Panoptica Chapter 9

I’ve been distracted by a short story idea concerning Annunaki, Neanderthals and the ‘replacement of Europeans’. This will not take long and I’ll be back to Panoptica as soon as I have the other story drafted.

As for the news, I’m finding it hard to get worked up about any of it. The Labour leadership contest – meh. I’m not a member of any political party so won’t have a say and frankly, don’t give a damn. The candidate lineup looks like the starting line of a window licking competition. I don’t care which one they pick.

Apparently it’s ‘racism’ to criticise Meghan Markle, or Meghan Windsor as she is now. This is playing a full deck of race cards all at once, and what for? What does it matter if a minor royal decides he doesn’t want to be royal any more? He won’t be the first to abdicate his royalness. There are no examples of racism in any of the criticism I’ve seen and I don’t care enough about another family’s issues to comment myself. This is for Mrs. Queen and Wrinkled Phil to sort out. Not my business.

I’ve given up arguing with global warmers. There’s no point and it’s too late anyway. Climate change has arrived and is killing people in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan because they aren’t used to experiencing that much cold. Countries all over the world are seeing cold records fall every day – and the Church of Climatology focuses on arsonist-set fires in Australia. Even though much of Australia is also recording record low temperatures in what, for them, is summer. When I say ‘low’ I mean low for Australia, so pretty much British summer temperatures. They aren’t under glaciers and probably won’t be. There’s too much sea between Antarctica and the next land for effective glacier formation. The North doesn’t have that buffer. Maybe Australia will eventually have low enough temperatures for normal people to visit without having to wear stillsuits and a Meccano framework of fans and ice.

We have several years’ worth of firewood, we have well water and septic tank sewage. I just need to get a generator, ideally steam powered because the idiots are likely to push fuel prices into daft levels soon. I doubt they exist but I’m sure a petrol one could be modified with maybe an old railway tank engine to drive it. Yes, I am looking for an excuse to get one. Let the warmers keep pretending it’s getting hotter, and that CO2 is the only thing that matters. The game is over. They’re just hiding in that global warming jungle, pretending the war is still going on. I’m happy to leave them there.

Brexit – will it happen? I’m not going to hold my breath. Boris might actually come through on this or he might be a jolly Santa-like version of Jackboots May. We’ll get a better idea on the 31st January but we won’t know for sure until December. Either way, there’s sod all I can do about it so I’m not going to worry about it.

Enough gloom – I’m obviously spending far too much time with Gloom Dog lately – and on with the jolly tale of Panoptica. This’ll cheer you up. Comparatively.

Panoptica: Chapter 9

46110. 46826. 46053. The onesie patterns were unmistakable. 10538 stopped moving when he saw the unit marked as 93224. This rail station was under heavy security. Ghosthunters and a Coalition advisor? Something important must be happening, so what was he doing here? Surely he didn’t merit such a high-ranking sendoff party?

“Something wrong? Why have you stopped?” 18823 nudged him forward.

10538 took hesitant steps. “There are very important units here. A lot of security. What’s that for?”

“Have you ever been to a train station before?” 18823 moved in front of 10538, smiling.

“Well… no. I only ever needed the bus.”

“Trains are for longer journeys. The higher ranks need to get to distant places quickly. They’ll be waiting for trains going to their own destinations.” 18823 took 10538’s arm. “Come on. The train to Pensionville is already here. It has to clear the platform before other trains can arrive.”

10538 looked around. There was a concrete floor, a thing like a little room with a door, the concrete floor seemed to fall away on either side of the little room. Baffled, he turned to 18823. “I don’t know what a train looks like. Is it around here?”

18823 laughed. “Of course. I’ve never ridden in one but I’ve brought others here. So I know how it works. Let me show you.” He led 10538 to the edge of the concrete floor, just beside the little room, “Look down there.”

10538 peered cautiously over the edge. About a metre or so down lay steel bars, linked together at intervals, that ran under the room and off into the distance.

“Those are rails.” 18823 pointed into the distance. “They lead to Pensionville. This—” he indicated the little room “—runs on those rails so it can’t ever take a wrong turn. You sit inside and it will take you to Pensionville safely. That’s all there is to it. You just sit inside and wait. You don’t have to do anything.”

“Just like the bus?” 10538 looked over the little room. It had no visible windows, just the door.

“Even better. Because it’s on rails it can’t go the wrong way. It’s a lot faster too.” 18823 patted 10538’s back. “Come on, let’s get you on board.”

They stood before the door to the little room 18823 had called a ‘train’. There was a hiss and the door moved forwards, then sideways along the side of the train. 10538 was aware of movement around him – the ghosthunters had tensed, the advisor took a step back. He glanced at 18823, whose smile was tight and who appeared to not be breathing.

10538 stepped through the door. Someone sat in there, someone who looked up at him with one raised eyebrow. The onesie identified them as 71556. 10538 raised his hand in greeting to show his designation. 71556 snorted and looked away.

10538 turned to 18823. “Seems I’m not travelling alone.”

“Anyone you know?” 18823 spoke through gritted teeth.

10538 felt a little taken aback. It felt as though there was another overlay to this whole situation but he just could not grasp it. “No,” he said. “Never seen this unit before.”

18823 blew a long breath, as though relieved about something. He raised his hand. “Well, 10538, this is goodbye. I hope to join you in Pensionville one day but until then, be compliant, be comfortable, and conform.”

“I will. Be happy in your important job.” 10538 raised his hand in response until the door hissed closed. Once it had, he took a seat opposite 71556 and wondered if he should start a conversation. It seemed presumptuous to insist on conversation with a higher rank so instead, he stared out of the window.

The empty platform slid away as the train pulled out of the station.

The End Times

The world still hasn’t ended yet. I hope it ends before the expiry date on my popcorn.

As I’ve often said, I have no religion of any kind, not even atheism. I have absolutely no interest in persuading anyone to my view of the afterlife, this life, past lives… or anything else.

I have, however, always been interested in religion. Not in whether it’s true or not, nor in whether I should consider joining up. No, my interest is in where it comes from, and why so many people fervently believe something that cannot be proven because there is no mechanism for testing it.

How would science go about testing God? Omnipotent, omnipresent – so you can’t have a ‘definite no-God’ control area. Where is your null hypothesis? That everything arose by pure chance? Well, is that a null hypothesis or an opposing theory? And how do you go about testing whether anything in biology, geology, elsewhere did not arise by chance when the alternative is not visible, tangible or measurable? There is nothing to test.

Try testing prayer. Let’s say you get an effect. Does that prove God, or does it prove Jung’s ‘collective consciousness’ at work? Did the healing come from a God or directly from the people praying?

