Monday, 30 January 2017

Are Chocolate Bars Smaller?


Just one of the random thoughts that fuel my whimsy. They seem smaller than they used to be but perhaps that is just part of growing up. There is an advertisement from the government that sets alarm bells ringing. It is a way for families to buy their own homes. Thatcher did the same and people suffered for it. Worse, it pushed over the edge the families already fending off deprivation. It was a big con to allow a minority to strip the bones clean of the poor.

You see when Thatcher introduced this 'buy your own home' scheme, nobody could see what the Iron Bitch was going to do next. I remember as a child the excited buzz going around, the chance for everyone to make an Englishman's home his castle. Then came the redundancies, pay cuts, strikes, and lay-offs. Thatcher used this Tory ploy to suck the life-blood from the working man, to strip him of his dignity and trample him underfoot.

People who bought into this scheme saw their livelihoods taken away from them as the cancerous Thatcherism cut off non-profit making industry in favour of cheap foreign imports. Of course when the industries collapsed, the communities based around them died. Mass unemployment resulted in poverty and suddenly these thousands of decent working people, whom the government conned into buying their own houses, had no means to pay for them. Nor could they sell them, they were worthless without there being employment.

A few did well from it, buying up the repossessed houses for a snip and renting them out so as the tenants paid their mortgages. These 'developers' would have several houses and it was good business. Get rich off other people's money whilst doing little or nothing. It would be hard to chastise them for their greed though because the government were doing exactly the same thing. The problem with our government is unlike the transparency of other countries, they hide behind a facade of respectability. whilst oozing false integrity like slime off a hag-fish.

Now this ad, this echo from Thatcher. How many suckers will put themselves in the Tories' pockets this time. It will still end in misery and ironic it has suddenly materialised when another Conservative lady occupies number 10. I saw the results of the last time though I was just a kid. I saw a comfortable happy community turned into a warzone. It was the aftermath though. Families were torn apart and a new generation was born with nothing to look forward to. The government doesn't care as long as it balances books.

It's time the people had a voice, there were murmurings about Brexit because it will no doubt impact upon the wealthy, Then of course they will try to cover their stacks by bleeding the poor dry, shit never rolls uphill. They've got a shock coming though, the well is almost dry and next time they dip their fingers into the coffers all they'll find is a nest of angry scorpions.

STOP IMPORTING RESOURCES WE ALREADY HAVE!!!

Subsidise industry, get people off benefits.

STOP GIVING CEO'S MILLIONS IN BONUSES, ESPECIALLY BANKERS WHEN THEY'VE MADE A LOSS.

Tax those who can afford it and close the loopholes exploited by amoral companies.

I could go on but just this short rant has ruined my day. Governments are elected by the people for the people, yet they serve the people by treating the world as a marketplace. They are so intent on showing how much wealth the country has accumulated they conveniently ignore the human cost and suffering laying in the wake.

It's time for politics to evolve or we're all doomed!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Twitter and Me

I initially joined Twitter on advice of others in 2013 when my debut novel was published. Then I promptly ignored it for about a year. When I looked at it again I tried to get into the spirit of things but wasn't prepared for the drama. My humour is a bit of an acquired taste, I knew that. In real life it is very much the same but more successful, perhaps it is a visual thing.

What became apparent with Twitter is how easily offended some people are. Far more than in real life, or perhaps in real life they know their histrionics just makes them look silly. Or maybe they know in real life their indignation and outrage wouldn't wash as people they know would deem it hypocritical. The point is I was very self-conscious about upsetting people, it was / is never intended. It upset me that in an effort to raise a smile, I actually had the reverse affect on some.

Of course I eventually realised that somebody will always be offended, whatever I say. I've even been blocked for self-deprecation, weird. The original intent when I started using Twitter properly* was to amuse and interact with around 100 people as I felt this was a manageable number. Now I have over 1300 followers and follow nearly 1000 people. It's too many.

*I use 'properly' loosely as people love to remind me I'm doing Twitter wrong

At first I followed back everyone because I felt it was courteous to do so. I didn't know about bots back then, or about people who play the numbers game. My method of following was simple, I would never follow a person first (except for a handful). I know my humour is a little strange to some so I expected only to be followed by those who 'get it'. Then I could follow back safe in the knowledge they followed me first and it was their own fault if at some point they get offended.

After learning about bots I had a purge on them and now won't follow any accounts I suspect of being automated. Still the numbers were growing and quickly surpassed the intended 100. This caused another problem. Due to sheer weight of numbers I stopped looking at TL's. In my peculiar world I felt I had to look at all TL's or none. It was something akin to going out with a group of friends and ignoring some of them. It was rude. The solution was of course to just tweet in the 'here and now', and interact with whoever was online at the time.

This was okay for a time but as the numbers increased, I found myself missing what many were saying. In the time I took to respond to a tweet there were 100 more. Although I strive for fairness and impartiality, I talk to anyone regardless of race colour or creed, there are obviously those whom I enjoy interacting with more than others. This highlighted another problem. I would very often miss what they tweeted because someone else tweeted a day's worth of tweets in seconds.

I tried to refine my follow back criteria a little. No bots, no salespersons, no languages I didn't understand and who Bing can't translate effectively, no accounts that didn't tweet, none of these click on 12 pictures when only one piqued my interest, etc. etc. By then I already had too many followers and it was just too time-consuming trying to filter out unsuitable (for my purposes) accounts. I am now at the point where I need to address this issue and have a cull.

How I decide which accounts I continue to follow is quite simple. My whole Twitter thing is geared up to interaction, so I keep all those I remember interacting with. Then there are those that tweet or RT a lot, they provide me with material for my hyperactive wit. Due to my writing I have a soft spot for fellow writers / bloggers / authors, and whilst some may not 'contribute' with interaction, I feel obliged to keep following. Then there are a few others whom I follow simply because they interest me.

In the coming weeks I will gradually unfollow those who do not meet  the criteria above. It's not because I don't like them or they've done something wrong, it's simply due to the need to keep things simple. If I unfollow you the easy way to get me to follow back is to interact, isn't that what Social Media is about?

Another advantage this has, is that followers a little 'unsure' of my responses will no longer have to suffer them, because I won't see their tweets!

Bells, Beads and Sitars

In my life I have met many people, some more significant than others. Some have remained, some sporadically flit in and out of my life, some have gone forever. Time is never a factor when meeting and interacting with people. Sometimes the briefest encounters are the most profound and people touch your heart in ways long-term friendships do not. Timing on the other hand is crucial.

I recently learned that one of a group of people I encountered for a little less than a year, had passed away. For my shame I had given little thought to these people apart from the telling of some anecdote or another, I doubt they even remembered me even though I've been told I'm quite hard to forget (not sure if they meant that in a good way or not). They were older than me, I was little more than a kid and a pretty damaged one at that.

At the time I didn't realise this group of people had probably saved my life, and I doubt they knew it either. You see, I met them just as my time on the streets ended. I was still in a very dark place. Drink and drugs had become a part of my life as I tried to suppress the nightmares and memories of the previous five years. A rage burnt deep inside me and I was in self-destruct, then I met Ray. Like most other older people at the time, I think I amused him. Anyway in time I was introduced to different people and found this sort of hippie-type subculture.

For the previous five years at school all I had met with was hostility. I had become defensive and reactionary to any perceived threat. This was different to anything I had experienced. Nobody said mean things, there was banter but it was tempered by empathy. Everybody was so full of fun, nowhere else could I relax like I did with these wonderful people. Music was very much an important part of their lives and many played instruments. One of these was Reg. I had heard he had some limited success but never really asked about it (I later learned Manfred Mann covered one of his songs).


