Round 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resistance is futile. You will be vaccinated.

Okay, before anyone gets out the ‘antivaxxer’ accusations, I spent my entire career in microbiology, working with some nasty things. You bet your ass I’m well loaded with vaccines! But I also understand how vaccines work, which is why I won’t take any more. Especially not these insane new ones. You see, I also understand how PCR works and what mRNA really does.

When you get vaccinated against tetanus, the bacterium Clostridium tetani is grown in a lab, killed, checked to make sure it’s dead, and injected into you. Your immune system still gets to see the proteins its made of and makes antibodies against it. If you ever get a live one in your bloodstream, your immune system is ready to smack it down before it does any damage.

That’s a simplistic explanation but it’s basically the idea behind vaccination. This is not how mRNA shots work. I can’t call them vaccines. They aren’t.

The mRNA shots cause your own body cells to produce foreign proteins. This makes your immune system thinks those body cells are infected with something and the immune system does the only thing it knows how to do – it kills the infected cells. I called this insane idea ‘an autoimmune disease in a syringe’ when it first appeared and I have not changed my mind on that.

I fully expected a rise in arthritis, rheumatism and other autoimune diseases, and judging by the plethora of ads for treatment of those things lately, I was right. I wondered about reactivation of suppressed and dormant viruses, and judging by the sudden push for shingles and other vaccines, seems I wasn’t far off there either.

I did not anticipate effects on fertility or pregnancy. Others did. I don’t know enough about those things. I had no idea there could be issues with blood clots, spontaneous bleeds or heart issues. Others warned about those things. I didn’t and still don’t know enough to comment. I could only comment within my own areas of research. Still, the people who did comment were very eminent scientists and worth listening to. So I did. Many scoffed at them because MSM ‘fact-checkers’ said so. Well, that’s their choice. I prefer to listen to people who actually know what they are talking about and who have worked in that area of research for many years. That’s my choice.

So now we have young, fit sportspeople and entertainers keeling over dead while doing their jobs. We have morticians showing massive fibrin clots they say they have never seen before. We have a huge rise in cancer cases in younger people – I certainly didn’t see that coming – and sadly, dead and damanged children and a huge rise in stillbirths.

And yet, for most people, that’s all fine. It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? Well, not too hard for very many people. They line up for another shot of mRNA because the news says it’s fine, and so many ‘doctors’ say that the purpose of vaccination was never to stop the spread of disease or to stop you catching it… they really are saying that. They were not saying that three years ago.

I have seen morons claim that ‘other vaccines need boosters’. Sure. Tetanus needs a booster… every ten years. Not every three months. If you are getting injected every three months with something that has been shown to not stop you catching it and not stop you spreading it… well, just have a little think, okay?

Now we find there are ‘vaccines’ to ‘repair heart damage from heart attacks’.

Spoiler. Heart muscle cannot regenerate. It scars. You get a scar from myocarditis, it’s there for the rest of your life. I have a scar on my hand from a burn. It will never go away. The same is true of all my other scars and yours too, even the ones inside that you can’t see. They cannot be ‘repaired’. They *are* the repair. It’s like welding a plate of metal from a Ford over a hole in your Toyota. The welded on part never becomes Toyota. No matter what you do, that welded part is always a scar.

People will take that shot though. They believe in ‘the science’ even though the true science tells them it cannot work. The principle has been established. They will take another shot every three months for something that they are almost infinitesimal risk from even though it doesn’t work, so they’ll take a shot (probably multiple) for something that cannot work.

And then we have the cancer issue. There has been a marked rise in cancers and it’s not all down to lockdowns.The response? Well what else?

An mRNA ‘vaccine’ against cancer. You people really will believe anything, won’t you? Still I shouldn’t be surprised, since I was the one who told antismokers who accosted me that the lymph glands they could feel in their throats were cancers caused by my second hand smoke and that doctors were paid to tell them otherwise (sorry, legitimate GPs) and so much more. I already knew that so very many people were irredemiably stupid, I can’t pretend surprise now.