If someone performed a verifiable miracle – did God do it, or did that person exhibit some unusual paranormal ability? There is no way to prove that God exists. You either believe or you don’t. I don’t.

I know, people say I should believe as an insurance against being wrong. If I said I believed I’d be lying. I’d be faking it, as so many already do, to avoid being ostracised or worse by the religious community they live in. If there is a God, he’s likely to be much more pissed at me for faking it than for being honest about not believing. And God would know I was faking it. Faking it would mean lying to myself, to everyone else, and, ultimately, to any God who might be watching. As insurance policies go, it’s a dud.

All religions, including the new Church of Climatology, have a doomsday scenario. The end of the world. Do as we say, live as we tell you, or you will be damned on Judgement Day. Yes, Climatology is a religion. It fits all the criteria.

Climatology has seized on the Christian Armageddon version, in which the world is utterly destroyed forever and all humans are dead. The Christian one is preferable in that at least some survive and get taken up to Heaven. The Climatologist’s Green God just kills everyone.

The big question is – when? When does this all happen? The Jehovah’s Witnesses once set a date of about 1919 (my memory could be a couple of years off) and the world didn’t end. Although the First World War brought it to an end for millions of people so maybe they weren’t entirely off the scoreboard with that one.

There have been quite a few dates that have been set for Armageddon and all have passed uneventfully. God won’t give a date, as Death himself once explained.

So it’s all guesswork. Anyway, not all religions have such finality to the end days although pretty much all of them calculate those end days as being very close. For some, and there is a consistency between several of their legends, the end is not an ‘end’, but a change. A big change, a not particularly comfortable change, a change few will survive, but not the utter destruction of the planet.

The survivors will not have pink hair and arms like pipe cleaners. It’s that sort of change.

I have for some time been interested in the ‘yuga’ cycles of ancient India. Now, I know it is fashinonable to think of India as being under British subjugation as if it didn’t exist before Queen Victoria’s time, but there has been a quiet civilisation there for a very long time. They do not seem to have been an expansionist civilisation, they aren’t recorded as being like the Greeks and Romans and many others who were so bored with their own countries they felt the need to invade someone else’s. India has been invaded many times throughout history but they showed no interest in invading anyone else.

There is an interesting, if long, article by someone who has studied the matter in detail. The full yuga is 12000 years and there are four sections to it. Well really it’s 24000 years because there is a decline then a rising of humanity through the cycles. We are currently in Kali Yuga, the very bottom of the cycle, a time of barbarity and chaos. It’s nearly over.

Each of the yuga sections is 2700 years with a 300 year transition period (which is what Tessie Maybe will sign us up to over Brexit if the daft tart has her way). Here is the timeline he has calculated:

So we are leaving Kali Yuga and moving into the transition period into a new and better period, if this is correct. However, the transition period is always nasty.

Basically, natural disasters and the collapse of civilisations. Well, we are about to enter a Grand Solar Minimum which will make a mockery of all those ‘climate change’ energy bollocks, and civilisation falling apart? Look around, it’s happening.

Do I believe this? I believe nothing. I look at data and try to make sense of it. I do, however, believe that a lot of human knowledge of the past has been lost. How and why thjat happened I don’t know.

I have watched a lot of YouTube videos about pyramids. Not just the ones in Egypt. Most of those videos say ‘humans could not have done this, it must be aliens’ because we would struggle to build with that level of precision now.

But what if we could in the past? It is true that the Egyptians with their meticulous record-keeping left no clue as to how they built the pyramids. Maybe they didn’t build them. Maybe they found and adopted them. There was a plausible theory that the Sphinx originally had a lion’s head that was re-carved to a pharoah’s head and the proportions bear this out.

The Greek civilisational collapse mentioned in the graphic above was so bad they had to re-learn how to write. It wasn’t just the Greeks, it was global. Nobody would remember who built the pyramids and many other complex structures and nobody would remember how they were built.

I have to consider this as possible. It’s certainly, in my view, preferable to ancient aliens who came here, built huge stuff and then just pissed off home. It seems more plausible that humanity in the past developed skills that were subsequently lost through a global catastrophe that set us back to the stone age. I mean, if a big solar flare hit the planet tomorrow, what would happen to the infrastructure we have built now? How would future archaeologists interpret a fossilised iPhone?

Do I need religion for this? No, I just need an accurate historical record and if the human race is blasted back to living in caves and going ‘ook-ook’ every 3000 years, any historical record beyond that is going to be suspect.

But you know, when you look at the world around us now, and you match it to these old text cycles, it’s hard not to think ‘here we go again’.

If there is a God, it seems he does have a reset button for the planet after all.

Why do the gods love the insecure?

I’m in serious danger of meeting the deadline for this Easter anthology. I only missed the deadline for ‘Ransom’ by a few days, this one could be the one that makes it. Eight stories edited, six approved by the authors, it’s really only me who’s stopping it getting published today. I’m writing a Dume story with Romulus Crowe and those two are hard to control.

Anyway, some of the comments on the last post got me wondering. Why is it that those who profess to be God’s chosen ones – of any religion – seem to be so damn touchy about it? Come on, if you’re the chosen people of whichever God you follow, surely you don’t give as much as a fly-blown gerbil’s testicle what I or anyone else believe?

You can relax in the knowledge that I, and everyone who does not follow your religion, is going to Hell and you’ll be able to laugh at them while looking down from Heaven.

Okay, I know, some (very few) religions don’t like the idea of people going to Hell. I can’t remember who said it, but a wise man once pointed out that no true Christian would accept entry to Heaven as long as there was one soul suffering in Hell. If they are as compassionate as they say, they could not stand the idea of a fellow human enduring such torture.

That’s being a bit harsh, I suppose. A Christian could argue, quite fairly, that we heretics had a choice.

Still,we see religious groups claiming victim status all over the place. Not all of them, some are actually grown up, but most act like God’s spoiled children. Christians, for example, no longer play Kill the Unbeliever! Others do, and it’s not just the Muslims.

I don’t get it. I have never felt the need for a religion. Many people do and I have no problem with that. If your life feels better because you believe someone is watching everything you do, you have a good time. I prefer to work alone. I don’t need a supervisor.

But why do you care what I think? If you are in one of the currently militant religions, why does it matter if I’m alive right now? I’m not interested in de-converting you. I have no rival religion to suck away your followers. I genuinely don’t care.

You believe you will go to paradise and I will go to Hell. Looking around at the world, I think I’m already there to be honest. Still, why kill me now? Why not revel in the knowledge that I will enjoy a life of drink and debauchery and then suffer for all eternity?

