Wednesday 30 November 2011

Degeekification time.

Busy here today. I have spent a good bit of the day trying various passwords on my eBay account because it's a long, long time since I used it. Since it has 100% positive feedback I didn't want to abandon it and start again. Finally worked it out.

I'm putting up my vast collection of 'N' gauge railway stuff. The layout goes right around the attic and if I send a coal train out at scale speed I won't see it again for at least five minutes. The collection of engines and rolling stock exceeds even that huge track plan and it's all going to go. All of it.

Why? I'm getting old. I no longer have the eyesight and steady fingers of a twenty-year-old and putting thirty coal trucks onto track that's nine millimetres wide is enough to drive me insane. Then there are those long steam engines with all the wheels and one wheel out of line means it'll run fine - until it hits a set of points.

I might go back to railway modelling in the future but it'll be in a bigger scale. I've long been hankering after a G scale live steam train in the garden, but the cost!

It's a bit of a wrench, some of that stuff has been with me for decades and some of it is handmade. As you can imagine, I went over the top with it as I do in all things. There is a scale A4 'Coronation' in whitemetal that I never managed to add the lining to, and I'm the only N gauge modeller I know with a Class 35 Hymek.

I know the geeky train terminology means nothing to most of you so here are some non-train pictures of models in that scale.

The ruler is in centimetres and all the models are metal. I have a signal box with all internal fittings too, and as with those pictured I really don't think I could assemble and paint such tiny things now. These days I prefer to work in 1/24th rather than 1/600th scale and yes, I have brass wire to add brake pipes and engine wiring to those model trucks. Bigger scale means better detail. Even in places nobody can see it. I know it's there and that's all that matters.

Another issue is glue. Those metal models need superglue and I have pondered the day I might turn up in casualty with tiny brass signal levers stuck to my fingers. It could happen. I have made working N gauge signals in the past. I can just see me growling at the doctor who is trying to remove them - 'Don't bend them.'

Sorting the stuff, persuading myself that this time I really do have to sell it and then getting decent photos and putting it all on eBay will take time. But it must be done and the lead-up to Christmas is the time to do it.

I can no longer see these things properly and am too old to make any more.

And I'm skint. That's the decider.

UPDATE: Rechargeable batteries were not invented by man. They are extruded from the Devil's suppurating anus after a particularly bad bout of 'Helli belly'. They sit for ages claiming to be fully charged while you take inconsequential snapshots but as soon as you need to take photos for any serious reason, they die. Anyway, I charged them up and found my photography isn't too good on such tiny things. Tomorrow I will enlist the help of someone who has a proper macro lens with a circular flash on the end. The link will go up when I finally get this done!

It seemed like such an easy idea...

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Fire, walk with me.

When I was a horrible little child we lived in a council house. In those days, council houses were for working people who didn't yet earn enough to buy their own and my father worked at the coal face. He took home fourteen pounds a week in the sixties and that was a seriously good wage at the time. So we weren't poor but we weren't rich either. I was at school with the dentist's kid and a sleepover at his house was an eye-opener.

I remember the little house. It was semi-detached with a long garden, and was heated by two fireplaces. One in the living room and one in the kitchen. The kitchen fireplace was built in to some kind of cast-iron monster that had an oven attached to it. My mother never used it for cooking, she had a proper electric cooker. The house is still there, I've seen it on Google Streetview. It looks much the same but it has a satellite dish now. The old frog pond and the woodland of my youth is now beneath another housing estate. Those children who live there now will not come home covered in stinking mud. They won't bring home jars of wild lizards or shiny beetles or tadpoles with the back legs grown in. I wonder what they do for fun these days?

Having a coal fire was not a sign of affluence. Neither was the cast-iron cooking and heating monster. That thing would have been disposed of if it hadn't been built in to the wall, and if we had owned the house I have no doubt my father would have chiselled it out himself. I have seen him do much worse to houses we did own. If he had such a monstrosity now he'd sell it to some Hooray Henry as an original Aga because that's pretty much what it was. Old-fashioned and ugly.

Heating with a coal fire is not something to be aspired to. Now that it's getting cold here, I can set the central heating to come on half an hour before I need to get up and the house will be de-chilled before I roll back the sheets. I recall those mornings when the windows had frost on the inside until someone dragged themselves through the freezing house to light the fire.

It wasn't a matter of turning a switch. First, yesterday's ashes had to be scraped out and the hearth and grate cleaned. Not just cleaned 'a bit'. Cleaned to Mother's specifications which meant practically sterilised. Then place the kindling, paper and sticks, with a few bits of coal.

Then light it, let the coal catch and gradually add more. It took time to get the fire going and it took a long time for it to heat the house. In really cold weather you'd notice a big difference in temperature between the side of you that was facing the fire and the side that wasn't. One good thing about that house was that the chimney was in the middle so it heated all of the house. Chimneys in a side wall are silly.

The idea that heating your home with a coal fire is all romantic and sweet is bollocks. It's messy, you have to look after it all day and you have to start it in the freezing cold. I am delighted to have central heating.

On the other hand, a fireplace is cheap to run. One of the Smoky-Drinkers recently had central heating installed and since his bungalow is small, he opted to have the fireplace removed and the chimney closed off. It gives him a lot more space but I think he was mistaken to do that. The minor niggle is that you can't throw your fag-ends into a radiator but the bigger issue is cost.

Last winter there was a week in which I left the heating on continuously. That was expensive but it was the coldest winter week I can remember in the last fifty years. I remember deeper snow, but never so cold. Tonight is positively balmy by comparison.

It would have been good to have a chimney then because I could have saved on heating by burning some of the old palettes my neighbour gives me for my chimenea. If I could have used the central heating to start warming the house each morning and then turned it off when I had a good fire going I'd have saved a lot of money and still been continuously warm.

So I have often toyed with the idea of fitting one of the new wood-burning stoves. A friend in Wales has now installed a coal/wood burner that runs his central heating, provides hot water and looks very nice. Apparently his heating bill for all of last winter was £60, the bastard. Mine was more than that per month. He is tougher than me, cold mornings are easy when you're built like an orang-utan and he's five hundred miles further south. However, a daytime cheap-heating stove would mesh well with the timer on the central heating.

There was, until recently, nothing but praise for the wood-burning stove. It reduced gas and electricity use, it burned renewable wood and it was Green and trendy. People who had never experienced the sole dependence on a fireplace for heating thought they were wonderful. Very New Age, very back-to-the-roots, very working class, very socialist credential. Not for them the rooms coated with coal dust and soot, not for them the coal scuttle and the shovelling snow aside to get to the coal bunker. They used bought-in reconstructed logs with not so much as a flake of bark to sully the carpet. If you pick up a log and your hand doesn't get dirty, it's not real.

Unfortunately, the plebs took a shine to these things too, and saved a good bit of cash using them for heat rather than decoration. This is, of course, sinful under the New Socialist Utopia which is only for the rich.

I suspect that the reversal in the wood-burner's fortunes is partly due to that reduction in gas and electricity use (with the resultant reduction in socialist shareholder profit), but it's definitely very much linked to the new antismoking Puritanism sweeping the country.

Take a look at the comments on this one:

The government needs to ban these. This is the 21st century! - 
Thomas Roll, London, 26/11/2011 15:18 

yuo don't need a scientist to tell us that our neighbours stinky wood stove is poisoning the air..... - BrummyDoug, Birmingham, 26/11/2011

You wood burning folk only care about yourself. You stink the whole street out without any care in the world. - Dave, Uk, 27/11/2011 5:26

And the fumes stink! - Ray Smith, Nottingham, 26/11/2011 17:22

Straight out of the antismoker handbook. Every one of them.

It's smoke, you see, and smoke is bad for you. Candles have been implicated already. All smoke is bad. Didn't the Puritans realise what they did by telling the drones that a tiny whiff of smoke from a bit of a leaf will kill them? It seems not.

If it wasn't for Man's control of fire we would still be huddled in caves over the winter, being picked off by pumas and lions. We grew up, as a species, swathed in smoke. It made us what we are.

The drones argue that we don't need that smoke any more, that we have outgrown it but it is part of us. Our bodies have become used to it being there. Thousands of years of development and all the while surrounded by the smoke from something burning. Leaves, wood, coal, oil, always something burning. It is unnatural to be without it.

I have no fireplace in this house. It's about twelve years old and was built without one. Yet I have to have fire. When I'm at the computer there is a big white candle burning. It's not for heat or light, it's for fire. I have an array of anglepoise and spot-lamps (you young ones will need them when you get older so buy them while you can) all around this little office and there's a radiator right next to me. I have heat and light in plenty.

