Piper in Hazmat: Part One

Busy here, now five full books going through the process and also the Christmas anthology. Still I managed to get started on a tale for Christmas myself. This one will form part of Panoptica and fits between ‘For Whom the Bells Jingle‘ and ‘23-David and 81-Mohammed‘.

This isn’t the whole thing. Just the first half. It’ll probably get some editing too, once it’s complete. It’s being rushed out now because of something that’s happening in Liverpool.

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The story is set in the future of course – I had hoped in the far future, but it seems the future is coming faster than I anticipated. Well, here we go…

Piper in Hazmat

Dawn wiped away her tears before they could freeze. It had been three years and yet the pain burned as bright as ever. She stifled a sob and kept her head bowed. Tree respect was nearly over and she would return home alone, to spend this Earth Day’s Eve night in darkness.

This year, again, she considered ending it. It would be so easy. Refuse to turn off the house. Keep a tablet or phone open. Wait for the bells and let Santa take her as he had taken Willow, and a year before that, Martin. She would be with them in spirit, somewhere, if the old religions replaced by the Green God still had any power. At least the pain would stop.

That’s what the old religions promised. The Green God promised nothing but despair, the burning of this planet now deep in snow and ice. The trees were dormant, having shed their leaves for their long winter sleep and yet the news declared that the planet was warming by the hour.

Dawn gasped when the klaxon sounded. Relieved, she turned and headed for home. Maybe she could simply not bother with her preparations and let the cold take her this year, as it took so many others. Mostly the old, but then it did also take some of the young, even some of those younger than Dawn’s thirty years.

Lost in her depression, she didn’t notice June draw alongside her as she walked. Normally the families maintained social distance and respectful silence on Earth Day’s Eve. Everyone was too intent on getting home for one last hot meal before turning all the power off to be bothered with any idle chit-chat anyway. June’s whisper startled her.

“Dawn. We need to talk.”

Dawn shook her head and whispered back. “Do you want us both on the Naughty List? We have to maintain tree respect this day.” She kept her eyes firmly ahead.

June’s breathing was harsh. “They’ve made something worse than Green Santa. The Piper. They plan to take all the children.”

Dawn curled her lip. “They’ve taken my husband and my child. Why would this be any of my business?”

June stayed silent until they were nearly at Dawn’s house. Then she took a breath. “I’m sorry, Dawn. I know you’re going through a living hell but we need you.” She pressed something into Dawn’s hand. Something that ticked. “It’s not electronic so Santa won’t see it. It’s mechanical. Watch it after you turn off the house. When the thick long hand has moved halfway around the dial, and if you want to help us, open your front door and put a LEDlight outside.”

Dawn turned, but June was already receding into the growing darkness. She opened her door and dashed inside.

The door closed, her back pressed against it, Dawn stared at the small metal disc in her hand. Behind its flattened clear dome were three pointed sticks, radiating from the centre. A long one, a short one and a very thin one that rotated around the centre as she watched. There were numbers, one to twelve, around the outside of the dial.

It moves. Is it really not electronic? Is this a trap?

Dawn chuckled, a harsh and desolate sound. It really didn’t matter. She wanted an end to her personal hell anyway so if it was a trap she’d gladly walk into it. It took the decision to end it from her hands, it meant she didn’t have to choose.

In the kitchen, Dawn placed the disc thing on the table and switched on the kettle. She’d try, although she didn’t really want to, to fill enough hot water flasks to last the twenty-four hours of Earth Day. She set the soup on the hob, the last hot meal until sunset tomorrow, and remembered how she had taken the tepid leftovers when Willow was still here. Now the hot soup was all hers and it tasted of loss and despair.

Dawn filled two hot water bottles and three Thermos flasks with hot water before the brown-out started. She filled the fourth with half of the soup and sat to eat the rest at the table. Through the kitchen window, she saw the sun touch the horizon. She ate faster, soon it would be time to shut down the house and wrap up as well as she could for the long dark hours ahead.

Her gaze fell to the strange disc June had given her. It had protrusions either side, as if it was once fixed to something. As she ate, Dawn wondered where it had come from. It looked old, tarnished and scratched and yet whatever mechanism lay inside still worked. The thin stick in the dial moved in jerky steps, round and round. She was to wait until the long thick one moved halfway round the dial, after she turned off the house.

It’s a time measuring device of some kind. Dawn blinked a few times. A memory tried to resurface. Had her grandfather had one of these, or something like it, strapped to his wrist? The Great Cull had taken him while she was still a child, the viral plague that had wiped out many of the elderly. She sniffed and took another spoonful of soup. The four-digit clocks were so much easier to read, this little time measuring thing looked like hard work.

The soup finished, Dawn checked on the sun. Only a tiny arc of its disc now showed on the horizon. She sighed and rose. Time to turn off the house. Technically she had a few more minutes but what was the point? The electricity was now so low that the ceiling light seemed to suck light out of the room rather than illuminate it. She switched on a LEDlight and opened the panel for the power.

This was control. Martin had told her. They could turn off the power remotely through the smart meters but that wasn’t real control. Making everyone turn off their own power, that was real control. Dawn reached into the space behind the panel and pulled down the handle. The house fell silent. The pale bluish glow of the LEDlight was all that remained.

Dawn sat at the kitchen table and considered the tiny device June had given her. She was to wait until the ‘thick long hand’ had moved halfway around the dial then put a LEDlight outside her door. Well, assuming she gave enough of a shit to find out what this was all about.

What do I have to lose? Nothing.

The thin stick continued its rotations. The short fat one didn’t seem to have moved much. It pointed at just below the three. The one she was to watch pointed at the six. So she was to put out a LEDlight when it pointed at twelve. Dawn wondered how long that would take. The hell with it. I have to get some layers of clothing on. It’s already getting cold. She placed the little dial on the table and went off to the bedroom with the LEDlight.

Wrapped in multiple layers of clothing against the growing cold, with one hot water bottle in her bed and the other under her clothing, Dawn returned to the kitchen. She carried three extra LEDlights since her first one was already fading. There was not enough sunlight to charge them at this time of year. Should she really waste one by putting it outside her door?