Further, if you have the slightest trace of compassion for humanity and you know I face an eternity of having little red laughing demons poking hot pitchforks up my bum, shouldn’t you let me enjoy the brief time I have here? You can laugh at me later, while you share God’s basement with those 72 pasty white gamer guy virgins you’re so looking forward to.

Incidentally, if you’re a Muslim woman, what do you look forward to? I’m genuinely interested because we’ve never been told.

If you are God’s chosen ones then surely you have nothing to fear. No reason for the killing sprees. No reason for Hindus or Muslims or anyone else to wipe out the opposition. We’re not going to be taking your seat in Heaven’s coffee shop. We’ll be suffering the booze-fuelled smoking area downstairs.

I wonder if Satan makes us go outside the gates of Hell for smoke breaks? Somehow I doubt it. I bet there’s one of those stainless steel ashtrays outside the Pearly Gates though.

Look, religious people. You claim to be the superior ones. God’s chosen. The ones to get eternal pleasure while everyone not of your religion gets eternal pain.

So if you have this God-given superiority, why do so many of you act like total dicks?

It’s a question that really needs an answer. Is there one?

It’s not science if it’s one observation

A long long time ago, in a galaxy far away…

Sorry, just been watching the latest Star Wars with a couple of whisky and smoke soused pals, and wondered if an opening of ‘Just the other day, in a house across the street…’ would be a fun opening for a story.

I digress but then I have been at a smoky-drinky and am somewhat tiddly. I was supposed to go into the big town to meet a regular commenter tonight but he was busy until 9:30, the last bus home was at 11 and the bus ride is an hour each way. Next time we’ll plan it better.

Anyway. A long time ago when I was active as Romulus Crowe online, I wondered about schizophrenia and its treatments. Did the treatments cure something or were ‘the voices’ real and the pills merely blocked the subject’s ability to hear them?

As far as medial science is concerned, you hear disembodied voices, you take the pills, you don’t hear the voices any more, you are cured. The possibility that the voices were real does not enter into Science’s calculations – but it should. Science should be open to every possibility.

Even the possibility of God.

I don’t believe in any God and I take no medication. I’m on neither side in the fight that is about to happen in the comments. I don’t take sides in fights. I just start them and watch 😉

I’ve said before that science cannot prove the absence of a thing. It can prove presence but when reporting absence all it can say is ‘not found’. It cannot, ever, say ‘not there’. Science is not able to prove the non-existence of anything when applied correctly. Science cannot locate and define God but real science has to say ‘we didn’t find evidence of God’ and not ‘there is no God’.

Now science has plumbed embarrassing depths in this argument. A group has reported that experience of God is caused by epilepsy based on one – ONE – observation.

I haven’t known many epileptics in my time but the one I remember best had no religion either. And are we to believe that all those religious people out there – billions of them – are all epileptics? It just doesn’t work, does it?

I’m not saying God is real and I’m not saying there is no God. I don’t know and have zero evidence either way. Evolution does not disprove God. It can be explained as a creator who knew his creation would change over time and gave it the means to adapt. None of the animals in Eden were booted out when Adam, Eve and Serpent got the heave-ho so the animals we see now are not Eden’s. There is nothing for science to threaten religion with here. Nothing to do, with all our logic.

Likewise, religion has no effect on science. Religion requires belief without question, whereas science questions everything and believes nothing, not even its own current results. Well, that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Science and religion are separate things and should remain so. The fight between them is futile. They are based on entirely different starting premises. There can be no winner because each side fights by different rules.

But really, science, basing ‘proof’ on one observation? Come on now, that is not helping.

 

Religion and the Tobacco Template

Fear not, God-fearers, I am not about to blame you for the persecution of smokers, drinkers, those with unapproved body shapes nor indeed anything else. I know the tobacco template had nothing to do with religion. It was the Righteous who did all that and their only religion is control.

No, I come not to blame but to warn. Yes, this miserable(?) sinner is to alert you to the dragon coming your way.

Where did you lot get the idea that sinners were miserable anyway? If it made us miserable we wouldn’t do it. Didn’t you ever think of that? I’m currently at the stage where I won’t be legal to drive for a week and have a little fire smouldering in my face. I’m not Pat Condell, I don’t ‘deny the holy spirit’. I’m drinking a bottle of what I consider to be holy spirit right now. In a sense, I’m worse than him. I don’t care about the holy spirit at all.

Okay. By now those who wouldn’t have listened anyway have clicked away from this page and probably unfollowed me on Twitter too. Good. No point talking to those who don’t want to listen. To the one who’s left, hear this.

This is not about linking the tobacco control template to religion. This is about the imminent application of that template to religion.

Yes, you heard right. Look around you. How much news coverage does the charity work of any religion get? Zilch. How much coverage do the extremists of any religion get? All of it. Lately the news is full of ‘Jihadi John’ and his British life. Who the hell cares where he comes from? Shoot the bastard and be done with it. I don’t even care what religion he is – he’s a serial killer, incurable, wipe him out.

But let’s chill a moment. Calm down, relax, drink and smoke awhile.

Then look again. Politicians say that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam when it clearly is all about Islam. Even other Islamic countries recognise that and want this super-extreme band of maniacs wiped out. Even Saudi Arabia, one of the strictest Muslim countries, don’t want ISIS around. Yet they do recognise that it is based on a combination of an extreme interpretation of Islam and the desire to be as viciously deranged as subhumanly possible. Saudi is building a wall to keep these buggers out. It’s true that Saudi metes out the same barbaric punishments but at least in Saudi, you get a trial first. You also have to go to Saudi to be subject to their laws. They don’t seek to apply their laws to you.

For the Righteous (who follow no god but themselves), ISIS serve a purpose. They make Islam as a whole appear utterly insane. More – they make religion appear utterly insane. All forms of religion. Even Christianity. I mean, come on, have you met Church of England types? You know they hate you when they give you weak tea. Compare the press coverage for the one-family loons of the Westboro Baptist Church with the press coverage of any other church anywhere. Remember too, every other church has far more members.

It all makes religion look like a bad thing. Like smoking is a bad thing. Drinking is a bad thing. Not fitting the Standard British Human body shape is a bad thing. It’s how they all started.

I have no religion. None. I am an apathist. There might or might not be a God or gods, I don’t care. I also don’t care if someone believes absolutely in their own personal God. It does not affect me one bit. I regard second-hand religion in the same way I regard second-hand smoke. Bunk.

Okay, if you’re the wrong religion in certain (mostly Muslim, let’s not sugar-coat it) countries, then second hand religion can kill you in a way that second hand smoke won’t. But that is all part of the plan.

