Saturday 31 May 2008

The Origin of Duality- The Plant and The Parasite

Yin and Yang.

The world is composed of two opposing poles.

This dim recognition is something that philosophers have dimly grasped at since time began.
Somewhere in there, concepts have been blurred. An attempt has been made to attach everything to these two poles. A Yin, female, cold, evil. A Yang, male, hot, good.

This bit is flawed, obviously. Good and Evil are real, because time is real. We might call them unity and decay, but essentially they are a facet of the universe. They ultimately have their roots in basic laws of physics. Good is the steam that powers the engine, Evil the steam that the laws of thermodynamics say must and WILL be lost. Good is the seemingly random drive forward that characterises existence. Evil is the fact that it IS random, that perpetual motion IS impossible, that the unity can never be perfect. Good is the blossoming of the fruit, it's scattering of seeds to bring in more fruit, Evil is its rotting and decaying.

But Yin and Yang. That's different. The Eastern philosophers believed Yin and Yang to be mutually dependent, a male and female principle inherent in Life, and FUNDAMENTAL to its existence, at the root of the universe, a fundamental duality.

The purpose of this post is to advance the view that this ancient piece of insight, is in fact, correct. That modern science is now staring in the face a most uncomfortable piece of knowledge. Uncomfortable, because it can actually answer the question 'Why two sexes?' with a definite answer and that answer has implications that nobody really wants to face.
It has the answer, potentially, to why this curious phenomenon known as Life has developed in such an amazing way on this rock, and why it really might be true that it exists in many locations in this vast universe, but only here has it succeeded in putting several cells together to form bodies.

Because we must accept, this may be the case. And in fact, we now see that the statistical odds show us something interesting. The History of Life on Earth suggests that LIFE, in a bacterial sense, has a good chance of being a fairly common phenomenon. DNA is merely the cleverest of all viruses, and viruses can probably appear in a vast number of environments.

No, the big leap, is the appearance, maybe 2.3 billion years ago, of the Eukaryote cell. Cells with a nucleus. Viruses, Bacteria, they may be commonplace. But in the appearance of the Amoeba, we may be looking at something the emergence of which, really marked something special in the history of life ANYWHERE.

Advances in molecular biology in the eighties meant that some biologists were posing the basic question 'Do men and women ULTIMATELY have different ancestors?'

It's a complex question, not a simple one. In one sense, the question seems ludicrous. No, we don't. You and I are all composed of cells which ultimately had their origin in BOTH our parents, we carry BOTH their genes. But the crucial chromosomes, those which distinguish us- X and Y- do they have different ancestors?

And the answer to that, seems to be yes.

We are looking at a life history of two billion years of evolution, driven entirely by a fundamental symbiotic relationship between these chromosomes.

Modern molecular biology has proved that the nuclei of the Eukaryote cell are related to different bacteria, to the rest of the cell. The Eukaryote cell really originated as the first symbiotic parasite relationship. One Bacterium invaded another and lived inside it. We'll call the invader Yang, and the host Yin. From now on, Yin did all the work and Yang lived off its efforts. Yin ate, so did Yang. When Yin reproduced (by dividing), the new Yin had a new little Yang at it's centre.

No virus had ever been so clever. It had invaded another virus and forced it to do its work for it.
And Yang could afford to adopt more aggressive tactics than other viruses. It's not so frightened about being eaten. It has the viral equivalent of a human shield protecting it. True it kind of has to co-operate with it's host and the two kind of work it out between them, but ultimately, they're in it together.

From time immemorial we recognised two main divisions in the realm of multicellular forms; Animals and Plants. The main distinction was that plants don't move and pick up nutrients from where they are. Animals move and gain their matter from a source which has already done the work. We were on the right lines, but not quite. Because we now accept that Fungi don't move, but don't make their own food either. Like animals, they steal their matter from another life form.

