no power to make executive orders. He’s a harmless head of state. Oh I have no doubt he’ll try to influence Government but they don’t have to pay attention to him. If they do, it’s their fault, not his.

And no, the monarchy doesn’t cost us. The Crown estates make more money than they retain, a lot of it goes into the general tax pot the Government love to waste. You want to know where your taxes are being pissed up the wall? Don’t look at the Royals, look at the government. Get rid of the monarchy and your taxes won’t go down a single penny. They might even go up.

The Monarch, to me, is just an interesting someone-who’s-there. A tourist attraction. Something to stamp on the money. They have no control over government, just a bunch of faux-superiors who ponce about looking grand. They really have no power over any of us at all.

I did like Mrs. Queen. I reserve judgement on King Jug-ears for now. If he turns out like his father he’ll be entertaining, but if he keeps up his mad Green crap he’ll be another George III. Could even end up as another Charles I. Let’s see how he pans out.

There have been interesting things on the travels of the Corpse Queen. I’m sure she would have disapproved of all the nonsense. ‘I’m dead, just bury me FFS’.

There were snipers on rooftops in Edinburgh in case anyone tried an assassination. Um… bit late guys. Or maybe they worried she would rise as Queen of the Zombies.

The really stupid stuff though came through the police. As usual.

They arrested a man with eggs in a bag in Aberdeen because he was close to the Corpse Queen’s box. He hadn’t thrown any. He didn’t have one in his hand ready to throw. He had eggs in a bag. Was he going to egg the Final Royal Box or was he just on the way home from his Local Shop with an omelette in mind? We don’t know but he now has ‘Breach of the Peace’ on his police record without actually doing anything.

In Edinburgh, a man was arrested after shouting out something like ‘Andy is a nonce’ which to be fair, is not technically inaccurate. Andy was filmed at his mother’s death, comforting his own daughter by fondling her buttock.

Now, I would say that ‘time and place’ applies but clearly Andy the Hand didn’t think so. He wasn’t arrested for his daughter-fondling but the man who called him out was. Again, ‘breach of the peace’. Which covers just about anything.

There were more anti-monarchy protestors arrested. None were violent or dangerous.

Let’s put it in perspective. This was the funeral procession of a 96 year old woman who had been working for 70 years, in the public eye the entire time, followed by her sons and daughter. Is this really the time to attack that family? Okay, at least one son deserved it but did it have to be today? Can’t you take a day off?

I did find the anti-monarchy demonstrations distasteful on this occasion, but the police respionse was certainly disproportionate. Arresting people for holding up a sign, shouting a few words or carrying a bag of eggs is not ‘breach of the peace’. It is dangerously close to totalitarianism. Sure, I feel that those shouting abuse at any funeral are disgusting but I do not want them arrested. Moved on, maybe, but giving people criminal records for their opinions, no matter how awful you or I might think they are, is never going to end well for anyone.

The Thought Police are not far away now.-

The Green King

My account of the merriment in Newcastle will have to wait, in view of today’s news that Queen Elizabeth II (Elizabeth I in Scotland, and possibly northern Ireland too) has passed away.

She was Queen before I was born and it seemed she was going to be there forever. I wouldn’t call myself a fervent Royalist but I did like and respect our Queen. She stayed politically neutral apart from an occasional gaffe – but come on, if you do a job for 70 years, an occasional gaffe is bound to happen.

The most recent was when she pushed the experimental jabs, calling those of us who refused them ‘selfish’. That took a lot of points off my respect level, for sure. Still, she can’t know everything, she isn’t likely to be familiar with the problems inherent in the (frankly fraudulent) PCR testing that was used, nor in the finer points of microbiology relating to disease transmission. That’s my job.

There have been many smug cretins out today, rejoicing in the death of a 96 year old woman who has done the same job for 70 years and who has done none of them any harm. There have been those claiming she was responsible for things her government did – but she had no power or authority to stop them. The UK monarchy have little to no influence over governmental affairs. She might well have been disapproving, or even outraged, by some of the things the UK government have done over her time on the throne but there was nothing she could have done to stop it.

This is not like the smug cretins rejoicing when Margaret Thatcher died. Thatcher was, indeed, responsible for what her government did but she was replaced by Monochrome Man who was much worse, and by the time she died she had been out of office for decades. There are smug cretins blaming her for things even now, who weren’t even born when she left office.

There was an American smug cretin delighting in the demise of our Queen, claiming she was the head of an empire – but the British Empire was gone long before she became Queen. History is no longer a subject that is taught, it seems.