Second hand smoke, second hand drinking, second hand obesity, these have all been promoted as real things and now second hand religion is a phrase waiting to be coined – but not yet. Not just yet. This year, you’ll hear it, I bet.

The stirring up of anti-religion is at its peak. It’s time to ban advertising of religion. Follow the template.

When I was small, my favourite and best-cherished toy car was a JPS black racing car. Covered in smoking ads. If I still had it, it would probably be worth a bit of cash now. Smoking advertising was banned except for racing, until that loophole was plugged.

I can’t remember if I sold my N gauge whisky grain wagons during my desperate times. I’d have to root through the still-substantial collection to be sure. I definitely took photos so they can be remade. I also once had an OO-gauge Guinness tank wagon. I bought it as a child. Bet they can’t now.

Plain packaging for cigs is on the way, then for booze and then for food and eventually for religion. It’s some time in the future for religion but it is coming. One World Religion, as some have said, and it will not be Islam. It will not be Christianity. It will not be Sikh or Buddhist or Jain or Pagan or any religion you can name now.

I think I might have happened upon the name of it but it will be otherwise, and more correctly, known as Control. That is what they want. It’s not about money, that hasn’t been a real thing for a long time. What they want is control. Total control.

The template starts here, religion. All religions. Believing in God makes you think you are safe and that is dangerous.

Within six months or less – belief in any God costs the NHS money.

Scoff at the prospect all you want. Smokers did, once…

Is God Libertarian?

‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law’ is the often misinterpreted saying of one Aleister Crowley. He did not mean ‘Ah sod it, just do what the hell you like’. He meant, roughly, ‘Attempt to achieve those things you feel you should achieve’. Maybe that’s not the best way of putting it. Maybe the original quote was the best way after all.

Modern Pagans (some versions) have something similar – ‘An’ it harm none, do as thou will’, which is perhaps a little clearer. Do whatever you want as long as you cause no harm to anyone else.

Mainstream religions, as far as I can discover, have no equivalent to either of those sayings. They are all based on a great big sign saying ‘Obey, or be damned forever’.

Which is Libertarian? I doubt anyone needs it explained.

The last few random and often wandering babbles have been skirting around an underlying point. One hinted at in the middle by the mention of Alex Jones, the groaning fighter for everyone’s freedoms – except the ones he doesn’t like. In Alex Jones’ Libertarianism, everyone should have freedom except smokers. He doesn’t like smokers. They are not real people in the eyes of the antismoker so do not deserve even one single meeting place where they can have a drink and a smoke and not be forced into another lifestyle.

God, Allah, whatever you want to call him, is not a Libertarian. Okay, even Libertarians can agree with some of those commandments. No killing, no stealing, no fraud (‘false witness’), that sort of thing. All perfectly legitimate and justifiably enforceable rules. We might want anarchy but we don’t want to live in bloody chaos. Letting everyone make their own decisions can only work where there are real consequences for those decisions that cause harm to others.

Religion demands much more. You must live as directed, down (in some cases) to minute details such as how you wash and how you dress. Who you associate with and what foods you can eat. All those not of your religion are Wrong and must be shown the error of their ways. That is not libertarianism.

Neither is the Dawkins version of ‘atheism’ which really should come down to ‘You believe it if you like, I have other stuff to do over here so if you don’t mind, just leave me alone, okay?’ but that is no longer what atheism is. Now it is big signs on buses, and books and meetings and derision aimed at those who beleive differently and a determination to convince the world that all religion is Wrong because they do not think the atheist way. That is why I no longer refer to myself as atheist. I am an apathist.

In the past I have defined ‘apathist’ as ‘there may or may not be a God, I don’t care’ but it is perhaps more accurately defined as ‘I don’t care what you believe and have no interest in changing your mind’.

Evolution does not disprove God. All it disproves is the 6000-year limit imposed as the age of the Earth. There are no dates in the Bible. None. The 6000 years was the invention of a man, working with an incomplete manuscript. We know the early Church edited the Bible and took out quite a few books it didn’t like. Some of those books are found but how many more were there, that have not been found? Adding up all the ages of the Biblical past is going to have some very large gaps in the sum.

Also, I cannot fathom why the religious will insist that Adam counted his age from the date of his creation. He had no knowledge of numbers until he ate of the Tree of Knowledge. He lived in a perfect garden with no seasons so had no means to keep track of years. He was immortal so had no reason to keep track of anything. If his age counts from the date he learned about age and years and seasons and the rest of the world, and was then summarily expelled into it, there is no limit to how long he would have been in Eden. That alone would demolish the 6000 years argument and end the bickering about evolution.

Is Science better? In theory, yes. In practice it is exactly the same. You won’t believe the trouble I had publishing my work on oxygen levels in the intestine back in the 1990s. ‘There is no oxygen in the intestine’ was the mantra. There isn’t much, it’s true, and it declines to zero in the middle of the intestine, away from that vast surface area of the blood-infused gut wall, but it is there and it is measurable. And it matters. In terms of gut bacterial metabolism and the location of species within the digesta, it matters a lot. Yet I came up against idiot reviewers who tried to convert my mmol/l figures into Pascals and claimed that my trace detections were greater than atmospheric oxygen. One particularly daft professor claimed that oxygen could not possibly transfer from the blood to the intestinal contents because haemoglobin bound oxygen too tightly for it to be released… which makes blood pretty damn usless for supplying internal organs with oxygen.

I won in the end, but that’s all in the past now.

Incidentally, one of my PhD supervisors came up with a real outside-the-box gadget for measuring nanomolar levels of oxygen. A membrane-covered tiny cell filled with a culture of Vibrio fischeri on the end of an optical fibre linked to a photomultiplier. V. fischeri is one of the bacteria that makes the sea glow at night. I’ve seen that and it’s amazing.  It produces light depending on how much oxygen is around, and it’ll produce light in direct relation to how much oxygen there is – even at extremely low levels. There were many brilliant people in science in the past. That was before the political grant-suckers took control.

Science should be a perfect example of libertarianism but it is infested with control freaks and idiots and dogmatic fools. In some parts it still works but a lot of it is now no better than religion. Believe in the Established Way and do not dare question the Hallowed Ones.

I try to be Libertarian, ever since I heard about the concept on Devil’s Kitchen and realised that mostly I was already there anyway. I really don’t care if people want to believe in Salvation after death. It does not harm me. It does not even harm me when various religions want to chat with me at my door or in the street. If I have no time I just say ‘No time, sorry’ and carry on. If I have time I will hear what they have to say. None have convinced me but to my mind, they should always be free to try. The Dawkins Cult would not allow them that freedom.

