Hawaii at 100

Okay, I have finally finished with ‘Norman’s House’ and loaded it up. It has passed all the checks and the eBook version will spread soon. I’ll push it once the Amazon listings combine. Details are here.

The eighth Underdog Anthology is now open for submissions. Since we are not getting visited (parents again) until April 4th, I can set the closing date for submissions to March 25th, and I can be a few-days flexible on that. It’s the Spring (Beltane) anthology, details here.

Right, that’s the work stuff done. Now it’s time to get the popcorn, pour a good sized drink, sit back and marvel at the madness of the world.

I read recently of a man in India who plans to sue his parents for giving birth to him without his consent. I have also noted that several American states now allow abortion up to the point of birth. Soon they will give new parents a one-year cooling off period, during which they can bring the child back for extermination if it keeps them awake or if they just change their minds. Oh I know, it sounds flippant, but I’m really not joking. There will be many counsellors on hand to help change their minds during that first year too.

It sounds horrifying but people will accept it because it’s all part of the plan. As is your child sueing you for bringing them into this world without their consent. Read Orwell’s 1984, if you haven’t already, and see what your children will be able to do to you in future. Heck, they can do it now.

This post isn’t about those things.

If I live to be 100 I am going to Hawaii. I won’t go before then but if I get that old I am definitely going. It’s quite a few years away yet and given that I have lived, and continue to live, a life that should, by all modern medical propaganda, have ended in 1985, it’s a long shot.

Still, as I said, I will not go there before I reach 100 because I won’t be able to buy any cigarettes there until I reach that age. I will definitely go there when I reach 100 because I’ll make a fortune. I’ll buy cigarettes and sell them individually to the 90-year-old senile delinquents on street corners. (tip of the heavy hat to Zaphod on Twitter for this one)

The idiots in charge of Hawaii are concerned about – a potentially strong backlash from tobacco companies.

They are not at all concerned about any kind of effect on existing smokers. Fuck ’em. Nor on any small retailers who rely heavily on the profits from cigarette sales. Fuck ’em too. The tobacco industry could write off the whole of Hawaii and their balance sheets won’t notice the difference. Hawaii’s corner shops will notice the difference very quickly and Hawaii’s smokers will, if they have any sense, be packing their bags right now.

Oh I know, smokers, eh? Who needs ’em? Wouldn’t the world have been so much better without the likes of Churchill or Einstein or Brunel? We could have been so much better off under the virulent-antismoker vegetarian Hitler. So all the smokers leave. You won’t miss them. You’ll have your new Righteous overlords looking after you and if you think it stops with smoking…. you really haven’t been paying attention.

If it goes through, and considering the current lunacy gripping the world I won’t be surprised if it does, I wil visit Hawaii in a little over 40 years. But not before.

I’d better start saving though. The way cigarette prices are going, that pack will cost me more than the flight to Hawaii by the time I get there.

The terror!

Apologies for being uncommunicative. It is Granddaughter’s first birthday so I have been the typical Grandad who buys no sensible presents. I have also been finalising ‘Norman’s House’ with the help of Roobeedoo and CStM and one other and it will be on time, as promised, for release in under a week. Also, I have been getting to grips with marketing. Why anyone voluntarily does that job is a mystery.

Dry January has ended and I made it through. I did it. I succeeded in having a drink every single day for the whole month. I also got right through Veganuary with similar success, aided by bacon and eggs and Danish cooking and cheap meat paste. Now I wait to see what silly, petty, pointless fad I have to defy for Fuckituary.

In between I have made rare visits to Quora. My latest visit was the perfect chance to inject terror into both the antimokers and the followers of the Green God at the same time.

Yes, that’s me, but if you’ve at all followed my books you already knew that.

All I did was tell the truth. That is enough to terrify them now. I used to have to make stuff up, like when I told some poor woman that all grey dust was cigarette ash that had been building for four hundred years and never decays. Actually, the ‘never decays’ part wasn’t my invention. The antismokers had already convinced their drones of that part. I just embellished it.

I don’t have to make anything up any more. Reality is now officially more terrifying than fiction to these people. It’s so, so easy now.

I have a feeling it’s going to get even easier.