I was just grateful to be in this company, even though I was often teased. It was never malicious, they just didn't understand me. Maybe they hadn't met someone so damaged, so young, yet so seemingly comfortable amongst a group of older strangers. In this company I began to like people again and more importantly I began to trust. It is difficult to gauge just how much they changed my life. All I know is that I was on a slippery slope towards disaster. Had I mixed in a different circle at such a critical point in my life I might not be telling this tale.

Thanks to all those people. Reg has sadly passed on but he left a legacy with his music and one song in particular. In the song several of those people are mentioned and I recognise some from the images.



RIP Reg you were a star and always will be

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Premonitions

There are a lot of tricks our minds play on us from time to time and I have been dismissive of some tall tales on this basis. Pragmatism is a trait usually claimed by atheists, but sometimes you just have to accept the fact that there is indeed something going on. Over the course of my life I've had many strange experiences I can't explain, it really grates because they are exactly the things I would be sceptical about if I hadn't witnessed them myself.

However, my failure to understand some experiences, doesn't mean I will assume they are caused by anything supernatural. I do have my own hypotheses as no doubt most of you are aware by now, but that's all they are, hypotheses, speculation, conjecture. There is a huge void between science and religion, it is a divide that seemingly can never be bridged, yet when they're loosely tied together things make a lot more sense.

There is no doubt in my mind hominids on this planet have undergone a process. Science will deny it and religion will attribute their own ideas on how this was achieved and by whom. The key is the difference between homo sapiens sapiens and homo sapiens neanderthalis. The overlap of the species would be consistent with an evolutionary process but the flaw is the difference in brain size and operation. Archaeologists search fruitlessly for a 'missing link' that simply doesn't exist.

If we look at what can be achieved today with cloning and genetic manipulation, our capabilities are already at a level required to 'adjust' a species. I have covered this topic many times in different posts so I won't dwell on it here. Suffice to say, in our primitive past we were genetically modified. In terms of religion, this would indeed suggest a 'creator' of sorts, an outside source. Alien theorists will be doing cartwheels with this 'admission' but sadly, they too stray from my perception of exactly what happened. Science will of course dismiss the theory simply because they cannot explain interstellar travel.

My pragmatism is not quite true to the dictionary definition. I discussed this in Visceral Pragmatism but in effect it brought me back to these weird experiences. Instead of telling you what I think is going on by trying to explain them, I'll just give you the facts - without embellishment - and as I try to encourage on this blog, I'll let you make up your own mind. What you are about to read is the truth just as it happened.

Death

The first thing that happened to me that could be considered beyond the scientific rationale was at age 13 when I had a serious bicycle accident. It is difficult to point to this as a catalyst due to my young age, I might have been 'weird' before then but just didn't know it. This is briefly what happened......

I was out with friends when I came off my bike at speed and hit my head on a wooden post. I was unconscious no more than a few seconds as I remember seeing my friends running towards me. Everything was upside down. The only visible injury I had was a small trickle of blood from my ear and my friends thought I was messing about as I rolled around trying to stand up. I found if I closed my eyes I could stand up but when I opened them I fell over again.

My friends fetched someone from a nearby house and I was taken to hospital. I was conscious all the way and remembered being put in a wheelchair just outside the hospital. As the doors opened a blinding white flash 'exploded' from them, then it all went black.

It was still dark and I was lying down, I heard muffled voices around me and was aware of being touched but couldn't feel it. I felt amused at the people fussing around me and suddenly I was looking down at myself from the ceiling in a corner of the room. Watching with interest the doctors administering CPR, I could 'feel' my chest being depressed even though I was no longer in my body. The amused feeling never left me and in my head I sang softly, mocking the doctors "I'm not there anymore".

The door below my vantage point swung open and I swished down from the ceiling in a fluid motion. I was out the door and sweeping down the corridor just above head height. Two more doors swung open as people passed through and I was out of the hospital. My body was back at the hospital and I felt as though I was just a face, or a brain maybe. Feeling an urge to go home, the three miles from the hospital took just a matter of seconds but I remembered it all. I was going down the main route a few feet above the street lamps. At my house I hovered outside my bedroom window and was suddenly indecisive.

Instinctively I looked back and in an instant was back at the hospital once again looking down at my body. Then it all went black and I remember no more. Three days later I woke up and sometime later when I told my mother of the 'dream', she told I had actually died for 37* seconds. Both my parents confirmed I had clinically died but it was my mother who said 37 seconds and I only have her word for that, I never spoke of the incident with my father.

Now there are a number of things about this that are strange but inconclusive. Was it a dream? That was my first thought. Unconscious awareness would maybe explain inside the hospital. The fact I died and 'dreamt' about the 'transition' is also inconclusive, as I could have dreamt it whilst in a coma after having been revived.

It was soon I started having premonitions in dreams and seeing weird things when awake. The dreams were strange and still happen infrequently today, the last 'fulfilment' was just a year ago.

Dreams

I didn't see the dreams as anything weird as a kid and just put them down to coincidence. It was like deja vu. The feeling of having experienced in the past what was currently being payed out in real time. Is that what deja vu is? Subconscious memories of prophetic dreams? Of all the weirdness I have been subjected to, these dreams confound me. I like to find a rational, or at least plausible explanation for things, but I could see no way how a visualisation of future events was possible. It remains an enigma. Neither can I dismiss it as a trick of the mind.

In the main the dreams were insignificant or I might have picked up on them sooner. I'd dream I was somewhere with someone then months, or in some cases years later, I would find myself in that place with that person whom I may never have met before. I could describe what was in the next room or say what was about to happen. Until a few years ago I did actually dismiss the dreams as tricks of the mind. The feeling of deja vu was strong but recollections of the dream hazy and uncertain.

Over the years the number of dreams mounted up and some were becoming more noticeable. They were noticeable in that I recognised which were premonitions and which were just my subconscious at work. The 'hammer-blow' or clincher, was this most recent fulfilment. I had the dream two or three years before but this time I remembered every detail.

I was being shown around a large warehouse by a prospective client, it looked oddly familiar even though I had never been in the building before. When we entered another area where people were working I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I had definitely been there before, in my mind at least. A worker whose face looked familiar asked us to wait a moment whilst something was being moved and details of the dream started flooding back. Off to one side about 20 yards away a forklift truck carrying a pallet of loose boxes was approaching. He was moving slowly and steadily so there was no reason to think anything would happen.
"That forklift is going to stop suddenly and the whole front line of boxes will fall off" I said to the person who was showing me around.

We looked towards the forklift and for some reason (I couldn't see the cause) the driver hit the brakes hard. Even though he wasn't moving fast the abrupt halt caused the whole front stack of boxes to spill onto the floor just as I said. Maybe if someone else had said it I might have explained it away as a lucky guess, but I knew it wasn't guess-work. The person I was with looked really freaked out but didn't say anything. I kept silent about the fact I knew where we were going next and could describe the room in detail.

Since then I take careful note of any dreams I have, just in case. I believe we can get indicators or clues to future events and many see dreams as prophetic. In those cases though the dreams are symbolic and in need of interpretation, what I saw was the actual event.



When explaining about my dreams, the thing I didn't mention was the nightmares. I'm not even sure how long after the accident they started - I was confined to bed for three months and unable to leave the house for six - but remember them as being frequent in my early teens. Some bad stuff happened around the time so I suppose the nightmares were to be expected, but there was one that always came back. It was a shadowy figure in fog, stalking me. No more than a silhouette similar to the picture above. I felt uncomfortable more than scared though, a cold clammy foreboding. It was soon after I started seeing things but that's for another post.