Science can claim that living this way or that way is bad for us and should be free to say it. As we should be free to ignore it or to take it on board, judge the risk and either change or carry on as before. Science and especially political pseudoscience should have no power to impose their way of life on the rest of us. The Scientific Inquisition is now a reality in almost every GP’s surgery. Is that what we want?

That is the result of selective libertarianism. ‘Everyone should be free to live as they wish except…’

Libertarianism is an absolute. You are or you are not. There is no middle road.

I do not agree with UKIP’s curbs on immigration. There is no need. All we have to do is stop paying them to come. The problem is not immigration, it is benefits and free healthcare for any bugger from anywhere on the planet. Someone comes here for a better life and is prepared to work for it, fine. Someone comes here for a free house, free money and the right to force us to live like the place they ‘escaped’ from, stop giving them freebies and they won’t come. It’s not rocket science.

I do not rail against religion because I cannot prove that religion is wrong.  I do not believe but am I right to not believe? I don’t know for sure. Can anyone provide absolute proof that I am right to not believe? Nobody can. One day I will find out and it will either be oblivion or a very, very red face.

Even antismokers have the right to be sanctimonious gits. When they impose their views by closing all options to us they violate that ultimately libertarian ‘An’ it harm none…’ principle and shift into totalitarianism.

So what’s it going to be then, droogies? Are we libertarians or are we ‘libertarians except for the ones we don’t approve of’? Are we humans or are we Nazis? No in between there is, young Jedi.

Either we accept that other people are different and might sincerely hold beliefs we might personally find mad, or we try to force others to believe as we do.

There is no in between.

Which world do you want?

 

 

The throes of a starving monster.

The BBC put out another of its propaganda pieces recently. I didn’t watch it because there is no point. It’s the BBC. It’s not going to be in any way unbiased, and the programme’s content could be predicted in its entirety from a summary paragraph. Even the title, ‘Burning Desire’, allows one to generate the entire script armed with just those two words and the knowledge that it is aboiut smokers. Not about tobacco. Smokers.

Others have watched it and nicely shredded its vicious message already.

Australian antismokers are in overdrive now. They are really pushing very, very hard with thieir fake science and fabricated facts. Why now?

Junican has the answer – the Australian government is ‘unpopular’ because it is no longer wasting taxpayer’s money on a bunch of control freak wasters. They have cut the feed to Tobacco Control’s free trough and are only funding real science now.

The Beast is hungry and that makes it even more delusional than it was already. It believes we share in its delusions so it has released more fake science to back up its previous nonsense.

They declare that they now have proof that third hand smoke causes cancer in (wait for it) …the cheeeldren.

Third hand smoke is a magical substance that is created when second hand smoke reacts with indoor air. To accept this as fact you have to be stupid enough to believe that a) indoor air is not the same as outdoor air (hint: unless you have an airlock, outdoor air gets in when you open your door) and b) something that has already been burned can react with air in the absence of any flame or catalyst.

They used to teach in school that indoor air is almost 80% nitrogen and it’s very hard to get nitrogen to react with anything at all. Of the remaining 21% or so, almost all of it is oxygen and that has already reacted with the tobacco when it burned. It took an open flame to start that reaction, yet we are to believe that a wisp of mythical second hand smoke at room temperature can react spontaneously with the air – without exploding.

The very concept is so easy to debunk that it’s hardly worth mentioning and yet the tobacco control loons get this stuff into peer reviewed journals! There can be only one conclusion.

Peer review is now meaningless and science is dead. Science has more of the paranormal about it than any religion ever devised.

Stewart Cowan gets a lot of stick for his beliefs but what is science based on now? There is more credibility in a one-man religion called the Church of the Militant Elvis than there is in science now. I don’t believe what Stewart believes although I do support his right to believe it. He might be right or wrong, I don’t know and frankly don’t much care. He is not threatening to blow up planes or behead unbeleivers so as far as I am concerned, his beliefs are entirely his business. I am not interested in trying to change them.

Science was not – and should never have been allowed to become – a vehicle for a bunch of crazed control freaks to push their beliefs on the rest of us. It’s no different to having the Scientologists lecturing in universities on the reality of Xenu and government grants paying for their daft Thetan test boxes. Really. No different at all.

Science has become religion now. You have to believe in what the high priests say or you will be damned. The only difference is that your damnation comes not in the next life but in this one.

It’s a shame, as a scientist, to watch it all fall to such a depraved level. When I started out it was all so honest and open. You had an idea, you applied for a grant to study the idea and if the ones with money thought it was a good idea, they stumped up the cash for you to try it out. We didn’t care about the money as such, that was just a means to an end. What we cared about – all we cared about – was the knowledge. Science used not to be a highly paid job, you know. It didn’t matter. We only wanted enough to live on and to buy or build the gadgetry for our experiments. Money was not something we knew much about (and at least one of us [ahem] seriously buggered up by ignoring the earn/spend equation).

Now all the scientists care about is the money. They’ll make up any old shit to get it. Knowledge? Who needs it? They’d rather have a Porsche.

The Australian government are now trying to fix this destruction of the scientific way. They are forerunners in the return of proper science to the world. Once, the UK was in the innovation/invention/discovery game in a really big way. Now it’s Australia who will take the lead in innovation while we thrash about like mediaeval peasants looking for witches to blame.

The Cleggeron Coagulation are just going to let that happen. They are going to go ahead with the plain-packs shite that was the final straw for Australia.

Let’s hope it’s the final straw here too. Then we can get back to real science and inventing wild and bizarre things too.

If it happens in time I’d even consider going back to science. As it stands, there is nothing worth going back to.

A Drunken Babble.

I have been drinking to extents that will, five years hence, get me arrested and re-educated. I have just corrected five typos in that last sentence. And two more in that one, I could go on…

Let’s just say that this snippet from the spambox seems to make sense to me at the moment…

a musical theme. commoner looks stark, so you can be heavy if you are purchasing helmets and carry pads. Too some consumers get tricked into scams via hyperlinks in refutable emails.

So now we know the level we are working at.

In the creationism/evolution argument (which is impossible to resolve so can never end) I have to say that Flaxen Saxon has it right.

Science cannot study religion and religion cannot be science. They are two entirely separate modes of thought. Religion believes in things. Science believes nothing. Religion is based on humanity and ithe meaning of life. Science recognises no such things.

In religion, humanity is special and is here for a reason. In science, humans are an animal classified among the primate group and there is no reason for life, it just happened.

Stewart, the ‘fairies’ thing is a strawman. It does not matter whether someone believes in fairies, whether the friendly butterfly-wings kind or the original Celtic evil spirits who were all nice and sweet and then stole your child while you admired the trinket they gave you. All irrelevant. It was a trap. We scientists do that sort of thing, it’s not personal, we do it to each other all the time.