If it were, those now delighting in the death of Queen Elizabeth the Second might well find themselves wishing she were still around in a year or so. We are entering the time of the Green King, Charles III, and I stand by my prediction that he will have the same effect on the country as Charles I. He is definitely not going to be politically neutral. He is, as Spike Milligan correctly discerned, a grovelling little bastard, in thrall to Darth Schwab and the evil empire he represents.

He won’t beat his mother’s 70 years as Regent, unless he lives to 144, which would just be gross. Still, his father lived to 99, his mother to 96, so he might well have 30 years to push his idiotic Green agenda and ‘great reset’ nonsense and he will. This King is not going to stick to the politically-neutral Royal stance with an occaisional gaffe. It’s going to be a reign of one long gaffe.

If he’s lucky, he won’t end like his predecessor.

Quick update

I spent the last weekend (Thursday to Monday) at my future son-in-law’s stag do. It was in Newcastle, and I have many photos and videos on my phone. Some of those should really never see the light of day (certainly not the ones with me in them, I seem to have put on rather more weight than I thought during lockdown).

I’ll sort through the photos and write an account of the escapade. There was much weirdness. I don’t think I can add video here, but I can link to some on Twitter. Here’s a sample.

I have also invested in a proper Scottish kilt outfit. It’s not the absolute real deal, that would bankrupt me, but it’s pretty damn expensive. But it’s my only daughter’s wedding so it’s worth the outlay. Also, hired gear comes with a fake plastic sgian dubh and I’m not having that. I am assured that a real one is legal as long as you’re in the traditional dress. It certainly wouldn’t be otherwise. There will be photos later, of course.

For my son’s wedding we all had to be in the same tartan, so we rented the gear to be sure it would match. This time, the groom’s family and friends mostly already have kilts so there is no restriction. Well… I’m not allowed the camouflage one, it has to be a proper tartan so I went with the ‘Pride of Scotland’ that doesn’t seem to be associated with a clan.

So I am now sobered up, as far as possible, and back to work. The anthology beckons and I have several books in the queue still. There are also a few models I made during lockdown that I have yet to post. It’s been a while since I did a model post…

Sleep? Bah. Who needs it?

Tinfoil overload

Author payment time is coming.It’ll be a day early this quarter since I can’t stay up late on the 31st to catch any last minute sales because I have to be up in the horrible earliness the next day. I’ll explain why after it’s over. So, any sales on the 31st will be paid next quarter. In September I’ll start assembling the Halloween anthology, and no writer can possibly claim they are short of horror story ideas this year! Just read the news.

Blogging has been light because this ‘hobby publishing’ idea of mine has become almost full time, because there have been issues with family getting sick, and that even includes the car which has suffered with ‘lockdown rot’ from not getting much use. Also, the dog is stoned again on multiple medications and seems to have become addicted to painkillers.

Another reason is that, rather than nothing to talk about, there is currently far too much to talk about. Many things happening at once, most, if not all of them, interconnected.

When they told us they wanted us to eat insects, I thought ‘pfft, I’ll hunt rabbits, pheasant, partridge and go fishing’. Well the rabbits have seen a sharp decline, the pheasants have gone quiet and I haven’t seen a deer around here since the early days of lockdown. At least there are still plenty of pigeons.

As for fishing, it turns out that those sewage outflows have killed thousands of fish in one of the Thames tributaries. Raw sewage dumping isn’t new, it’s long been part of our rubbish sewage system and exacerbated by the import of several million more people with absolutely zero improvement in infrastructure to support that extra population. It seems to be in the news now, not because it’s new, but because it’s scary. Who’s going to go fishing if they risk catching a botty-log instead of a brown trout?

So the ‘hunter-gatherer’ option is systematically being erased. What other options do we have?

Recently, a Swedish scientist (I suspect he was called Svenibbal Lektersson) stated that eating human flesh was the most sustainable option for meat. Well, that’s not going to go well. If we were to get a taste for it, ‘Eat the Rich’ won’t be just a slogan and visiting enforcement officers might never be seen again. It’s a very risky proposition. ‘The Hills have Eyes’ was supposed to be just a scary film. Maybe Ed Gein wasn’t a monster after all. Maybe he was just ahead of the curve.

Another scientist has claimed that burying corpses is bad for the environment. You know, putting our bodies back into the ecosystem just like every other form of life, to be recycled, is suddenly somehow bad for the world. Well, I guess they have that solution already – the big ovens at Auschwitz would have clued them in – but wait! Won’t that produce more CO2?