And lo and behold, we now discover that the most fundamental divide- maybe 1.5 billion years ago- between multicellar lifeforms, is between bikonts and orthistokonts. Those that make their own food, and those that steal it from them. Plants and the rest of us basically. Fungi are our close cousins, not those of plants. Like us, they cannot exist alone. Animals and Fungi cannot make their own food, only take it from others- plants.

I would offer the view that this division marks the earliest emergence of what is known as the 'Red Queen hypothesis'. This advocates the view that the driving motor of evolution is in the relationship between predator and prey- prey species have to get smarter at not getting eaten to reproduce in sufficient numbers. Predators have to get better at eating, to reproduce in sufficient numbers. This game of oneupmanship is the key to the rapidly accelerating rate of evolution- it's an arms race, basically.

And where does it start? With Yin and Yang again. In some of these Amoeba-like co-operative symbioses, Yin calls the shots. It follows a Yin strategy and meets up with other cells Yin has won the battle in, to form large composite structures, capable of processing nutrients, but too large to worry about the predations of one Yang-dominant Amoeba.
The Yang-dominant Amoebas pursue a Yang strategy. After all, what has proved to work for them, is adopting a strategy where someone else does the work. They form large composite bodies devoted to getting hold of Yin-dominant bodies and absorbing their matter.
Of course, both Yin-dominant AND Yang-dominant are composed of Yin cells with a Yang nucleus. It's just that who is ultimately in control, differs. Neither can any longer exist without the other, in either case.

So modern biology divided the Eukaryotes into three main divisions;
Unikonts- Amoebas and related creatures- single celled undeciders
Bikonts- Plants and a few plantlike Protists- the Yin-dominant lifeforms
Orthistokonts- Animals, Fungi, and a few predatory Protists- the Yang dominant lifeforms.

Since these three terms mean nothing to a layman, I propose we use terms we all understand; Let's call the three divisions Amoebas, Plants, and Parasites.

All animals are Parasites- we all steal our bodily mass from other lifeforms.

Now we come to sex.
Which of course, is how we reproduce.

Now it seems obvious that the favoured method of reproduction adopted, is cross-pollination.

My guess is that it evolved in parallel in both plant and parasite. Dividing a single cell in two is easy, dividing a multicellular organism into two new organisms, less so.
What both parasite and plant do, is to create new Yangless Yin cells and then send off lots of Yang spores to cross-pollinate the Yangless Yin cells of similar organisms.
Why has this method triumphed?

My suggestion is, margin of error. It is the method most likely to result in mistakes in replication. It will create new variants in structure which have features neither of its parents did. Many will be less successful. But some will be more so- and they will survive better. Thus, the organisms that adopted this seemingly strange mode of reproducing, triumph in the long run. To my mind, this method MUST have evolved in parallel in both parasite and plant- just the descendants of both sides which DIDN'T use this mode of reproducing, were left behind in the evolutionary arms race.

OK, let's forget the plants now.
Let's just stay with the parasites.

Because the great divide which has already split plant from parasite will continue.
Some parasites will adopt a more Yinlike Yang strategy. Some will adopt more Yanglike Yang strategies.

Some Parasites will just eat plants. Some will go further and save more energy by eating parasites too. Not only has the plant processed the nutrients to a large degree, they now get to steal nutrients ALREADY PROCESSED into body form by another parasite.

A food chain has begun.

And it is only a matter of time before the Yang instinct comes up with something really clever.
I say comes up with, but of course, all this is without thought. It's all down to errors in replication and chance. One day an organism unthinkingly does something which works, and it sticks.

It seems to have begun amongst flatworms, the division into sex, somewhere in the mists of evolution between jellyfish and true bilaterians.

In one species, a division occurs between those who adopt a parasite (Yang) approach to reproduction, and those who adopt a Yin approach.

Within a single species, occurring in a set of stages of symbiotic development, certain members of the species, stop producing Yangless Yin cells. Instead of wasting their own body matter in reproducing themselves, they will simply send out Yang spores. We will these 'Y'.

The ones that get fertilised by these, we'll call 'X'. X responds by producing descendants who suit Y's wishes, but also its own.