The candle provides flame. Fire is part of my life and as a human being it is part of my heritage. I was brought up understanding its use and its dangers. So was, not only my family, not only my countrymen, but my entire species. This goes beyond race and beyond nationalism. Every human being on the planet is linked to fire and to its smoke. It made us what we are.

The drones can deny their humanity all they like. I'm going to continue to burn something every day even if it's just a candle or a bit of leaf wrapped in paper. I'm not going to deny my existence to suit some ridiculous fantasy that refutes the heritage common to every human on the planet. Let the drones wither and fade in their imaginary worlds.

Fire, walk with me.

Sunday 27 November 2011

The Dark Days of Christmas

It's approaching the Dead Time of Year. That time when all those companies we self-employed folk rely on for work shut down for Christmas. There is no holiday pay for the self-employed.

Therefore I have to get as much money-earning stuff done as possible before the whole of Capitalism closes down for a month. January starts with meetings and discussions, actual work might start again around February or March and income will begin sometime after that. It's a lean time of year at the end of an already-lean year.

The new business, writing, might not follow the same pattern. I don't know for sure because it's my first year of taking it seriously. One thing that has occurred to me is that lots of people will get Kindles and Nooks and the equivalent Kobo gadget for Christmas so it's a good time to get their attention before the novelty wears off.

The dystopia isn't likely to be ready by Christmas. It's a departure from my usual themes and novels take time even when I'm fully conversant with the subject. I am concentrating on some short stories for the Christmas period but whether they'll be in print in time, I don't know. That's going to be a close call. The electronic versions are easy, they can be online in a matter of hours although distribution to the whole range of retailers will take a while longer. One big advantage of those eBooks is that Christmas post times are irrelevant. You can even buy them on Christmas morning and get them in minutes.

Well, you can if they are available. Mine will be available if I knuckle down and write them and with this knackered wrist, typing time is limited. Typo-fixing time is also increased. I don't yet have enough Christmas tales for a full collection although I could intersperse it with commentary by my evil twin if necessary (that's the even-more-evil twin as opposed to the slightly-less-evil twin. Note that the most uncompromisingly evil of my online personas is the only one that doesn't smoke. It's not an accident).

I was visiting Neal Asher's place and noticed he had a good idea. An idea so good I felt duty bound to steal it. So I have.

I'm not with the big league publishers yet. The one that took Jessica's Trap concentrates on eBooks because with little to no physical inventory, overheads are minimal. They do make print copies available through Barnes and Noble and through Amazon but they aren't cheap. Discounts are minimal, but then discounts are good for readers but bad for authors.

The publisher has fixed costs - editors, cover artists, marketing etc - which they pay for. If you're asked to pay for these things then you're not dealing with a proper publisher. In fact, if you pay for these things, you might as well self-publish and keep all subsequent profits yourself.

Then there is printing. Someone once asked me how many copies of Jessica's Trap were in the first print run. The answer was 'none, but as many as you want'. In the old days, a printer had to pay someone to sit with a big box of metal letters and assemble the whole novel in reverse. Later it was automated but those metal letters still had to be paid for. Self-publishing was only for the rich because no printer is going to set that up unless they are printing several hundred copies. Buying one copy was as expensive as paying someone to write it all out by hand. Now, someone calls up a print file and presses 'print' and you can have one copy at a reasonable cost.

Next, the bookseller's cut. You can't buy and sell anything without profit. It just doesn't work.

Those fixed costs can't be reduced. The only part of the price that can be reduced is the author's cut. That's the part the discount comes out of.

Anyway, back to the point. The author's cut looks really generous but whenever there's a discount, that's where it goes. There is another side to this. It means I can buy copies of Jessica's Trap at a good discount because all of my apparent cut is taken off.

Self-published is different. I still have to pay Lulu for postage so if I do order copies I wait until I need a batch. Postage isn't so bad if you buy ten or more at once.

The upshot of all this is that I have books for sale. No, don't turn away now. It's too late. Auntie Wainwright has locked the door and sneaked up behind you.

I don't get hardbacks delivered from the publisher, mine go straight to paperback. I can make hardback versions of the self-published ones but the cost is insane. So we can ignore those.

If you have a hankering to see the illegible scrawl of a drunken leg-iron (I could have been a doctor, you know. Oh wait, I am one) mangling the message of your choice in the front of a paperback book, or if you know someone who would be duly impressed by a 'signed by the author' book this Christmas even if they don't read it, then listen up.

I have a few copies of Jessica's Trap in paperback and some of Dark Thoughts and Demons. I have only two of Fears of the Old and the New and no spare copies of the ghosthunting books. I can order in if there is interest but let me know soon because they take a week to get here and the Christmas random postal deliveries are upon us.

I can't guarantee overseas delivery in time for Christmas unless you want airmail. The last two packets I sent surface mail to the USA were quoted delivery times of over a month. Pigeons would be faster.

The prices look, shall we say, inverted. Amazon charge around £10 for Jessica's Trap but that includes postage. Lulu prices look cheaper but their postage costs for single books are nasty. Anyway, here's what Santa wants to ram in your stockings:

Without postage charges:

Jessica's Trap   £8.50
Fears of the Old and the New   £6.00
Dark Thoughts and Demons    £5.50

And from my slightly less evil twin, for those of a paranormal bent:

Ghosthunting for the Sensible Investigator, second edition   £5.50

There is a first edition but Lulu's print costs make small books overpriced so if you want to see that one it's best picked up as an eBook. At 32 pages it's not so hard to read on screen.

Postage depends on how many you want and where you want them sent. I'll look it up if you tell me what you want and if it's diabolical I won't blame you if you then decline.

What are these books about? Well, you can get a blurb on them at my embryonic writing site which I decided to test out on my day-job site and buggered both up in the process. They are being fixed. This test site is peppered with ads (none earn me any money so ignore them) and I'm told that sometimes they can set off antivirus software. I use NoScript in Firefox so I don't see the ads.

Here are the links for H K Hillman books and for Romulus Crowe. The free stuff remains free, naturally. Those sites will eventually be separated once I've finished meddling and handed them to a friend who can do them properly.

Oh, and if you're buying Kindles or similar gadgets for anyone this Christmas, do let me know and I'll send you some free advertising ;) I know, they don't actually need a bookmark, but it's free.

And now, back to our usual programming.

Friday 25 November 2011

Warning: may contain heresy.

When I was at school (yes, they had schools in those days, with chalk and canes and all the things the modern children fear) there came a day when everyone was given a copy of the King James Bible. We all took them home and put them on a shelf and most of them are probably still there.

That was one Bible per child. I assume it wasn't just our school that did it. Knowing how much of a virulent smokophobe King James was (and let's not forget, his son caused a civil war so being a git ran in the family) I wonder if the money generated from that mass printing was what started ASH.

Now our timewasting government wants to send one copy to every school in the country. One per school. It seems a futile gesture. Catholic schools will already have libraries full of Bibles, Jewish schools will glue the pages of the New Testament together and Muslim schools will use it as a handy child-whacking implement.

It seems Mickey the Glove has taken it upon himself to write a foreword. To the Bible. I wonder what it says?

My mate God said to me, "Mickey," he said, "I'm thinking about writing a book. A big one with everything in it. The thing is, what with having to wind up the Earth every morning and listen to all those prayers, I just can't find the time."

"You shouldn't have made it clockwork," I told him. "If you had made it wind-powered you could have charged everyone extra to live on it. Have a word with Fallen Angel Huhne. He's over there insisting his wife was the one driving the cloud."

God took a draw on his cigar and exhaled a cloud of holy smoke. "Yeah, well, it's too late to take it all apart and start again. Anyway, what I really want is advice on book-writing."

"Easy," I said. "I'll do the first couple of pages for you and we can get your followers to do the rest. Promise them cushy jobs in the EU - I mean, the actual afterlife rather than the political one - and I bet you can get them to do it for free."

"Brilliant," said God, and that's when he told me I could come to Earth and become Education Secretary with a big salary and loads of free stuff. He also forgave me for that apple thing, which was a long time ago. He's a great bloke, God. Read his book and buy a copy, or suffer eternal unpleasantness. 

Oh dear. I just realised that abbreviates to EU. Bit of a giveaway there but I don't suppose anyone will notice.