When you vaccinate against tetanus, it offers no protection against a closely related bacterium, Clostridium welchii, which causes gangrene.Vaccination against Salmonella does not protect you from its relative, Shigella. And so on. Vaccination is specific because the immune response is specific. You cannot vaccinate against something that has multiple causes – espeically something with multiple utterly unrelated causes.

Vaccinate against one infection, it doesn’t protect you from even a related infection. So you vaccinate against a cancer triggered by a particular infection – as happens now with cervical cancer. That does not protect you from a cancer caused by a different infection. It has absolutely no relevance to cancers caused by chemical exposure, radiation exposure, genetic predisposition or just blind bad luck. Nor any of a myriad other potential triggers.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ vaccine for cancer and cannot be. It might be possible for a single treatment to emerge for all cancers, they all do much the same once they’re started, but they have so very many ways to start that you really can’t pre-empt them.

Vaccines, even just a few short years ago, could well have been called the best thing medical science ever produced. Now? Science is dead, in many areas. Espcially medical science. You might as well get some toothless crone in a wood mask to shake a gourd at you.

At least you have a chance of surviving the experience.

Less Trust

The 18th anthology is assembled into one document and formatted. Since my eyes are not what they once were, I have passed it to Roo B Doo, our much younger and much more attractive co-editor, for a checkover before sending it to authors. Won’t be long now.

I did see that Jerry ‘Rhyming Slang’ Hunt has been given the job of wasting taxpayer’s money. They change so fast now I can’t even remember most of their names. There’s no point, they’re all bloody useless anyway.

The Silly Hunt, he of the mad eyes and a face like a Grinch that just caught Santa in a gin trap, has been fully supportive of the Chinese method of nailing people into their homes to stop them catching a cold. Now Less Trust (CStM’s invention) has put him in charge of the few pennies the UK has left after spending it all on boat people and a war we’re supposed to not be involved in. No sensible leader would put him in charge of a hot dog stand but we haven’t had a sensible leader since… well, probably since King Arthur, and even he threw his magic sword into a lake. Idiot.

Incidentally, I have one of those magnets for trawling lakes for metal things and if I find that sword there are going to be some changes around here. Although I’ll more likely drag out a Ford Corsair’s rusted bonnet…

Our government, like so many nowadays, is just a bad joke. Why does anyone listen to any of them? Well, because the justice systems are also bad jokes enforced by megalomaniacs with guns. Our media are likewise bought off by cretins with money. So are most of the internet companies.

Why do people care so much about money? I’ve never had much of it and it’s never been an issue. If you gave me a million pounds tomorrow I honestly would have no idea what to do with it. I certainly wouldn’t try to use it to control other people because I have no interest in what other people do. I’d most likely die of whisky related liver poisoning within a month, but only on the really good stuff that I can’t afford now. Damn, I’d consider that a good exit!

Yet, every day I hear about ‘more money solves everything’ but it really doesn’t. Give someone like me a lot of money and I’ll either bank it and forget about it or blow the lot on booze and baccy. I am not interested in some ‘legacy for future generations’. If they want that they can read my books but current sales suggests they don’t so screw them.

The government, like most others, is entirely focused on money. They don’t give a shit about jobs or family or happiness or fulfilment. Just money. To them, money is everything. To those billionaires, money is everything too. I say, let them have it. Take it all. Take it, and be welcome.

And then, when they have every digital (and actually nonexistent) penny, ask them what they will spend it on.

Because we’ll have nothing to sell.

Kaboom

All author contracts for Underdog Anthology 18 are out, some have come back in less than 24 hours. It’s been a very easy ride for editing this time, the quality of submissions has been excellent. Apart from a few typos we’ve had pretty much nothing to do! Most of the stories this time are quite long so it could be a somewhat chunkier book than usual. I’ll still be keeping the price to a minimum anyway, of course.