The long fat stick pointed at eight. So she hadn’t missed whatever awaited her this night. Dawn tried to care, she tried very hard, but three years of being alone weighed heavy on her. If it was to end tonight, let it end.

Why twelve? There were twenty hours in a day, a hundred minutes in an hour and fifty seconds in a minute. Dawn had a vague recollection that it had been different and harder to understand when she was small but it was so easy to calculate now. Hardly any thought required. What was this little dial measuring? Transfixed, she watched the movements within the little dial, tracking the motion of the one that led to a decision. Would she agree to June’s request or ignore it?

Nine. Halfway to twelve. Dawn walked to the window and shivered at the moonlit whiteness outside. Every house, well, every box-shaped dwelling, all identical, all dark… it looked dead out there. She held her breath and listened but could hear no bells. Nobody around here was on the naughty list tonight, so far. Dawn glanced back at the table. So June had told her the truth. The tiny dial wasn’t electronic or she’d be hearing sleigh bells by now. The Green Santa wasted no time when dealing with the naughty ones.

Dawn hugged herself and returned to the table. The LEDlight was almost dead. She switched on another. These tiny solar-charged lights were the only electronics permissible on this night. Dawn picked up the little dial. Its ticking seemed louder now that all other sound was silenced.

Ten. Getting close to decision time. Was she going to put a light outside or just ignore June’s hinted rebellion and go to bed? The short stick had moved a little closer to four. That one must measure hours, June thought, although it seemed a little off. Still, it was hardly bedtime but what else was there to do now?

What was it June had said? The Piper will come for the children? Dawn closed her eyes. There was a tiny hint of childhood memory trying to get through, something about a piper who took children away. Vague, fleeting memories of a story one of her grandparents – she couldn’t remember which one – had read to her when she was small. Something about Hamlet… no, that was a white supremacy thing she had learned about in school. Piper of Hammering? Piper with a Pie? Dawn shook her head. It was too long ago, far too long. Even so, she was sure she remembered a story about a piper who took away children.

She opened her eyes and stared at the dial in her hand.

Eleven. Not much time left to decide. Should she base her future, or possible lack of it, on a vague memory of a children’s story? Dawn pursed her lips. They had corrupted Santa. Changed him from the old jolly fat smoking and drinking guy who gave away presents into the New Green Santa, who was lithe and fast and Pure, and who gave nothing but took away the Naughty Ones. It was not so much of a stretch to believe they had found another childhood icon to corrupt.

June was right about the little dial. It moved without electronics. Mechanical, she called it. Dawn turned it in her fingers and wondered what was inside, what powered it. It was certainly very old. Did the ancients have some knowledge that was now lost to the modern world? Or was it an elaborate trick? Dawn placed it on the table and watched as the thin stick made a complete revolution and the long fat one clicked one notch further. It can’t be electronic or Green Santa would be here now. June had told the truth, even if Dawn couldn’t work out why it was true.

So maybe June also told the truth about the Piper. The long fat stick was close to the twelve. Dawn took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

She had lost her husband and only child. Now this Piper thing was coming for other children. Should she care? Should she help? Or should she continue her slide into despair and let the rest of the world suffer as she had?

Dawn pushed her seat away from the table and stood. “What the Hell do I have left to lose?” she said aloud. “I can wither away and die or go down in a blaze. Maybe I won’t be any use but I can face whatever god there might be and say that I tried.”

The hand was still one minute from twelve when she put the LEDlight outside her door.

***

The rest of it will be in the Christmas anthology.

The end of the beginning

Finally, the rebel colonists will be voting for their next boss. Will it be Trump or Biden? As someone who has no vote in this game I’m frankly tired of hearing about it.

Yet, like a massive motorway pile up, it seems impossible to look away. The election has been going on for weeks, it seems. Voting has been happening for ages. In some states, it doesn’t even really end tomorrow – a few places allow votes to count if they arrive anything up to three weeks late. Surely if you had a postal vote and knew your postal system was slow, you’d have sent it in plenty of time? Apparently not.

At least two states won’t start counting until the election is fully over. There is no way they’ll be ready to announce results on election night. Then there is the cheating. Both sides have been caught at it. This is modern politics so you can be sure there’ll be more of it and there will be challenges to any close-run results. Basically, this is going to drag on right through November and probably beyond. This election doesn’t mark the end of the matter. It’s just the end of the beginning.

Who will win in the end? I have no idea. Biden’s side produce polls to say he’s ahead. Trump’s side produce polls to say he’s ahead. The whole thing is so absolutely polarised now that it seems impossible to find a totally independent source. Anyway, the polls were way off last time so it’s probably best to ignore them.

It does matter who wins. The two front runners have completely opposite plans for America. It’s not like the UK elections where they are all pretty much a bunch of wishy washy middle of the road wasters. This election is a real ‘choose your path’ moment, and hte paths run in exactly opposite directions. However, only the Americans can decide.

If King George III hadn’t been doolally, all of this could have been avoided. On the other hand, America might now be choosing between the same parties currently in the UK parliament.

Not really an improvement.

Voting

I’m a bit tied up here. I was invited to participate in a review of the scientific literature on my subject area, and agreed before finding out that the deadline is October 30th. It requires good copies of graphs and diagrams, some from as far back as 1985. Well, back then graphs and diagrams were all hand drawn and none of them have survived. It’s around the time I drew the cartoons for ‘Drawn Without Power’. I have replicated them as well as is possible and I think they came out pretty well. We’ll soon find out.

We didn’t get really good graph drawing computer programs until about 1990. I remember using one called FigP, but even if I found the files for it they’d be on 3.5-inch disks and modern computers don’t have a slot for them any more. Also, the program has probably dissolved in the mists of time.

Sometimes advancement is a bad thing. I have work I did in the past on 5.25-inch disks, some MS-DOS, some BBC. I had stuff on 3-inch Amstrad PCW disks, in Locoscript. Wordstar, Wordperfect, Lotus-123, all those files are lost to time because even if a modern word processor or database can read them, there is no longer a slot for the disks in a modern computer.

