Youthful Revolution

There used to be a time when protesting caused changes. When a massive show of anger by the people caused politicians to stop doing what they were doing. I wouldn’t say they changed their minds because I honestly don’t think that’s what happens. Politicians cow down to massive disruption because they fear for their own futures and it makes them look as though they listen.

In 1981 there was the Brixton Riots. I remember the news of these. It scarred my impression of Brixton for a long time. But at then end of the riots there was an inquiry and things changed. The racist policy of stop and search was covered with a new code of conduct for the police. It didn’t do enough and nearly twenty years later the Macpherson Report pretty much said that lots of the previous recommendations had been ignored and the police were still institutionally racist. I guess change is slow, but it does happen.

The Poll Tax riots of 1990 caused the eventual downfall of the Thatcher government and the Poll Tax was removed by John Major and replaced with the council tax. In this situation the riots changed the direction of the government.

On the 15 February 2003 easily over one million people marched through London to protest the imminent Iraq war. Those people were right. But it did fuck all. Look at the shit we are in now with the middle east.

On 10 November 2010 over half a million people marched against the conservative policy of austerity [which has killed thousands]. It did fuck all.

On 20 July 2019 London’s streets were filled with people protesting the imminent leaving of the EU by the UK. Regardless of the fact that pro-Brexit marches can only get a few hundred people together this march has done fuck all.

When the political class is as entitled as they are [consider Rees-Mogg lying on the benches] then they don’t give a shit about what they are doing to the country. They will carry on with their idealistic policies whatever happens because there are no consequences to them. They don’t give a flying fuck about the poor, about the weak, about those struggling. They have a complete lack of empathy. They just don’t understand what actual real fucking life is like.

So. The world and this country needs to change. Radically. We can look after everyone while at the same time making sure that things will work for the future. It is possible. But it isn’t possible with the current political leaders in power. Revolution is needed. A fully written constitution and a decent respect for all people must happen.

Time to be revolting.

What The Future Looks Like

Dead. I hope I’ll be dead before the Water Wars start. That’s what I spend a lot of my time thinking about. There’s an impending doom heading for this planet and I’m just hoping I’ll miss the worst of it. I’m scared for my kids and the shit they are going to have to face. I feel helpless about it all and would rather live on in ignorance. But, I can’t, I probably should do what I can. But it’s too late.

I don’t have hope.

At this time I think the world is just past the positive-feedback-loop of climate change. Maybe forty years ago we could have made changes that would mean we could have stopped the current warming and saved the world. But I honestly think we’ve gone too far. Humans have known the problems of climate change for all of my life time. But no one has really done anything about it. My evidence that we’ve known comes from rock band Testament. They wrote a song for their 1989 album Practice What You Preach called “The Greenhouse Effect”. I learnt about this stuff when I was at school in the 1980s.

See the burnt earth and the figures crucified by the inaction of the older generation. I am part of that generation now. I’ve done nothing. I’m not sure I can do something. Our world is ruled by short-termism politics and individual gain. Those in charge don’t give a shit about the future. If they did they wouldn’t keep the ruinous policies of today. We have cars, planes, lorries, ships all burning carbon based fuels. We have homes where electricity is from carbon sources. Heating is from carbon sources. This world is slowly dying and those in charge can’t or won’t see it. It’s actually beyond them.

We Are Fucked
We Are Killing Ourselves

Unfortunately for the population of this strangled planet anything done now is likely too little too late. I’m convinced we have already passed the point of no return. There are no noises of politicians actually doing anything to solve this. They sit there probably thinking the same as me – “hopefully I’ll be dead”. Here’s a list of things we can’t solve:

  • Burning carbon based fuels
  • Melting of glaciers around the world
  • Ice sheets melting
  • Thawing of the tundra
  • Plastics getting everywhere
  • Ocean life dying
  • Reefs dying
  • Acidification of the oceans
  • Warming of the oceans
  • Increased storms
  • Fresh water supplies dwindling

Ideal feedback model.svg
By Me (Intgr) – Own work, Public Domain, Link

The positive feedback has started. Any actions we take now will only mitigate the changes. We might be able to slow it down. We might be able to stop the warming at a level that means only a billion dying but I suspect that’s not going to happen. I am not hopeful about the future of humankind.

Even that megaband Metallica wrote a song in the early 90s about how the world was fucked. It’s called Blackened.

I suspect we all like to think that in the future we will live in a lovely village:

A Village
A Village

Or maybe our future is more Blade Runner? Living in massive urban areas with amazing culture and increased wealth extremes?

The City
The City

Unfortunately I honestly think our future looks more like Mad Max.

The Wastelands
The Wastelands

Now it’s time for the young to rise and claim the Earth as their inheritance and remove the ruling classes from power. To save the world needs complete revolution. A massive change in the politics. A move to more future planning and doing the right things.

My parents’ generation did nothing and they’ll be dead soon.

My generation did nothing and I don’t think I can tell you how sorry I am for that.