Well I’m still busy with book assembly and I have yet to find a suitable cover so I’ll keep this one short.

It seems Zelensky, one of the two maniacs at war (although as usual, the maniacs who start the war aren’t actually in any danger from it) has called upon NATO to nuke Russia so they won’t nuke Ukraine.

Well no, they won’t, if that happens. They’ll nuke NATO countries instead. Using nuclear does not deter the other side from using theirs. It pretty much guarantees they’ll use theirs.

An analogy. I have a gun and 100 bullets. You have a gun and 100 bullets. You fire one bullet at me. What’s my reaction?

I immediately assume you plan to also fire the other 99 bullets at me so I load up and fire all mine at you before you can reload.

It really doesn’t matter who sets off the first nuclear explosion. The other side has no choice but to respond with all they have before the first side fires any more. If Putin sets off a nuke in Ukraine and there’s no response from the West, he’ll see it as carte blanche to send more. If he sets one off and the West responds with a nuke, Putin will see it as a reason to blitz the West with all he has.

The same applies the other way around, if NATO go along with Zelensky’s insane plan for a pre-emptive strike. Ukraine isn’t in NATO so a Russia-NATO war won’t involve them.Looks like a sneaky way out for him.

Although maybe it’s not completely insane. If NATO get into direct war with Russia, that brings all NATO and BRICS countries into WWIII and everyone forgets about Ukraine. They could end up as the only country on the planet that isn’t populated by short-lived radioactive mutants walking around on glow-in-the-dark glass.

China will definitely get in on the action. WWIII is the perfect cover for them to invade Taiwan, something they have long drooled over and the West can do sod all about it if they’re tied up in a nuclear war.

I hear people claiming that China wants to take over the West. Nonsense. China has no need to destroy the West, our politicians are doing the job for them. Chinese style social credits are already planned, PayPal showed the way with their plans to heavily ‘fine’ (aka steal money from) their users who don’t agree with their politics. They’ve backed off, for now, but they have lost a lot of accounts in the 24 hours after it was highlighted. Their credibility is shot.

I pay a lot of authors through PayPal. I think I’m going to have to find an alternative payment route in the future. Sure, they backed off on this one – for the moment – but I can’t trust them now. They could bring back this insanity at any time, and one word out of place could see your bank balance wiped out (their idea included raiding your bank for the ‘fine’ if there wasn’t enough in your account).

This is an early taste of a digital currency. PayPal won’t let anyone use their service to buy guns or ammo. Not a big issue in the UK, we’d have to physically go to a shop and use real money or plastic cards and have licences anyway for those things – and handguns are completely banned here anyway. But consider… if they can stop the use of a digital currency for one thing, how long before they can stop you using it to buy booze, or baccy, or meat? Once it’s all digital, you have no control over what you buy.

Of course, the EM pulse from a nuclear explosion will eradicate all of that anyway, which makes me wonder if those trying to force this New World Order have any real idea what they are doing. They want us all microchipped, and they are trying to start a nuclear war which will erase every electronic device on the planet. Including the microchips they want to stick in us, and all their digital currency.

It looks like we are being ruled by idiots.

Which, I suppose, is nothing new.

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.

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.

Summertime

…and the living is easy. Fish are jumping, and the cotton is high.

Well that’s until now, when a warm summer has become the unleashing of Hell on earth and we’re all going to die of blood clots.

So, all those areas between the tropics must be devoid of humanity and any other form of mammalian life because the heat has turned their blood to jelly. All those people panicking about the potential 40C temperatures in the UK for one day have just spent pots of money to holiday for two weeks in places where 40C is normal in summer. They won’t die in the Canaries but they’ll surely die here. Oh they’ll believe it. Rational thought is no longer a normal human condition.

In 1976, I was 16 years old and living in Wales. We had around 66 days of hot dry weather that summer. I don’t recall the exact number of days but it was around that number. Reservoirs were drying up, there were standpipes in the street for water rationing in many places and it was seriously hot all the time.