Fortunately I have prints of all my papers so I still exist.

Anyway. Voting.

In the UK you can get a postal vote and this is well known to be rife with fraud. Otherwise you turn up on the day and cast your vote in person. One day. Usually 7 am to 10 pm so no matter what shift you work, you can do it. You have a local voting place, the nearest one to here is five miles away but then so is pretty much everything else. If you live in town there’ll be one in walking distance.

I’ve been watching the American presidential election with some interest. It seems they can vote almost a month in advance. Now, I’m not going to say anything about who to vote for. I’m not American, not in America, never been there. It’s up to the rebel colonists which lunatic they want in charge. Besides, here in the proper English speaking land, we have quite enough to deal with with our own lunatics-in-charge without concerning ourselves with yours.

It does look risky though. Especially when both candidates are so old. Without trying to be nasty, what if one of them dies or gets too sick to continue in the month between voting and counting? Does your vote count towards the replacement, even if it’s someone you don’t want to vote for? Can you change it?

In some states it seems you can, but in most states you can’t. So you vote for someone, two weeks later they get sick or die or maybe you find out they’re not who you thought they were… tough. You voted. It’s over.

America also seems, in many places, to have a limited number of voting places. For something as important as voting for who is going to be boss of the entire country, you’d think they’d take it a little more seriously. I mean, we have voting places all over the country and all we get is a prime monster who, no matter which one you pick, is fuck all use anyway. Our chief cretin doesn’t get to issue executive orders or have a veto on what the government decides.

It’s a bizarre system for something so important. Does it work? Well that depends on who wins and on who you want to win. If those match up then it works, if they don’t, then it doesn’t. It’s purely subjective.

I know there are other parties but just like in the UK, realistically it’s between the two big parties. What if one of the candidates dies – even if they were both 30, there could be a car crash – or one drops out after thousands of votes have been cast before election day? What happens then?

Maybe there’s an American reader who knows.

The University Prisons

Well, the mechanic is getting all the parts and I should be rolling by Monday, maybe sooner if he gets them by tomorrow. This guy could be a regular for fixing the car (assuming lockdown makes the inactive metal box seize up something else, which is likely). I’ve used one tank of petrol since March and flat battery has happened twice already, despite having a new battery last year. This car is used to driving between Aberdeen and Cardiff, it doesn’t like the sedentary life. Still, it’s all part of the Boris plan to eradicate personal transport, I suppose. Might need to rebuild that old stable.

On the plus side, we are all up to date on story editing for the next anthology and there’s still a week left for submissions. Last minute submissions will pose no problem. I’ll be sending out contracts as soon as I think of a suitable title, then payments, and we are on course for a first week of October release. I can’t use ‘lockdown’ again even though I have a story about where that leads in the book. I can also use the time to dream up a cover – perhaps making use of that plague doctor mask, or the skull mask… I have so many now, and not one single overpriced and useless surgical mask. ‘Maskquerade’ might be a contender.

Nine stories so far, including one new author. I’m delighted to note that every anthology has introduced at least one new author so far. Not bad, considering this is number 12. There’s still time – and I have another story brewing.

My mother had scheduled a visit in October but of course that’s not going to happen now. She’s rescheduled for November, if the twats in charge come to their senses by then. It’s now public knowledge that both the CSO and CMO, who are running this through a grotesquely compliant Boris, stand to profit from a vaccine. I thought everyone knew about that months ago but the news is treating it as if it’s a scoop.

So we have to suffer until they can sell us a vaccine that won’t work. The annual flu vaccine is being pushed again, it’s that time of year, and that has an estimated success rate of 40%. The real rate will of course be a lot lower since some of those who don’t get flu wouldn’t have got it anyway. You might as well rattle a gourd at people and claim that if they don’t catch the disease, it has worked. You’d probably get very close to a 40% success rate.

No vaccine against any coronavirus has ever worked. Vaccines against stable viruses work. Smallpox was eradicated using a vaccine, it is still the only disease to be truly eradicated from the planet. Even the Black Plague is still around although now we have antibiotics and can deal more effectively with its major vector – rats.

Cholera is easily controlled by water supply treatment, even my tiny treatment plant here (filter and UV) will deal with it. All the diseases, apart from smallpox, are still around and this new cortonavirus is going to stick around too. Get used to it. It’s currently killing a lot fewer people than the annual flu and a hell of a lot fewer than cancer, heart disease and the rest.

Yet people are going around in plastic tents and someone is selling a space helmet with a pump sending air in through filters. Idiots are paying a lot of money for these things. I have a plastic Bane mask that is just as effective (as in, not at all) but a lot more fun. Especially as they can’t make me take it off. I’ll carry around my Saw puppet mask in case they insist I change it.

Now, in Scotland at least, Wee Nippy has confined thousands of university students to their rooms, enforced by police patrols. They cannot go to the pub, they cannot go to the shops, lectures are all online and they cannot even visit each other’s rooms. They’d be better off in prison.

Why even let them go back? Well, they are paying fees (unless they are Scottish or EU students, which has mysteriously never included English students who do have to pay fees – but the SNP aren’t anti-English despite their ‘go home’ signs at the border) and they are paying rent. Yes, they are all paying a lot of money to be in prison while rapists and murderers get it all for free. Isn’t that fun?

Even the non-fee-paying Scottish students, who I suspect are a major part of the SNP’s core vote along with their parents and families, are in the University California. No pubs, no going home for weekends even if they live a short bus ride away, no visits from family or friends or other students, lectures all online. Which all those students could have done equally well at home. They might not be paying fees but they are paying rent. I hope this devastates the SNP vote next election. If it doesn’t then the Scots are idiots.

Imagine being a first year student, possibly away from home for the first time ever, and being told you cannot go home and your family cannot visit you. Just think about how that would feel. Doesn’t it feel rather like being imprisoned for no crime other than breathing? You’re in a cell, can’t even talk to those in the other cells, and you’re fresh from home. You’ve committed no crime. How do you feel? I finished writing a Halloween story linked to this last night and it was true even before I typed the last word. It’ll be in the book, and on the blog when the book is published.