Worldwide revolution is needed. Government for the future.

I don’t have hope.

Advertising

In my few years as a skeptic I have started to make complaints about false advertising. It’s important that someone does this as advertising is a self regulated industry. Adverts aren’t checked before being shown, they are only investigated if someone complains about them. This is why Ryan Air have made outrageous claims and then been told to remove adverts, but by that point the adverts have done their job.

The Advertising Standards Authority “regulates” advertising but they only check something out if there’s a complaint about it. I’ve seen Virgin Media complain about BT Broadband adverts and vice versa.

Virgin Media rulings here.

BT Broadband rulings here.

You can see it’s like inter-ISP warfare with each company making outrageous claims and the other deciding to take them to the ASA.

In principle the ASA covers things like TV, print media, and internet advertising. Also they cover any claims made on websites and posters and leaflets. The cover the UK. There can be some issues where a website based in another country fails the basic standards of human decency but the ASA can’t do a great deal about it except inform their counterparts in the host country. Other countries sometimes don’t give a shit about the quality and factualness of advertising.

If there are specific claims in an advert then the company must have specific evidence to back those claims up. So, if I make ethically sourced soap then I must have the evidence to back up that claim or I risk censure by the ASA. I can still make those claims, I just need to worry about a complaint being made. You might argue it would be unethical for me to make false claims but you obviously don’t understand “marketing”.

Some words have no real meaning in term of advertising:

  • “wellness” isn’t defined in law and means nothing
  • “nutritionist” isn’t a protected term and anyone can call themselves one
  • “health balance” is bullshit terminology
  • “natural” doesn’t mean shit
  • “energy” doesn’t mean what you think it means
  • “traditional” isn’t
  • “good bacteria” it depends

And so on. When products or companies use certain words you might think they mean something specific but they don’t. The companies rely on the fact that you will think they mean a very specific thing but in law and advertising they don’t. How often do you hear the term “energy-balance” or similar? You might think it means something specific but it is a bullshit term and so advertisers can use that whenever they want.

Advertisements can’t make specific medical claims unless they have specific medical evidence and this is how the ASA became the arbiter of what is and what isn’t science in this messed up world. Let’s start with an hypothetical:

Suppose I had magical healing hands. I might use a radio advert to claim I can improve your energy-balance [means nothing] and that you will feel more relaxed and ready to take on the world [also means nothing].

Healing Hands Therapies

None of the claims in that advert mean anything specific in terms of advertising. It is perfectly ok to use that advert. I haven’t made any specific claims and I haven’t used any protected terms that mean real things. Now imagine if I made the following advert:

Healing Hands Therapy will improve your life-balance and also cure your arthritis. Our therapies are so powerful they can cure colic and even remove cancers.

Healing Hands Therapies

Those are some very specific claims and so I need to have evidence to prove that those things can be cured with the healing hands modality. If I can’t provide evidence to the ASA for the claims I have made then I will be expected to remove the advert from circulation. Meanwhile thousands of people may have heard the advert and be gullible enough to think it works.

SINCE THE 1930s NO ADVERT, by law, IS ALLOWED TO CLAIM TO BE ABLE TO CURE CANCER.

I have made two complaints to the ASA. One was a product advertised in a magazine and it claimed to help with teething issues with babies. It was a necklace for the baby made from amber beads. Now, I’m pretty sure putting something around the neck of a baby is pretty bad but then claiming the vapours it releases as it is warmed by bodyheat calm teething pains is utter bullshit. Like this one on a page I just found:

Amusingly on this page, just before the reviews section, the company makes clear that they aren’t responsible for any claims made in the comments. This is a lovely get-out clause but I think they are wrong. The company is publishing the comments on that page and so they are responsible. The comments clearly imply that people buy this shit for teething issues with very young children. Don’t put things around a baby’s neck.

My complaint to the ASA about the original company was upheld and they were told not to advertise in that format again. But, as we know with Goop, there’s an awful lot of bullshit out there and plenty of people unaware of how sciencey sounding claims might be bullshit.

I also made a complaint about a leaflet I found in a children’s nursery. It was for the John Wernham College of Classical Osteopathy in Maidstone. They made specific medical claims about osteopathy and they are wrong. I complained to the ASA and the College had to provide the medical evidence for their claims. They could not because Osteopathy is bulshit. The ASA told them they had to remove the leaflet from circulation. However all those leaflets were already out there.

The “College” still runs. I’ve just browsed their website and I can’t find any dubious claims, only a rather large amount of bullshit non-specific language.

A few years ago the British Chiropractic Association [chiropractic is like osteopathy but even more bullshit] sued Simon Singh for a minor comment he made. Eventually the BCA lost the case and had to withdraw all the claims they make. At the time they sent an email out to their members saying that chiropractors shouldn’t make any medical claims on their websites and to remove those claims. A computer specialist created a program to scour the internet for chiropractic pages, search them and look for certain medical claims. There were plenty. That person then reported all those chiropractors to local trading standards. Here’s The Guardian article about that issue.