Flaxen is also right in that if you make a statement, in science, it is your business to prove it right.

To take an old example. I can say “There is a teapot orbiting Betelgeuse. Prove me wrong.” Many have wasted hours on  that one but real science would say “No. You claim it, you prove it.”

That is science. It is an entirely different thought process to religion. It accepts nothing without proof in triplicate at least.

There are religious scientists. I know a professor who is deeply Christian but he is a professor of agricultural science. It does not affect his work whether he believes the earth to be six thousand or six billion years old. It would not affect mine either. If I was a geologist or a palaeontoilogist it would be imprtant. To a microbiologist it is not.

As far as I am concerned, the entirety of the universe could have popped into being a second before I was born and it might all exist just to annoy me. So far, my observations entirely support this hypothesis even though it is statistically unlikely to be correct. We will all find out when I die and you can be reassured that I am in no hurry.

The human eye is often cited as proof of intelligent design. It is a crap design. I couild do better after another bottle of whisky. The nerves come out of the front of the retina and all pile down in one spot  If they came out of the back of the retina we would have no detached retinas and no blind spot.

Human vision is also crap. I have painted a shed green when I thought it was brown. For me, ‘navy blue’ is another word for black. I have learned to buy paint based on the words on the tin because the colour of the lid or cap is variable. If someone designed my eyes he was drunker than me when he did it

Genetics that can leave one side of the chosen species seeing in almost monochrome (I have only ever met one who really does see in monochrome) while the other side of that species can see more colours than naturally exist is not evidence of intellligent design.

Is there a point to this random babble? No there isn’t and there cannot be. There can be no resolution to this argument, ever. One side believes without question, the other side questions without belief. Which side is right?

Don’t know. Don’t care.

Fight on.

 

It starts with nothing.

funny-pictures-history-thats-one-mystery-solved

Every time I mention evolution it starts a fight. Some people believe one thing, some people believe another thing. Neither thing can be definitively proven so it’s a fight that will never end.

I am a scientist and used to call myself ‘atheist’ before the rise of the fundamentalist atheists. As Furor and others have pointed out, a true atheist simply doesn’t believe and takes it no further. When you get Dawkinite fundamentalist atheists trying to ‘convert’ the religious to their own beliefs, that’s not atheism. That’s a new religion and I don’t want a religion. I don’t want to go to non-prayer meetings and not-sing hymns along with a raging band of “We are right and every other belief is wrong” fundamentalist loonies. If I did, I’d pop over to see the Westboro Baptist Church.

There are atheist meetings now. Seriously, what the hell is that all about? People having a meeting to talk about something none of them believe exist? I can’t even imagine a more monumental waste of time.

These days I call myself ‘apathist’. There might or might not be a God or gods, goddesses, pixies, fairies, goblins, devils and so on. I don’t care. Other people believe in some or all of those things. I don’t care. It doesn’t affect me that they believe those things and if we ever return to Spanish Inquisition days, I will pretend to believe in whatever the man with the gun wants me to believe, but I won’t really believe it. He’ll think he has won a convert but really all he’s done is saved the cost of a bullet.

There might or might not be a form of life after death. There’s only one way to find out and I’m in no hurry because when you do find out, there’s no way back if you don’t like it. So I don’t worry about it. There’s nothing I can do about it anyway.

I’ve never been comfortable with belief. I want to see the numbers and I want to check the calculations. Like almost everyone on the planet, I don’t have time to work my way up to a professorship in astrophysics and check the calculations that take the universe back to the Big Bang. Fortunately this has no effect on my own field of study so I don’t need to.

Likewise, religion/creation has no effect on my own field of study at all. I have met deeply religious scientists in my field and it doesn’t affect their work one jot. In bacterial/fungal/viral terms, evolution is of little relevance unless you specialise in microbial evolution. Day to day stuff, dealing with modern infections, does not require me to work out how far in the past Salmonella came into being. I just have to fix it in the here and now. There are those who have done such trackbacks through genetics and it’s all very interesting but it doesn’t help me find a way to make people totally resistant to this bug.

The development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria is not evolution. It’s mutation. Yes, it could lead to evolution but it hasn’t, not as far as I have seen. The rise of E. coli O157 is not evolution, it’s a mutation in E. coli that gives it a new property. It’s still the same species. It has not evolved. Evolution causes new species to appear that were not species before they changed. This isn’t it.

Darwin’s Galapagos finches were evidence of natural selection but not of evolution. The finches on one island had long thin beaks for picking insects out of bark, the finches on another had short thick beaks for cracking seeds. They had adapted to the local food source. If a finch was born on the seed island with a long thin beak, it was doomed. So the best-adapted variants survived. To create a new species, those two groups of finches should not have been able to interbreed (I don’t remember if Darwin checked). If they could interbreed they were variants of the same species, not different species. If they were the same species then they had adapted but not evolved.

The same is true of humans. We come in all shapes and sizes. I work with people I consider to be giants and others who are dwarves (and one goblin). There are all kinds of skin shades and hair colours and eye colours and some are thin and some are round… if I was visiting from another planet I might marvel at how so many obviously different species can work together. We are one species. The differences are adaptations, not evolution. Even the chubbiness is an adaptation towards food storage. When the food runs out, those with hyper-efficient storage metabolisms will last longer than those of us who can burn it off. Don’t laugh at the fatties, because when the food runs out and we’re on short rations, they’ll outlast you.

This is not to say that evolution doesn’t happen. I’ve only been here half a century and evolution takes a lot longer than that. So I haven’t seen it happen but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. I’ve never seen Belgium but it’s probably real. Lots of people have seen Belgium and lots of very intelligent people have studied evolution. Even with total scepticism of anything I can’t check for  myself, on the balance of probabilities, there is likely to be some truth in there, even about Belgium. If I were to deny the reality of everything I hadn’t seen for myself, then most of the planet doesn’t exist and there are no more than a few hundred people in the world. Even logical scepticism can be taken to extremes.

Personally I can’t prove evolution. I think it’s right but can offer no evidence. Even if I had solid proof I still wouldn’t fight on the side of the Dawkinites because having proof is one thing, being a dick about it is quite another. If I had proof I’d put it out there and leave it to the individual to accept or reject it. I would not be interested in forcing anyone to ‘believe’.

Religion fascinates me. I am not restricted to Christianity on this. I have had long conversations with Buddhists and Muslims and Pagans and others. It’s not so much what they believe, but why they believe it that interests me. How can so many people be so deeply motivated by something they have absolutely no proof exists? Well, I could bring up second hand smoke at this point but that would lead to a really big digression so I’ll leave that alone for now.

