The gospel according to Boris

So, our tousle-haired ruffian Prime Monster has given advice. It’s not compulsory, not yet, but some of it inevitably will become so.

Despite the frothing, hysterical demands from some that ‘The Government Must Do Something’, it seems to me he’s gone about this the right way.

This is not China. The people here are not conditioned to do as they are told by government. Most of us delight in doing exactly the opposite, and there is nothing the UK government can do about it… yet. Do these foaming loons really want Boris to turn this place into a China lookalike, where any deviation is punished and any criticism of the government results in disappearance? That’s what they are demanding after all. And yet, they’d be first!

Let’s have a cup of tea, chill, and look at it calmly.

There is much muttering about ‘oh it’s only flu’ and ‘flu kills many more so what’s the problem?’ and even some who don’t believe the virus exists at all. The truth is, it’s a new virus and the facts of it are not fully pinned down yet. I’ve retired from a microbiology career and I know it can take a long time to work out what a new species is capable of. When it’s a nasty one like this one all the stops are out but you still can’t fix it overnight.

It’s related to flu but it’s not plain old flu. It hasn’t killed as many as flu yet because it’s still in its first year. The symptoms look a lot like flu so some of those flu deaths could be this virus. China admitted to it in December but it had been around for a few months before that so it was already spreading around the world. Many people reported a bad flu over Christmas (my brother and his wife had it but they spend a lot more time with people than I do) which could well have been a first wave of this virus.

The big problem with this one is not the death rate. It’s higher than flu, but it’s still not the big problem. The issue is spread. You could be spreading the thing for anything up to two weeks before you even know you have it. That will cause a very rapid spike in infections and a massive surge in cases pretty much overnight. 80% of those cases only need to drink lots of fluids and lie around going ‘urgh’ for a while, but a high percentage will need hospitalisation. Higher than flu, and that already stretches the NHS. Remember, there are other diseases too.

With flu, only a small percentage need to go to hospital and it’s spread out over the winter. The new kid on the block is far more contagious than flu and sends a higher percentage to hospital. As we have seen in other countries, that spike can rapidly overwhelm the health service leading to doctors having to make horrible decisions over who would benefit from treatment and who they should just let die.

If you’re wondering how doctors sleep at night after making those decisions… they don’t.

So the advice is to avoid large gatherings, avoid interactions with people, only go out when it’s really necessary and generally become… me. I’ve been doing this most of my life. It’s great, you don’t even need to get dressed most days.

There are calls to shut all the schools. This is a good idea and a terrible idea. Children don’t seem to get this too bad but they can spread it. So one infected kid can, over the course of a few days, infect most of a school before that first kid even coughs. All those kids will take it home. Close the schools!

But wait. If the schools are closed, the parents have to stay home to look after them. Those parents include doctors, nurses, policemen, postmen, delivery drivers, shop staff… if every parent has to stop work because the schools are closed, where will you panic buy your toilet paper? Who will you turn to when the magic toilet paper cure doesn’t work? When the ferals come for your toilet paper hoard, who will you call?

Closing schools will happen but do it too soon and the whole country will fall apart.

Total lockdown? That’s been demanded. The Italians tried it and the death rate soared to 9%. If you’ve seen ‘Watchmen’ you’ll recall the scene in prison where Rorschach shouts ‘None of you seem to understand. I’m not locked in here with you. You’re locked in here with me’. Lockdown gives the virus a captive food supply. Nevertheless it will have to happen eventually.

Do it too soon though and you’ll have people looking around thinking ‘This is silly. Nothing is happening.’ Then they’ll break quarantine. The neighbours will see them break quarantine and think ‘Oh, it must be okay then’ and that is the end of the lockdown. You cannot have a lockdown too early or nobody will accept it. I repeat, this is not China. We do not simply do as we are told without a clear and visible reason.