It is only by having astute members of the public that harm within adverts can be defeated. Please be aware of the problems with advertising and please take take anything you see advertised as legitimate.

Hyper

A while back I started listening to audiobooks in the car. It started with books for the whole family and for long journeys. I pay a monthly fee to Audible to use the service and from that I get a “credit” each month to buy a book or audible title.

I have listened to the Percy Jackson series of books after the recommendation of a friend from Coventry and I just about tolerated those books. I am not a fan of the writing style of the author and really struggled to keep interested in those books. By the way, a friend from Coventry is just that, a friend, from Coventry.

I thought it worthwhile to start listening to books when I’m on my own in the car to compliment my podcast selection. I wasn’t really sure about what to read until I heard an advert for The Great Courses on the Scathing Atheist podcast. That made a lot of sense. I don’t necessarily have the time to keep reading books about sciencey stuff but I do tend to have quite a while driving the car. I have a yearning to keep learning, to keep trying to understand the world, all the while safe in the knowledge that when I die all that knowledge and learning will be made pointless from a universal perspective.

I chose to listen to a series of lectures on a subject I knew about to see if I could work with the audio medium. It was a trial series for me to decide if it was worth going with other lecture series.


Einstein’s Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Non-Scientists, 2nd Edition

By: Richard Wolfson, The Great Courses

I really enjoyed the lecture series and I learnt quite a bit about the history of the laws of mechanics. My knowledge from this has even informed my day job. This series of lectures is about twelve hours long in sections of thirty minutes. The whole system worked well.

For my next choice I decided to go for something with world history and also economics. If I could find a series that covers the world’s economy then I would also learn about the history of the world as the two are so perfectly entwined. A long while ago I had listened to the History Of The World In 100 Objects from the BBC and I was fascinated by how much trade is a central part of human success and history. Searching Audible I found the following:

An Economic History of the World since 1400

By: Donald J. Harreld, The Great Courses

It’s a series of lectures just over twenty four hours long. It took me a while to get around to listening to it and then months to get through the whole thing. It was well worth it though. Totally fascinating and perfect as a brief history of humankind along with plenty about the interconnectedness of economic success. I would suggest everyone listens to it. I don’t know enough about economics to know if the lectures are unbiased towards particular policies but my feeling is that all discussions were balanced.

My latest book is:

Hyperion

by Dan Simmons

I have read the paper copy of this book and it amazed me at the time. The whole Hyperion series was a massive operatic exploration of space and humans. I can’t wait to visit the stories again.

Dan Simmons is an author who has really made his mark on me. The first book of his I read was Carrion Comfort. I was in a real horror book phase as a late teenager and his book was a distraction from the standard Stephen King books and the scope of this book amazed me. From this I then read Summer Of Night. At some point I read Hyperion and then the sequels and they are a brilliant selection of science fiction.

Dan Simmons along with Stephen King and Iain M Banks are a few of the authors whose work has made me really challenge myself and think about the grander things in life. All of them are well worth reading. I shall probably devour the rest of the Hyperion series once the book is complete.

The Prologue [cue Up Pompeii sniggers] of Hyperion brought back so many memories and the horror of listening to descriptions of the Shrike! For many years the Shrike was such a figure in my conscious that a tattoo was considered, perhaps that will happen again?

A Few Rough Years

I wonder why the years of the late 80s are stuck in my memory so much? I think it’s because I was becoming aware of the world and humanity. I was at that age where you start realising that other people exist in their own right and that some people have it hard and bad things happen. The following events are ones that are pinned in my memory and made me think about the world:

  • Chernobyl – April 1986 [100 upto 4000 deaths, maybe]
  • Piper Alpha Disaster – July 1988 [167 deaths]
  • Heysel Stadium Tragedy – May 1985 [39 deaths]
  • Hillsborough Tragedy – April 1989 [96 deaths]
  • Bradford Stadium Fire – May 1985 [56 deaths]
  • Challenger Disaster – January 1986 [7 deaths]
  • Herald Of Free Enterprise Disaster – March 1987 [193 deaths]
  • Bhopal Disaster – December 1984 [more than 2259 deaths]
  • Marchioness Disaster – August 1989 [51 deaths]

These are pretty much the ones I can name from memory. I guess it’s quite sad that horrific events stick in our brains. I’m trying to think of “happy” events from those times and all I can think of are personal or family events. There aren’t any global happy events that bubble up from the depths of my brain, perhaps they don’t exist? I’m sure they are there. I guess there was the 1988 Olympics but I have become quite convinced that sports mostly exist as a distraction from the horrors from everyday life and how we as society don’t really care.

What is the human obsession with reporting death and disaster when compared to the good things or am I suffering from a massive case of confirmation bias? I guess as a species we need to know when bad things happen so we can learn and change the rules to ensure these things happen less. Quite often these lessons are learnt, sometimes those invested in making money and power do their best to subvert the reports and changes so they can continue to make money and stay in power. That could be the Achilles heel of the human race.