What conclusion can be drawn from all this? Some would say the bang on my head caused hallucinations, but that wouldn't explain things at all.

The bang on the head undoubtedly damaged areas of my brain and altered my thought processes but what else? Perhaps it allowed access to other areas of my brain, lose one sense and others become heightened.

Could it be my brief passing made me more sensitive to 'energies'? Although I really don't know the answers, I have enough about me to know there is a hell of a lot science has yet to discover. I believe the problem is there to be solved but like a jigsaw puzzle all the pieces need to be put together.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Time Flies

I am seemingly forever behind schedule for all the new things I am about to launch. Then I realised it is only me who sets such time constraints and I'm not good with schedules because my concept of time is not the norm. My website will be the last to be addressed as it is the hub for all the other projects.


So what is time? Time is fluid, individual perception varies considerably. For an example to illustrate significant difference in perception we have to compare species. A pigeon sees us coming in what we would call slow-motion, probably why they don't move until the last second. So if you see a pigeon at the same time it sees you and approach it, the same amount of time has passed but your perceived passage of time will differ to that of the pigeon.

Sticking to our own species, a child's day is longer than that of an elderly person. Of course this is nonsense as with the pigeon analogy. In another instance, time flies when you're having fun but drags when you're not. Again it's simply your mind setting it's own chronometer. This beggars the question of whether we can manipulate time. The concept of time travel has always fascinated me but I can't see it being anything other than a one-way trip.

Yes, I've seen and studied the theories concerning possibilities of present to past travel but it's nonsense in my opinion. Trust me, cannot be done. However, present to future is not only possible it can and has been proven.

The proof is with satellite chronometers. Time supposedly passes at a different rate in space, I'm not sure that is an accurate way to describe it though. It's the fact travelling at high speed will make time pass more slowly, location is irrelevant. If we could travel through space at near the speed of light and return to Earth, significantly more time will have passed on Earth than in space.

In effect this in some way validates stories of 'alien abductees', or even the longevity of 'Gods'. I tend to regard both with a little suspicion yet cannot completely rule them out. All I know is that to travel in time is pointless (unless you are waiting for a species to evolve) due to the one-way nature and the uncertainty the planet will still be habitable in the future.

However if you want to leap into the future just a little way, you will see all the blogs are up and running and the website is fully up to date. Tempus Fugit as the Romans would say.

Corporal Punishment

As is usually be the case on this blog, this issue isn't black and white. The bleeding hearts will tell you a child should never be smacked but I disagree. Before you ask how I would like it, I didn't, which is exactly the point. Corporal punishment in schools was still permissible during my school years and I fell foul of many teachers. Nor was I spared the rod at home. I suppose technically I was, my father used a belt not a cane.

I was often beaten at home, on a few occasions until I bled. This sort of made the canings at school no worse than a wasp sting. My experiences do however make me understand the views of those opposed to 'beatings'. My father would be locked up today but at the time it was the norm, it was just unfortunate my father didn't know his own strength. One or two kids from my area were worse off, there were cases of fathers using their fists.

In school too I noticed subtle differences. Being the little shit I was - there were mitigating circumstances - even teachers not known for caning pupils caned me. With a plethora of teachers eager to beat my arse, I quickly noticed which were reluctant, those who did it without much thought, and the bastards who relished the task. I think one or two were trying to 'break' me. I never displayed any emotion when caned and always offered my hand afterwards.

My father made me shake hands after a beating, I suppose it was a 'no hard feelings, it needed to be done'. It was just the way my father and many of his background were, there was no malice, no emotion. I broke the rules and knew the price, I KNEW THE BOUNDARIES AND THE CONSEQUENCES FOR TRANSGRESSIONS. Kids today know the boundaries, but there are no consequences. What happened to those dreaded words "wait 'til your father gets home!", what's he going to do? Take their iPhone away for a couple of days?

I agree that in a perfect world there wouldn't be any need to smack a child. Unfortunately, in case you hadn't noticed, this world is far from perfect. I've looked at statistics but value them not at all. Statistics are just politicians' tools used to deceive. You can make statistics say almost anything that you want, and not be seen to be lying. I did a survey that suggests everybody on the planet likes me .....100%. Admittedly I only asked 5 close friends but hey, those are the stats and stats don't lie!

The main problem I have with corporal punishment is the abuse of power wielded by certain teachers / parents back in the day. Excessive punishment is unnecessary as well as being very wrong. Short, sharp, shock, is all that is required as a parent. At school a caning should be performed whilst adhering to strict guidelines, maybe even with a witness.

On the flip side, the problems with no corporal punishment are many, and not necessarily apparent. Anybody with an 'interesting' background will tell you it's not the punishment that is the worst, it's the waiting for it. The 'father gets home' or the 'my office after school' were the dreaded words for me. In reality I didn't care about canings, they were nothing to the beating I would get at home if they sent a letter instead. I was up early many a morning trying to intercept the post. It scared the crap out of most kids though.

I remember three of us stood outside the Headmaster's study waiting for the inevitable. I went first, the others seemed to think going last was best but I just wanted to be out of there. When I came out and the second kid went in, the third kid looked at me in wonder. "Why aren't you crying?" he asked. I just looked at him in disbelief. I would never give the bastards the satisfaction of them knowing they hurt me. It was different at home.

So you get the idea, caning at school was for most a deterrent. Detention didn't do anything except give me a chance to do homework so I could go straight out when I got home. It was the same with the police. One Bobby would cuff us round the ear when he caught us playing football on the road, it wasn't so bad. The worst thing was being taken home by a copper or them calling at my house. I'd certainly feel the belt then. Today most parents blindly take the side of their child over the police, what sort of example is that setting.

Just on the fear of consequence factor I am in favour of corporal punishment - within boundaries, but there is something else. It is my belief the lack of physical discipline is responsible for a variety of seemingly unrelated issues. Knife crime is probably the most notable. Statisticians will tell you 2015 was the first rise in figures for 5 years, they won't tell you the figures have nearly doubled since corporal punishment was banned. A recent police purge was no doubt the reason behind the brief reduction in figures.

The connection is fear. Kids who haven't experienced pain are terrified of it and that is why so many carry knives. We've produced a generation of wimps that would rather stick a knife in someone than get a slap for being a twat. We were always squabbling as kids but never did the disputes get out of hand and almost all of us had a pen-knife (or Swiss army knife if you were really lucky) in our pre-teens. We used to whittle sticks to make sling arrows, play games of 'split the kipper' and the like, a penknife was an essential piece of kit as a kid. NOT ONCE DID ANY OF US USE ONE AS A WEAPON, nor even a threat of one.

The good old bad old days are all gone, very little from then lingers on.
There were mistakes and heartbreaks it's true. Jolly japes, scraps and scrapes, black and blue,
When all said and done, -   preparing us from young for the torment to come.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Autism

At one point doctors thought I was autistic, it hasn't been ruled out but now it seems unlikely. Traumatic Brain Injury has many similar symptoms and this is now the most likely cause of my 'weird'. The thing with autism is it's genetic so it would mean someone in my family had it before me. This is actually possible. My mother had some 'eccentric' ways. She told me quite openly that as a baby I was so happy she used to pinch me to make me cry, just so she could nurse and soothe me. Yeah, pretty bloody weird.

Her father, my grandfather spent his last years in the sanitorium but it was generally attributed to him being a POW during WWII. There are therefore certain peculiarities that might indicate a genetic anomaly but nothing tangible. The health service failed me because my TBI occurred at 13 years old and kids of my time were seen and not heard, nor were we allowed to be weak or complain. When I left school I stopped going to see specialists who did nothing. They were more concerned with my impaired hearing than my behavioural problems.