This is a taste of an independent Scotland under the Spiteful Nannying Party, headed by Kim McJong Nippy. Note that not a single one of those students has needed hospital treatment or any doctor’s attention. Not that there are any available anyway. If you really want this world you are a total bloody idiot.

Once my car is fixed I will have to take it for long drives. Even if it’s just to buy more petrol for the lawnmowers, the generator and the new brushcutter which I have dubbed the Petrol Driven Bastard. You’ll know why when you see it. This year the garden tools have used more petrol than the car.

I have some battery driven ones too, but the battery strimmer is a gentle stroking massage device compared to the Petrol Driven Bastard.

Better get in some more scythe practice. It’s going to be cutting edge technology again soon.

If Boris the alleged ‘libertarian’ gets his way, soon we’re going to party like it’s 1499.

What is really happening?

‘Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain’.

This new virus looked really scary at the start. The Chinese were boarding up homes and apparently burning corpses at a rate that would have made Hitler’s jaw drop. And yet…

Once testing spread to the non-sick, it became apparent that for most people it was a bad cold or nothing at all. China has returned entirely to normal. Sweden ignored the whole thing and has a health outcome almost identical to everyone else’s and a far better economy. It’s clearly over, even in the paranoid West there are now very few hospital admissions due to this virus, the hastily-built backup hospitals saw mostly nobody and our hospitals are largely empty.

Yet we are all supposed to wear masks (that cannot work) in shops, can’t meet in groups of more than six and there are threats of curfews. Apparently the virus has mutated into an entirely nocturnal form. Or the curfews are going to hide something we’re not supposed to see. Which option is sillier, do you think?

The NHS has, mostly, shut down. If the Tories really planned to sell it off they won’t get much public outcry now. It’s no bloody use to most of us anyway. Let it go.

If it was a prank by China to destroy the West, it has worked. There is almost nothing left of this virus, you are now 13 times more likely to die of the regular seasonal flu than Covid, it’s turned out to be a damp squib of a pandemic.

So why are our governments continuing with this farce? It makes absolutely no sense at all.

The other big news of the day is, of course, the unscheduled arrival of boatloads of men in Dover. Hardly any women or children, just tens of thousands of men who, if they had stayed in their own countries, could have transformed them. Instead they ran away, leaving their families behind, so they can complain about fancy hotels most of us have never been able to afford to visit. We are supposed to be afraid of these whinging cowards.

If there is any truth in the rumour that they are an invading army, the lawyers currently preventing their removal are accessories to an enemy invasion. They might want to look up their legal standing in that respect. I’d also suggest that any lawyer blocking the removal of an illegal invader should have that invader live in their house while the case is being heard. Why would that be a problem? The lawyer believes they are beneficial to the country, after all.

Look, this does not make me anti-immigrant. Only anti-illegal-invader. But hey, if you want to play the Outrage Game, you have fun with that. I’ll let you know if I start to care.

Then there was the story that police are intercepting a terrorist attack on the port at Dover. Again, this makes no sense. If the ‘enemy’ are piling in their troops through Dover, why would they want to blow it up? It’s their main landing point. Any other port and it could be credible but Dover?

It’s all distraction. Something is happening behind the curtain and we’re being enraged by alternatives so we never calm down and look.

Calm down. Drink tea. Smoke.

And… look behind the curtain.

Puzzles

Something has been niggling at the back of my mind for some time now. It came into focus when I saw one of the ‘senseless violence’ videos circulating recently.

I don’t mean the feral protestors. Of course everyone was videoing that. News channels (those that admit it’s even happening) and almost everyone present with a smartphone. Something was happening, people filmed it.

In this particular video, a man ambles along the street then takes a seat on a low railing. Another man, on a bike, passes him and as he passes he smacks the seated man across the head, knocking him to the floor. There was no logic to it, it was senseless.

But… why was anyone filming the man in the first place? Nothing was happening. He wasn’t doing anything illegal, he wasn’t protesting, in fact he wasn’t doing anything at all. There really was nothing to film until the second man showed up. The film was also remarkably steady. It wasn’t a hand held phone – no matter how steady your hands are, there’s going to be some movement. This was a fixed camera in a mount or on a tripod.

Clearly it was set up for the camera. The man who was hit might not have known it was coming, but someone did. A gang initiation, a vicious prank, who knows? It’s not that particular film that matters here, it’s the thought it triggered.

Remember all those videos of masked Chinese people in Wuhan, just falling down dead in the street? It caused speculation that a second infection could be fatal, that the disease worked like Dengue fever – a bad flu first time round, increased lethality if you catch it again. There was later speculation that it was the mask that caused them to asphyxiate and spontaneously die. It’s never happened anywhere else.

But again, these films showed nothing happening at first. Just people walking along a street, with the one about to collapse centre frame – and a very steady camera. There was no reason to be filming at all.

Then the victim simply poleaxes and lies still on the ground. That’s the event – but how did the camera operator know it was about to happen? Was it all an act?

A stable camera filming a nondescript street scene in which the person centred in shot suddenly collapses. Not just one, but several such films appeared. These have to have been staged.

Then there were all the reports of Chinese hospitals bagging up still-living patients and sending them to the incinerators. Videos taken by Chinese journalists in which they try to alert medical staff that they’d seen the body bags move and yet nobody responds. Were the body bags loaded with actors for effect? Drive them around the corner and let them out, then burn a load of pigs so you get the effect of a massive rate of cremation. Could that be?

Wuhan is back to normal. Films of huge parties are coming out of there. Nobody is sad, nobody is in mourning for thousands of dead people. It is, literally, business as usual. And nobody wears masks.

The boarding up of homes, the roadside tests, the silly infrared thermometers (these are not a reliable way to assess body temperature, they only measure skin surface temperature and if it’s cold outside, you might only register 25-30 oC). Was it all a massive practical joke to send the West into lockdown? It has certainly made a hell of a mess of Western economies.