While writing this I’ve been thinking about disasters in the 90s and I’m not sure I can come up with any. They must’ve existed and that seems strange that I can’t instantly recall them. If I looked for them I suspect my memory would be jogged but why aren’t they there for instant recall. I’m going to ask around and see what other people think. It would be interesting to see if those of a similar age as me have the same collective memories. That would make sense.

A collective memory would also explain so much about politics and the way it cycles. As a generation dies out the memories of the horrors they faced die with them and History channel documentaries don’t really do it justice. Then the new generation start making the same mistakes and using the same kind of rhetoric that was to blame for the older horrors. Let’s see shall we.

Breaking The Bank

I was reading a local discussion group on an interwebs platform recently. I live in a little village at the base of the North Downs, it’s even in an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Having said that the village has an history of being for the working classes. There used to be a brickworks at the river and this village housed the labour for that business. As far as I know the bricks for Buckingham Palace, or some of it, came from the Burham Brickworks. The brickmakers have gone. All that remains is the wharf and a few foundations, there’s an old railway route that went to the quarry, other than that the villages here are the legacy.

The discussion group had an image of a four bedroomed detached house for sale in the village. It was on the market for slightly over £400,000. This already seemed over the top to me but the very next comment was:

Shame you couldn’t get more for it.

This made the left-wing me want to spout. This country has a problem with social engineering over the last forty years which insists that owning a house is good and everyone’s aim. The population has also been conned by the media into thinking that rising house prices mean wealth and that any increase is a good increase.

[I am writing this before Brexit. I suspect the whole shebang is going to hell in a hand cart post-Brexit. This country is on the verge of collapse at the moment. Financially. Socially. Politically. Environmentally. I honestly fear what next year will bring. We already know mental health issues are on the rise because of the Brexit concerns in this country. What hope?]

Let me write that number again. £400,000. For a house with no large garden. A house with four bedrooms. In a less than desirable village underneath the flightpath for a small airfield. I was and am still shocked. To afford this house you probably need to be earning more than £80,000. Maybe I’m in the wrong employment sector. I’m not sure how I personally judge what is over-priced. I don’t want a four bedroomed house. I can’t afford to move. Perhaps this is personally motivated reasoning that just because I am unable to move I feel annoyed. Maybe I’m biased? I’m not sure where this communication is going.

What’s surprising to me right now is I’m looking at the £400,000 and thinking maybe that’s not so bad. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe houses are worth that? Maybe my own prejudices are affecting my thinking. Maybe only people earning loads of fucking money should be able to buy a medium sized house? This is what the media and society have done over the years. They have normalised extreme house prices. They have affected how the population think. They have made all manner of societal expectations normal.

Here’s the thing. If children grow up in an area and then go to get jobs that are available locally shouldn’t they be able to afford a house in that area? Is this privileged thinking? I don’t know. Two bedroom terraced houses in the village are “worth” around £230,000. Nearly a quarter of a million pounds for a little house. With just two bedrooms. What? At a time when wages aren’t rising [many having gone down in real terms over the last ten years] this seems ridiculous. You need to earn £40,000 to afford even a two up two down house in this village. If you work in retail you aren’t going to be earning that. This market system is bollocks.

Now, if you consider the sell-off of council stock to private organisations this means there are very few affordable places for people to live if they are on a lower wage. They are then at the mercy of the buy-to-let market where landlords have all the protections because this country is full of Tory assholes. This country has been brainwashed over the years and we’ve all been turned into selfish empathy-lacking wankers.

What Value – Life?

Where this communication ends up I don’t know. It’s a theme I’ve been thinking about for a while now and I’m not sure what my conclusions are. I think about this whenever I watch a film with an aircraft crash or if I visit the Survival Equipment chaps at an air force base although it doesn’t just apply to flying stuff. Let’s see what happens.

There have been two crashes of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft where everyone on board was killed. Straight after the second airlines started to stop using the aircraft and then eventually the FAA and CAA decided to withdraw the airworthiness certificates of those aircraft. The underlying thinking here is that you can’t have an aircraft type which regularly crashes killing people. It is a requirement of the manufacturer to correct any faults in the aircraft type. Society has a lower limit to what it expects the death rate for flying to be, whether most participating in that society understand that or not. The regulators have stepped in. Another pressure is that the market would stop choosing the 737 Max and Boeing would die if they didn’t make the changes. Society and capitalistic market forces require the product to work well. Human life has a value and should be cherished.

I’m old enough to remember the Herald Of Free Enterprise ferry disaster. I can still remember my dad telling me about it when he picked me up from cadets that evening. I remember feeling sick. I’m not sure why this affected me more than an aircraft crash but it did, maybe because I’d never heard of a ferry disaster before. There were issues with the ship’s operation procedures and the resulting investigation made recommendations which improved the safety for ferries in this country and around the world. The ultimate thinking here was that human life has a value and we should do all we can to preserve it.