Today I might be diagnosed as having ADHD. Asperger's, or indeed even mild autism, we will never know. I slipped through the net simply because I stood alone and refused to accept I was damaged. All my friends called me crazy and I thought they were joking. I knew I was 'eccentric' and my thought process was different to theirs but I didn't feel crazy. For the past year I've tried to address the issue but I hit a brick wall. I tried to do things properly and maybe alleviate the fact I haven't slept properly for decades, the headaches, the nightmares, etc. The government don't care, local councils break the law persecuting vulnerable people, and the health service is stretched to its limits.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big boy, I can look after myself and you can poke your sympathy where the sun don't shine. However I have been wronged by these people, even to the point where they flouted the law. I even have proof but it is difficult taking on government departments.

I'm rambling again, this isn't about me this is about autism. When doctors first suggested I fall within the autism spectrum I began to look into it. I was completely ignorant about it. My idea of autism was from Rainman and Mercury Rising, but these movies did little to indicate how an autistic person thought or felt. I was left with the impression they were damaged individuals with little coherent thought - and some extraordinary abilities. As I researched it and drew comparisons with my own condition I began to understand, and it made me wonder if others were as ignorant as me.

I perceive autism as a kind of protective shell and inside is a person with feelings and emotions just the same as anyone else. Because they couldn't communicate properly didn't mean they couldn't think. The clip below perhaps should be the alma mater of autism. A young kid, with enough nous to understand, dream and desire to be 'fixed' perhaps? His father took him to see his favourite band Coldplay and when his favourite song 'Fix You' came on, the emotion proved too much. I cannot watch the clip without welling up and I feel no shame in that. If it doesn't move you, there is something seriously wrong with you.


Depression

Getting things out in the open does alleviate the horrible isolated feeling when a burden is borne alone. I remember my father teaching me a tactical card game (quite odd in itself) and I knew him to be intelligent even though he didn't have the privilege of an education. In the game there are set patterns and rules to follow just as there are in life. The one expression which sticks in my mind was the most often uttered 'Circumstances alters cases'. In other words sometimes the situation calls for a different kind of resolution. There is a set rule to follow that works in most cases but every now and then an alternative method is required. What would be beneficial to many cannot be universally applied.

In the course of writing I have often touched on some of the root causes of depression (bullying, abuse, isolation, etc.) but never really looked at the animal itself. For my part, I probably suffered acute depression in my early teens but it was simply regarded as 'that difficult phase all boys go through'. The only known cure my father knew for my 'teen angst' was a kick up the arse (it actually worked quite well, but that's just me). Thankfully my teens didn't appear to suffer from similar depression although I sometimes I wished they could just be a little less happy (joke.... sort of).

To those ends my thoughts on depression may not be the same as others, so instead of ramming my personal beliefs down your throats, I thought I would seek 'professional' help. What I found when searching the internet disturbed me a little. The extracts below are from an article in a 'teen advice' section of a site purportedly run by professionals.

I've added some of my thoughts.

Have you been feeling tired, lazy, lonely and sad? Does staying in bed all day seem preferable to going out into the world? Do the things that once made you smile now just seem to annoy you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, and these symptoms have been occurring consistently for a few weeks, then you might be depressed [no shit Sherlock]. Depression is no laughing matter (pardon the bad pun) [forgiven], so make sure you get the help you deserve by visiting your GP immediately.

The first question could have been termed 'Are you a teen?'. The second question could have been termed 'Are you a teen?'. The third question could have been termed 'Are you a teen?'. Now I'm not saying don't go see a GP because 'Circumstances alters cases' but as I remember it I suffered many of these symptoms that could persist for many weeks. The difference is I, like many others, were expected to deal with what was deemed a part of growing up.

What Is Depression?

A lot of people say they are depressed if they've received some bad news, had a bad day, or are feeling so tired that they can't seem to get started. While none of these things are fun, they are not clinical depression either. Clinical depression can be described as a mood so low, and so consistent, that it interferes with your daily life. Doing poorly on a test or having a bad day at work / college is not very nice but it's not depression.

What Are Common Symptoms of Depression?

There are many common symptoms of depression, though those suffering from depression may not exhibit them all. These symptoms include:

  • Unsettled or lack of sleep.
  • An overwhelming feeling of tiredness.
  • An increase in "sleeping in" or afternoon naps.
  • Difficulty concentrating throughout the day.
  • Loss of interest in favourite or previously entertaining activities.
  • Avoidance of classes, clubs, sports teams or social events.
  • Decrease in school / college work and performance.
  • Constant anxiety or frustration.
  • Feeling unable to become motivated or enthusiastic about anything.
  • Loss of, or excessive increase in, appetite.
  • Rapid weight loss or gain.
  • Inability to picture the future.
  • General loss of hope or feeling like giving up.
  • Little effort put into personal hygiene or appearance.
  • Believing that life isn't worth living or having suicidal thoughts.

How is Clinical Depression Diagnosed?

Visiting your GP is the first step towards diagnosing and alleviating depression. During your appointment you will need to be honest with your GP about your behaviour and emotions, and he / she will most likely ask you questions about how you are feeling, your life and any major events that have occurred recently. Your GP may suggest a course of counselling or therapy and refer you to a psychologist or other specialist. [hmm]

How is Depression Treated?

The good news about depression is that there are many options for treatment and all of them have good results. Depending on your circumstances, your doctor may recommend:-

  • A prescription for anti-depressant tablets (often Prozac) to treat your symptoms. [STOP DRUGGING KIDS FFS!]
  • Counselling to treat any underlying issues.
  • Cognitive behaviour therapy, or "talk therapy" that can help you change the way you think and react to situations.
  • More exercise and a better diet to give you a firm foundation for health.
  • Holistic therapies such as massage or aromatherapy for a natural boost.

Depression is a serious condition that is on the rise among teenagers internationally. Sometimes teenagers are embarrassed about depression and avoid their feelings rather than seek the help that they deserve. If you think that you may be depressed, don't be afraid to confront your feelings head on so that you can get treatment and move on. Don't let depression run, or ruin, your life.


As stated I'm not a doctor, psychologist, therapist, whatever, and cannot dissuade people from visiting a GP because I simply do not know the circumstances. Before you do run out and see your GP to get a course zombie inducing drugs, try the good old fashioned remedy first.

'Stop wallowing in self-pity and grow a pair' is what my dad would have told me and I suspect it would have been my initial reaction to my kids if they had warranted it. I can't say it's right for all, but it worked for me. Depression is just a state of mind, albeit a very difficult one to deal with sometimes. I still get depressed occasionally but that is just a by-product of modern life. Without the lows you cannot fully appreciate the highs. I generally deal with it by becoming angry with myself for allowing it to happen. It passes quickly.

Seriously guys genuine clinical depression is not funny so if you have any doubts it is better to be safe than sorry and seek help. I lost a friend to suicide and failed to see the signs. They were there in hindsight but it was of course too late then. Don't you make the same mistake.

A friendly smile can change a life forever, think about that!

Coronal Mass Ejection

You want a meaning of life, I'll give you one. Our tenure on this planet may have some time to run ....it may not. There is no raison d'etre and it's time to wake up to our own insignificance. It is sheer arrogance to believe we are in some way special, we're not. Without this purpose, there is no meaning and looking for one is detrimental to how we as a species live our lives.