Two months, not two days. We didn’t have thousands of deaths and we had no warnings about spontaneous blood clots. Because they didn’t happen.

Incidentally, the Church of Climatology at that time was telling us we were on the brink of a new Ice Age. Still waiting for that one. Oh wait, they went through acid rain, ozone depletion and then reverted to global warming. None of them happened but hey, that doesn’t even faze their devoted idiot congregation. Still doesn’t.

There was another hot summer in the early 2000s, while I lived in Scotland. I don’t think north Scotland has ever had a hosepipe ban but that was the only time I ever saw a letter from the water companies asking us to not use hosepipes unless we really had to, if we didn’t mind. That was the closest to a hose ban. Water shortages are rare in Scotland, it falls out of the sky most days. It’s rained a few times during this ‘heatwave’ already and it’s forecast to piss down tomorrow followed by storms on Wednesday. Enjoy your sunshine, you lucky, lucky bastards.

That early 2000s one was a good thing and a bad thing. I had great success growing tobacco in the little garden I had at the time but it was very hot indeed. Opening windows didn’t help, there was no air movement outside so no draughts.

Then the August snap frosts started – but the government made ‘grow your own’ illegal at around the same time. It didn’t matter. It’s been too cold to grow tobacco here for almost 20 years anyway. It’s getting too cold to grow much of anything outside a greenhouse. Must be global warming.

So now we have a couple of warm summer days and it’s ‘climate change’. All those years of snap Augusts frosts were just ‘weather is not climate’. We’re back to cold pissing rain and storms on Wednesday but that’ll just be more ‘weather is not climate’ until we have two warm days again and then it’s ‘climate change’. Science is easy when you can just make up the rules as you go along.

And yet, so many will say ‘follow the science’ even though they have absolutely no idea what science actually is. Science, real science, is continual questioning of established knowledge. It is not ‘belief’. It is not ‘faith’. It does not want to be ‘followed’ because it does not lead. It explores. Sometimes it hits a dead end. Sometimes it finds a new path.

Sometimes those who call themselves scientists decide that a big bag of money is a better path than they were looking for. If you think scientists, medics, politicians, live in a world where they can never be bought, you are delusional. These are all human beings and subject to the same failings as everyone else. A great many of them are, frankly. entirely corrupt arseholes.

It has always been so but in the old days, say 30 years or so ago, the corrupt arseholes were few, except in politics. Now they run all the shows. Trust the science? You are insane if you trust anything any more and that is a real shame for the few genuine scientists and medics still out there. Oh there are quite a few but you’d be lucky to find one now.

Now, science and medicine think you have to be scared of a couple of days of warm weather. They tell you it will cause terrible effects that two months of it didn’t cause in 1976. And people will be scared. They will shrink and cower and hide away as instructed, instead of enjoying a rare few days of British summer that would normally cost a lot of money and a long plane flight to enjoy.

When did you all become so weak? So frightened of shadows that you scream and run if there’s enough sun to see yours? When did you begin to regard a cold as fatal? When did you begin to think any sun exposure was guaranteed skin cancer? When did you decide that being a bit warm was far more dangerous than being freezing cold? When did you become a trembling, feeble weakling?

I really think, if you concentrate, you could put an actual date to it. A date when the ramped up fake fear pushed you over the edge. A date when you subsumed your independent life into the Fear Collective. And I bet there will be many with the same date, or close to it.

Money isn’t even real. These notes we pass around are based on nothing. Numbers on a a screen. Even so, some worship it as if it were a god. Collect the paper blessings that will make any god shrug in disbelief. Worthless tokens, usually amassed in bulk by worthless people.

And yet these worthless ones, these useless eaters, dictate how the productive ones should live. With one scare after another, all lapped up by the gullible.

So many of us watched and chuckled at it all. We didn’t mind what the loonies did, as long as they left us alone.

Well now they are not going to leave us alone. They are coming for us.

So what’s it gonna be, droogies?