Killing Babies

First of all, thanks to everyone who gave advice on marketing. I can see it’s not going to be easy, but you guys have probably saved me from spending a fortune in the wrong places. Yes, I did say all book stuff would go to the blog on the new site but, well, catch-22… I needed advice on publicising a site that’s new and unknown. Asking for advice on that site would have been futile, even though that’s where that post properly belonged.

While I’ve been messing with a new site and Farcebok page, a lot more weird stuff has happened. Notably, the laughable demand by the EU that Venezuela have ‘free and fair Presidential elections’. This, from the EU! None of the top brass of the EU are elected, they are appointed. And they have the cheek to criticise another country’s elections? I think they need to cut back a little on swimming in the wine lake.

The big one, for me, was the news that New York, rapidly becoming the New California, has decided to allow abortion up to the day before birth. Vermont, apparently, is about to do the same.

Disclaimer: I have never been involved in an abortion situation and have no close links with anyone who has. I can’t imagine the kind of thoughts going through the heads of those involved but I’m sure it’s pretty damn traumatic.

That might mean I’m not ‘qualified’ to speak on the subject, in the modern smug-bastard put-down language, but I’m going to anyway.

I don’t like abortion as a concept. That does not mean I am ‘against’ it. It does not mean I’m going to camp out outside abortion clinics and wave a banner saying ‘Down with this sort of thing’. It does not mean I am going to demand abortion be made illegal. It means exactly what it says. I, personally, don’t like it. That’s it. No hidden messages.

I would, in fact, be very much opposed to making abortion illegal. It will just drive women to dodgy backstreet abortionists. No, if it’s going to happen at all, let’s at least leave it in the hands of properly trained medics.

These days we have contraception in many forms. Here in Scotland, the contraceptive pill is free and if you go into the doctor’s, you can help yourself to free condoms. Really. There is no excuse for ‘accidental’ pregnancy.

There is, of course, rape. In that instance, abortion is a woman’s only sensible option since our idiot lawmakers have decided that a rapist has parental and visitation rights of any child that results from their violence. A ludicrous decision that only ensures the raped woman will be pushed towards abortion. Otherwise she has to endure regular visits from her rapist. By law. There are divorced dads who don’t get that right.

Still, an unwanted pregnancy should, at the least, be visible three months in. New York’s law means that even after the woman has felt the baby moving, even after the time when a premature baby has a very good chance of making it, she can choose to kill that baby.

And let’s be clear. At that point, it’s not a foetus any more. It’s a baby. Sure, it’s still inside the woman but it’s fully formed and will likely survive a surgical removal. What then? Do they let it starve or put it down like a dog? It’s going to die in a way that these same people would not allow to happen to a violent criminal. In fact, these same people oppose the death penalty with ‘right to life’ slogans.

In the UK there is a continual push to extend the time allowed for abortion. I think it’s currently at 29 weeks, I might not have that figure exactly right. It’s considered that the developing child is not self-aware at that point and I have to admit I have no idea when a developing foetus becomes aware. I would say though that if it is moving, there is brain function – but I don’t claim to be an ‘expert’ any more than I claim to be brainless in any other field.

New York, and now Vermont, has taken it to the extreme. Or have they? Is this the final point in this branch of Righteousness? They have no final point in any other branch, so why here?

In a few years, will you be able to take your noisy toddler for euthanasia? A few decades more and your basement gamer 30-year-old who won’t move out or get a job… can you send him for organ donation? Well, why not? You can, right now in New York and soon in Vermont, terminate a perfectly healthy, fully formed baby on a whim.

If you have followed Righteous behaviour in every other field they have played in, you know there is no end point to any of their demands. Why would there be one here?

Expect ‘Retrospective Abortion’ in the next few years.

The Marketing Begins…

Well, I set up a page on Farcebook since that seems to be the most likely successful marketing strategy. It costs nothing to try that so it seems like a good place to start. I have also spammed my friends list with the link. Hopefully one or two won’t just respond with ‘get stuffed’.

Thanks to everyone who responded to the last post. I’ll try to respond individually but there are a lot of you. You’re right. Spending a lot on throwaway stuff isn’t going to help. As several have said, I, too, have an attic loaded with free bags and all sorts of things from companies I’ve worked with, given talks and consultancy to (not for free, of course) and spoken with at conferences. None of it has influenced any later buying decisions.