The virus is real, it’s nasty and it has killed people. Nowhere near as many as claimed, since we’ve known for some time that doctors were pressured to put ‘covid-19’ on death certificates even if the corpse had been rolled off the tarmac after a passing steamroller and no test was performed. It now transpires it has killed mainly the elderly and infirm and has had much the same effect as a bad seasonal flu.

It’s now simply called ‘coronavirus’ as if it’s the only one. Every flu virus is a coronavirus. MERS, SARS, bird flu, swine flu, seasonal flu and many common colds are coronaviruses. If they are testing for coronavirus this is never going away. Vaccines are futile against coronavirus and always have been. The only thing those vaccines achieve is profit for the company making them.

Vaccines against stable infective agents such as polio, tetanus, measles etc – they work because the target doesn’t change much over time. Although I see there is a resurgence in polio in Africa that was actually caused by the use of a live vaccine.

A live vaccine contains an attenuated (not dangerous) version of the virus. Your immune system sees it, kills it and remembers it. That vaccine virus is not supposed to be able to set up much of an infection, just enough to set off your immune system. However, it’s still active and it seems this one managed to mutate back to its original form, or repair the damage done to it. It’s really best to stick to vaccines containing killed virus.

Coronaviruses mutate too fast to allow development of a reliable vaccine. That’s why there’s no vaccine against the common cold. There never will be. Treatment is the only option.

So here we are, six months into a two week lock down to ‘save the NHS’ when nobody can see a doctor and ‘protect the elderly’ while anyone over 60 entering a hospital was issued with a ‘do not resuscitate’ notice and the virus was deliberately introduced into elderly care homes. I’m begining to feel like 23-David with all these contradictions, all of which I am supposed to simultaneously support.

We are now to wear masks while the virus has declined to the point where even the doctors can’t attribute more than single figure deaths to it. The NHS is still largely closed and demanding a pay rise. Boris has declared he wants a curfew, people cannot gather in groups of more than six except when they can and he’s going to employ some Stasi to enforce it. He hasn’t yet gone the Australian route and installed full-on Panoptica monitoring. It’ll come.

Meanwhile, China is partying as they import all the coal they can get while the rest of us declare we have to manage on ridiculous solar panels and windmills. Boris wants to ban all cars except the fancy dodgems and you can’t have a gas boiler to heat your home – and no, you can’t have a chimney either.

This is becoming a very silly game. In so many areas now. It’s clearly all been orchestrated and it’s ramping up as if those running it are panicking. Which they probably are.

The real climate change is about to manifest. The next few years will make it clear that all of this ‘preparation’ has not been preparing people to survive climate change, but to be wiped out by it. That’s why they are moving so many people towards the poles. People who are going to struggle to cope with a level of cold they have never experienced.

I have seen people claim the virus isn’t real. It is real, but it’s a vicious flu. I have seen people claim that there are long lasting effects. This is post viral syndrome and it’s not common and certainly not exclusive to this virus, but it does affect some people. I have seen medics attribute almost everything to this new virus which, as a smoker, does bring a touch of relief. It used to be that every disease was my fault, now your cough, dry eyes, dandruff, middle ear infection, anything that afflicts you is coronavirus.

Basically, our governments have all been pranked by China and so have most of the people. I don’t know what China has on our politicians and scientists – it’s probably money – but only Sweden has said ‘Ah, screw this, it’s nonsense’ and Sweden has come out of all this in better shape than all the lockdown countries.

Yet the farce continues. Wee Nippy has now introduced the ‘Rule of Six’ in Scotland. Outside my immediate family and CStM I don’t think I know six people so it’ll be hard to keep to that rule. It’s an arbitrary and stupid rule to apply at this stage but then arbitrary and stupid seems to be every government’s modus operandi at the moment.

There is no natural end to this post. The puzzles and contradictions in the world today could fill a book. So I’m just going to stop.

Let’s just hope the idiots in charge do the same.

All except one part

If you haven’t seen the film ‘V for Vendetta’, I recommend it. Most entertaining.

The plot, basically, is that a fake epidemic is engineered to bring the population under total control. There is a curfew, there is a ban on large gatherings, and it’s not the police who enforce it but the Fingermen, directly employed by government.

Laws are brought in without parliamentary process. There doesn’t seem to be a parliament any more, just one ruller called Chancellor Sutler. Sutler makes the law, there is no parliamentary process at all.

Everyone lives under repression, everyone is watched all the time and one step out of line gets your house raided and you disappear. The thing that jarred with me was that this was all brought in under a Conservative government. I didn’t think the Tories would do all that, but here we are.

In the film, the character known as ‘V’ eventually brings down the goverment (one man, Sutler) and frees the people. V has no eyes and yet is able to navigate his world perfectly. He is horribly burned, he was one of the subjects of ‘vaccine testing’ under the new regime. And yet he manages to destroy the system single handedly.

Now, in real life, Chancellor Boris is bringing in new laws without recourse to Parliament. You will now be arrested if there are more than six of you in a group unless you are on a packed dinghy from France or tearing down a statue or glueing yourself to something in the name of climate change.

He has already mooted the idea of curfew and of ‘covid marshals’ (prototype Fingermen). These will come.

All for a virus that has run its course. Sure, ‘cases’ are increasing but ‘cases’ are just positive tests. Not necessarily actually sick people. Hospital admissions are well down, deaths are barely registering, and the test has been slated by its inventor because it was never designed to be a diagnostic test. It will find dead virus.

So we are fast moving into the world of ‘V for Vendetta’ apart from one detail.

There is no ‘V’. There is no mystical warrior coming to save you. No cunning manipulator willing to sacrifice himself for the common good. He is the truly fictional part of the story. And that makes him the most dangerous part of it.

People are going to sit around waiting for a superhero to save them. Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, ‘V’… none of them exist and none of them ever will. They are stories. The background of the stories can come true and indeed is coming true but the one part missing from reality is the Great Superhero. He’s not coming.

If you want to get out of this you’re going to have to do it yourself. Nobody is coming to save you.