It is detrimental in that we each are given this gift of life. However you choose to believe this came about is your business and I respect that, but you must respect that this is indeed a once in a lifetime opportunity. Life is to be enjoyed and we must do our best to make sure everybody does so. We should enhance this experience, there is enough natural adversity without heaping more on ourselves.

Can you imagine how well we could manage the planet if everybody worked towards a common cause. We are merely short-term tenants that can be eradicated as quickly and easily as the dinosaurs. If you can brighten just one stranger's day, and they in turn do the same, within a year the whole planet will be happy. It doesn't have to be a gift or even a helping hand, the power of a smile is not to be underestimated.

By the standards today, as kids we had nothing. The fields, beaches, rivers, hills, woods, ponds, etc., were our playgrounds and we were happy that way. I've always had this feeling that technology is a really bad thing. It's not even the fact I believe it to make people moody and aggressive. The biggest concern is how we would do without it. If we were suddenly to lose our satellites and computer systems imagine the chaos. This is going to happen one day, just as it would have done many times in the past had we the technology back then.

The cause will be a Coronal Mass Ejection that follows a solar flare. The flare will hit in 8 minutes but the CME can take 3 or 4 days to reach us. The clip below shows the affect the CME has on us....



The clip mentions the Carrington Event of 1859 was when during a 'Solar Superstorm' a particularly strong CME hit Earth with devastating affects. In brief, Sunspots are the cause of solar flares and CME's. sunspot activity is at its height during Solar Maxima which occur on average every 11 years. It is my belief a 'Superflare' occurs as a result of one flare following directly in the 'wake' of another. Whether I'm right or not, from August 28 to September 2, 1859, numerous sunspots were observed.

'The aurora could be seen almost to the tropics, giving an indication of just how much of the Earth could be affected. A flare associated with a major CME that took only 17.6 hours to reach Earth instead of the usual 3/4 days. It is believed that the relatively high speed of this CME was made possible by a prior CME, On September 1–2, 1859, one of the largest recorded geomagnetic storms (as recorded by ground-based magnetometers) occurred. Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases giving telegraph operators electric shocks. Telegraph pylons threw out sparks and some operators could continue to send and receive messages despite having disconnected their power supplies' 

We can only guess what a similar event would do today.


The thing is, this is not a rare occurrence and we will get hit again by a big one. It won't wipe out life on Earth but it will wipe out technology. No computers, no phones, no access to money, no knowledge of what is going on elsewhere, no petrol pumps, the list is endless. The only thing that won't be in short supply is chaos. Scientists try to predict when another may occur by ice core samples but it is impossible to tell as there are too many unknown variables. All we know is it can happen any time. The Carrington Event occurred two years before the Solar Maximum of solar cycle 10 but other so far less severe events have occurred at different points in the cycle.

Less severe storms have occurred in 1921 and 1960, resulting in reports of widespread radio disruption. In March 1989 a geomagnetic storm knocked out power across large sections of Quebec. On July 23, 2012 a "Carrington-class" Solar Superstorm (Solar flare, Coronal mass ejection, Solar EMP) was observed; its trajectory missed Earth in orbit. Information about these observations was first shared publicly by NASA on April 28, 2014.

There is another problem associated with these solar maxima, although I'm not sure science has yet found 'evidence to support it' in the increased tectonic activity and weird weather patterns with storms intensifying. This is merely conjecture on my part and hey, what do I know, I haven't got a white coat and a pencil stuck behind my ear.

Although I never thought for a moment the world would end in 2012, it could so easily have been curtains for mankind.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Oops 2012

No doubt those of you sat outside with beer in hand awaiting the end of the world, will have been disappointed the Mayans got it wrong. Well actually, they didn't! As usual the people who got it wrong are those who misinterpreted the ancients, seems to be a trend. The Mayans got it spot on and the fact they did is what is truly amazing. When assessing the Mayan Calendar we must first take it on face value. It is exactly that, a calendar.

Much was said about it indicating the end of the world because the Mayans are purported to believe the world is destroyed and created within set parameters. Sound familiar? Creationists believe the world began around 4000 BC (it varies considerably between 5500-3700 BC) and of course we know this is nonsense. In defence of the Mayans though, when they spoke of destruction and re-birth they may have meant something else, and that is what their calendar shows.

So I dismissed the 2012 thing long before it didn't happen but it had to mean something. There were three elements to the Mayan 'Clock'. Of the two short term calendars the Haab represented the 365 day solar cycle. The Tzolkin was the divine calendar for religious events but may have agricultural ties as well. However I'm not going to dwell on these here and only use them to show the third calendar must represent something.

In researching the ancients from different epochs and locations, I quickly learnt to read between the lines. Too many people who research these people fail to understand their mentality. The symbolism and metaphor resonates with my own life experiences. I often use ambiguity to encourage readers / listeners to draw their own conclusions. Ancient scriptures cannot be translated verbatim without taking a completely different connotation. This is how religious extremists twist interpretation to suit their own ends.

My 'guarded responses' began at school when a hearing impairment caused me to guess what people were saying. At first I had asked people to repeat themselves when I hadn't heard but it irritated some and I was ridiculed for my disability by others. The thing was, I had merely guessed what people had said and sometimes got it embarrassingly wrong. It was then I started wording things carefully just in case I misheard or misunderstood. Relevance? Many ordinary ancient people would be very careful indeed how they spoke when a wrong word could mean death.

So what could the Mayans be referring to, what was significant about 2012. The obvious place to look was the sky but I also had to look at the sky in 3114 BC - the start of the calendar. It didn't take long to find a connection between the dates and a possible interpretation of the Mayan beliefs. I have mentioned the cycles of the Earth but there is also the cycle of our solar system around the Milky Way. Obviously one orbit of the Milky Way takes 250 million years so it couldn't be that.

When the solar system orbits the Milky Way it undulates on its way. The image shows an exaggerated view of the motion with the green line. The broken white line is how it would orbit if in line with the centre of the galaxy. Where the green line crosses the white line happens to be in 2012 and 3114 BC. This is the cycle the Mayan calendar refers to, but why?

This goes back again to the symbolism and metaphor. One result of this 'crossing over' is the changes in the night sky. It is a metaphorical end of the world and start of a new one which may be what the Mayans meant. I'm not saying that is absolutely the case but it beats the hell out of the other theory which is already proved wrong.

Moon Madness

One of my biggest gripes with science is the 'there is no evidence to support....' statement when casting doubt on or dismissing a hypothesis. Very often they fail to add 'it cannot be categorically disproved' yet this is mostly the case. One hypothesis that has been around for a long time surrounds the moon, in particular when it is full.

I have always had an affinity to the moon in much the same way I have with the sea. Given how the moon influences the ocean currents and tides, the connection is logical. It is difficult to explain my feelings towards them except I have spent many nights staring at both. From the Earth the moon is a picture of serenity compared to the often volatile oceans it controls. The question is what else does the moon affect.

For as long as I can remember when something crazy happened involving a lot of people e.g. a riot, people would say 'it must be a full moon'. There was always talk of full moon fever or moon madness. All coincidence? Well apparently there is no evidence to support.......

The most accepted theory of the origins of the moon is that is was a proto-planet or very big asteroid that collided with Earth. We only ever see one face of the moon. The moon used to spin much faster, but the Earth's gravitational pull has slowed it to the point where the rotational period of the moon is exactly the same as the orbital period. Another coincidence is the fact we are at the only point in the Earth's history to be able to see a total eclipse with that diamond ring corona effect. The moon is travelling away from the Earth and is currently at the optimum distance where it will completely blot out the sun during an eclipse. Okay it is rather a large window in terms of human existence but geologically speaking it is a mere blink of the eye.