I’ve gone ahead with the business cards, those seem likely to be useful, and had a small number of mugs made for family to show off to visitors. Random strangers would simply add them to the mug cupboard, family are more likely to show off what their lunatic relative is up to now.

Some months back I tried out the Twitter book promoters. It was only $10, not a big risk, but it did nothing. Not a thing. Took me a few days to realise that everyone does what I do when faced with five or six consecutive tweets pushing one book. I just fast-scroll past them all. Twitter, I think, will only work if I can insert a mention of a book into a relevant conversation. Someone talking about Jacobites? I could mention Mark Ellott’s ‘Rebellion’. Someone talking about grooming? Margo Jackson’s ‘The Mark’ is relevant there, even though the ‘grooming’ part is not as clear cut as you might think.

Cafepress, Zazzle and the new one on me, Spreadshirt, could be good places to set up merchandise. Not just the Leg Iron Books logo, maybe some book covers too. I’ll look into that. Vistaprint, who do the business cards, will do T shirts but I’d have to buy them first. They don’t sell direct. What sizes do I buy? How do I sell T shirts? I have no idea… that’s best left to the merchandise sites. If I can make money from merchandise I can further cut my percentage of profit from book sales and send more of it to authors. I’m currently on 30%, a few T shirt and mug sales and I could drop to 20%.

I still plan to work up a printed catalogue, well, a leaflet at this stage. That would be vital if I can get to a book show. I might not sell any books but ‘take one, it’s free’ should do well. Other than that, really, bookmarks are still on the cards. Not much use for eBooks of course but people do still like real print books.

There will also be ‘box sets’. I can’t yet make real boxes for box sets but I can do it with eBooks and I can, if I have several books that aren’t very thick, make a one volume omnibus edition. Why? Because the set, say three books, will be cheaper than buying all three individually. It appeals to latecomers who want a set but don’t want to pay for them all.

I should soon be able to make a Mark Ellott collection and I’m working on piling all my own short stories into one volume of misery and despair. I cannot go back and do annual omnibuses of the anthologies unless I get a new contract from every author. The contract is explicit: I get to use the story once. I can’t use it again. However, I will include that omnibus use in contracts from now so it’ll be in the Easter (Anthology 8) contracts. This changes nothing from the author’s point of view, they still get all rights back on first publication, it just means I can make a combined omnibus edition at the end of each year.

So, if I can manage to drink enough and think crazy enough, I’ll have marketing nailed eventually. For now, the marketing budget is limited but will rise if book sales rise. The two are inextricably linked.

It won’t be easy, but then I have something of a reputation for not taking the easy route 😉

A clue for the clueless?

I have been looking into marketing. I’m probably not going to get drunk or high enough to be a proper marketer but I’m doing what I can.

I have used Vistaprint in the past for business cards when self-employed, so I’ve just ordered some new ones. Magnetic ones so you can stick them to fridges. Also a few mugs to give away to start conversations. These just have the Leg Iron Books logo and the website address.

There are many options. Keyrings, drinking vessels of all descriptions, T shirts… all too expensive to give too many away and most have a minimum order of 50 units.

That’s okay for the general website. However, I had hoped to send every author some promotional materials for their own books and that could turn out expensive.

So I need ideas for low-volume (ideally also low cost) promotional materials. I have looked into places like Cafepress and Zazzle where I could potentially load up a design and just buy a few promotional items to pass to authors. They aren’t cheap but I wouldn’t have to buy 50.

Bookmarks… I can make those. Print on good photo paper and laminate it. Or don’t even laminate, just accept it has a limited life and keep pumping out the cheap ones. Those could easily be personalised to each author. Yet bookmarks only work if you have a related book, so those are best given away with copies of the book. Better, with an Underdog Anthology that author is in, to promote their own books.

There are many options but which is best? What would you use? Keyrings? T shirts? Baseball style caps? Perhaps more importantly, what would you buy? If you are willing to pay something then it has to be something you actually want to use or wear. There is no point in making something to give away if it all ends up in recycling or the ‘forever drawer’.