Ah, not if you use the ovens to cook rather than incinerate them. You can then slice and package it and call it lab-grown meat, which is something that will never work on a large scale but provides a perfect cover for the new Soylent Green.

Getting those Halloween story ideas yet? There is one more twist in the insect food story but I’m keeping that one for myself.

Then we have the whole ‘net zero’ nonsense. The ice caps are not melting, the polar bears are not going extinct, the current weather events are just that – weather. Although the usual mantra is ‘climate change’ when things get rough and when it’s normal, ‘weather is not climate’. It’s true. Weather is not climate. A drought in one place is not proof that humans are affecting the climate. As if we were even capable of such a thing.

I’ve seen a few people try to argue that carbon dioxide is ‘beneficial to plants’. It’s not. It’s absolutely essential to plants. It’s what they use to make every part of the plant, carbon dioxide and a nitrogen source (normally from the soil, they can’t use inert atmospheric nitrogen although legumes have made a deal whith Rhizobacterium, the plant feeds it sugars and the bacterium fixes atmospheric nitrogen – but I digress).

Carbon dioxide is very, very low at the moment. It’s been far higher in the past. It doesn’t stay in the atmosphere for years, most of it is absorbed by nearby plant life within hours, if not minutes. That’s why it doesn’t accumulate. You’ve seen how fast grass grows in summer, right? Every carbon atom in every blade of grass on every rolling hillside came from CO2. Including the sugars they metabolise. Remove CO2 from the atmosphere and all the plants die. Shortly after that, so does everything else.

Except the anaerobic bacteria. Once the oxygen is used up and there are no plants producing any more, the world belongs to the anaerobes once again. They’ll rebuild it but there won’t be a single one of the existing animal, plant or insect species in their new world. It’ll all be new, and we won’t be in it. Maybe a semi-intelligent species like ours will eventually arise again and fuck it all up again. The anaerobes will fix that too. Maybe it’s happened before.

We are supposed to embrace the electric car. It’s useless. There isn’t a power grid in the world that could charge them all, and when the battery dies in a few years a new one costs as much as a new car. The batteries won’t be recyclable and they’ll end up in massive toxic dumps while cars that should have lasted decades are scrapped in a few years. There won’t be any second hand sales either – the old ones will cost as much to fix as just buying a new one.

And what will you charge them with on a windless night?

If the lunacy persists, my ideas for a land yacht backed by a steam engine might make me the next Henry Ford. On a reasonably breezy day you can start it moving using the sails while you wait for the steam boiler to reach operating pressure. Just needs wood and water, and it’ll use a lot less of those things than ‘green’ Drax power station.

There is so much more, but I’ll just add the current influx of illegal immigration – yes, they are illegal. They are not fleeing war-torn France, are they? They have apparently walked from Africa, all across ‘war-torn’ Europe and scrounged a dinghy to cross to the UK. On the way they picked up fully charged cell phones, clean clothes and a smart haircut. Oh and they were so brave they left their wives and children to deal with the ‘war’ they ran away from.

If I tried that trip I’d be a hairy stinking skeleton by the end of it. Wouldn’t you?

They are not refugees. They are being well fed and cared for and causing nothing but trouble. So why is our government importing so many of them and refusing to send any back?

Well, the food shortage looms, we are being told we should eat human flesh and healthy fit flesh would be far better than stringy old Grandad, burial of bodies harms the environment, and there’s the nonviable ‘lab meat’ cover for…

I’ll leave it to your imagination.

Pleasant dreams.

Chitin

Okay, let’s start this with ‘what the hell does this guy know about chitin’.

When I started my PhD on the metabolism of ciliate protozoa living in the rumen of cattle and sheep, it was a hot topic. Three years later, I finished, and science had moved on. Rumen protozoa had become a niche topic and there were no openings for a new scientist. So, I diversified. What transferable skills did I have?

Well, I knew a lot about microbiology by then, having gained two degrees in it, and especially about anaerobic metabolism – and I had no qualms about working with stinky things. So my first job after the PhD was a three year post doc on… well this should explain.

That wasn’t the only paper to come out of that project but it was the main one. Anyway, yes, I do know a good bit about chitin and it’s important to know about it because if the idiots in charge get their way, you’re going to be eating a hell of a lot of it.