In 1986 the space shuttle Challenger [rather the Space Transport System] launched and then blew up about a minute into its flight. This killed all seven astronauts on board. Nasa stopped all flights and investigated the disaster. There are, I guess, many pressures here: government funding, shuttle cost, human life, public relations, the cold war. It was deemed necessary for the programme to be paused while changes were made to ensure the safety of the astronauts. The lives of these people was important and nobody wanted to experience the “ultimate sacrifice”. To those youngsters out there who need to know, there is a phrase in my circles: “Space is hard”. Yes, space is hard. It’s complex and difficult and there will be sacrifices [just think about that word there!].

It would seem that companies like to try and cost cut to maximise profit and so the market forces only come to bear after a particular problem catches them out. So human life to companies is cheap, until they have to make changes I guess. My evidence for this is the General Slocum disaster in New York. A fire caused the Slocum to be abandoned. Most members of the public on board couldn’t swim, it wasn’t a common thing in 1904. Some of the life preservers were wired in place, maybe to stop them being stolen. The life preservers were meant to have cork of a certain volume in them to maintain buoyancy on humans. This cork was meant to be solid chunks and the amount was measured by mass. The life preserver manufacturer had chosen to use granulated cork as it was cheaper, but because it didn’t meet the mass requirements they then used metal bars hidden in the vest to bring the mass up. When humans jumped into the water the cork bubbled out of the vests as it wasn’t in large lumps and then the people were dragged under the water by the metal bars. 1021 people died that night. I guess afterwards there were investigations and corrections put in place to save this happening again on this scale. The city decided that human life is precious.

In the 1960s the Chevrolet Corvair had a design flaw that meant its handling could be unsafe. The company only started to rectify this after the problem was made public and even then it initially decided that the extra safety features should be “optional” and a paid extra on the model. This time a company succumbed to public pressure and eventually the Corvair was produced with suspension similar to contemporary designs. In this case human life was deemed to be precious but only after the flaw was made public and pressure was applied to the company.

When I visit the Squippers on an RAF base it becomes quite clear that the whole purpose of the military system is the protection of life of people within that particular branch of the military. The safety equipment designed to help a fast jet pilot in the case of a problem is impressive. The aim is to preserve the life of the pilot or aircrew in as many situations as possible. It doesn’t always happen but effectively the aircraft is expendable and the life is not. The motivation for this could be that aircrew are hard to find and cost a lot of money to train but the principle is the same, there is a value to the human life and it should be preserved.

So, governments and companies place a value on human life and it is generally seen to be a bad thing for people to die because of bad design or systemic issues with the rules and management of a system. If there are rail crashes then they are investigated. All shipping accidents are investigated and rules put in place to make sure those type of accidents either don’t happen again or the risk of them happening again is reduced to an “acceptable” level.

The rules governing the use of roads by people with vehicles have developed over time and change on occasion to make the roads safer. Deaths on UK roads have decreased over time and seem to have settled to around 1100.

There are probably many factors in this. I mean, when I was a child seatbelts WEREN’T compulsory to wear. Can you believe that? It was decided that people could choose for themselves whether to wear a seatbelt or not. There is only one problem with that: people are stupid. The best thing for a car would be to wear a five point harness and make sure it’s tight. But that is quite a hassle. Volvo invented the three point harness and gave away the technical rights to the whole industry. This means we have seatbelts in cars that, while they aren’t the safest, they are the best balance between safe and convenient.

When you get into a car you ACCEPT the risk that driving on the roads brings. You accept the balance between getting somewhere in comfort and the risk that you might not arrive. Now, you might not be aware of this, but it is what you should be thinking. Driving, or to an extent existing, means you implicitly accept the associated risks. If driving was an activity supplied by a company you would have to sign a disclaimer each time you decided to go somewhere. You decide to accept the implicit social contract every time you do something like driving or getting on a train etc.

The value of human life is not measurable. Current society tries to do the best for the people within that society. It tries to educate. It tries to help. It tries to save.

Except it clearly doesn’t.

Individuals on the whole are largely selfish and lack empathy. I mean this from a point of view of looking at individuals within a system. I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about a single person within a system, within society. Our system of collectivness means that we each have our freedoms within that social construct. We chose what to do with our own lives [we don’t really as free will is an illusion but that’s for another time], we can spend money how we want, we can arrange our time how we want. There are restrictions within that. I hope that everyone pays their tax [they don’t] and many of us have to work to get money to pay for the things we use but generally we have a certain amount of freedom.

This freedom leads to us not caring or thinking about others as much as we should. We all vote or feel empathy for the latest finalist on Britain’s Got Talent because their gran died when they were young and the zit on their nose lasted for ten years but we lack the empathy for people around the world who have oppressed lives. We don’t care collectively about the thousands of people dying in wars [Yemen] or those being abused by their own governments or those systematically killed through religion or lack of action of governments. We don’t care about the critical underfunding this country has had for over ten years now causing deaths and poverty on a massive scale. We don’t care about people more than one degree of freedom away from us. We don’t seem to care about people dying. Why do we lack this empathy? We don’t seem to care about the child-rape cabal headquartered in Rome.