Or you can sit back and wait for some costumed superman who doesn’t exist.

The game is on. It’s your move.

The Forever Bug

Remember Bubonic Plague? I know, I know, most responses are going to be ‘Oh come on, that was 400 years ago’. It’s not gone, you know. There are several cases around the world every year. What we have now, of course, are antibiotics, which were only discovered in the 1930s and are already being overused to the point where several of them are now useless. If they had been around in the 1600s they would all be utterly useless by now. We’d be back to leeches and bloodletting.

Polio still exists. Typhus. Leprosy. Rickets (although that one isn’t an infection and really shouldn’t exist now, it’s so easy to fix). People still get measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox… all the diseases our ancestors knew are all still here. The only one that has been eradicated in the wild is smallpox. Think of any 12th century disease, or any from earlier or later periods of history, and apart from smallpox, every one of them is still here. We’re just better at controlling them or curing them.

Not all of them. Rabies is still a tough one. I had a rabies vaccine once and was told it wouldn’t actually stop me getting rabies. It would just give me enough time to get treatment before it killed me – and the treatment is horrible. Fortunately I had that vaccine to visit China, and they’d already eaten anything that would have posed a rabies risk.

So, the Big Scary Story of the day is that Covid-19 will be present forever. (Trigger warning: It’s the Daily Mail, so keep your blood pressure pills handy if you open the link).

Of course it will. SARS, MERS, bird flu, swine flu, all the rest are still here. And there will never be a successful vaccine against any of them.

The current virus is being called ‘Coronavirus’ now. It is not THE coronavirus. It’s just A coronavirus. There are many of them and they mutate all the time. New ones appear but the old ones don’t go away. We just develop immunity to them or find better treatments. Vaccines are not a good bet against coronavirus. They work well against many other types of virus and against a lot of bacterial infections, but coronaviruses change too fast for a successful vaccine. You might make one with 100% effectiveness against this year’s flu but next year’s flu has several new variations and the vaccine won’t work on the new ones.

Many common colds are coronavirus. All the flu variants are coronavirus. They will develop variants all the time. Some of the variants will infect without causing any symptoms. Some will give you a cold. Others will floor you. A few will kill you, especially if you’re already very old and/or sick. And there really is sod all you can do about it. You are not immortal, no matter how clean and Righteous you live your life.

Modern flu vaccines claim around 40% effectiveness. There is no control group. You get the jab, you don’t get sick, you are counted in that 40%. If you hadn’t had the jab, would you have caught flu that year anyway? How many of the 40% wouldn’t have caught it with or without the jab? The real percentage effectiveness could be an awful lot lower. It could even be zero.

It’s the old ‘paper balls on the track’ game. Someone sits in a railway carriage travelling through England and every so often, rolls a peice of paper into a ball and throws it out of the window. Another passenger asks him why he’s doing it.

“It keeps elephants off the tracks,” he says.

Bemused, the other passenger points out there are no elephants here.

“See? It works.”

If you get the jab and don’t get flu, it’s worked. If you get the jab and the jab makes you sick, it’s still worked because you didn’t get the illness in the wild.

A PCR test also won’t work on a coronavirus. It is not a diagnostic test and was never designed to be one. It’s a very powerful technique when used for its intended purpose but as a diagnostic for a single-strand RNA virus it’s no use at all. You can also ramp up the number of cycles to the point where the primers will make the sequence you’re looking for out of DNA or RNA fragments, even if it didn’t exist in the original sample.Yeah, I’ll do a post on it if I can get the technical stuff into layman’s terms. At this point, all you need to know is that it is not intended for this purpose and those using it must surely know that.

Still, money, eh? A lot of money in testing even if the test is useless. As long as the government falls for it and pays up, who cares if an entire population is terrified into penury in the process?

There is also an enormous amount of money to be made in vaccinations. Even if they don’t work. They only have to give the illusion they work. ‘Repeated vaccinations’ is the same as the annual flu jab. It’s a money tree. Treatment, not cure, is where the profit lies. Those various hepatitis jabs I had don’t need to be repeated unless I go to the high risk places again. I won’t need rabies vaccine again unless I go to a high risk place. I shouldn’t need another shot of tuberculosis vaccine. Tetanus… actually I’m overdue for a topup. Considering I’m often elbow deep in something filthy, I’ll have to get that sorted if the NHS ever opens again. Their managers are enjoying all the spare cash at the moment.

Flu? You need a new vaccine every year. It hardly works and it might make you sick but the NHS has paid for it, the Pharmers have pocketed the cash so roll up your sleeve and play Flu Roulette. It might protect you. It might not. It might actually give you flu. Which chamber has the bullet?

I’ve never had a flu vaccine. No point, you can only get flu from other people and I have little to do with them. And while I have accepted all kinds of vaccines, all of them went through years of testing before being released. That’s not possible with any coronavirus vaccine. They change so fast you have, at best, months to come up with a new one. That’s why they are so crap.

This virus looked very scary at first. It is now clearly a severe flu. It is clear that case numbers have been ramped up by putting pretty much any disease in with it. It is clear that many death certificates were faked. It is clear that this is not another Spanish Flu, compared to that one it’s a rank amateur. It is a very bad flu and that’s all it is. It is not the End of Humanity, it’s a very naughty virus.

There have been no deaths from it in most of the UK for weeks. Hospitals are lying mostly empty. There are ‘cases’, these are positive tests and count as a case whether you are sick or not. PCR will give a positive result from bits of a dead virus, you might have had an asymptomatic infection and the test is picking up broken pieces. Nonetheless you are ‘a case’.

We are now all to wear useless masks that won’t stop any virus but which will cause a resurgence in bacterial and fungal respiratory infections. Unfortunately if you have any respiratory infection, the NHS is only testing for coronavirus. If you don’t have it you are unfashionable and will be sent home. If you die you will be marked as a coronavirus death even if it was Legionnaire’s disease.

Wearing a mask in public? I admit to delighting in this. I have some terrifying ones. There is one somewhere that is very gross indeed. I have to find it.