Its biochemical name is poly-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine, a homopolymer (no it’s not gay, it’s a polymer of one type of molecule repeated over and over). Rather like cellulose or starch, except those are just polymers of glucose.

You can digest starch, mostly, but it comes in two forms. Amylose is just straight chains of glucose and very easy to digest. Amylopectin is straight chains but with branches coming off the chain, like a tree. If you have amylase enzyme you can digest it back as far as the branch points but you need a different enzyme to break those branch points. If you don’t have it, you basically shit out pollarded starch molecules. You’ll still get some energy from it.

‘Oh, so smartass knows all about starches too’. Indeed I do, since I returned to gut microbiology after three years of delving into stinky mud and, a few years later, supervised a PhD working on retrograde starch and its effects on pig digestion.

Cellulose is also poly-glucose but the chains are cross-linked. Humans can’t digest it, in fact neither can cows and other ruminants even though they live on it. Bacteria and protozoa can, and this is what the first stomach of a cow is for. The rumen (actually reticulo-rumen in case a pedant arrives) doesn’t secrete any enzymes. It’s a big bag of bacteria, protozoa and even anaerobic fungi. They do all the work of turning indigestible grass into highly digestible microbial protein and organic acids. The cow absorbs the organic acids and its liver makes glucose from them since the cow gets little to no direct sugar from its diet. The microbes get it first.

Then, once the microbes have turned the lousy food into every known amino acid, the cow moves a batch of them into its omasum/abomasum where they are digested. You can feed a cow with newspapers soaked in piss (bacteria will make amino acids from urea) and it’ll survive on that.

You can’t digest the stuff a ruminant eats. You don’t have a rumen. There are certain amino acids and vitamins you cannot produce and you have to get them in your food. Sure, you can eat grass but almost all of it will come out of the other end. The bacteria in your colon can use some of it, although we don’t all have cellulose degrading bacteria, but it’s the colon. The end of the digestive system. You can’t digest those bacteria.

So, humans can digest amylose starch, partially digest amylopectin starch, can’t digest cellulose. What has this to do with chitin and why should you care?

Chitin is the animal world’s version of cellulose. It’s tough and very hard to digest. Human digestive systems won’t touch it, colon bacteria might get something out of it but like grass, it’s mostly going right through. It’s what the exoskeleton (hard shell) of insects is made of.

So when you hear that insects contain more nutrition than an equivalent weight of beef, that’s discounting the fact that you can’t actually access most of that nutrition. The exoskeleton is made of a sugar, N-acetyl-D-glucosamine which is basically glucose with an amine group and an acetyl group tagged on. But it’s in a form you simply can’t digest, like the glucose in cellulose. Everything in beef is digestible. A large proportion of an insect is not. If you put both in a calorimeter to measure caloric content, the insects would win – but it’s not about how many calories a food contains. It’s about how many are actually accessible.

The ‘eat ze bugs’ pushers don’t care about that. Just like the Pharmers, your health is none of their concern. They just want the money.

Nobody is set up to eat insects. Ruminants can possibly digest them, they don’t hunt them but they probably get a few from eating the grass. It doesn’t matter to a ruminant. They just need a carbohydrate and a nitrogen source and their rumen microbes will make all they need. Human digestion will not work that way.

There has been some indication that too much chitin in your diet can lead to some serious problems. That’s possible – I have a small bottle of pure amylose (starch) that is marked as a potential neurotoxin in its pure form.

‘Oh, but some cultures eat insects all the time’. Sure. They do that because they live where there’s bugger all else to eat. And they generally eat grubs which are soft bodied and don’t have a chitinous exoskeleton until after they pupate. No humans, anywhere, eat insects unless there is nothing else.

We have, over millenia, put a hell of a lot of effort into keeping insects out of grains and flour storage. Why didn’t we just let them eat the grains and flour and then eat the insects? Because that makes us ill. We have known this for thousands of years.

Suddenly, insects are the food of the future. If you really believe insect food is your future, there is one thing you really should understand.

You have no future.

Hydrophobia

Well, we have rocketing food prices, insane fuel prices, impending shortages of everything and now we’re told we are short of water.

Rubbish. This is the UK. Water drops out of the sky most days of the year. And we’re surrounded by it so a few desalination plants and we’d have an inexhaustible supply. Of course that’s far too logical for any government to ever implement.

To be fair, the desalination plants aren’t necessary. As I said, water drops out of the sky for free for most of the year. Water shortages are uncommon here, the last serious one I remember was 1976 when we were told to re-use bathwater and there were standpipes in the streets for water rationing in some towns. In 1976 we had two months of dry weather to get to that point. This year, it took two days.