Naturally the atheists decry this as a waste of money and insist that even more money is wasted handing out free copies of 'On the Origin of Species' as well. Which will collect dust on the shelves in every secular school and be used to cut down the heating bills in every religious school.

I wonder if Mickey the Glove will write the foreword to that too? His mate God won't like it if he does.


I was on the Beagle when Darwin came in without knocking. "You can't breed with that species," he said, then he went quiet and left looking thoughtful.

Missing the point?

Littlewoods have an advert out that says Mum, not Santa, buys the presents. Oh, there is Outrage! How dare these evil corporations tell children that there is no fat man in a sleigh delivering their hearts' desires for free! How dare they point out that those iPods must be paid for! There are hundreds of complaints along these lines.

I have complaints about this advert too. First, that it encourages parents to use their credit cards to buy things they can't afford. Second, that it encourages children to believe that spending loads on credit is a good idea, and that it's okay to pressure Mum to do this.

Third, that it gives the impression Dad contributes diddly squat to that huge pile of nicely-wrapped crap under the plastic tree with its LED ecolights and the fairy on top with an arse full of pine needles.

Santa? Most kids know Santa isn't real. They go along with the adult charade because they know they'll get extra presents out of it. As for the rest, if they didn't spend so much time glued to the screen they'd never see the ad.

There are reasons to complain about the tone of the ad but the fate of the jolly fat man is a long way down the list. Yet that's the only aspect anyone seems worried about. Spending money they don't have on plastic pooping dogs and dancing tennis balls is fine, as long as the kids think they're getting it all for free from that communist elfin regime at the North Pole.

It all has to be paid for, kids. When Santa comes round for his money, better be sure you have it ready for him.

Those elves can show a nasty side if they're upset.

(Ooooo, Christmas story idea just popped into my head!)

The demented mind of the writer.

Some time ago, when pondering the meaning of life, I came to the conclusion that the entire infinity of space and time popped into existence at the moment of my birth with one sole intention. To annoy me. It's worked.

Then I noticed it was annoying a lot of other people too. So that megalomanic paranoia abated. The universe hated everyone equally. It wasn't solely aimed at me.

Yesterday I took a wrist-resting day. Rather than hammer away at a novel-length story (the dystopia) I decided to work on a short story. There are lots of ideas on this hard disk, some sketched out, some half-done, some no more than titles. One concerns Caleb Small, a very tall and wide man who happens to be psychic. It hasn't progressed beyond the title because that's all he generated. The title is 'Large Medium Small'. One day he'll tell his story but he doesn't have one yet. It will have to be a comedy.

The one I decided to work on yesterday concerned a lake monster. The monster isn't in the lake. It is the lake. Okay, that's right out in the realms of total fantasy. Nothing in the news can spoil that one in the way it keeps catching up with the dystopia. Not even a universe finely tuned to irritate me personally could mess that story up.

Oh, come on. This isn't funny any more.

I think I'll write about a fatal disease that only affects politicians, or a comet that pulverises only Westminster. Perhaps about the day someone in a government somewhere grew a brain or maybe I'll just bring the stone owl to life in Bohemian Grove.

Then dare the world to make it come true.

Or maybe... a story about someone who thinks he predicts the future when in fact he's been writing it... hmmm. It would break my only taboo. I have never had a main character who is a writer by profession because it seems lazy to me. But maybe just this once.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

The Righteous Enforcers.

One of the big problems facing those who want to ban smoking in private vehicles - and they have admitted this themselves - is that it is impossible to enforce.

Look at the ban on mobile phone use while driving. If I take the bus, within a mile I'll have seen a half-dozen people negotiating the narrow, twisting streets while holding a phone to their ear. Enforcement would need a police officer on every corner and that's simply unaffordable.

Well, it seems the solution lies with those interfering Righteous busybodies.

Okay, I have to say I regard any sort of driving without due care and attention as a bad thing, especially as I was never quick to get out of the way of a speeding vehicle and as I get older I get slower. I would very much like that driver's full attention on the road ahead, thank you. It is no consolation to me if you've just closed the deal of the century and become wealthy enough to laugh off a Leg-iron-shaped dent in your Mercedes.So no, I do not support flouting the law.

Some laws though, are so badly constructed as to be just silly. The phone law is one. We already have dangerous driving, careless driving, driving without due care and attention, and more laws that already cover driving while phoning, eating, drinking, putting on makeup, recording the passing scenery in oils, playing Buckaroo with the kids in the back, skinning a stoat and injecting heroin. We don't need a specific law for each of those things. Just look for the careless drivers, the ones who aren't paying attention, and the reason they are not paying attention is almost irrelevant.

The state of their driving is all that is relevant and if they can drive like a pro while producing perfect crepe suzettes on a camping stove duct-taped to the passenger seat, let them get on with it.

What we really don't want is Righteous idiots lining the streets, cameras at the ready, acting exactly like Stasi and photographing everyone going past. Because that is what they will do.

It costs nothing to take a photo with a digital camera. No processing or film costs. Why take the chance on missing something? They will photograph or video every car then go home and pick out the ones they can hold up as evidence of evil-doing. Every single car.

This will be lauded as a Great Thing because most people are stupid and cannot recall all those photographers arrested for taking one photo in a public place.

Indeed, in the comments...

I support it all the way, looks like another case of them copying the success of Thailand. In Thailand they have a unique way of tackling crime. It states; THE INFORMER OF ANY OFFENCE IN THAILAND WILL RECEIVE HALF THE FINE IMPOSED ON THE OFFENDER. One incident with me when I drove my son inlaws car with all the familly to a restaurant and got out holding a bottle of whisky. A Thai man photgraphed me drinking and was waiting for me to get into the car when we left. He lost out because my con inlaw went home in his car and we went shopping by taxi.
- william Swithin, expat/Thailand, 23/11/2011 

It's easy to support a new oppression in a country you don't live in but aside from that, this man was spied on by someone. The man watched him arrive, watched and photographed him while at the restaurant with the intention of reporting him to the police and stayed there to watch him leave. And he is fine with that! He thinks it's a good thing! The informer gets half the fine. I'll bet there are people who make a living as informers.

That the idea of forming a new Stasi has been put forward is no surprise at all. What I find incredible is that someone who has been subjected to Stasi-like surveillance actually likes it. That is just weird.

So the policing of the smoking ban in cars will not be hard. The snoops and the busybodies will do it. Their cameras will not differentiate between a cigarette, an Electrofag and a toothpick because they will be cheap and crappy cellphone images taken through the reflections on the windscreen.

These Righteous drones will rail at any comparison of themselves to the Stasi, but that is exactly what they already are.

Update - Just realised something. There was never any need to make this unpaid volunteer scheme official. The idiot drones willing to do this already exist. All the Righteous had to do was get the idea into the newspapers where the drones could read it.

And they have.

Blog maintenance (about time too).

I have finally begun sorting out that blogroll. Long-term silent blogs are in Hibernation Corner at the bottom, blogs that no longer exist have been delisted.

There have been some requests for listings in the past and I've always intended to do something about them but never did. So if you're not there and you aren't absolutely disgusted by the idea of being associated with this den of smoky-drinky, let me know.

The Painted Fag?

 A raddled harridan with a line on her face, as pictured in the Express.

As for the crime itself, for desecrating a memorial to the war dead she should be nailed to something heavy and then torn apart by rabid dogs. There is no excuse.

That's not the main point of this post. Look at the photo. What's than in her mouth? A cigarette?

It's not lit. It does not have the brown filter of a readymade and it's too long for a roll-up. It's hanging straight down and it casts no shadow. It is pure white with no gradation in tone to indicate roundness. Is it real or painted on?

Most pictures of criminals these days show them smoking. Can it be that there is a push to link smoking with criminality?

Or rather, can it be that the push to link smoking with criminality has been stepped up a notch?

I'm no Photoshop expert but that while line on her face doesn't look right to me.


Tuesday 22 November 2011

Climatology's own Satanic Verses.

Tipped by Neal Asher, the secret tracts of the Church of Climatology are leaking faster than a drunk with dysentery.

I'd laugh, but Oldrightie has looked at what these lies have cost us so far and what they continue to cost and Captain Ranty notes one of those profiting from the extra levies we all have to pay. Didn't Cromwell put a stop to the Royal ability to levy direct taxation on the people? He must be spinning in his grave (I wonder if his head, which is elsewhere, is spinning in the same direction?).

The Moose notes that history is one of the subjects being scrapped by Universities.

Maybe that's because what happened to Charles the First, and why, is something we are supposed to forget. Particularly when Charles III is waiting in the wings.