Quarantining the over 70s. That is like herding cats. My mother is 78 and has been checking her flight to Aberdeen in April is still okay. That generation were born into and grew up through the second world war and aren’t scared of things they can see, never mind those they can’t. They grew up through the nasty flu pandemic of 1957 and are still here. They came through Harold Wilson unscathed, the three day week, the power cuts, the Winter of Discontent… you are not going to scare them into staying at home because of a virus.

At the other end are the Indestructibles, brought up to believe that everyone wins and nobody should ever be hurt, not even their feelings. They do not believe the measures they demand will apply to them, why would they think a virus applies to them? You see them online all the time, delighting in the death of the old through this new virus. They will not observe quarantine, they think they can spread it unharmed and kill off all the old people they disagree with. They will never accept that it can kill them too.

It does kill off the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions mostly, but those are averages. Recently an 84-year-old woman successfully recovered from infection and 30-year-olds have died of it. Pre-existing does not mean pre-diagnosed. You can have a heart condition in your twenties and you, nor anyone else, will know about it until your autopsy. Don’t laugh at this virus. It’s laughing at you.

All the measures Boris outlined are, for now, voluntary. He will need to force pub and restaraunt closures soon and ban all large gatherings such as sporting events and concerts. Here, the GP surgeries have closed and there is more to come. The suggestions will become rules. Because you won’t do it otherwise. Those measures… will they ever be reversed?

And so the no-physical-contact world of Panoptica becomes reality. I am up to 17 chapters on that one. I promised a chapter a week and we are about 12 weeks into the year so I’m taking that as a success so far, despite personal mitigating circumstances.. Those reading it will have noticed that the authorities need no permission to enter your home, they just come right in. That’s now being proposed in the real world.

I have to get back into working. My father’s ghost will be poking me in the back with his stick otherwise, he never had an idle day in his life. Even after two strokes. His funeral was epic though, there were people sat in the choir stalls because the church was full.

Best quote of the dark day was when the undertaker asked how many pall bearers we had. Four. My cousins. The undertaker said that for a man of my father’s size (he wasn’t fat) they usually used six. My brother just said. ‘You wait until you see them.’

They did a fantastic job. And they are all gentle giants.

Eradicate Whitey

Can’t happen.

Oh you could wipe us out and replace us with Africans but guess what? That’s where we came from.

Humanity, science is pretty sure, started in north-east Africa. Side note: real science is never more than ‘pretty sure’ about anything. All of science is open to question and open to new data. When you hear ‘the science is settled’ and the Word cannot be questioned, that’s religion. Especially if it has a repeatedly-predicted apocalypse that never actually happens. Climate ‘science’ has predicted far more Days of Judgement, and been wrong more times, than any religion on Earth.

Even so, science is pretty sure on this one. Humans first appeared in north-east Africa, pretty close to where the Bible says Eden was situated (yeah, couldn’t resist chucking that cat among the pigeons :D).

So, in the beginning, we were all black-skinned. Had to be or we’d have died of sunburn and skin cancer. White skinned at or close to the equator is not a good mix – okay these days we have sunscreen and clothes but back then, no.

It is therefore no surprise that the much-vaunted Cheddar Man, apparently the first human in the UK, was black. Of course he was. He would have migrated here from Africa. Just like everybody else, everywhere on the planet.

The thing is, having black skin when you’re getting close to the poles is a disadvantage. You cannot produce enough vitamin D in your skin to survive.

Note for the obvious retort – Vit D carries calcium and helps with bone growth. You can get rickets in Africa if you have all the vit D you need but not enough calcium in your diet. You need both. Oh, and no, you could not nip to the chemist for a pack of Vitamin D pills. In many places you still can’t.

So those who were born lighter skinned in the North did better that those who were born really dark skinned. Eventially we lost most of the melatonin and became the Honkies who are so despised, even though we are actually the same people.

It took thousands of years. It will take thousands to do it again but it will happen.

So sure, wipe out Whitey and fill the North with black Africans. Wait a few thousand years and you’ll have to do it all again.

They might come here hating us, but the very act of coming here, as we did thousands of years ago, means their descendants will become us.