Two dry days should have passed unnoticed. They didn’t. We have the Madscream Media telling us the world is about to become as dessicated as a raisin and showing us pictures of a yellowed landscape.

It’s harvest time. You know how you can tell when a crop is ready for harvest? It turns yellow. When it’s harvested, the stubble left behind is… yellow. The Telegraph even showed a photo of a yellowed field in which the baled straw was still perfectly visible. Bales of straw that look like this.

And they were all… yellow

Don’t worry, I’m not going to put up a Coldplay video. I have not sunk to inflicting such levels of torture on you.

See, when you harvest grain for sale, the buyer wants a certain maximum level of moisture content. If the grain is too wet, you have to run grain dryers for days, sometimes many days, and that costs a lot of money. Especially with the current insane energy prices. So you want to harvest it when it’s dry.

Well, there’s heavy rain and thunderstorms forecast for next week so this week, harvesting has been frantic. On every farm in the country. This has resulted in an awful lot of yellow fields appearing all at once and the Church of Climatology has made considerable propaganda out of it. Sure, large parts of the UK, especially the eastern side, looks like it’s dry as a crisp in satellite images but when all the farms harvest at once, that’s inevitable. Zoom in on those photos and you’ll see the yellow patches resolve into discrete fields with green bits in between. Under those yellow fields the soil is not dessicated.

We are not short of water. We are short of sensible water policies. Water companies are losing millions of gallons a day through leaky transport pipes and their only solution is to raise prices so their customers pay for their wasteful incompetence. There’s plenty of water, if only the infrastructure had been examined and updated at least once since Queen Victoria’s day.

Another anomaly is the hosepipe ban. I’ve never seen a hosepipe ban since I moved to Scotland. The nearest I saw was in the really good summer in the early 2000s, when Scottish Water sent a letter asking if we wouldn’t mind avoiding hosepipe use unless it was actually necessary. That was once, and it wasn’t a ban, just a ‘we’d rather you didn’t if you don’t mind’ letter.

Further south, hosepipe bans happened every few years when the summers were actually warm. They were announced as ‘don’t use hosepipes from now until we say so’. This year it’s ‘we’re going to impose a hosepipe ban at some specific date in a few weeks time’. Which only makes sense if you don your tinfoil hat.

So, tinfoil hats on, everyone. Are you ready? Here we go.

We have been forecast thunderstorms for weeks. They didn’t happen. It rained but no storms. The forecast is for storms next week, all over the country, all at once. So farms are harvesting at a manic pace all over the country. So there are many fields of yellow stubble, all at once. They appear every year, just not usually all in the same week. These yellow fields are being claimed to be proof of drought by idiots who have never set foot outside the concrete jungles they inhabit.

Announcing a hosepipe ban in advance can have only one result. Every bugger is out washing their car and watering their garden every day until it takes effect. Just as with the rumours of arsepaper shortage, petrol shortage, etc, the prediction fulfils itself.

There is no shortage until you force it to happen.

It’s being pushed hard because the dry spell isn’t going to last long, and they’ll need to switch to ‘Climate Change Floods’ (due to blocked and badly maintained drains) very quickly. You’d be amazed just how fast the general population will forget that they were in the middle of a deadly drought yesterday and they need to build an Ark today.

The water goes deeper (sorry).

So you might be thinking ‘Well, I can collect rainwater if it comes down to it’. By a remarkable coincidence *snort* it has just been ‘discovered’ that there is no rainwater safe to drink, anywhere in the world.

Remember that game of ‘dihydrogen monoxide’? It’s in everything! There were a very few who fell for it and were genuinely scared. This is the same game but on a much bigger scale.

This time, the first response will be ‘Who the hell drinks rainwater? I get mine from the tap’. Eventually the realisation will spread that tap water comes from reservoirs and what refills the reservoirs? It’s there, in their heads, but they won’t see it yet.

No rain, reservoir levels drop. So the reservoirs that supply their tap water are refilled by… rain. Which they have now been told is poisonous. So they dare not drink tap water either.

Cue the bottled water merchants. ‘Oh this is safe, it’s bottled water’. It’s the same water as they get from the taps but it’s safe because it’s in a bottle. Think people won’t fall for it? Try the ‘nicotine in tobacco is deadly but nicotine in patches and gum is perfectly safe’ game. That one worked a treat, didn’t it? It’ll be the same game but with water.