It seems that some systems and social constructs are there to help us survive. They are there to save life and preserve humans. Lives are values in a social structure. But, as individuals, we seem not to care. Maybe it is too much for individuals to take on the world and do the “right thing”. There is only so much an individual can do to make changes.

In this country people still vote Tory even though their policies over the last ten years have led to the UK having a need for FUCKING FOOD BANKS. Let’s get this straight. FOOD BANKS. Places where people who can’t afford FOOD can go and get food. FOOD BANKS. There’s a lack of empathy for these people. As long as I am comfortable I don’t need to think about the lives of others and help them.

Damn, I’m not sure where this is going. My starting point was that human life is precious and yet in so many ways we don’t value it and people are dying through so many preventable causes but it’s not visible, so we don’t know or care about it. Maybe I need to lay out my arguments a little better. This communication seemed to end in a rant about selfishness and lacking empathy. It started well but ended up as a grumpy old lefty moaning.

I’ll come back to this.

M’era Luna 2019

I guess it takes some commitment to drive 500 miles to get to a music event. This is the fifth time Smith and I have done this. It is possibly going to be the last for a while, we kinda feel we need to seek out new things, but we shall see. M’era Luna does have an excellent atmosphere and I think we’ll be back at some point in the future.

As is now the standard we left on the Thursday and drove to a hotel in Bochum. We should have got there in time to have a meal out and see the town but instead there were power issues with the Eurotunnel that delayed our journey on the train by three hours, that was quite frustrating, but we did walk a couple of miles along the main road and find zero bars. Yep, zero. There were two gambling dens but zero bars. I’m not sure if that’s the Germany I imagined.

Lovely skies above the campsite
Campsite Sky

Friday morning means driving the last two and a half hours to Hildesheim and getting to the festival. This part of the journey went well. The traffic was queueing to get into the car park and so Smith ran to join the queue to get us a decent tent spot. It’s quite amazing how quickly the massive campsite fills up with tents. I got parked and dragged most of the kit to the tent. After that, we chilled and wandered and thought about getting ready for the disco that evening.

Friday Night at M'era Luna
Friday Night at M’era Luna

Tickets for the disco were different from years before, we had to buy a wristband which was the standard 5 Euros. As we arrived in the disco there was some decent heavier music being played and it was DJ’d by a guy from the band Unzucht. After a short while it did change style as someone else took over and the music went a bit shit. Smith and I had drunk quite a bit. He lost his glasses. It was about 0200 when we quit and I went for a shower. That night I wandered back from the showers down the runway to the tent, the air was warm and I was happy.

Saturday was going to be hard work. There is always one night when there’s a little too much alcohol consumed. Last year it was the Prodigy gig and Saturday night. This time we overdid it on the Friday! Hangover protocols were now in place. But, there were bands to see starting at 1100 and so things had to get ready. I sometimes feel I physically suffer for my art.

Saturday at M'era Luna
Saturday at M’era Luna

Saturday’s theme for me was future-dystopian-cyber outfit. This was pretty much all home-made and I was very happy with the results. Smith had problems with his horns and so I watched the first band by myself.

Null Positive – main stage. Female fronted metal band, bit like Arch Enemy. quite enjoyable. Two female”dancers” on stage, playing with smoke and fire.

The gas mask on my outfit was really pulling into my head and making me experience pain. Plus the hangover wasn’t helping.

Sudenklang – main stage. I didn’t write anything else here so I don’t remember how good or bad they were.

Centhron – hangar stage. Fast beats, bit boring. It was during this set that I decided to go and get rid of the gas mask. It was hurting me and the backpack was annoying. Also, it was a warm day and I had about three layers on. I returned to the tent [about 15 minutes walk away] to get changed into boring normal clothes. I had been photographed and so thought it time to feel comfortable.

Corvus Corax – main stage. Four bagpipers medieval/folk stuff. It’s basically metal but with bagpipes. It’s not very inspiring stuff and the singer was terrible but the Germans love this shit.

We heard Oomph! while we ate food and I don’t remember being impressed. It’s a terrible band name also!

Agonoize – hangar stage. Bit disappointing really, I had heard some of their stuff and I was hoping for a really “edgy” show. The singer squirted blood three times, he pretended to cut his wrist and let the “blood” spray out for most of the songs. Finished with Breathe as a tribute to Keith, but it was a terrible version.

Agonoize - Hangar Stage, M'era Luna
Agonoize – Hangar Stage, M’era Luna

Lacrimosa – main stage. 1.2 songs. Yeauugh.

SITD – Hangar. solid but only got going after second singers song. Lead singer doesn’t know words to some songs and was reading. The sound at front not great, the system speakers are quite wide and so a lot of the dynamic was missing from being close to the front.