Several areas of interest to me revolve around the moon (I know, I couldn't resist it). First of course is language and I noticed in most Monday was a derivative of Moon-day, German Montag, French lundi, are obvious ones but I also found out oriental languages refer to it similarly. The discrepancies I found were mostly east European languages referring to Monday simply as 'the day after Sunday'. We may only see one face of the moon but how different it can appear. From a thin crescent to a bright sphere and everything in between. Even the size seems to change. It doesn't of course but look at a Harvest Moon glowing red near the horizon and fail to be impressed. There are countless festivals honouring the moon or an associated deity but these are agricultural rather than tangible religious beliefs (if there is such a thing).

In my search for answers to life I looked into many religions and their offshoots so of course astrology, or more specifically synchronicity came up. Can destiny be determined by astral bodies? I'm inclined to think not but it can't be ruled out. I mean if this universe was at one time a tiny spot prior to the Big Bang then surely what spews out is all part of one entity. That being the case then aren't we all connected to everything in some way.

So back to this 'moon madness' of which minimal scientific research suggests there is no evidence. Evidence or not I have seen it in operation. I suppose at sea we were more affected by the phases of the moon. The tides are a lot different. When it is full moon or no moon, the high tides are higher and the low tides are lower. During a half moon the difference between high and low tide is smaller. Could it make a difference on us though? Not only could it, it does .......in my opinion.

I could hypothesise about the fact the moon affects the oceans and we ourselves comprise mostly of water. Instead let's look at nature and reiterate the fact that we are subject to the same rules. Statistically our pets appear to be affected by the moon. During full moons vets and animal care-workers have noted a 23% rise in admissions of cats and 28% in dogs. This is tenuous as it could be (and is) argued the animals spend more time outdoors on bright nights.


It is not something I consider a factor but is given weight by badger activity during the new moon. In these darker periods badgers are most active scenting, marking their territories. Many species of insect are known to be more active during full moons but again is this just a light thing or something to do with gravity. Lions hunt at night but are known to kill more often during the day on a full moon. The evidence would again suggest illumination to be the contributing factor.

Uncharacteristic behaviour can be found wherever we look, so the moon does actually affect life on Earth. The affect may only be due to luminosity but I still believe there are other natural forces at work. Get your finger out science, you are seriously lagging.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Visceral Pragmatism

Before we go any further, I should perhaps add little more clarity to cloudy waters. I've always been a pragmatist, my father taught me, but what is a pragmatist. It seems nobody is really sure. I certainly do not fit in with your stereotypical pragmatist. My problem is with how some cite pragmatism as mitigation, a means to an end, when doing bad things. Schopenhauer perhaps laid the foundation for the negative connotation surrounding pragmatism. He hypothesised about a biological idealism in which he states 'what is useful to an organism to believe, might differ wildly from what is true'.

Pragmatism developed in the late 19th century but even then the flaws were apparent. Charles Sanders Pierce, in an attempt to distance himself from those using pragmatism to further their own ends, invented the word pragmaticism. Unfortunately his 'pragmaticism' adhered strictly to logic and statistical analysis. This, like other forms of stereotyping may work for the majority of cases, but it is hardly one size fits all. It may prove to be right more often than wrong, but is that enough.

To accept it as such, countermands the principles of pragmatism. If all the factors are not considered when making a decision, how can it be termed pragmatic. On that basis I have coined my own phrase with 'visceral pragmatism'. First let's take the literal dictionary definitions of pragmatism.
pragmatism (n.)
  1. The pursuit of practicality over aesthetic qualities; concentrating on facts rather than emotions or ideals.
  2. In politics it is the theory problems should be met with practical solutions rather than ideological ones.
  3. In philosophy it is the idea beliefs are identified with the actions of a believer, and the truth of beliefs with success of those actions in securing a believer's goals; the doctrine that ideas must be looked at in terms of their practical effects and consequences.

I have no complaints with the first definition as a way of thinking, it pretty much mirrors my own philosophy on life. However, I have a proviso and that is instinctual knowledge. Visceral pragmatism would appear to be an oxymoron at our current level of scientific discovery, yet science is flawed due to our inadequacies. These are due to ignorance, tunnel vision, and an offhand dismissal of anything yet to be proven. It is like looking through a keyhole, you may get a good idea of what lies beyond the door but haven't the full picture.

This brings us on to political pragmatism. As a reasonably intelligent being, I object to political forms of pragmatism. I feel I am mature enough to know the truth, yet advocates of Schopenhauer (Nietzsche, Freud, Tolstoy, Wagner, to name but a few), feel it would be counter-productive allowing overt public debate on certain matters. Conversely, I do understand how problematical blanket transparency can be. The issue I have is who makes the decisions on what exactly can be divulged to Joe Public. It all smacks of control and manipulation. "It's for your own good" simply doesn't wash. I might not be a genius but from what I've seen and heard over the years, neither are politicians. This is very often where pragmatism gives way to a sinister personal agenda.

Talking of which, we arrive at the philosophical definition of pragmatism, one that is quietly swept under the religious carpet. If we take this third definition literally it would be necessary, on current and historical evidence, to ban religion. Even accepting the existence of some supreme being, it is obvious he no longer keeps in touch (if he ever did), and hasn't done for more than 1,000 years, suggesting he doesn't really give a toss about us or this planet.

Initially my thoughts were against banning religion, I regarded it as a necessary evil. Being brought up Catholic, I do have an inside view on how it works. This outdated method of control, should really have been laid to rest with the introduction of judicial systems, but outside of a democracy, legal systems are largely ineffective and open to abuse. I found as a child religion moderated our behaviour, this was a good thing. We knew nothing of the adult world but hell and damnation was a real threat in our imaginative childhood. Of course we grew up and knew it was just one of many foreboding lies parents tell their children to make them behave.

Another thing I considered beneficial, was for groups of people to congregate and generate positivity. I believe positive energy is a by-product of such gatherings and to be lauded, albeit for a different reason than perceived by those gathered. Things have changed now though. Religion is frequently used to generate negative energy, by preaching hate and intolerance. For that reason I have revised my opinion and would be in favour of a 'keep your beliefs to yourself' type ban.

Many times I have written about personal life (and death) experiences. As quite a sceptical person, I would be loathe to believe these accounts had I not experienced them myself. There is no doubt in my mind science is still in its infancy, how often in the past has the 'impossible' suddenly become not only possible but commonplace. For this reason I am reluctant to dismiss anything out of hand. It is where pragmatism and I begin to part company.

This is why I came up with the concept of 'visceral pragmatism', drawing a conclusion based as much on strong instinctual feelings as on verifiable fact or logic. Some things in life defy logic.

Here at the 'Deep End' it is the intention to post articles on a variety of topics. The views are what I would imagine to be pretty unique. I agree in part with many different philosophical views, but only in part as they all seem to disagree with one another. It is reasonable to assume my views are at the very least rare.

I am not asking you to believe what I say, or to adopt my philosophy, I would just like you to open your minds and think for yourselves. Your life on this Earth is brief, don't waste it striving for things you don't need and listening to self-serving people.



DIY Prophecy Guide

Move over Nostradamus, I have decided to share my self-styled DIY Prophecy Guide. I actually shared it at Christmas but the post is much older and it's starting to get a bit spooky...

When predicting apocalyptic events we need to first decide what kind of disaster to send forth. Obviously it needs to be something big with huge cost to human life, what would be the point otherwise. Despite this I would recommend wannabe soothsayers start small, just to get the feel. To give you some idea I've listed below a few areas that can be explored.