In time, what emerges is that each new generation consists of two types, X and Y. Y carries the spores of both, but no Yangless Yin cells to receive the spores of others. X produces Yangless Yin cells, but no spores.

Y must produce the Yang spores to reproduce both- but does not have to devote its own energy to actually producing the new forms.

X must produce the Yin cells necessary to reproduce both forms, but has made itself indispensable to Y as a result.

Neither can reproduce alone, so a new dynamic has been created.

I won't deny that there is something decidedly unromantic about all this. The origins of the male are in a parasite even adopting a parasitical approach to its own reproduction. The origins of the female are in acquiescing with this. So why does the female acquiesce?

Again, evolution. Where X has tried to free itself from Y, the results have been less than impressive. Rotifers have done it. But rotifers don't build cities. The species who have freed themselves from Y the master parasite, do not live in a female only paradise. They live in a female only stasis.

Again, errors in replication. This mode of reproduction has a huge margin of error. And evolution, is all about error.
So X and Y march forward together, hand in hand. Each species that marches forward from this point, contain X and Y forms.

And it has created curious variants. Who really has the mastery? Y? No that much so. Because if Y becomes too much of a burden to X, X can survive without Y, the rotifers prove that. Y has had to change its strategy, look after and protect the incubators, the feeders, the providers for BOTH their young.

Evolution has created insects, ants, bees, where legions of Ys exist solely to serve an X which exists solely to reproduce. Look at termites where most Ys actually are infertile, and will never themselves pass their genes on.

I would tentatively suggest that survival of the fittest HAS been dependent on finding the best balance between X and Y. Two instincts, in each species, and where one instinct has gained an advantage over the other, that species has not survived to tell the tale.

And genetics proves that. Every Y chromosome carries a gene designed to make babies BIG. Every X chromosome carries a gene to make them small. These genes simple counteract eachother. But they exist. They battle against eachother, and will always do so. It's common sense. If X won, most babies would not survive childbirth- but the mother always would. If Y won, most babies would, but most mothers would die the first time they gave birth.
It's simple. Y wants the baby to live, it carries its genes. It doesn't care about the mother, who doesn't carry it's genes.
X wants as many babies as possible, so it wants the mother to live, and won't lose her for one baby, when it has the capacity to make more babies.

So X and Y continually battle, like Hegel's dialectic. Hegel said that throughout history, opposing ideas come into conflict- a thesis and an antithesis, say, there IS a God, and there ISN'T a God. In time, a synthesis emerges, say, the universe IS conscious, and neither original statement was true in the sense it was originally taken. Then the synthesis becomes in itself a thesis and a new antithesis emerges to counteract it, and the process is repeated. Scientific advance of course, has been like that. Light is particle. No it isn't, it's a wave. What if it's both a particle AND a wave?

And this of course, is how male and female have marched forward throughout the history of evolution. The hunter and the mother. Yin and Yang. Yang, free to be the pure parasite, because it has outsourced its reproductive capabilities to the Yin of its own species. And Yin, able to guard the young, keeping a careful eye on Yang, making sure that Yang really does keep its side of the bargain. From the point of view of Yin, Yang is a tolerated parasite, tolerated because its efforts make less work for both of them.

The strange dynamic that has resulted is what one biologist in the thirties called surplus male energy. It's uncomfortable now to discuss this, because it was stated in era where sexist attitudes still existed. But I think it's fair to see life in these terms. What it actually means is that males in any species have so much LESS they need to do. They have surplus energy. They use very little energy up in reproducing. Their task there is easy.

And life has harnessed that. Take a look at any termite mound and see what I mean. Surplus male energy has had a huge payback, in collective species. When looked at in terms of non-collective species, it seems more of a hindrance than a help. I was watching a documentary recently about polar bears and couldn't help but think that maybe the Black Widow spider had it right by eating her mate after he had done his job. Because in many species, males will attack and eat their own young. Male crocodiles, will eat crocodile eggs.