We can't go to Hell. We're already here.

How long does it take for a twisted wrist to recover? It's had two days and my patience has expired. Just have to administer more single malt sedative and keep going. Beware of typos. I'm prone to missing keys at the moment.

Anyhow, with the pseudonymous ghost book in the bag, I'm back to the dystopia. In it, there are no political parties. The government is the Coalition which long ago absorbed all individual parties. This was sold to the drones as a fairer form of government in which all parties have a say. What they didn't mention was that there is nobody in opposition any more. No debates, so no need to televise or even report on Parliament at all.

There are elections. The Coalition choose the candidates and the people vote for the one they want, but it doesn't matter because the 'nobody loses' children are all grown up now so all the candidates get in anyway.

There are no party members in the general population. Orwell's 1984 had government, party members and proles. All I have is government and proles. No need for general party members since all candidates get in so there's no point canvassing, and the Coalition funds itself from taxes (an idea kindly provided by a chap called Clegg) so has no need for membership fees. This means they don't need the unions either so those are gone.

I thought this was outlandish enough to keep me far enough ahead of real life for a change. Then I took a look at Fausty's place and thought some very bad words. I'm going to have to write faster even if I have to do it with a stick taped to my nose.

Well, I still have the homes. All homes are owned by the Coalition and they, or rather the locally unelected council, decide which one you get to live in. I had to come up with a way for the Government to own all private property. They couldn't just steal it, there would be riots, and no way would anyone ever believe they bought it.

It was easy in the end. Banks foreclose on properties all the time. They lend you money knowing full well you'll never be able to keep up repayments and then they get the house, plus they keep everything you've paid towards it so far. All I had to do was have the Coalition lend 100% mortgages to suckers and then foreclose on them. It might take a couple of generations but eventually the Government owns every house. Well, except those owned by the rich but by this stage only the Government and a few of the big industrialists are rich.

That surely has to be in the realms of fantasy. So imagine my dismay when I visited Dioclese.

 I was thinking of naming this 2084 as a homage to Orwell but that's much too far away.  I think all books will be banned long before then. There are no paper books, magazines or newspapers in the story, by the way. All abolished to save the planet. You get everything on an iBook-like pad and if Winston Smith's equivalent edits something, all copies change at once. There is no option to print anything out, there are no printers and possession of paper is a criminal offence.

I have the precursor on my desk. It's called a Kindle and it is perfectly capable of updating itself even if I'm not using it.

There has to be a way for the rebellious youth to let off steam without threatening the system at all. There is always rape, murder, sadistic torture and theft, and they are allowed to do all that as long as they don't do it to anyone connected to the Government. That part is pretty much here anyway. That just leaves organised protest from the inevitable malcontents and freedom subversives.

They can protest with a licence (already here) and the Government will print approved placards and have copywriters produce non-offensive slogans for them for a fee. The Government permits dissent and is willing to assist the people in getting their voice heard, all they have to do is abide by the guidelines.

Would that ever happen? Would people be daft enough to pay those they protest against to supply them with their materials?

Yes. Yes they would. (Kudos for that post title, by the way.)

As titles go, the original 'Ghosthunters' was pointed out by several people as being misleading. It's true, especially as I write ghostly things too. '2084' was a pretty idea but not practical. I have some other ideas but a decision on titles can wait until the thing's finished.

If I'm going to put a time reference in the title, I'm thinking along the lines of 'The middle of next week'.

Maybe, by the time it's done, 'The middle of last week'.

Hell, I might as well call it 'Here is the news'.

Monday 21 November 2011

Wrist bandages always look suspicious.

Not much from me today. I hope you're not in a hurry because I can't type fast and you don't want to know what I'm using to whack the spacebar. It's natural, when falling, to put your hand out to try to stop yourself but when you're trying to make a living writing that's not such a good idea.

Nothing is broken but I have a wrist strapped so tight it'll probably be thinner than the other one when the bandage comes off. I'll look like a hermit crab.

Being in no state to do any sort of house maintenance, I have been doing something else I had to get dealt with, which was putting the ghosthunting book on publisher sites. This involved more mousing than typing but it still took most of the day. It is now on Lulu as paperback and for those with more money than sense there's even a hardback version. I doubt anyone will pay Lulu price for hardback but it cost nothing to put it there. Don't get a hardback unless you really must have one. I don't make any more from that than I do from the paperback.

Ebooks are available as EPUB on Lulu and in lots of formats on Smashwords. It'll be on the Amazon Kindle site in a day or so and should appear on the Barnes and Noble, Apple, Sony and Kobo sites over the coming weeks. Here's the cheery summertime cover:

I'll update the Romulus blog after a bit of wrist resting. I also have an increasing backlog of Emails - apologies to those waiting for a response, I'm not ignoring you. Likewise all those comments on the last post - thanks for the sympathy and I'll get to them when the rest of my fingers grow back.

Looks like I put this book out just in time. There is a disturbance in the Force - actually, going by my current appearance that should read "A disturbance in the Force there is." At least I'm not green although the way things are going I shouldn't tempt Fate.

I didn't like that carpet anyway. It wasn't as bad as I thought. All I have to change is the small amount of carpet in the downstairs hallway and I bet I can cover that little bit of floor with an offcut or an end-of-roll piece. Fortunately I will not have to attempt to fit a stair carpet because I don't think the stairs like me.

Well, it's wrist rest time again. I'll try soaking it with whisky from the inside.

Luckily it's not my favourite one.

A note from Leg-iron's mum

Dear Reader.

Please excuse the little shit from blogging for today. You won't believe what he's done this time.

He decided it was time to repaint the stairwell. It was time to repaint it two years ago, after he buggered the paintwork all down the stairs by dropping a television he was trying to move and I told him, this time get someone in to help but nooo, the half-human moron insists on being independent and doing things himself. Extendable paint rollers are only as good as your balance on a staircase and his wasn't as good as he thought it was. Well, really, it wasn't any good at all.

He has dented himself again, not too badly but he's going to have fun getting that paint out of the carpet when the swelling goes down. I expect he has already considered painting the rest of the carpet to match because he's insane and disgusting and I should know, I gave birth to him and my hair was completely grey by the time he was four. I can tell you for certain he wasn't swapped at birth because believe me, I tried. Fifty years on and I'm still trying.

He'll be back shortly. Most of his fingers are working now and he can see out of one and a half eyes.


Leg-Iron's Mum.

Friday 18 November 2011

Can you see what it is yet, CAMRA?

Clicking should bring forth the engraved Puritanism on this grave to free choice.

The picture is not outside some church somewhere, nor is it, unfortunately, the Tomb of the Puritan. It is an old water fountain in a public park in Aberdeen. Maybe I'm fussy, but when I approach a water fountain I expect to get a drink of water, not a lecture on the evils of booze. This thing wasn't even within sight of a pub when it was installed although now there is a new bar right next to it. Some sports club or other.

It no longer works anyway. With wonderful irony, the only way to get any kind of drink in this park is now in the bar. The fountain that provides the only drink life needs no longer provides it. If ever I become wealthy, I will buy this thing, install it in my garden and run malt whisky through it. The wording will still be appropriate.

That is, of course, if it is still there on that future day when I have three pennies to rub together. Under EU law, the claims chiselled into its surface are now illegal.

Instead it could be put to use dispensing booze to help the poor nine out of ten people in the UK who can't manage a drink a day. Dick Puddlecote points out that the Boozophobes are following the Smokophobes' template exactly, and this article in the Daily Ooomissus shows it in action again.

One in 10 Britons admit they can't go a day without a drink - more than double the international average, a new survey has revealed.

Admit. Can't. These words imply that one-tenth of the country are blotto within moments of waking up in the morning and they cannot stop. They don't like it and want to stop. Here comes addiction. The truth, naturally, is that this figure includes all those who might have a sherry at teatime, or who might like to finish the day with a wee nip of whisky before bed. Even with all those included, ninety percent of the people in this country do not drink alcohol every day and yet there is a big problem that requires... money.

'Whether that is due to the lack of awareness about the effects that alcohol can have - or whether we are simply in denial - there is clearly more work to be done to raise awareness of the associated risks and the real impact it can have on lives.' 

Yes, all those drinkers are in denial about the health risks and more funding is needed to slap them down. Sounding at all familair yet? How about this part -

'It's not about total abstinence, but it is about drinking responsibly and being aware of the effects that heavy drinking can have.' 