I make extensive use of religion and associated mythology in my stories. if Asmodeus is real then he’s going to be waiting for me with spiked brass knuckles when my time comes because he’s had a particularly rough time in my tales. So far I’ve trapped his pet and banished his daughter and there’s more to come. I have several versions of the Bible here along with a lot of Crowley’s writings, a copy of the Voynich manuscript, the Key of Solomon, the Goetia, the Grimoire of Armadel and a lot more. In the interests of research. When I use a spell in a story, I haven’t just made it up, you know. I have some books on Necromonicon but that book is not, in itself, real and never has been. Neither is ‘Geometria ton Zoon’ or ‘Aritmetika ton Kosmon’ because I made those up. I didn’t want to re-use the overused Necronomicon.

[Digression: you knew it had to happen. On one of the safety forms for work chemicals it states that the chemical  suppresses ‘pseudonoma’ which tickled me no end. What they mean is that it suppresses the bacterium ‘Pseudomonas‘ which can be nasty and above all, smells like old urine. It tickled me because their misspelling roughly means ‘false name’ which is wonderfully appropriate.]

When you get right down to it, when you look at it all from a distance, what do you have?

On one hand, you have religions which all state that everything was created out of nothing by a supreme being. On the other, you have science which states that everything was created out of nothing by itself. Then you have a big fight over time-scale but really the time-scale is of no real relevance to the basic argument. Where did it all come from, and why?

Religion (pretty much all of them) states that a god said ‘There’s nothing here, I’ll make a universe’ and bang, there it is. Science states that the universe was all in one ultra-dense point of matter and it went bang, and there it is. So far, no real argument. There was nothing and then there was an awful lot of stuff. How it came about is the only argument and it can never be proved either way.

Religion states that God is omnipresent. If God is outside the universe as he must be, since he wasn’t in the point of dense matter he set off, then he can see all of it. Science states that God isn’t there but can never find him even if he is, because he is outside the universe and we can’t even see all of the universe.

Further, if you were to build a time machine and set it to universe time zero, would you be able to go back and see what happened? No.

You and your machine are inside the universe. If you take it back to the time when the universe was a point of ultradense matter, when everything was just crushed into subatomic particles, then so would you be. Your machine would not let you see the Big Bang, it would put you inside it and smash you into quarks. You would have to get outside the universe before starting the machine and let’s be brutally honest here, neither science nor religion knows the way out.

[ Digression (yes again) Hmm… what if that happened? What if someone took a time machine back to the beginning of time and was pulped? That would explain why there was a skew between matter and antimatter when they should have both been created equally and mutually annihilated, and would lead to a wonderful story about how we created our own universe. File that one under ‘mad ideas’]

Neither can ever be proven, and neither can ever be disproven. Arguing about it is futile. It’s all belief and yes, the Big Bang might be based on numbers but it also relies on belief. All we really have is a tracking of the paths of galaxies back to one point which strongly suggests that the universe originated from a single ultradense point of matter.

All we are really arguing about is… who lit the fuse?

The whole 6000 years thing is of little interest. It’s not in the Bible which only starts with the rise of humanity on Earth and humans were not the first thing made, not even in the Bible. That number comes from the calculations of a mediaeval chap who added up the years of all the Bible folk and assumed Adam was counting years during the time he was in Eden – which had no seasons, no years to count and he was immortal at that time anyway. He could have been in there for millions of years. He only started to age after he was booted out. Outside Eden, dinosaurs could have come and gone, conveniently eradicated with a well-thrown asteroid before humans became their new ready meals.

Before the Earth, the Bible says nothing about the universe at all. Neither does any other religion. God could have spent millennia making stars and planets and galaxies before hitting on the idea of making a race of deranged idiots and seeing what they did. You realise, we could well be nothing more than the ultimate celestial sitcom? Perhaps when we die, we get a seat in the audience, but I already used that idea in a story so no digression here.

I do not edit or censor any argument on evolution vs. creation because I neither know nor care which is right. For me, the entire universe came into being just under 53 years ago and it was all put there to annoy me. As far as I know or care, it will all vanish when I die. Maybe I will have to face judgement by an authority I do not recognise as legitimate but hey, we have that here and now anyway. Maybe I will go to Hell but I doubt it, Satan isn’t smart enough to cope with the likes of me. I’d take over and he knows it. Heaven? That would be Hell because none of my friends will be there. Besides, I don’t like heights and even though I’m Welsh I can’t play the harp.

Yes, much of this is flippant and disrespectful but if you’ve been here more than a week  you know what to expect. The thing is, why are so many people now fighting over things that really don’t matter? How old is the world? Who really gives a crap? What does it matter? 6000 years or infinity. Irrelevant. You have at most 120 years if you smoke and drink enough. You will not see evolution happen. You will not notice plate tectonics change the shape of continents. You might see the  start or end of an ice age but you won’t see all of it and you won’t see it change back.

You have a short time to live. We are not giant sequoias, we are humans. Little beasties of no relevance to the planet. If some want to waste their time living other people’s lives instead of enjoying their own then I say let them. They lose in the end. They might accrue a lot of money but they’ll still die. What will they spend it all on then?

Don’t bother trying to persuade people to your way of thinking, whether it’s science or religion or anything else. If you are convinced you are right then that’s fine, just go with it and live to your own rules. Trying to force others to live by your rules is not just wrong, it’s immoral. And, dare I say it, evil.

We have a short time of life. I used to have a hamster called LHB (Little Hairy Bastard). He lived for three years which is good going for a hamster, especially since I didn’t know how old he was when I bought him. This little swine hated everyone and once took down a sheepdog who stuck his nose into the cage. LHB did handbrake turns in his hamster globe and ripped the flesh of everyone but me. He had a short life, as hamsters do, but dammit, he enjoyed every minute. Short is relative. Hamsters live a little time compared to us.

Compared to all these arguments covering thousands, millions, or billions of years, we have such a short time on Earth that we might as well not be here at all.

Do we really need to spend that short time fighting over northing?

Humbug day approaches.

I notice sales of books have risen slightly. Electronic rather than paper, but there is a hell of a price difference so that’s not really surprising. Still a long way from retiring on the proceeds but they’re moving in the right direction. I hope all those shiny new Kindles will log on and buy my books on Christmas Day. I’m also on the Apple ibooks thing, Sony and other places too. I’m not having a January sale.

Apparently the January Sales now start on Christmas Eve.

Sales traditionally start on Boxing Day but retailers are now using every trick in the book to steal a march on their rivals, both in the High Street and on the web.