So now you dare not drink tap water and absolutely will never touch stream or rain water so your only source of water is commercial bottled water. Which is, of course, definitely not free. It’s the same water but you are totally dependent on the bottled supply. Can’t afford it? Social credit score too low to let you buy it? Well then you die of dehydration. Comply or die.

I would have been concerned about the report on ‘poison rain’ if it hadn’t appeared at the same time that Mad Hancock was expressing concern over a two day ‘drought’ and the MSM were selling pictures of the annual harvest as dessicated fields of dead grass. In this context I can only dismiss the ‘poison rain’ as all part of the general bollocks pushed by the Church of Climatology and if the forecast heavy rain really does arrive next week, I will expect to see ‘climate change is flooding us all’ being hyped as if the mythical drought never happened.

If you are dependent on anyone else for water, you are under absolute control. Don’t fall for it.

Entertainment: Construction Kit

A blast from the past. I wrote this in 2003. It was my first ever submission and my first ever accepted story. I admit it made me a bit cocky, and caused me to submit a few sub-par stories until I realised not every one was a winner. It’s the first story in ‘Fears of the Old and the New‘, a collection of the early published shorts. The ‘click to look inside’ gives you all of it apart from the last paragraph.

So, why do I post it now? The video linked at the end will give you a clue…

Construction Kit

My first submission was also my first story accepted for publication. This was in the online magazine Dark Fiction (www.darkfiction.org) in 2003. Here it is with all its beginner’s mistakes intact.

“Looks fine to me.” Doc Short looked up from the small boy in his examination chair. “Probably just overtired. You know how kids can get. Too much excitement, then they just throw a tantrum over the slightest thing. Good night’s sleep, that’s my prescription.” He smiled down at the boy. “On your way, Peter, the nurse will take you back to bed.” The child grinned at him as the nurse led him away. Strangely disquieting, the way these children smiled, Doc thought.

He looked around at Bill Wilson, his boss. Wilson was watching, grim-faced, as the child was led away. Once the child was out of earshot, he turned to Doc Short. “Some tantrum,” he said. “That little boy broke an orderly’s wrist. It took three of them – three grown men – to subdue him. Something is definitely wrong, Doc, something’s wrong with them all.”

Doc Short forced a smile. He had his own misgivings about the children, but he couldn’t put them into words. Just a feeling. “Well, of course they’re not normal,” he said. “They’ve hardly had a normal upbringing, have they? Stuck in here, never going outside, never meeting anyone else. There’s bound to be some, well, anomalous behaviour now and then.”

Wilson looked pensive. “They’re stronger than normal ten-year olds. Faster. More intelligent. And not just by a small margin. But you know that, Doc, You ran the tests yourself.” He sighed. “Maybe we should consider terminating the experiment.”

The words cut into Doc as though Wilson had stabbed him with them. “You can’t!” he said, louder than he had intended, “Sorry, Bill, but you know what that would mean. You can’t just ‘terminate’ seven healthy children.”

“They don’t exist, Simon,” Wilson said, avoiding Doc’s gaze. “They’re an experiment. Nobody outside the Project knows about them. They’re just products, we made them. We grew them from fertilized eggs, in the incubators. They have no mothers. No fathers. No family. They belong to the Project. Outside, they just don’t exist.”

Doc sat heavily in his chair. “Still, they’re alive, they’re real children. Bill, the whole point of this project was to make babies for childless couples, for women who couldn’t conceive, or who couldn’t carry a child to term. Twelve years on, and we’ve succeeded – in fact we succeeded ten years ago, when these seven were born. Why is it still a secret? Why aren’t we doing what we set out to do?”

“The children aren’t normal, Doc. You know that.”

“They’re better than normal, Bill. You said it yourself. I’ve never seen such fit, healthy, intelligent kids. Talk to them – they’ve learned everything there is to learn here, and more. Why, I reckon Thomas could run the whole process we used to make him, all on his own.”

Wilson looked up, his eyes wide. “What? But how – when – did he have access to the labs? None of them are allowed in there!”

Doc smiled. Thomas was his favourite. He had grown fond of all the children, but Thomas was like his own son. The boy had always been interested in biology, and had been fascinated by the labs.

“He found his own way in. Worked out the codes for the doors, I don’t know how, and just walked in. He’s been doing it since he was six, never caused any problems, just watched and learned. We never reported him because he’s such a great kid, and he really liked being in the labs.”