SITD - Hangar Stage, M'era Luna
SITD – Hangar Stage, M’era Luna

Die Krupps – Hangar stage. Saturday headliners. We watched from slightly further back and the sound was much better. This band are really good and their show has been excellent every time I’ve seen them. I’d happily go and see them again. I’d recommend them to anyone.

Die Krupps - Hangar Stage, M'era Luna
Die Krupps – Hangar Stage, M’era Luna

That was the end of the Saturday for us. I think ASP were playing the main stage as we left, I wasn’t bothered at all about seeing him. It had been a long day. We had both had problems with the sun cream running into our eyes and causing massive hayfever type symptoms. Overall the music had been great but I felt dead.

Saturday Steps
Saturday Steps

From the above picture you can see I walked quite a bit that day. I also hadn’t slept much, which was going to be the pattern for the whole weekend really.

On the Sunday I woke to the sound of someone calling “Kaffee”. I popped my head out of the tent and had coffee poured freshly for me from one of the festival workers. He had a large backpack with a supply of drink and all the accoutrements on his belt for a perfect coffee and only 3 Euros. Bloody lovely.

It might be time to talk about the pooing situation at festivals. I mean, this shouldn’t be talked about but too make the process as easy as possible it takes planning and hard work. Firstly, eating vegetarian reduces the amount of time required in the portaloos. Next, pick your portaloos carefully. The ones on the runway are very busy and stink. I mean they stink more than others. So, go to the toilets in the car park. Leave the festival site and walk a bit. This needs to be planned for after waking and coffee. Next up, take the portaloo furthest west. The one in the east gets sunshine on it and heats up. This increases smells. So, to sum up, find the least used loos, and use the coolest one.

Getting ready on Sunday was easy, it was an old costume being recycled.

Sunday at M'era Luna
Sunday at M’era Luna

I kept the hood with me as the Sun was warm and I didn’t want to burn my skin.

Fear of Domination – main stage. Finish. Male and female singer. Good bass drop. Good solid set.

Fear Of Domination - Main Stage, M'era Luna
Fear Of Domination – Main Stage, M’era Luna

Yellow Lazarus – hangar stage. Ok. EBM but fast, not great. Two songs. It’s like Aqua (Barbie girl) on speed. Pretty sure we only caught a few of their songs.

Scarlet Dorn – main stage. Slow melodic rock with female singer. Keyboardist is from LOTL. This sort of music is fine in the background but it didn’t really rock.

At some point I went to get changed, again! It was another hot day and I wasn’t enjoying being in my costume. My head was sweating a lot under the gas mask.

Formalin – hangar stage. Live drummer. Keyboards. Singer. Pretty good. Very good crowd interaction. Good song dynamics.

Heldmaschine – hangar stage. Blue LEDs on costumes and drumsticks. Two guitars (one a lefty). Bass. Drums. Singer. Backing track somewhere.

Combichrist – main stage. Fucking amazing.

Combichrist - Main Stage, M'era Luna
Combichrist – Main Stage, M’era Luna

There’s a video of the Combichrist gig. This one was amazing. You can see it here:
https://www.ndr.de/nachrichten/niedersachsen/Mera-Luna-2019-Combichrist-spielen-in-Hildesheim,combichrist104.html

I’m in there a few times, as is Smith, I’ll leave you to find it though. After this show I had to keep pouring water over my head to cool down. I think I had over done it. At least I didn’t get a cracked rib from the PIT unlike Smith.

Goodnight Skies - M'era Luna
Goodnight Skies – M’era Luna

Suicide Commando – hangar stage. Really good but I lefty feeling unwell. Sounds better a distance from stage, speakers too wide at very front. I needed cool air. Spotted the SITD guy in front of SC.

Suicide Commando - Hangar Stage, M'era Luna
Suicide Commando – Hangar Stage, M’era Luna

VNV Nation – main stage for a few songs. Ok, but the gig at the Scala was amazing.

After this it was shower time and a walk down the runway. Then, Monday we just had to drive home. On the way we had planned to stop just into Germany for photos but because of the delays at the tunnel we chose not to. We had plenty of time on the return journey and so we stopped on that:

Wankum, De
Wankum, De

I couldn’t tell you why we chose to stop here!

The excitement didn’t end in Germany! We got to the Channel Tunnel a few hours before our crossing and so paid a little extra to get home earlier than originally planned. This was good as Smith only had prescription sunglasses left after losing his in the disco and he didn’t want to drive home in the dark. As we approached the Maidstone junction on the M20 one of the front tyres blew and deflated quickly. This was very annoying. We managed to pull off the motorway and put the spare on. We were about three miles from my house.

I’ve had the car looked at and it it probably a tracking issue which caused the insides of the tyre to wear down too far. This will hopefully be fixed on Monday or Tuesday. I’m just glad that it blew where it did rather than 500 miles away in Germany. That would have been quite a shitter.

So, M’era Luna 19 was amazing and fun. It was also hard work and a challenge. Next year, we will see what happens. Maybe I’m too old for this shit?