No, it;s not about a total ban. Just as the push for all those smokefree spaces was never about a ban, and when it became a ban there was no question of extending it to outdoors, and when that happened there was no question of extending it toprivate property, and when that happens in cars there will be no question of extending it into the home...

The same justifications are being tried. Here's a tip, drinkers. They didn't listen to real numbers from teh smokers and they are not listening to you. You are an addict and in denial, you see? Therefore nobody needs to listen and you must be controlled.

Our country has drank for centuries and there is evidence to say we are drinking less even in this article in10 dont drink every day. The pubs are shutting at 48 a week tax has gone up 42.3% since the budget 2008, drink is not cheaper here than in Europe, we are only second for duty behind Finland, 2008 tax take from alc 29.4bn, 2011 tax take 11.4bn cost to the nhs in those three years estimated) 4.8bn. Cant people see why ppl drink at home when you are paying £3.50 in your local or £8.60 for a double mixer then that is why. All those who think minimum price will work then look at prohibition, we have not yet had full gov intervention and already gangsters are setting up speakeasys and factories were they brew alc. Think about it logically for a second if we start drinking illict and/or homebrew the gov is not getting tax yet we are endangering our health so how is the Nhs going to be saved? Cigs in Brit & Ire are the smuggling & counterfeit capitals in Europe.

What are the publicans, those whose livelihoods have already collapsed and share prices plummeted after the smoking ban, doing about this?

They are doing a CAMRA. "Not us. It's them, get them over there. The supermarkets. Punish them."

I don't need a drink every day. In fact I haven't had one for days because I am close to finishing something and need the income, but I'll be having a few tomorrow night. What I don't want is someone telling me I can't have a drink whenever I damn well feel like it. Some people like to have a quick snifter every day and some like to take a spell off the booze and some don't drink at all and some like to chug down a bottle of vodka in an hour. What other people do is not my business, just as what I do is not theirs.

By the time all this nonsense is over, and it has failed over and over in the past, I expect Smoky-Drinkies will have reached the point where all they'll need is a sign outside.

Then we can all get back to normal until the next batch of pompous, self-important asses come to town.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Another born-again non-smoker.

Barry O'Blimey has declared his Righteous credentials as a rabid antismoker. Another one forced to quit who now wants to inflict his personal vendetta on the rest of us.

'We've always known that the fight to stop smoking in this country won't be easy,' the president says.

This man was a smoker until recently. He has 'been declared tobacco-free' with all the sinister connotations and links to illegal drugs that conjures.Now he is One of Them and hates all those people he used to laugh and joke with outside while having a smoke.

When did this 'fight to stop America smoking' become his fight? Why, when he was forced to stop because it is no longer seemly for the man who is allegedly the highest authority in the land to take his own decisions concerning his lifestyle. And if he can't have his own life, neither can anyone else. Just like the Cleggeron over here.

The article concerns the tobacco companies' objections to the graphic warning labels on the basis that it will harm their brand image. Those companies don't seem to have grasped the obvious, in that all the labels are either unproven or are downright lies. The labels require those companies to lie to their customers which in any other circumstance would get the company prosecuted.

They include one claiming that second hand smoke causes lung disease in nonsmokers, with no requirement for any evidence to back it up. Just as well since there isn't any. The fake lung is there again, the 'dead smoker' which is an actor lying down and might not even be a smoking actor, and which implies that nonsmokers never die. The 'smoker wearing an oxygen mask' which is another actor wearing an oxygen mask, and which implies that nonsmokers never get heart attacks or strokes. 'Meth mouth' makes its appearance as if it was due to smoking once more. Lies, supported now by the President himself.

Nonsmokers and antismokers might not care, but these are blatant lies put forth as if there was a shred of evidence to back them up. If he can support such lies without a qualm, what else is his administration lying about? Or don't you care about that either? Well, I'm not in the USA and am not likely to be, so at voting time it'll be up to you. You decide. You can vote in a lying control freak if you like. I don't mind. We have our own to deal with over here.

There is an increasing trend to refer to 'smokers' in these articles as though we are a separate species. If we are not human then we are not subject to taxation and not constrained by human laws. Which is it, antismokers? Which would you like? We'll let you choose. You can come back with 'Well then you can't use the NHS' if you want, but do try to remember that the NHS has already declared it doesn't want us. Heroin addicts who pay no tax, fine, no problem. Smokers who have paid extra tax, no, we've got your money now get lost.

Economies in freefall, war breaking out all over the place, energy prices out of control and energy generation on the verge of collapse because of Green meddling, and Western governments are piddling around with controlling a little bit of leaf in a paper tube.Of all the things they could prioritise, dehumanising a whole section of their population is number one on the list.

Who votes for these people? And who wakes them up in the morning? Please stop.

It's been said that in parts of the UK, you could put a Labour or Tory rosette on a donkey and it would win the seat. I say, let's try it. The donkey couldn't possibly be worse and would very likely be an enormous improvement.

I'd vote for it.

Science fiction.

Bit of a rush job today. There seems to have been something going on between, the printer, and Amazon who will currently list their books. I don't know what, but from January, books printed by Lulu won't be available on Amazon.

Well, it doesn't matter too much because I have separated my eBook versions from print ones in the ones I do myself. Traditionally-published ones aren't affected and the self-published are available in print on Lulu and in eBook format through other means. I don't bother paying to have the print ones available on Amazon.

The only one that was, was only available on US Amazon and it wasn't by me. It was by one of my other personalities, Romulus Crowe, and one of my current projects has been rewriting that book with less bile and more information. So the first edition is about to vanish from Amazon, so what? I don't think it sold a single copy on there. The price for a 32-page book plus postage was awful.

Still, it would be a shame to let it vanish so I made it into a Kindle version and put it in myself. The second edition won't be too far away but I didn't want to lose the first edition forever. It's been doing okay as an eBook on other sites (Barnes and Noble and Apple) because it's much cheaper and there's no postage. The overpriced print book dies, the cheap eBook is still there. That little rage-fuelled pamphlet isn't going away.

It was about ghosthunting and came about because I had to research ghosthunting when writing about a ghosthunter. I had to watch things like 'Most Haunted' and related nonsense as well as read some of the books written by babbling fools who consider themselves experts on something nobody really knows anything about. I saw, on TV, people with University degrees aiming an infrared thermometer at a 'cold spot' and convincing themselves that its detection range stopped in mid-air, where they wanted it to stop. I saw them using an EMF meter in one plane when EMF works in three, a device that records none of its readings and which they used only when it suited so their data had no baseline.

Whether ghosts and the supernatural are real or not was never the point. The appalling lack of rigour in such investigations was the point and the sale of gadgets to suckers when none of those gadgets can possibly do what they claim to do fired up the rage glands. They are Italian rage glands so it doesn't take much. In fact it took five years to calm down enough to do the non-rage version.

Those same rage glands are activated by the pronouncements of the raddled harridans of ASH and the hideous monstrosites plucked from Dr. Frankenstein's reject pile to staff the British Meddling Asses. There is an image of one such creature at Frank's place but be warned - as Snowolf said, her face makes Daleks hide behind the sofa.

It's not about smoking in cars. Not for me. When I had one I never smoked while driving. Never drank either. I smoke roll-ups and can't do it one-handed. Banning smoking in cars is not going to affect me at all especially as there will never be children in my car nor in my home because as Counting Cats said, you all know what they'd call me if they found one in my freezer. All sorts of unfair generalisations would burst forth even if I hadn't eaten the whole thing..

Dick Puddlecote has covered the story, and Pat Nurse and Velvet Glove, Iron Fist, and more. But really, it's not about cars. It's not about the cheeldren and it's not about the pubs and it's not about the railway stations and it's not about the buses and it's not about homes and so on.

It is about the utter debasement of science. All of it. It's about how I cannot trust a doctor any more because I know they are lying about smoking, about alcohol units, about five-a-day, so what can I trust from them? Everything they say is based on made-up propaganda. Nothing they say can now be relied on at all. If they put on a scary wooden mask and shook a gourd full of dried beans at me I would have just as much confidence in their pronouncements. I know doctors will object but they brought this on themselves.

What is the point of going through medical school if you end up being less reliable in your diagnoses and advice than a rune-casting Druid? Alcohol units recommendations are made-up numbers. Five-a-day is a made-up number. Second hand smoke is entirely lies and third-hand smoke is beyond derisory from a profession that calls homeopathy bunkum. There is no science behind any of it. It is personal prejudice based on spite and malice and that is now called 'science' and the utter morons who now make up our government accept it all. The exclusion and demonisation of huge tracts of the population is justified on the basis of... nothing.