  1. War - a bit old hat now and predicting one is pretty unremarkable. 
  2. Natural Disasters - these are always good to guess, particularly earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
  3. Extra-terrestrial - meteors, solar flares, planet alignment, can all give clues
Of course there is no need to choose just one, a combination can be a clincher against doubters. Mix and match, it can be fun. For our example I am going to use a combination of Natural and Extra-terrestrial events but I'm going to keep it small - you only get one shot at predicting the end of the world. My advice to those who choose to go with the War format I would suggest looking at ethnic groups and disputed land. From there you can speculate who will side with who and predict something a little less obvious. The Middle East is a no-brainer, people have been killing each other there before they even knew about fossil fuels.

My guess would be Iran. The nuclear capability, the 'recent' revolution 1979, the wars with Iraq, and the fact the country is struggling between democracy and fundamentalism. At the moment the armed forces are controlled by religion rather than the puppet democratic 'government'. Alternately they may help Syria claim back ceded territory around the Sea of Galilee and Golan Heights. A weakened Iraq would no longer be a 'buffer' and suddenly the USA are in an awkward position as to whether they will back Israel, who certainly won't take things lying down. Especially now, as oil has been found in the Golan Heights.

The knock-on affect would be a Palestinian uprising during the crisis and the Plains of Megiddo could indeed trigger a war to end all wars. There are other places to look at, North Korea is an obvious one, yet I feel they are a long way off being a real threat to global security. Nope, if you want to predict war and unrest the Middle East is a pretty sure thing.

Natural disasters are another fail-safe area to predict. If you just look along the tectonic plate boundaries there are any number of places a disaster could occur. The most populous areas are best for obvious reasons but it's best to pick one that hasn't caused a problem for a while. New Zealand is in a unique location as the tectonic plate boundary has two different motions. In the South Island the plates rub alongside each other causing earthquakes, whereas in the North the Australian Plate subducts below the Pacific Plate which results in more volcanic activity.

After recent earthquakes in the South perhaps it indicates the North will spring to life again. The volcanoes are still very active. The most recent associated disaster was back in 1953 when a lahar took out a railway bridge at Tangiwai, and by consequence the Auckland to Wellington passenger train. Before that it was Mount Tarawera in 1886 which covered a village Pompeii style. These were devastating for New Zealand but had very little impact on the rest of the world. However Lake Taupo last exploded around 2,000 years ago and they heard the bang in China. The Romans too recorded associated phenomena from the time.

Italy is another possibility for volcanic conflagration as the African Plate collides with the European. Etna and Stromboli are constantly active which releases the pressure sufficiently to suggest a big one unlikely. What about another Vesuvius eruption though, the volcano is still active and a similar event to 79 AD could see Naples become the new Pompeii / Herculaneum. In 1631 an explosive eruption killed 4,000 people. The list of possible disaster sites are endless and you don't even have to guess. There is an even safer bet.


Sea-levels are set to continue rising so predicting major flooding is perhaps too obvious. However with a little lateral thinking you can stay one step ahead with your prophecies. Consider the tipping point, that point of no return when a bottle for example has been gently pushed over until it gains momentum and accelerates. The idea being that although the disappearance of the polar caps has been a relatively gradual process (in human timescale not geological), the end will happen very quickly indeed. I conservatively guess in another 40 years, experts say 100 or more. Timing can be crucial when predicting future events so we must use ambiguity without seeming to do so.

Monarchs are good for this. If we look at the current Royal family we can make a few more guesses. In 40 years the Queen and Prince Charles will probably have popped their clogs and William if still alive would be 73 years old. Giving the experts more credit than they deserve, let's say the total meltdown will occur after my estimate. This would mean there is a good chance Prince William's first-born will be on the throne as George VII. Then you have your time span "During the reign of George VII great floods...." and also some flexibility depending if and how long Georgie reigns for. 

Look for other clues that others may not have spotted, or that are not common knowledge. Most people know about the Canary Islands and the imminent possibility of a land-slide that could dump half a mountain into the Atlantic. The resulting 'mega-tsunami' would devastate the east coast of America. Something that is less well known however is what is going on in Greenland. It's not so much not knowing what is happening, as not fully understanding the implications.

Greenland has the second largest body of ice in the world and it is melting. Yeah big deal we knew that. If it was to melt completely sea-levels would rise 7.2 metres (24 foot). Knew that as well, sort of. The thing that is usually overlooked is something quite different. The inland area of Greenland is uniformly flat except for the middle which is depressed by the weight of ice. If this ice is no longer there then isostasy occurs as the gravitational equilibrium between crust and mantle is restored.

I imagine this too will be a gradual process up until a point is reached where the land may just 'pop-up' for the last shove. Anything could happen but I would guess a mega-tsunami is likely. Dismissing all these and countless other scenarios from around the world. I have chosen California. The area is subject to high volumes of earthquakes due to the San Andreas Fault. As with most earthquakes two plates become jammed together and pressure builds. Eventually something gives and the sudden jerk reaction on release causes a quake.

In the mid to late 1800's the buildup and periodic release of seismic pressure along the northern San Andreas fault produced a series of magnitude 6.0 or greater on the Richter scale earthquakes, leading up to the famous 1906 San Francisco 7.8 earthquake. Apparently this pressure build-up is happening again. Okay it's going to happen, but how do we determine* when?

*guess

Historically the seven largest quakes recorded are these:-
  1. Jan 9th 1857 - 7.9 hit Fort Tejon one person died 
  2. Feb 24th 1892 - 7.8 hit near Baja no reported deaths
  3. Apr 18th 1906 - 7.8 hit San Francisco causing an estimated 3,000 deaths
  4. Mar 26th 1872 - 7.4 hit Owen's Valley 27 reported deaths
  5. Jan 31st 1922 - 7.3 hit west of Eureka no deaths
  6. Jul 21st 1952 - 7,3 hit Kern County 12 died
  7. Jun 28th 1992 - 7.3 hit Landers 3 died more than 400 injured
Now we could cheat here, but if we are trying to con gullible people into believing the crap we write, let's at least give a little value for money. The cheat would be to look at the dates, automatically the number 2 jumps out at you. Perhaps 2022 would be a good, bad omen. Anyway unlike others we won't cheat, we will instead look to the stars for help ......well one star and a few planets.

May 2000 was another date given as a possible world-ender and this was based on planetary alignment. All the planets were the other side of the Sun to us and all sorts of crazy theories sprang up. In my opinion it did have some affect though. I believe the Moon, the planets and the Sun can all affect tectonic activity here on Earth. Of course there is no evidence to support this ........yawn. So when will this occur again? Not until May 6th 2492 I'm afraid. How about predicting that as the new end of the world for that very reason? Just think in 476 years someone from the future might find this and start worrying. Nah, could never happen.

There is another date in 2040 where the innermost five planets (discounting ourselves) will all be in the same part of the sky, but that again is a little too far ahead for our purposes here. Solar Maxima are handy because they seem to encourage seismic activity..... although there is no evidence to support this. The recent solar maximum was of course in 2012, a pattern suggests the most likely date for the next maximum will be around 2022-24, but we won't know until this one ends. The average solar cycle is about 11 years but can fluctuate between 9 and 12 years, Once again though that 2022 number comes up. A sign of the times?

I've had a vision! Yeah before you go all hypocritical on me read this.....

vision
noun
  1. 1.
    the faculty or state of being able to see.
  2. 2the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.



I could write the summary Nostradamus style, little poetic quattrain, or I could write it scripture style as some kind of revelation, maybe I should claim alien abduction because I'm obviously not of this planet. As there are no longer witch-hunters today I needn't hide my beliefs with metaphor, I mean who would kill another person for their beliefs in this day and age ......ridiculous. So here it is.