“You could get into serious trouble over this.” Wilson folded his arms. “It has to stop, now, and…” A scream from outside cut him off. “What was that?” he said. For a moment he and Doc just looked at each other, then a second scream had them both racing for the door.

Along the corridor, at the far end, was a flickering light. “Fire!” Wilson started into a run. Doc was close behind him. Rounding the corner, they stopped abruptly, horror crushing their insides into nausea. It was a fire all right, and it was walking around.

The flames engulfed a large figure, arms flailing, dark mouth gaping soundlessly, the vocal chords already consumed. The figure collided with the wall, sending showers of sparks and flame into the air. Its eyes had melted, as had most of its features, and its last breath was not air, but combusting gases as it fell to form a lifeless, melting, stinking flesh-pool on the floor in front of them.

Wilson and Doc stared, mouths gaping, at the remains of the orderly. Simultaneously they noticed the children, standing on the far side of the flaming corpse.

Wilson found his voice. “What….what happened?” The children shouldn’t see this, said half of his brain. Why are they smiling? asked the other half. Doc Short didn’t speak, he simply placed a hand on the wall and emptied his breakfast into a slippery smear on the floor.

Peter grinned at Wilson, and pointed. “Your fault!” he shouted. “You caused this!”

Wilson stared at him through the flames, the smoke, the smell of charred flesh. “What do you mean, Peter? How could I cause this?” The cold stares of all the children were on him now, he felt the temperature fall around him despite the heat of the incinerated orderly just yards away.

Elaine grinned that maniacal grin they all shared. “You wanted to kill us. We can’t let you do it, we don’t want to.” Her pout was that of a ten-year-old but the flare in her eyes betrayed thoughts well beyond her years.

“How…how could you know that?” Wilson was in shock, he couldn’t see the hole he was digging for himself. “I had only just thought those things myself.”

Diane looked almost sympathetic. “You tested us. You tested everything you could think of – but you didn’t test the things beyond your understanding. How could you? Poor Uncle Bill, you never knew the powers, the abilities we have because you don’t know how to look for them. So you see, all this is your fault, not ours. We just want to stay alive.”

Thomas moved forward. “It was your fault from the start, Uncle Bill. You wanted to be God, to create life, but you forgot one thing. Life isn’t just the body. There’s more, much more. You gave us life, but you couldn’t give us souls.”

“So we found our own,” Richard said. “Or rather, to be accurate, we souls found these bodies you so kindly made for us. That’s the one flaw in your program that you never saw. You can create bodies, but they’re empty, soulless. Ideal for us.”

A snigger from behind made Wilson turn abruptly, then sink to his knees. Elaine was behind him – so was Peter! How? They could not have passed him in the narrow corridor, could not have passed the still smoking orderly, could not have stepped over Doc’s slumped, vacant-eyed form, without him noticing. As he stared, a pale light formed beside Peter, and gradually resolved into the solid form of Claire, with a smile that was half-amusement, half-contempt. Wilson slumped forward, shaking his head.

“That’s how you did it, Thomas. That’s how you kept getting into the lab.” Doc’s voice was barely audible, drifting from his blank face like smoke from a candle. “You didn’t learn the door codes, you just…just transported yourself through the door.” He was staring at Thomas as though he was seeing through him, through his flesh to what lay underneath.

Thomas looked at Doc with pity and obvious superiority, the nearest he could manage to kindness, like a goldfish owner looks at his pet. “Close, Doc. I didn’t go through the door, I went under it and over it and around it. We can use a dimension at right-angles to your three – too complicated to explain to your poor, limited brain, I’m afraid.”

“What are you? What have we created?” Wilson looked up, still hugging himself in fear. “What will you do?”

Stephen, always the quiet one, grinned at Thomas. “Should we tell? Should we tell them our secret?” he asked. The others looked at Thomas expectantly.

“Why not?” Thomas said, with a wide and evil smile. “They won’t be telling anyone else, after all. You tell them, Stephen.”

Stephen fixed his grin on Wilson, “We are, what you would call, demons.” he said. “We have no bodies of our own, never did. We’re not ghosts or spirits of the dead, we’ve never had access to your world. Oh, we’ve tried. We’ve tried to possess the bodies of the living but it never works. The soul puts up quite a fight, you see. We either lose the battle and get expelled, or destroy the body in the fight. Some of us have held power over bodies for a time, but never for long, and we could never bring all of our powers with us. The soul always got in the way.” His face twisted in bitter remembrance.