Climatology is a religion, not a science. Only religious texts are immutable. Real science is never settled but there doesn't seem to be any left. Just faith in Righteous doctrine.

We hear, often, about Islamic fundamentalism and how reform must come from within. That those Muslims who don't actually want to kill us all should speak out. That has started to happen.

I hear no scientist at all decrying the absolute destruction of science by the rafts of charlatans who now have the ear of government. I hear no doctors facing down the BMA and refusing to ask patients how much they smoke or drink or how much butter or salt they use when they come into the surgery with a bruised wrist. None. None at all. Yet the doctors must know that the advice they give is based on less reliable data than the avearage witchdoctor uses. The scientists must realise that their entire profession is now held in lower regard than alchemy. They say nothing.

The entire medical profession is being dismantled from the top down. The credibility of science is ruined. Where is the reform from within? There is none. They are just letting it happen.

They are allowing their radicals to destroy them, and us, and doing nothing about it. We can only assume that there are no moderates in science or medicine and that they are all liars and charlatans. No other conclusion can be drawn. They all just make up whatever suits them and are gratified when the drones believe it all. Doctors are no use and neither are scientists. They don't want to do what they are paid to do. They have found it easier to control their flocks using made-up nonsense.

Deny it if you like, doctors and scientists, but you have no credibility any more. The parasites you have allowed to flourish unchallenged now rule your professions and their actions define you all. It was your choice, it always was. Shouting at me won't change anything. Do any of you have the guts to shout at those you should have shouted down years ago?

I doubt it. I really do. And as a scientist myself who does shout at those who are destroying science even though I now do it from a position of redundancy and difficult self-employment, I hold my head high. I will not succeed alone but I tried. More than the rest of you cowardly weaklings can say.

Laugh at me for the ghosthunting book. Scoff at my attempts to vary my income. Yes, I write fiction as well as science.

At least my science is not fiction. How many scientists or doctors can now say the same?

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Blatantly callous.

Doctors have called for a blatantly callous law to direct you to do as you are told by the sham that calls itself a government. Clegg will be all for it because he is an evil controlling nasty pompous little git just like all Lib Dems and all the vicious, spiteful, mindless and useless cretins who vote for them. Cameron will agree because he has less spine than a jellyfish and less brain than a bacterium, just like all those who voted for him. Harsh? No. You voted for it, you got it. Enjoy. Just try voting Labour and see what you get. Proto-prime Monster Moribund is ready to take your calls, useless drones. Expect change if you like. You will not get it.

I did not vote for any party now in Government or even in opposition but I can accept that others did. Okay, I did not want Butch Cameron and the Smokedenial Kid running the country because one is Blair in a new skin and the other is just a skin but fair enough, many people voted me down. Based on my IQ score, the 99% voted me down. Thanks a bunch, dopey tent guys.

None of those people voted for the doctors now declaring new laws. Yet we all know the filthy Tory turncoats and the vile and putrid excresence from Satan's prolapsed rectum that is every Liberal Democrat will accept the word of the unelected pressure-pompous even while they direct their pretend 'people's representatives' to vote against everything the people ask for. Everything from a reconsideration (not a repeal, just a reconsideration, take note Malcolm Bruce you evil bastard) of the extent of the smoking ban to the even higher issue of whether we should be dragged down by the collapsing Fascist monster of the EU.

When you buy a car, remember this. You do not own it. The government owns it. They will tell you what you can and cannot do in that car. You want to spend tens of thousands on a car? Total waste of money. Your money is gone and still the car is not yours. Buy a banger with a long-enough MOT to make it worthwhile and forget about buying new. There is no point.

You can drive as fast as the government decrees and no faster. You cannot even fit winter tyres without it being considered a modification. You drive when allowed and stop when directed. Oh, but you think, the interior of your car is your domain.

Not any more. The interior of your car is decreed Government space. And soon your house and then your head. You can smugly declare it's only about smoking if you like and pretend that the same template has not been applied to everything else already.. Go on, enjoy your smugness. I won't be there when it's your turn and when you come to me for help all you'll hear is 'no'.

Thinking of buying a new car to boost the economy? Spend away. It's your money.

It's not, and never will be, your car.You are just paying extraordinary rent on a bit of Government-owned mobile internal public space plus duty and VAT on top, plus maintenance and running costs with more duty and VAT on top of those too. It's your money, or was, so throw it as far as you like. Pay away, enjoy your chance to look inside that BMW or Bentley you think you own.

If you have still a touch of brain cell function, buy a secondhand cheapo. It's not yours anyway.

If smokers never bought another new car, even Osbourne might notice something.

Out of touch.

The phone line died at midday and stayed off until about 9 pm. No phone, no internet. I've noticed BT vans around a lot lately. They've been meddling with something and buggered something up. It's fixed now but when that lot get involved they can make quite a mess, so for the next few days at least there is a good chance of another spontaneous outage.

It wasn't all bad. Writing requires an absence of distractions so no phone, no online Sudoku, no Luxor (don't play that game, it's as addicitve as cocaine but then so is everything else) turned the afternoon into a productive one.

The bad part is that all my work, both book sales and consultancy, involves the internet. The companies I work for contact me by phone or Email so having both shut down together is a matter for concern. I don't want to get back online to find an Email offering me work, followed a few hours later by another saying 'never mind, we found someone'.

It also meant I wasn't distracted by reading the news which probably added about six days to my projected lifespan but leaves me with little to say.


Monday 14 November 2011

Don't drink... anything.

Alcohol is now more dangerous than smoking. Every drinker out there will get cancer of the oesophagus just as every smoker must get lung cancer. Got that, antismokers? When you sip that wine while laughing at the poor sods out in the cold, your throat is going all lumpy and pustulent. Like your brain.

 “The problem is that we have the highest obesity rate in Europe and we drink more alcohol than the European average.

Is that true?  More than France where cancer of the fuel-pipe is much lower than here? More than Spain or Cyprus? Or is this a case of 'We don't give a damn what causes it and we aren't looking for a cause or a cure. We already have something we can blame it on and we can use it to force people to do as we say'?

So we should all switch to soft drinks yes? Ah, no. Soft drinks will give you diabetes, heart failure and chronic enlargement of the middle. It takes just two a day, and you're as dead as a fat smoky drinker.

Right. What about sugar-free soft drinks? They must be safe. Nope. The sugar-free ones cause heart attacks and strokes. Same level of risk. There is no safe level of fizz. The low-calorie alternatives are not a safe choice for you filthy sugar addicts.

The good news is that traffic fumes are good for you. Yes, really. Don't relax with a whisky and a cigarette, they'll kill you. Suck a Scania exhaust and feel the goodness flow through your body. Note that this only works for antismokers. Smokers, and those who tolerate smokers, get no benefit from traffic fumes.

I think I'll stick with the booze. It's good enough for the doctors.

Update: How about drinking some... water? No! Water gives you cancer!  Stop putting it in your whisky!

Premature merriment.

(scribbling away in the background here, trying to earn some extra pennies in time for Christmas so excuse my apparent aloofness!)

Berlusconi has now been walloped out of the game, to be replaced by Super Mar-EU who will do exactly as he is told by the EU, thus avoiding all that messy democracy nonsense. Some time ago I wondered if the EU would ever refuse to allow a country to elect a parliament of their own. Italy will have no election following the resignation of their Prime Monster and neither will Greece.

Super Mario's mushrooms are already sprouting:

His government is expected to consist of experts from Milan’s Bocconi University, where he is president, but may also include politicians.

Now, I have no liking for politicians but they are at least elected. I can state that I didn't vote for any of them but someone did. Every politician in Wastemonster is someone's choice, even if none of them were, or ever would be, mine. They can eventually be voted out if the drones can be convinced of just how useless they really are.

Italy's new government is going to consist of academics who are pals of Super Mario, who nobody has ever voted for and who cannot be voted out. Some politicians will be allowed in. Some. A body that should consist entirely of elected representatives will now deign to allow some elected representatives a say. Only those who say the right things, of course.

That followed humiliating scenes when he [Berlusconi] was greeted by a jeering crowd, who threw coins and branded him a “thief, buffoon and gangster” as he went to hand in his ­resignation on Saturday.

The crowds laughed and jeered when their elected Prime Monster resigned to be replaced by a government of people they didn't vote for, who work for the benefit of the EU and the Euro, not for Italy and whom they can't vote out.

I wonder how long they'll keep laughing?