EM Warnings

You know how it is. You are having a short break on a motorway drive and pop into the service station for a drink and a comfort break. It is the adverts directly above the urinals which seem to show the worst of mankind. I’ve written about this before in a communication about shaming farts. This time I was at Southwaite Services just south of Carlisle. I saw this advert above the urinals:

5G Bullshit
5G Bullshit

You are very welcome to go and read the stuff from the following links if you wish:

I have some things to say about all this. Let’s start off with some science about electro-magnetic radiation. This is a form of energy that extends from long wave radio waves to gamma radiation. It is a very large spectrum and our visible light takes up part of it.

Long wavelengths can travel a long distance and through lots of stuff. We use them for communicating with submarines and ships a long way away. Radio waves we are familiar with and they carry information like TV or audio signals. Infrared we feel as heat radiated from objects. Visible light humans can see, some animals can see higher frequencies but not us. All of the wavelengths/frequencies mentioned so far are called NON-IONISING RADIATION. Each photon doesn’t have enough energy to knock an electron out of its orbit in an atom and so up to violet light can’t caused any molecular changes, they, by definition, can’t cause cancer. They might warm you up a little but that is all.

All the stuff in the ultra-violet and beyond is the nasty stuff. It can cause cancer because each photon contains enough energy to knock electrons out of their orbit and therefore could cause molecular changes. This could cause a DNA change in your cells and, if it happens right/wrong, then could cause cancer. Here’s the easy bit:

UV Rays cause cancer. UV is BAD for you.

When you get an X-Ray at the dentist or hospital the radiographer or dentist will leave the room when the photograph is taken. Why do they do that? Because being exposed to X-Rays is bad for you. Each X-Ray you have increases your chances of cancer by a little. But, the information gathered from the X-Ray can do far more good than the increase in risk of cancer and so we elect to have them done. It’s similar to going somewhere by car – you know you will get there in a short time and in comfort but we balance that with the risk of being involved in an accident, the benefits outweigh the risks.

Right. Point number One. Radio and Micro waves can’t cause cancer. The worst they might do is cause a very slight heating which is less than what you get by exercising and is easily carried away by your blood.

Next, the slightly tougher issue. EM sensitivity. This is the situation where people are convinced that their health is detrimentally affected by EM radiation enough for them to notice. I have to be quite specific in the language I use here because the illness that people feel from this is real. The cause of it is not. I do not want to be dismissive of their illness, they feel what they feel and they blame it on all the EM in their surroundings. People with EM Sensitivity do feel what they report and so the illness is real. It’s just not caused by electro-magnetic radiation.

There have been studies completed where patients who claim EMS have been put in a shrouded room and then told when a wi-fi transmitter is turned on and off. They then report their symptoms in line with when they know the transmitter is on. Here’s the thing: they report symptoms even when the wi-fi transmitter is NOT turned on but they are told it is. Their symptoms are psychosomatic. This is not to belittle their illness but to point out that the cause is not what they think it is. Read this over at Science Based Medicine.

The people who claim that 5G will ruin lives are wrong. They are scaremongering and therefore adding to a problem that doesn’t exist. They are pushing ideas out to people who are sensitive to suggestion and causing more problems than they can fix.

I am still quite convinced that the amount of EM radiation humans absorb is mostly from natural sources, the sun and radio waves from stellar sources. Being in the home means that you will absorb a certain amount but go outside and this home-based absorption is insignificant. See this page from the World Health Organisation.

If mobile phones and wi-fi caused lots of issues with human health then where is the epidemic? Mobiles phones and wi-fi is everywhere and I don’t see the epidemic anywhere. For around thirty years these technologies have existed and we aren’t getting ill.

5G will be safe.

Poe’s Law

I keep thinking back to this news item from ITV. I mean ITV is a trusted source isn’t it? It seems ridiculous to me that a new member of the government in our current times would insist on a particular style guide for his staff.

The problem with this news article is that it’s so ridiculous that it could be true. It might have been made up but we all know Rees-Mogg is a prick of the highest order and so this could be true. I’m just not sure. This news article could be a case of Poe’s Law in action.

Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake for the genuine article.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law

While Poe was talking about creationists being fucking stupid his views have been converted into a law stating that in some cases extreme sarcasm is indistinguishable from the real thing. This is what I think has happened here. Someone has cleverly taken the concept of Rees-Mogg being a fucking prick and gone extreme. Seriously, let’s look at the things he wants done:

All non-titled males are Esq. – fuck you, what a singular stupid fucking thing to say. Jesus Christ, this is fucking entitled bullshit in the highest.

No comma after “and” – of course you use the Oxford comma, it’s there to make sure you have clear intentions in your language. We’ve developed this wonderful thing called language to be able to communicate clearly and we can make our words mean the correct things. For an example – Rees-Mogg is an entitled prick.

Check your work – this man is really telling his staff of professionals to check their work? Really? Does he employ monkeys or something? You would think that people already know how this type of stuff works. Arrrrrgh.

Could someone please stop the planet, I want to get off.