Late in 2022 an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale will hit San Francisco, it will cause widespread damage and will be preceded by a series of smaller quakes. One of San Francisco's famous landmarks will be destroyed.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Superstitions

Before discussing superstition we first have to distinguish between the irrational and commonsense. For example, it is commonsense not to walk under a ladder, it is irrational to fear the number 13. Putting an umbrella up in a house is considered unlucky and I suggest the likelihood of knocking something over or poking someone in the eye, makes it so. So let's just deal with the 'irrational'.

Do superstitions work? Yes they do, but only if you believe they will and even then not all the time. They work like a placebo, the power of the mind to generate positive (and negative) energy can produce very unscientific results. People who go on about a positive mental attitude do have a point. Positive things are more likely to happen when your outlook is positive. The same applies to pessimists. Project a negative energy and negative things are more likely to occur.

Being somewhat pragmatic, I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist. I know how it works ergo it doesn't, again like a placebo. If you know it's a placebo it simply won't work. This is where I sometimes have a problem with inspirational people on social media. In my mind they live in a fantasy but conversely if they can help people in a dark place, then who am I to burst the bubble. The problem is the way they tell you to avoid negative people. If you are in a fragile state I would agree but in terms of society as a whole, avoiding negativity changes nothing. It just shelters the vulnerable from harsh realities.

Back to superstition before the rambling takes me completely off course. Today is Friday 13th and the Friggatriskaidekaphobes are out in force....... or more likely still in bed hiding from the world. I joke it is the perfect day for me to buy lottery tickets which sounds a little superstitious. The way I see it, there will be so many people generating a negative energy today, thinking they have a diminished chance of winning, it leaves the door open for people like me who know superstition is crap.

So where does this most common(?) irrational superstition come from? There are a number (13? Ha ha) of proposals, some more ridiculous than others. The ones proven to be nonsense I have omitted, although it is an area of interest, 12 is a significant number in many ways so it naturally follows 13 would share some of this. When people try to rationalise the irrational, things get a little silly.

One of the most well-known hypotheses stems from Judas Iscariot and the Last Supper. Judas being the 13th at the table and the betrayer of Christ. Judas was also cited as the source of throwing salt over your left shoulder for luck. He was supposed to have knocked the salt over and Satan was over his left shoulder. It is apparently a gesture to throw salt in the eyes of the Devil. Yeah ok, we can get rid of that one.

There is an account of Hammurabi but this has been shown to be apocryphal and the only other source is from Norse mythology. Loki was apparently the 13th guest to arrive at the funeral of Baldur whose death he was accountable for. So you see there is nothing really concrete as to why 13, or Friday 13th, is particularly unlucky. In that case it is necessary to look at events that occurred on this date.

The Knights Templar were rounded up and arrested on Friday 13th October 1307 but Dan Brown had more to do with suggesting this as a catalyst. It wasn't considered unlucky at the time. Nothing much else springs to mind but the 'phobia' was in evidence and widespread from at least the 19th century. Perhaps the biggest single event that cast a shadow over 13 stemmed from the most scientific people, NASA.

Apollo 13 was launched on April 11, 1970 at 13:13:00 CST and suffered an oxygen tank explosion on April 13th. It returned to Earth four days later with no casualties but such a momentous event at a time when there was worldwide coverage, no doubt cemented certain beliefs of misfortune.

So there you have it folks, if you have Friggatriskaidekaphobia you belong to the group of silly superstitious rather than cautious superstitious.

Hate

I understand hate, it has been no stranger to me over the years. Most people don't know what hate is. They think they do but it's like love, just a word bandied about with feigned vehemence or sincerity, until the word becomes impotent, meaningless. Sorry is another word that has lost credibility over the years, although it is a little different. The more you say you love someone, or hate something, the more likely you will be believed. The reverse is true with saying sorry.

For 11 years my life was quite normal (or at least I thought so), there were one or two issues but nothing that made me stand out from the crowd. I mention this to indicate I have a reference point in my life when things started to go awry. Many do not have this reference point and hate is all they know. I grew up hating, but not for those first eleven years. Nevertheless, just five years of trials and tribulations were enough to cause long-term problems. To have been brought up with hate from the beginning is a disturbing thought.

Hate is so hard to categorise because different kinds tend to overlap. Where did it all start and why? Scriptures will tell you it was due to a jealous rage between siblings. Not sure that constitutes hate though. How does the dictionary define hate, surely that will clear things up.

'hate n. a deep and emotional extreme dislike. It can be directed against individuals, groups, entities, objects, behaviours, or ideas. Hatred is often associated with feelings of anger, disgust and a disposition towards hostility'

So that would imply that hate is a psychological problem. People who hate are deeply disturbed individuals. This being the case then surely the problem can be rectified. Hate is of course irrational, it achieves nothing constructive. Some hate is perhaps justified or at least understandable, especially when someone has hurt you or someone close. It is still counter-productive in the long term. Other than that I can only think of two root causes of hate.

The first is programming, usually as a result of fear or insecurity. Parents, peers, even teachers and other adults can all sometimes unwittingly contribute to this programming. It could be a result of domestic violence, abuse, bullying, isolation, or simply the compulsion to belong to a group (perhaps for protection). Impressionable people are being fed propaganda by evil people with an agenda, It might wear the mask of racism, or hide under the cloak of religion, but it's the same animal.

It is doubtful those pulling the strings and inciting the hatred actually share the sentiment. It's just business to them, and hate is big business. So next we have the most widespread cause of hate ....greed! I have always stated categorically greed is the cause of all the problems in the world, but perhaps that's an ambiguous simplification. Others argue it is something else, religion, race, politics, whatever, but it all boils down to greed as a root cause. I see it like this:-

To find a possible root cause we need to have a look at apes. Like it or not, we are related, and as such are subject to the laws of nature. Similar species will display similar characteristic behaviour. Like our ancestors most apes lived in migratory social groups, they were hunter-gatherers, nomadic tribes of sorts. Our problems really began with agriculture. We were never meant to settle for long periods, evolution no doubt compensating for ever changing geology.

City states began to spring up as there was no longer need to migrate in search of food. Populations within these cities grew as more man-power was needed. There had to be adequate supplies of food to accommodate the masses. Then when the crops of one city state failed one year and people were starving.... war, religion, racism, slavery, murder, and greed all came into being. I suppose it could be argued hate was born out of self-preservation, the need to take food from another, to feed yourself or die.

Maybe, but I'm sticking to my guns, greed is the cause of hate. The world population growth is staggering, but Mother Nature will intervene at some point and wipe most of us out. Despite this population explosion we still (currently) have enough sustainable food to feed everyone on the planet, or we would if it was shared. Resources are the most obvious indicator of greed as the problem. It's one thing to fight for food and water in order to survive, perhaps even justifiable by virtue of animal instinct alone, but for 'non-essentials' it's quite something else.

However for millennia now the greed of despots, corrupt governments, and 'legitimate' ones too, have caused imbalances of such magnitude revolutions were (and still are) inevitable. Not only the uneven distribution of wealth, but the manipulation and deception deployed by some, and the oppression and murder used by others, to procure wealth and power. Governments put the wealth of the state above the state of the health of its own people. How could they then unselfishly help other nations / races / creeds. It is this selfish desire or greed that causes hate.



Now for the paradox. Although hate is directed towards another, it is in fact self-destructive. Hate is a slow, lingering, non-life. People can go through their whole lives hating. They waste so much time and energy they lose the ability to enjoy this once in a lifetime gift. I wasted a significant part of my life, don't waste yours!