We are not a separate species. White people did not come from different stock than black people or brown or any other shade of skin. We are one species. We all came from the same place, we just adapted to the place we lived in. All you white people who hate black people, your ancestors were black. All you black people in Europe who hate white people, your descendants will be white.

In the end, as with most things in life, your fevered rantings and violent purges will end up changing nothing at all.

Have a cup of tea. Smoke. Relax.

In the end, nothing matters enough to get a heart attack over.

Books and deposits

Many years ago, back in nineteen-mumble-mumble, glass bottles had a deposit paid on them. You got that back when you took the bottles back to be reused. There were few, if any, plastic bottles around at that time. Everything came in glass.

We kids loved it. We could take found bottles to the shop and get a few pennies for sweets. Looking back, it was like a reward for litter-picking. Anyone who discarded a bottle, as long as it didn’t break, was funding our sugar habit.The environment was kept clear of bottles and we got free sweets. Everyone’s a winner.

Then came the terrible day of the ‘no deposit – no return’ bottle. It was moulded into the glass so there was no way to get anything on them. Bottles accumulated because nobody had any incentive to collect them any more.

Then came the plastic bottles. Again, no deposit, no return. Worthless, once empty. Some glass ones were good for beer making but the plastic ones, well they were no use at all.

So recycling began. We were to wash out all that glass and plastic and pay the council to take it away so they could sell it to recyclers. It was a great con. Here, the council doesn’t collect glass any more. We are expected to take it to the bottle banks and not put it in general rubbish. The nearest bottle bank is 3 miles away… needless to say, glass recycling doesn’t happen as often as it should.

I have a plan for the accumulated empty bottles. I’m going to try setting them up in the woods with the necks in different directions so no matter which way the wind blows there will always be a ‘woooo’ sound out there. They’ll gradually fill with rain, which will evaporate in warm weather, so the tone of  the ‘woooo’ will change over time and vary depending on the levels of water in each bottle. I’d call it an art installation. I suppose many would call it ‘that damn freak and his lunatic ideas’ but art is often misunderstood.

Recycling hasn’t worked. All the crap is shipped to China and Africa for recycling and the overflow gets dumped into rivers and then into the sea. China and Africa get the blame for this while we pretend to be all clean and holy. The truth is, it’s our crap plastic that’s coming down those African and Chinese rivers.

China is getting sick of being sent contaminated and generally crap stuff for recycling so are clamping down on what they’ll accept. No more of the shitty stuff.

Recyclers are complaining that the councils sell them crappy stuff. Councils complain that people aren’t washing out the plastics etc before putting them in the recycle bins.

The ones at the end of the line are at fault. These are the people who make no money from the recycling game and who actually pay to have theirs taken away. But they are the ones at fault.

On that basis it’s never going to work. Not while those at the end of the line are expected to not only work for free, but to pay for the privilege. That won’t change.

It was therefore good to see the return of deposit-paid bottles. Some are calling it a tax. It isn’t. It’s a deposit. Basically you pay a retainer to have the bottle and if you bring back the empty bottle, you get that retainer back.

If you just throw the bottle out of your car window or drop it in the street, someone else will collect it and get the deposit money. We can look forward to a return to volunteer litter collectors who turn that litter into sweets.

It would be good to see this applied to glass bottles too but one thing at a time, eh? Besides, glass is not a big deal in the environment. Chuck a bottle into a river and it will soon sink to the bottom. The river will gradually wear it down back into the sand it came from. No toxins, no floating around getting tangled up with marine life, just a gradually eroding bottle.

I’ve seen the plastic bottle deposit in action in Denmark. Other European countries use it too. It does need a good network of the machines that accept the bottles. The machine checks the barcode to make sure it’s not an imported bottle (it’ll spit those back at you). If it’s a legit bottle, the machine shreds it. It doesn’t give cash, it gives a voucher to use in the shop. Well no problem, you’d have used some cash in the shop anyway and not giving cash means junkies can’t load up with bottles to get a fix.