Well, traditionally, the January sales started in January. Nothing was open on Christmas Day or Boxing Day. Apart from a brief opening of pubs. Local Shop is closed for both days, unlike Tesco which closes for, I think, 24 hours. Their cleaners must have a hell of a time. One day a year to clean it all.

There are people panic-buying as if the shops are closing for a month. Some will be open on Boxing Day. All will be open the day after. Shopping will be fully available long before most people run out of turkey. I’m avoiding shops – except I plan to try for a haircut tomorrow if the barber is open. She tends to take the traditional ‘sod this, I’m off’ approach to the High Street frenzy. I hear there are male barbers but why would I go there?

There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth because Amazon will be available on Christmas Day. Why Amazon? All the online retailers will be available on the day. None can post anything on that day. I don’t intend to go online shopping on Christmas Day and it has nothing to do with any kind of moral judgement. It has more to do with a certain bottle-shaped present which feels like the distinctive open-sided box of the Penderyn.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey said: ‘Christmas Day is a time to be together with the family, to focus on the children and to have a great time together.

Does he believe that families spend the rest of the year in sullen silence? Some probably do.

‘This day is precious. We are now in danger of the gadgets taking over our lives and we are not in control of them.’

It’s not precious to me. I’ve worked on Christmas day in the past. Not being Christian or Pagan, the festival part of it is irrelevant. The Christmas decorations aren’t Christian either, nor are the presents, the mass genocide of turkeys, mince pies, Christmas pud, brandy butter… none of it is Christian. Even the day is a Pagan sun-worship festival that the early Christians tried to overwrite. I seem to recall that someone worked out when Christ would have been born, based on historical events around that time. I think it came out as around July.

Some people get really upset when you point that out. I’ve had another one-star review on ‘A Christmas Contract‘ that had me rolling with laughter.

This is a terrible book. Does not promote the Christmas spirit.

None of my Christmas stories promote any kind of Christmas spirit. They are labelled ‘horror’ so expecting a jolly happy ending is a bit on the silly side. They are all pure fiction and labelled as such. I think this one might have touched a couple of raw nerves though. I wonder if the Daily Mail will write a shock-horror-terrible-man story about it? Maybe there aren’t enough offended readers yet. I’ll leave it free until after Christmas because the members of Offended Anonymous only complain about the free ones. They’re too cheap to buy any.

Food is already well stocked so there’s no need to go anywhere near a supermarket until January, and then only to check for whisky bargains.  I’ll definitely have Christmas pud on the day because I like it, and will stock up after Christmas so I can have some the rest of the year too. Turkey always seems dry, tough and stringy so I’m considering whether to go with beef or pork instead. Sprouts are right out. You either love them or hate them. I hate them. I also don’t see the point in wrapping little sausages in bits of bacon. Keep that bacon intact and have a bacon sandwich later.

Tomorrow I work the afternoon until 6 pm. Everything will be closed by then and a blessed silence will fall. The tills will no longer ring, crossing the shop will no longer be like taking a short cut across the Dodgems, and all those furious-faced people intent on clearing the shelves of everything before the Day of Nothing to Buy will be gone. It seems that Christmas cheer has an ‘off’ switch that is triggered when the shop door opens. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two of those furious middle-aged women turn into the Hulk if we run out of sprouts or pre-bacon-wrapped mini-sausages.

Since Local Shop only does food, a limited range of booze and a few other extremity things like socks and gloves, we won’t have a January sale to worry about. We’re not likely to sell a lot of booze for New Year because Tesco is nearby and they’ll undercut anyone. So tomorrow should see the end of the madness for us. It’s likely to be fairly busy next week but nothing like the last few days before Christmas.

After that, it’ll probably feel like a holiday. I can then add to my CV that I have experience of retail work over the Christmas period, and with a couple more months of experience will be able to look at upgrading to a better-paid version of the same thing so I can do fewer hours for the same income. What? You thought there was no devious plan involved in taking the lowest-paid job in the area? They are a training ground, they will always only employ the totally inexperienced because once we get experience, we’ll all upgrade. That they don’t see it is to be admired: if they paid the same rate as the other shops, they’d be able to demand experience and I’d never have got in.

The others? Two have very young children and working husbands. When their kids reach school age they won’t work these hours. They don’t really need the job, it’s something to get out of the house, feel a little freedom and earn a bit extra. The other is young, on her first proper job and will probably move on before I do. As for me, I’m just looking to cover the bills. This job does it, a better paid one would do it while taking up less writing time.

It’s going to take me a very long time to build up the writing income to the point where I could live on it. Like the self-employment, it will never be reliable either. Books can go in and out of fashion in the blink of an eye. Therefore my career plan is not to move up the rankings and end up as a manager (most of whom still have no idea who they have employed!) but to move up the janitorial pay scale by working fewer hours to get the same income. Cover the bills, leave a booze and baccy fund, and no more. I don’t want to help this Government waste money and as long as there is a non-negotiable smoking ban, they will get no more than the basics from me.

Copies of ‘Samuel’s Girl’ arrived too late for Christmas but I now have some. I had 30, I have already sold 14 signed copies and I have to send some to the company who kindly sent me 12 bottles of red wine again this year. It’s bigger than ‘Jessica’s Trap’ but the book is wider and taller, not too much thicker, so it should still get through as ‘large letter’ unless I overload the packaging. I can sell signed copies at below Amazon’s price – £12 including postage – but I can’t get them to anyone in time for Christmas unless they live next door. Bugger! Plastic Man next door cannot possibly get through a 90,000 word book with no pictures. Boozy Man on the other side warrants a free one since I drank almost all of his Monkey Shoulder at his last party.

Maybe one of these books will be picked for World Book Night one day. Since the current publisher concentrates on eBooks so the print versions are costly, that might never happen. I have logged myself as a volunteer to give away books. Don’t know if I’m in yet. I went for a graphic novel because I  haven’t seen one before – well, apart from all those MAD magazine books I bought in the seventies and ‘Fat Freddy’s Cat’ which surely everyone has read. They weren’t proper graphic novels, just a collection of graphic stories in one book. The MAD cartoonist Don Martin’s ‘Captain Klutz’ and his story ‘The Hardest Head in the World’ in ‘Fester and Karbunkle’ were probably the closest I’ve read.

I have rambled enough. So online shops will be available on Christmas Day. They are available every day for 24 hours. It does not mean anyone is actually there. None of the orders can be sent out until the day after Boxing Day at the earliest so nobody needs to be in Amazon’s warehouses on Much Food And Too Much Booze day. It is not, and never has been, a Christian festival. In fact Scrooge was right.

It’s all humbug.