Peter took over. “Now it’s different. Your cloning methods produced soulless bodies. We took possession when they were still in the incubators. There was no fight, so the possession was perfect. We have the bodies and we still have all of our demonic powers. We’re here to stay now, and we can bring more of our kind through.”

A sudden hope dawned on Wilson. “No.” he said. “You won’t. You’re sterile, all of you. You can’t reproduce. There will be no next generation of demons. You’re all there is.” Finally, he thought, some triumph. They haven’t won after all.

The children’s laughter was deafening, and fell like hammers on Wilson’s head, confusing his thoughts.

“Fool!” Thomas shouted. “We don’t need to reproduce by your primitive, messy and unreliable human methods. We can produce all the soulless bodies we need, right here. You’ve provided us with the construction kit.” He gave Wilson a look of sardonic amusement. “Every little boy should have a construction kit, after all. This project, this building is secret. You made sure of that. Nobody knows of its existence, nor of our existence. The staff have no families, no-one to tell your secret to, so no-one to miss them.  Food is delivered, paid for automatically, so we don’t even have to worry about that. For all this, we thank you.” He turned to Doc with a smile. “And thank you, Doc, for showing us how to run your little kit. Your reward will be painless.”

Doc looked up, his face displaying his grasp of the implication. His eyes turned white in an instant as he slumped back, lifeless, against the wall.

The children turned their attention to Wilson. “Your reward is a little different,” Peter said, sniggering. “But first, we have to thank you, It’s only polite.” His smile was contempt incarnate.

Stephen spoke solemnly: “Yes, Uncle Bill. We thank you for your gift of life, and for the gift of those who are to come.” All the children joined in, as if in prayer. “We will not forget how you brought us to this world, and how you provided us with the means to bring all of the others here. Thank you, Uncle Bill. Thank you, and goodbye.”

Wilson could not contain the horror in his mind and hardly noticed the ache in his joints until they began to unravel. As his body dismembered itself in a symphony of agony, he thought he heard himself screaming.


It took nearly 20 years for this one to get close to reality.

Bluff or not?

So Nancy Pelosi is now visiting Taiwan. There are many cynical (and possibly true) tales about why she’s visiting, but those are not my concern.

As soon as she announced her intention to visit, the Chinese government puffed up its feathers and told her there’d be repercussions if she did. Then they ramped up their military on the coast facing Taiwan and threatened military action if Pelosi landed in Taiwan. Specifically, they said that if her plane had a fighter escort, they’d shoot it down.

Some have said she should have cancelled the trip. If she had, the American government would have been seen to be caving in to the demands of the Chinese government. If China can control which American politician is allowed to go where, then the last tenuous shreds of credibility will be torn away from Congress and America will be seen as cowardly.

So, as soon as China issued those threats, the visit had to go ahead. The American government was left with no option. Go ahead, or be seen as cowards in the face of China. There was no way out.

On the other hand, China now faces being seen as a paper tiger if they don’t respond to this visit as they threatened to. China, also, does not want to lose face and does not want to be seen to be backing down to America. Yet if they do retaliate, they risk world war three. Heck, they guarantee it. America does not have the ground forces to attack China so any war is defintely going to get very close indeed to nuclear.

All it will take then is one rogue state (Iran? North Korea?) firing off one small nuke and we won’t have to worry about global warming, caramel lattes or pronouns any more. We’ll all be hunting for the last shreds of food and water that doesn’t glow in the dark. If it reaches the point where either side is considering the Big Red Button, any nuke going off anywhere is going to trigger an automatic response. Neither side will have time to say ‘Hey wait, maybe it wasn’t them’ because once one nuke goes off, they have to assume that more are arriving within minutes.

Basically, China’s threats gave the US government no option but to go ahead with Pelosi’s visit, since otherwise they’d be seen as China’s pets. Now China has to decide whether it’s going to go through with those threats or be seen as simply sabre-rattling.

It’s a very dangerous situation, and all over an old woman visiting an island. China could have shrugged and dismissed it as American showing-off. Instead they’re gearing up for a massive war.

So, we have Europe threatening Russia, resulting in Russia turning off Europe’s gas supply and selling it to China instead. China has a reliable power supply and an enormous military, and now they feel provoked (although really the situation is mostly their own fault).

Interesting times ahead. I just hope the UK government recognises that we are far too small a country to get involved in something this big, although common sense is not a feature of most of our politicians at the moment.

If I lived in a major city, I’d be making plans to get out. Quick.