It also means there’s no purpose in printing fake barcodes for a load of imported bottles. Oh, it happens  😉  but only on a small scale – one or two that someone brought back from a holiday. There’s no point in organised crime getting involved, it’s pennies per bottle so once you take off paying for the printed barcodes, paying someone to print them, paying patsies to take them to the machine, there’s nothing left. Besides, it’s all in vouchers.so no cash. You can sell the vouchers at a fraction under face value, sure, but you’ll be lucky to make a penny a bottle. And you have to ship in a load at a time from somewhere that doesn’t have the deposit. No, the crims won’t be interested.

Of course, if the idiots in charge ramp up the deposit enough, it could then become of interest to the Mafia…

It’s a good idea. I’m all for it. The deposit is not a tax, it’s entirely refundable on the return of the bottle just like in the old days. Rather than pay the council to take away our recycling and earn money on it, we get a refund on the used plastic. It will work better than the present system.

As for the vouchers, well, we used to spend the deposits in the shop where we took back the bottles anyway. Vouchers or cash, makes no difference to me. As long as the vouchers aren’t banned from use on baccy and booze, which would be a silly but predictable move on the part of our lunatic government.

Even sillier but impossible to rule out – you’d take back ten Coke bottles and can’t use the voucher to buy Coke. Oh I can well believe the dickheads we have in charge now are capable of making a rule like that.

If the vouchers turn out to be only good for salad and vegetables, I might add plastic bottles to my glass-bottle ‘woooo’ machine.

Or maybe retry my old attempts at melting them down into bricks for garden use.

***

Books –

Underdog Anthology 5 is a definite. There are more than enough stories to make it a ‘go’ but it can always take a few more. Deadline is midnight GMT on the 1st April and if you’re a few hours late, I’ll still consider it. It’s Easterish timed but not Easter themed. This one is the one filling the gap between Christmas and Halloween and I think I’ll keep it that way. The Spring non-themed anthology.

Price rises at the end of this month will not apply to the anthologies because the authors are paid in advance, there are no royalties, and the prices are as low as I can make them. None of the anthologies have made break-even, possibly because I keep giving them away, but that is not what they are for. They are advertising for Leg Iron Books and its authors.They might take a decade to reach break even, if ever, it doesn’t matter.

The price rises will also not apply to books by me. The only ones I have to increase are the ones I pay royalties on – the novels and single author story collections. They won’t go up by a lot but I need to pay my authors more than they get now. They aren’t going to be keen to send me more books if they get a pittance every quarter, and I don’t want to lose any of them just yet.

I only want to lose an author when they get an offer from a big publisher. That’s the point of this venture. I don’t want to be a big publisher, I don’t want to be rich, I don’t want to be in the 40% tax bracket. I’ve been in it twice and it was horrible both times because I don’t want to succeed for half pay. I’d like to make enough to live on, eventually, and see the Leg Iron Books authors make it into the big time. I am not the big time. I’m a step on the way, I hope.

I have been staying up far too late working on Lee Bidgood’s ‘You’ll Be Fine’ because it’s a compelling read. A complex story, tightly written, where even the most apparently irrelevant detail is woven in to a logically bizarre tale. And it has an orange Lada. I actually once worked with someone who had an orange Lada and he took a lot of stick for it. It was a uniquely revolting vehicle.

I hope to finish my so-far trivial edits by tomorrow. Then I have my son’s 30th birthday to deal with (yes, I am old enough to look unironed and well slept in) and then the anthology.

Today I was up in the horrible early time when the sun was on entirely the wrong side of the sky and the car was still frozen to the ground. It was day-job stuff, actual microbiology, but it won’t take effect for a while yet. It will not stop the anthology and will not stop Lee Bidgood’s book work. It won’t even affect Longrider’s next one, which is imminent. It just meant that tonight has been a bit of a wipeout because I’m not designed for mornings.

If you have something for Underdog Anthology 5, get it in by midnight on April 1st. There is a +/- day or so tolerance on this deadline, since it’s not specifically linked to a calendar event but a week late is far too late.

The next anthology will be Halloween. If you have a good scary one, you might want to save it for that.