Saturday 12 November 2011

Clegg stubbed out.

Off to Smoky-Drinky this evening.

I see Nick the Clegg has finally stopped smoking. Note that he did it with no patches, no gum and no withdrawal synptoms. Yet he is fully on board with the 'it's as addictive as cocaine' nonsense.

Everyone I know who stopped smoking and who stayed stopped, did it that way. One day they just decided they didn't want to do it any more. Smoking is a choice, as is stopping. When you make that choice yourself, it's no problem. The 'hard to stop' stuff comes from other people trying to make your choice for you.

Some ex-smokers become born-again nonsmokers and they are the most antismoking of the lot. I suspect Clegg will join their ranks because he was really one of their number even while he was smoking.

Four a day involve almost no increased risk of anything. Compared to this, four smokes a day is positively healthy. I know the amounts involved are trivial but - no safe level, remember. Either that's true or it isn't, so which will our government choose?

Anyway, time to go to the New Pub for an evening in the warm. Smoking.

Sowing the seeds of doom.

I have ground my teeth down to tiny little sharp points. Every year I stay silent for Armistice Day and try to stay offline but today I made the mistake of browsing a few blogs in an idle hour.

But first, a pretty picture.

I popped three dry seed pods and all those little dots are seeds. There are many more still in the pods. That's just three. I have more. Every plant had dozens of flowers and okay, I did smoke most of them but with my small garden that's more seed than I can use next year, especially since I now have Bulgarian seed to add to my Greek seed for half my next attempt.

Just three pods. I have no idea where the pods I missed sent their little packets of compact cancer off to. It's been very windy here and seeds that size can travel a long way on the wind. Maybe an antismoker inhaled one and is even now sprouting lumps. Maybe there'll be a Tobacco Triffid in your wndow box next year, who knows? It'll be slightly larger than a petunia.

There is no way to stop this. No way to ban it. No way to police such a ban. These plants are not distinctive like cannabis. They don't need fancy UV lighting. If it gets banned put a white or frosted perspex roof on your shed and you're in business.

To the average gardening eye they are tall things with lots of flowers, the sort of things most ornamental gardeners grow. If I can get chatting to an antismoker next year and resist the urge to apply a well-deserved retrospective abortion, I'll offer them some nice flowering plants for their garden. Then offer to clear them away when the leaves turn brown. They get pretty plants and I get more growing space. It's a good deal.

Every plant can produce literally thousands of seeds. Tiny seeds that can blow on the wind for miles. These can spread like dandelions and in a few years they'll be popping up on bowling greens and cricket pitches everywhere. Will I feel a slight pang of regret when Wembley is out of use because of huge weeds? Um... no. I'll just offer to take them away. No charge.

News on the drying and curing can wait. It's still going on. The greenhouse was ideal for humidity but far too prone to fungus. I think I'll get enough to break even this year and next year I'll start earlier. That will let me use the greenhouse when it's still safe to have the vents open. But that's for later. If it all fails, what the hell, the flowers were well worth the experiment.

And so back to the teeth-grinding. Dick Puddlecote has noticed Nanny Aussie's latest wheeze.One that has already been suggested here. Smoking licences.

Yes, in order to be a smoker you have to buy a licence but it's not that simple. You have to pass the smokibugger test too. If you pass, you pay loadsamoney every year for a licence to buy your baccy ration. Which is also taxed to buggery. That way, only Cameron and Clegg can afford to smoke.

It is a nonsense. Pat Nurse sees it as the Final Solution but as I see it, there isn't one. There is no way to stop us. None at all.

The dodgy baccy that Pat refers to as Man with a Cheap Bag already exists but it's a small problem now. Man with a Van asks for no ID, and sells legit tobacco bought overseas and he can make enough profit on that. He has no need to sell some backstreet brown stuff that's half lawn clippings and half carpet brushings. Man with a Van does not touch the crap stuff. He has a business to run and we smokers know if we're smoking rubbish.

When the Puritans brought in Prohibition in the USA, they created a generation who didn't know what properly produced booze tasted like.Bathtub gin and flavoured industrial ethanol was all they knew. The antismokers are trying to create a generation who don't know what real tobacco tastes like and who will accept the rubbish thrown at them by Man with a Cheap Bag. He will charge less than Man with a Van because his stuff isn't in any way legit. Children will smoke the rooves of derelict buildings and the clippings from traffic-fume-infused roadside verges.

They will smoke all the more because it is banned. Because it is naughty. Because it is one in the eye for Da Man. No tobacco company could ever afford this level of advertising and the antismokers do it all for free.

As for me, sod it. This year I won't be self-sufficient on baccy, I'll still buy from Man with a Van and while that doesn't help the Cleggeron Coagulation it still gets money into the EU in some other country. Next year I hope to do better and year on year, I will build this until it reaches the point where all I smoke is mine.

In the future, the effects of prohibition will force Man with a Van to compete with, and therefore sell, the cheap crap, which will gradually become expensive crap. By then I need to be well out of the loop.

So follow the words of the Skinner. Get those seeds in early next year. No space? Pound-shop plastic buckets and some supermarket compost is all you need.

And seeds. If you can't find any, I have loads.

It'll be difficult to make it lillegal to grow when it pops up on every riverbank and every railway embankment.

Next spring I'll be sprinkiling the Seeds of Death everywhere. The slugs will get most of them but it doesn't need many to survive to get this game started.

When anyone can pick it off plants at the side of the road, what then for your duty collection, Cameron? Oh, and consider this -

I would never even have thought of this if it wasn't for your war on smokers. You just wouldn't let it lie, would you?

Friday 11 November 2011


As is usual, on this day, this blog remains silent.

Thursday 10 November 2011

All fall down.

Remember those spinning-plate acts where someone would have a load of plates spinning on upright poles and he had to run about keeping them all going before they fell? You rarely see that any more.

Which is a shame because that's the kind of skill the EU need at the moment. Little Sarky and the Merkin are trying to do it by threatening the plates to stay up. When that doesn't work, they replace the plates with EU plates that will do as they are damn well told.

The Greek PM promised his people a referendum. He was taken aside by the Management for a little chat and he dropped the referendum then resigned. An EU puppet gets his job. Berlusconi survived literally hundreds of scandals and investigations. One comment to the effect that Italians are worse off with the Euro and he's gone. Replaced by an EU puppet.

The Irish had a referendum on the EU treaty, came up with an answer that displeased the Management and had to do it all again. Once they came up with the right answer, no more referenda.

Now they're all going bust, one by one. France isn't in great shape either. Those spinning plates turned out not to have strong rods holding them up, in fact some didn't have rods at all and were floating there using no more than their belief in their own hovering capabilities. The act is over, the plates are falling and the plate-spinner can't run fast enough to keep them all going.

Today Mad Manuel Bareasso declared that if you are in the EU then you must join the Euro. Room for more on this sinking ship, it seems. Joining the Euro is like paying for membership of the Liberal Democrats. It would be quicker to just burn the money.

I have received an Email asking me to publicise a petition on the Government's "We can hear you, we're just not listening" site. It is a logical petition, it follows EU rules to the letter. We don't like the answer the Government came up with when they pretended to debate the possibility of an EU referendum in the UK so we want them to do it again. And keep doing it until they come up with the right answer. They should be used to that sort of thing by now.

The petition is the brainchild of and the link to it is here.So far there are over 5600 names on it.

I don't think the Cameroid will let us have a referendum. Even if he wanted to, if he tried it the Clegg would throw a hissy fit and stomp out of the coagulation. Then he'd have to have an election and he's been such a dick he might not win. Promising a referendum won't help. He promised that last time - they all did - and when it came to discussing it they all voted it down on orders from all three party leaders. Nobody's going to believe that promise now.

What would he promise? A repeal of all the nannying and relaxation of the stranglehold of control? He promised that last time too and lied. Clegg held his Great Repeal Charade and ignored all the answers he didn't like. None of them have anything left to promise us at an election so they dare not have one now.

Suppose, though, he went ahead and did it. He might, not for us, but for his own bruised ego. Little Sarky has been going around the world insulting all the leaders he can find, and he started with the Cameroid. So Cameroid might hold a referendum just to stick two fingers up at France's pocket president.

Even then, even if he grew a pair and went ahead with it, the Management will call him in for a little chat and show him the heads of two recent PM's on platters, with an empty platter beside them bearing a little Union Flag.

Suppose he managed to get through it all, through the EU Management coup, through the red face and stomping feet of Clegg, and held a referendum. Suppose the result of that referendum was a resounding 'Out! Now!'