Pens and bottle openers are good but you just get a line of text. Fine for advertising the main site but sod all use for individual books. For that I need space for a cover image and at least a one-line description.

So, how about a clue for the clueless? What promotional material would you not only use, but would show off? A hat, a T-shirt, a mug, an engraved glass? What is there that you would buy with a Leg Iron Books logo on it? Anything?

Understand, I really don’t expect you to buy it. I’m interested in what kind of thing you would think a thing worth having, and would use it in public, with Leg Iron Books on it.

I have a very limited marketing budget and I really don’t want to spend it all in the wrong place.

The End Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Juul

I have a pile of boxes in the middle of the kitchen, another in the utility room, more in the upstairs rooms and the dangerous stuff (some of which needs to be incinerated) is in the garage. The result of the lab clearout. It’s going to take some time to go through it all and I have to find and test the magnetic stirrers two people have already expressed interest in… but that’s just the reason for the long gap between posts.

A few months back I bought a monster Electrofag called Aspire Pockex in a clearance sale. Huge battery, glass tank on top and it makes cumulo-nimbus clouds of vape. First time I tried it I had a coughing fit that brought tears to my eyes but, in its defence, afterwards my sinuses felt clearer than they have since I was twelve.

I don’t like it. Oh it does the job, it makes the steam, it clears the sinuses, but it also leaks like a bugger and now the battery is coated in vape juice so I’m scared to turn it on. No, this one is consigned to the ‘goodbye’ pile. I’m really glad I never tried to carry it in a pocket.

More recently I bought a Juul starter kit. Mostly because of the intense advertising campaign run by the anti-vapers. They really hate this one in particular and I had to find out why.

Well. It’s certainly easy to use. Reminds me of the early cigalikes with cartomisers, all you do is plug in a cartridge and puff on it. The difference is that it’s very light and the cartridge lasts for ages. It also has a clear tank so you can see how much is left.

Does it look like a USB stick? No. It looks like someone took the black monolith from ‘2001 – A Space Idiocy’ and put the Eye of Sauron in the top half. It looks pretty cool, and I can see why the AntiTobacco mob are pushing it so hard. Well, they are really trying to kill it but as with everything these idiots do, they are failing to the point where they could get a degree in it. Double fail with honours.

Charging involves plugging a tiny thing into a USB port and the Juul magnetically attaches to it. Also pretty cool – and easy. As gadgets go, this one has been well thought out. I like it, so thanks antismokers for bringing it to my attention.

Will it stop me smoking? Unlikely, in my case. The nearest was IQOS and I still use that in between proper burning baccy. They have brought out a new harder-tobacco flavour. I’ll give it a go, but getting me off the analogues is going to take a seriously impressive alternative.

Oh and I don’t care about IQOS or Electrofag upgrades and the fancy add-on toys. I just want something that will give me the feeling of a decent smoke. I don’t give a shit what colour it is.

Back to Juul. It’s nice, it’s easy, it has a disposable ‘smoking’ part so all of that is replaced with every cartridge change. No leaks, nothing to go wrong really. Simple and effective.

I can see why a lot of smokers might take to it. I can also see why a lot of young folk might go for this rather than real smoking – but apparently that’s a bad thing in the warped minds of tobacco control. Those kids should be smoking real tobacco! How else can we get our revenue and justify our existence?

I suspect Juul might have gone the way of the early cigalikes – which used a very similar model – if not for the concerted advertising put their way by the antimokers. It is, however, a big improvement on early Electrofags, not least in the provision of a clear tank so you know how much is left.

So far I have been using the ‘mint’ (pretty much ‘menthol’) cartridge that came with the starter kit. There is a ‘tobacco’ one, nobody else has ever got that right so we’ll see how that turns out.

Nicotine strength is limited in the EU but it really doesn’t matter. Nicotine is not addictive. That’s been proven. Smoking is about habit and enjoyment (something the Puritans will never understand) and replacing the burning leaf with something that covers the main points would do well.

Patches and gum will never do that.

So, will Juul or IQOS stop me paying massive amounts of baccy tax? Or will they just encourage me to grow more?

Time will tell. So far, I am planning the best place to hide next year’s crop.