However, the mask goes on when I go into Local Shop (there have been comments on my masks) and comes off as soon as I leave. I don’t go into supermarkets any more, they deliver for less than it would cost me in petrol to get there and the supermarket bills are way down. No impulse buys, you see? I might never go there again.

Why the hype? Money. Of course.

There are now billions invested in finding a vaccine. Nobody needs one, and it won’t work anyway. I am taking zinc and vitamin D supplements, I get vit C from daily orange juice and quinine from daily tonic water. This stops the virus replicating so even if I happen to interact with some filthy disease-ridden human thing, I’m protected. I am also blocking ACE-2 receptors (the one the virus sticks to) with nicotine. All of this comes from science, I am not listening to politicians nor to anyone who stands to profit from a vaccine.

I know, Trump mentioned hydroxychloroquine and that automatically makes it bad. I’m not listening to Trump either. I’m listening to my past, an entire career studying infectious diseases and the knowledge of how to read scientific data. I don’t care whether anyone ‘believes’ me. It is of no consequence. I’m not interested in saving the world. I’m just telling you what I’m doing and why. What you do with this information is entirely up to you. Wrap it in tinfoil and bin it if you like. I don’t care.

Still, look at who is claiming the cheap cure doesn’t work. In America, the main motivation is ‘Trump said it’. There is another motivation that is worldwide.

Many rich and influential people, and many governments, have invested heavily in vaccine production. They lose all that money if there is a cheap and easy cure. So the cheap and easy cure has to be dismissed. Otherwise, who needs the vaccine they’ve spent all that money developing? Oh they know it won’t work, but that’s not the point. The point is profit.

You can help the billionaires get richer if you like. I’ve retired from a career as a microbiologist, I’ve been vaccinated against pretty much anything there’s a reliable vaccine for, and I am not touching this coronavirus vaccine.

What you choose to do is entirely up to you.

I don’t think it’s going to work.

I may go out tomorrow if I can borrow a face to wear.

Oh I’ll step out in style with my plastic smile and unbarbered hair

It’s a very old song. I think it is one of my earliest memories of a song, aside fom all that Lonnie Donegan stuff my mother liked. I only have a few Leg Iron Books mugs here currently but there’s one up for grabs if you can tell me who sang it and what it was originally called (it wasn’t Lonnie Donegan).

Meanwhile, two new faces arrived today, to add to my Hall of Faces.

The Saw mask will need a bit of cloth taped over the inside of the mouth, the sugar skull is already sealed so they will both be legitimate Covid masks since they cover my nose and mouth. Shops aren’t allowed to make me take them off but just in case they demand it, I can wear one over the other.

I’m quite enjoying this subjugation. You want me to wear a mask? Sure, I’ll wear a mask. I am amassing quite a collection. I’m happy to become a Faceless Man. Good luck with that facial recognition stuff you paid millions for. I can go around a corner and have a different face now. And I am obliged to cover my face by law (there are those who have said covering my particular face should have been law long ago) so you can’t make me take it off or I’ll infect you with… whatever you are currently scared of.

This virus has receded. It’ll come back in the next winter, the Wonder Winter in which nobody will die of flu for the first time in recorded history. You can be sure of that.

This New World Order, this population reduction to five hundred million people worldwide, is not going to work. We have around seven billion people on Earth and there are still places humans have never visited. Still new species to discover. I’m not talking about the bottom of the sea, I’m talking about on land. Huge tracts where no human eye has ever set foot. The planet isn’t overpopulated, it’s just being managed by idiots.

Okay. To get down to 500 million people you have to kill six and a half billion people. How? The military? How long before some grunt is pointing his euthanasia rifle at his grandma? Will he fire?

Sure, you take the military from country A into country B and let them loose. Meanwhile the military from country B is killing everyone in country A. This works until both militaries hear about what’s happening to their families at home. Then they want to go home to defend their own country.

I have seen the bleeding hearts bang on about deforestation in the Amazon while insisting we all go vegan. They say nothing about the deforestation to install wind farms and solar panels. Hey, you want everyone vegan? You’re going to have to deforest the whole damn planet to grow enough crops for that. Some places can only grow grass, which ruminants (cows and sheep) can eat but you can’t. What will you do with those places? Oh and, incidentally, what do you think happens to all the animals you think you’re protecting? What do you think happens to the wildlife that eats some of those crops?

The population reduction proposed means that out of every 14 people, 13 must be killed. Look in the mirror and ask yourself, are you the one they’ll save? I know they won’t want me. How many soldiers, how many police, will they really need when there’s a small subservient population? If you are a soldier or police now, are you to be saved or are you just a little bit lower down the list, once you’ve done your job? 13 out of 14 will die. Are you number 1 or number 12? Where are your family on that list? Where is your father? Your brother or sister? Your children? Are you the one who will be ordered to depopulate them? Will you do it?

How long before that realisation kicks in? I mean I know it worked in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia and China and Cambodia and North Korea but applying that globally is a very different game. Especially when you are dealing with countries, such as Poland, who have experienced this same shit in living memory.

Suppose they succeded. 500 million. About a thousand of them own all the wealth on the planet. What will they buy? Who is making anything? Why would their drones bother if they are not going to be adequately compensated? Who is making ornate furniture when they get the same pittance for banging a few planks together? If you are a drone with no hope of advancement, why try?

Soviet Russia found this out. So, to a lesser extent so far, has China. Basically, if you eradicate all capitalism you eradicate all motivation. If you cannot possibly advance from where you are now, there is no point trying. No point making anything unique or beautiful when you get paid the same as someone who bangs rough hewn planks into something vaguely chair shaped.

All those billions of dollars will be worthless when there is nothing to buy. Where are your fine wines, when a homebrewer using baker’s yeast and some strawberries gets the same pay? Where is your gold when digging out iron pyrites gets the same pay? What use are your diamonds when nobody else even knows they exist? Where do you get your fine clothes when all anyone bothers to make is sackcloth?