The EU would just make him do it again. And again, until he came up with the right answer.

We're just going to have to wait for it all to fall apart. Shouldn't be long now. At least we don't have the Euro.

What I did on my holiday.

In 2006, I wrote a little book. That's not technically accurate.

In 2006, someone I made up wrote a little book. Yes, that's more like it. It probably happens to everyone, you're all out there going 'Duh, has he just experienced that?'

The backstory to this is that I was working on a novel about a ghosthunter and since I knew nothing about ghosthunting, I had to research the subject. What I found made me think OMG! WTF? and other abbreviated modern expletives as well as some of the old-fashioned longer ones because what I found was science of a standard that would even make a Climatologist blush.

I could not place the fictional character in any University, not even in East Anglia, with that standard of science. Orbs? Rods? Comprehensively debunked and just to be sure, I did it again myself. It was easy. Ghost detectors? No, those meters are EMF detectors. What are ghosts made of? Nobody knows. How can anyone build a detector to detect a substance when the nature of the substance is entirely unknown and indeed might not be a detectable substance at all? There are people buying meters so sensitive they can detect coins moving in your pocket. They are spending massive money on devices they don't know how to use. You just try telling them they are being conned and see what you get.

Infrared thermometers do not measure the mid-air cold spot these morons were aiming them at. They measure the temperature of the first solid object they are aimed at and the further away it is, the greater the circle of temperature they average over. Move it and the temperature reading changes. I became somewhat miffed and if you aren't British, be aware that 'somewhat miffed' means you might get an axe in your head at any moment. We will, of course, apologise afterwards so it's not all bad.

The fictional character was of the kind who is easily enraged, and who regards the term 'idiot' as applying to everyone on the planet and probably on most other planets too. He took over for a while, even to the extent of forming his own unique internet presence. He has been interviewed and as far as the Internet is aware, he is more real than me.

The bastard also sold a book before I did.

This particular Mr. Hyde (I have spawned more than one) is called Romulus Crowe. He is not hard to find.

Anyway, the point of this story is that in a fit of rage, I wrote a short book about the idiocy of ghosthunters which does not disparage the subject area but which rails at the appalling methodology masquerading as science.

It wasn't very long (about 30 pages) and it wasn't very good because I didn't write it with sales in mind. I just bunged it on Lulu, had a bit of a laugh about a non-fiction book by a fictional author and forgot about it.

About a year later, Lulu sent me a fiver by Paypal. I had to request my password because I hadn't been back. It turns out the book had sold a few copies which surprised me because it was, in my view, overpriced and then there was the Lulu postage to consider.

Still I ignored it. This wasn't where I wanted to go and I was still wastefully employed even though the shutdown of the department was clearly only a matter of time by this stage.

While I ignored it, put the electronic version out on Barnes and Noble and on the Apple iBook thingy. In the last month there have been over ten sales of this long-forgotten half-joke book. Not many, not retirement income by any means, perhaps a beer's worth. Remember I had not put this up as a serious income generator so it was priced to the bone. Lulu made much more than I did out of each sale.

Since that book I have researched the area more. I know far more about cold reading now, about fakery and how to spot it, and about the less than one percent of paranormal activity that could be attributed to the real unknown. There is also the mind-manipulation of the Righteous which is related to this whole game.

As Romulus Crowe, I once played with a sceptic. He wasn't as bright as he thought he was, he used standard put-downs and in his superiority, he laid down a challenge. He stated three things and said 'one of these things is true, tell me which and I'll take you seriously'.

I told him which was true with one hundred percent certainty. It was easy. He had given me the answer days earlier in a throwaway remark in a comment. Then I told him how I'd done it and taught him a couple of cold-reading party tricks.

What I've been doing on my holiday is expanding and rewriting that little book. When I first did it the options were print or PDF. Now it can be electronic and very cheap as well as actually worh getting in print.

I have been working on taking that book seriously now. These days I can get it onto Amazon as a Kindle book and through a lot of other outlets also. What's it for? It's for two separate things.

One, its intention is to get those amateur paranormalists to look harder at the underlying science and to apply proper methods to their work. Waving an EMF meter around and saying 'Ooo, lookie' is not science. Orbs are bunk, rods are bunk, shadows mean nothing and fakery abounds. If you're going to study this stuff, it's time to take it seriously.

Two, the original novel is currently under consideration by publishers. If one of them takes it on, the advertising is already under way. If none take it I will publish it myself. With the advertising already in place and currently (if inadvertently) active, I don't have time to waste.

Perhaps you consider anything described as 'paranormal' as inherently mad. If so, what term do you apply to those who govern us?

Wednesday 9 November 2011

The inescapable credit.

The bill for my credit card arrived today. Not an issue in itself, there's never a vast amount on it and I almost always clear it at the end of the month. I remember all those calculations showing that if you pay just the minimum, then you can take decades to clear even a small amount because of the huge interest rates on these things.

What caught my eye this time was that the minimum payment is just five pounds - again, nothing special there, it usually is just five pounds - but that if I don't clear the account, next month's estimated interest is just over seven pounds.

This means that all those calculations showing decades to clear the debt are wrong. If I were to pay the minimum on this card, I would not even clear the interest and even if I never used the card again, next month's bill would be a little higher.The next one would be a little higher still if I again paid the minimum and in ten years' time, this modest card bill would have grown into a vast millstone of debt even if I never used the card again.

I was under the impression that this sort of thing had been stopped, that credit card minimum payments had to cover at least the interest on the debt. As it is, this kind of repayment/interest combination cannot, ever, be cleared by paying the minimum amount.

It actually doesn't matter to me because I restrict my card use (mostly internet and regular bills like insurance) and prefer to clear it as soon as the bill arrives. However, I know many people who use their cards all the time and rarely bother with cash. I have been in Aberdeen long enough to have been infected with thrift so I check these numbers. Few bother.

A regular card user who finds times getting tight might not notice this sneaky trap. You'd only notice if you didn't use the card between one month and the next. If there are other purchases on the next bill then that little bit of interest that wasn't covered by the minimum payment might go unnoticed. That sneaky little amount could build up in the background.

Sure, applying common sense, if times get tough the first debt to clear is the credit card and it's also the first payment method to stop using because if you get to where you can't clear it at the end of the month, the interest on those things is scary. Many people are now in the habit of using them almost all the time since few places will take cheques any more and carrying large amounts of cash is risky - and not just from the criminals. If you are found to be carrying a lot of cash, you are immediately suspected of being Up To Something. The perception that only criminals deal in cash is fast taking hold.

Everyone gets used to using credit cards, times get tough, people just pay the minimum for a while in the hope that things will improve, and soon you have a huge supply of debt slaves whose homes and property you can confiscate.

I know, it looks like I'm taking that £2 difference between the minimum payment and the interest and extrapolating it to mass repossessions of everyone's home, but who remembers that rhyme that begins 'For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe, the horse was lost...' and ends with the loss of an entire kingdom?

How about Granny's old saw 'Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves'?

It's just two pounds. Not enough for a pint of beer or even a half-ounce of tobacco. Less than the price of most magazines and well below the price of a paperback book or a DVD. Not enough to worry about at all.

Except it's two pounds the bank has invested in you and you are paying them over 30% interest on it, along with that rate of interest on all the rest of your credit balance. If you could find a savings account that paid that rate of interest you wouldn't be in too much of a hurry to take your money out, now would you?

It also increases month by month because the interest per month is accumulating and your minimum payment is covering less and less every month. It's £2 this month but it could be another £2.50 next month and it increases exponentially after that.

Clear those credit cards. There are tough times ahead and while all you owe them is money, what they'll take is real. Your car, your home, your firstborn. They won't get those things with the first two pounds.

But wait a few years, with a few more pounds a month at over 30% interest and look again.

I have no credit beyond a small credit card bill and a heavily dented mortgage. That credit card will be clear this week. The mortgage will take longer unless I win the lottery. That's not likely unless I buy a ticket, but as a friend once said in the days when we used to be allowed in pubs, 'your chances of winning increase if you buy a ticket, but not by very much'.

Credit was easy a few years ago. Jobs felt secure and income was simply arriving every month and most of uis could be confident that it would continue. That is no longer the case. Credit is now very dangerous indeed.

Especially since it seems designed so that you can't get out of it.

Tinfoil hattery? Maybe. Let's put it to the test. I won't have any credit and you take all that's offered, and ten years from now we'll come back and compare where we are.

Who's up for that game?