There will be rebellion. It’s human nature and to paraphrase the Joker: ‘You have nothing. Nothing to threaten us with. Nothing to do with all your money’. Money will become an irrelevance when nobody can earn more than the absolute basics. The billionaires have nothing to buy. Oh but they can buy people? How? There is nothing for the bribed ones to buy either. This game makes money entirely pointless.

Oh they”ll go back to slavery, we’ll be picking cotton and other crops, but what will they do with it? Who will they sell it to? When most of the population is gone, who are your trading partners?

When there is no more money, many of us will become hunter-gatherers. We can’t get into the system if we don’t accept control and those who accept control will die out. Gobleki Tepe started me wondering if this has happened before. Maybe they didn’t transition from hunter-gatherers to advanced stonemasons. Maybe it was the other way around. If you’re a skilled stonemason suddenly getting paid the same as someone who bangs rocks together, what would you do?

This New World Order is a massive failure in the making. I wonder how many times it’s happened before. It is happening again.

They never learn.

We don’ need no education

So, England, Scotland, Wales and Norn Iron have monumentally fucked up their guesstimates at exam results. Of course they have. It’s a government thing. They fuck up everything they touch, no matter which of them is in charge.

What to do about it? If I was employing people (I’m not) I would regard the 2020 results as irrelevant and hire on the basis of interviews alone. Which is really how it should be anyway. Someone can get straight As and be an utter dick to work with, someone else might get Ds but be a diligent and effective worker. How clever you are is not an indication of how effective you are.

I have met a guy whose whole life was cleaning. He was the best cleaner ever, fast and very effective. As a conversationalist, oh dear me! All he talked about was cleaning! Set him to work though and he needed no supervision.

I have met ostensibly clever people who genuinely believe that if someone takes up vaping they will inevitably become smokers. I am talking about people with PhDs here. My response that dildos don’t turn lesbians straight and vegan sausages don’t make vegans crave meat was brushed aside. One issue. Smoking. They cannot see it.

If you are a smoker who has tried vaping you know it’s very different. I have seen young kids vaping in Aberdeen and wasn’t bothered at all. It’ll do them far less harm than smoking. If they try to move from fruit flavoured steam to inhaling face bonfires I bet they will go back pretty damn fast.

But I digress. Back to education.

When I was a PhD student, myself and some other school friends met up with one of our number who had left school at 16. He was working on oil exploration ships. He was wondering which car to buy. We were wondering if we could afford another beer. This was in the days before student loans, so it wasn’t about building up debt. We were just mostly skint.

It wasn’t until my 30s that someone pointed out that those who had left school at 16 were far richer than me, most had their own businesses by now, they had been paying into pensions since they were 16 and were set to retire comfortably well before 60. Whereas I was pretty well screwed for the state pension at least. They were also halfway through their mortgages. I hadn’t started. My high-faluting job kept me moving too much to buy a place.

On the plus side, I did get to live in a lot of different places and visit other countries as part of the job. I had an interesting career, learned things and had experiences that were better than having loads of money. I’ve never been that interested in being rich either, if I won a million pounds I wouldn’t really know what to do with it. I don’t want a yacht or a jet or a fancy car. I’d most likely have a massive garden railway though.

So, for me, it was the right choice. If you want to be rich though, get an apprenticeship in a trade. Skilled tradesmen are in short supply since the government decided to send almost everyone to university to study degrees that don’t even qualify them to flip burgers. And put them into a deep debt hole in the process.

Even practical degrees are oversupplied. Forensic science, for example, turns out around eight times as many graduates as there are available jobs. A sensible and practical qualification but the supply of graduates is far too big. As long as universities profit from the course, they’ll run it, even knowing most of their students will have to find a totally different career after being trained in a highly specialised one.

On the other hand, I recall hearing about universities closing chemistry departments because they weren’t profitable. A good basic chemistry degree gives someone a very wide range of options for the future. So does a physics, biochemistry or biology degree. These days it seems they teach ‘science’. I haven’t looked at the courses but I suspect it’s a mashup of the cheap parts from each of the sciences and is very likely far too vague to be of much use.

As for gender studies, does anyone enter that course with the slightest idea of their future career direction? As far as I can see, it trains you to… be a gender studies teacher. How many do the universities need? None, in my view, but it’s a highly profitable course since it has few overheads in terms of equipment.

Going to university nowadays is, in large part, signing up to indoctrination camp. Oh there are still genuinely useful courses out there. A business degree can be useful. There are still real science degrees available. Practical, useful degrees still exist but if you’re going into a specialised field, check the job market before you decide. No sense getting highly – and expensively – trained to do a job nobody wants done.

The exams fiasco didn’t just knock back gender studiers. It has knocked back doctors, nurses, scientists, artists (and there are practical applications for arts, it’s not all sitting in a Paris attic in your vest eating chocolate bread and having tantrums). It has knocked back those going for practical, useful degrees and in at least some cases, people who would have done very well with those degrees.

At the same time, it will have randomly inflated the results for some who might not be able to cope with university. Okay, university isn’t prison, you can drop out if you don’t like it, but you’ve already taken on that debt and wasted at least months when you could have been earning money and building towards your first promotion in whatever job you chose. Neither group will benefit from this mess.

Those are extremes of course and I suspect the extremes are few, but there’s still a mess in between. The worst part is that it seems the algorithm used to guess at the results downgraded those from poor areas and boosted those from rich areas. Rich does not equal intelligent. Look at the Harry formerly known as Prince for example.

What else could have been done? Setting actual exams with all Boris’s silly rules in place would have been possible, but these kids have not been in school since March. Taking an exam six months after your last lesson in the subject would have been a nightmare.

Could they have been individually assessed? Well if they had sat exams, those exams would have been individually marked so it’s really not a stretch to look at the classwork for each pupil. In fact, they had probably done mock exams. Practice ones. Send those in to the indepedent exam markers and assign grades based largely on those. Not ideal but better than a random guess.

Finally, it’s not all Boris’s fault. Education is a devolved issue, like health. His government is only responsible for England in those matters. I note the Scottish schoolkids have been blaming Boris but this one’s not on him.

He has bigger fiascos to run.