But human history backs up this point. Yes, Feminism is correct. The fact remains that in our current state of development, we don't need any longer to consign half our species simply to cooking and child rearing. But that is because of where we have got to. Feminism came, because human history has made it possible for both X and Y to enjoy the benefits of the human equivalent of termite mound building over the last ten thousand years.
Because up to now, most of it was pretty much driven by surplus male energy. But never forget what women were doing with THEIR energy.

A lot of human energy has gone into this process. Since we started farming, surplus male energy has gone into cave painting, metal smelting, poetry, city building, trade, war, religion, philosophy, science. Our termite mounds scrape the sky, we scurry around in aeroplanes and the motor car.

Wow. Now that's a species.
But with 6.7 billion of us, it can only have been possible because of all that surplus energy freed by women putting in an identical and equivalent amount of energy in reproducing us to such huge numbers.
Their contribution was to FREE all this surplus energy, so that men could go around hacking eachother to pieces, then putting it into verse form, so that men could find more refined ways to hunt, like sailing to India and swapping beads for tea.

And now, quite rightly they are pointing out that we are a rational and enlightened species, and simple evolution has dictated that the same basic processes tick away in the brains of both sexes, the same instincts in many ways, aside from the ones that originate in the differing life strategies of X and Y.

We both put the effort in, now maybe we can realistically look at what's best for all of us, in this changed world. What women are saying, is we now have a lot MORE surplus energy. Women's energy can be freed to. And isn't that a major step forward in the evolution of our species, that we can do so?

And women have a point. Look at the rotifer. Evolution time and time again tells us, this is a bargain. Women have a right to say that the world that was created out of surplus male energy was created because basically, women have done all the real work.

An enlightened humanity acknowledges the history of gender relations and the reason why human history was the way it was. And now it says, restructuring everything is not only doable, it's right to do it.

Because to do so, means a lot more surplus energy, to be reinvested in the future and the happiness of all of us.

The history of evolution has been a strange history of progress, driven by the curious relationship of the plant and the parasite.

But human knowledge can, and I hope, WILL change that now, not remove the dynamic, but change it into something more advanced yet.

It's time Man and Woman stood together hand in hand, as equal partners, whose efforts together created this world and acknowledged just why it is that the efforts of one half of humanity have been largely unsung.
And both enjoy the great future our efforts have made possible.

Yin and Yang are inseparable, and in their tidy fit, lies the ultimate harmony of existence.

Thursday 29 May 2008

Be The Nail

We were chatting at work yesterday and Dizzy was remarking how I can often give the impression I'm more serious than I actually am in my flirtations/dalliances.

Crushed: People take that sort of thing too seriously.

Diplodocus: Take what too seriously?

Crushed: All this Love and relationships stuff. It's nice like, but it's not the be all and end all.

Diplodocus: Most people would say it was.

Crushed: Come on! Is that all you value your life as?

Diplodocus: So, what would you describe your main priority in life as?

Crushed: To be a nail.

Diplodocus: What?

Crushed: Just one more nail. One more nail in the coffin. That's all I really want, I think.

One more nail. Because every nail counts. Every life counts.

For want of a nail, a shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe, a horse was lost.
For want of a horse, a rider was lost.
For want of a rider, a battle was lost.
For want of a battle, the war was lost.

And it matters. Because the future really is at stake.

So I'm quite happy just being a nail.
Every nail counts.

What’s called for if not a job revolution?

I’ve been thinking (which I do more often now then ever - you get like that when an outside source is influencing your life), and what I don’t understand is the work situation. Every job ad in the world contains the phrase “think outside the box”, and stale, organized (by that I mean set or rigid) and unwilling to change people aren’t desired at the job market. A job market that in itself is just those things – stale, organized and unwilling to change. Let’s add the words “square, rigid and inflexible”.

Because the job market is organized according to a certain standard – you work 40 hours a week, which means 8 hours a day, you start at a certain hour and quit at a certain hour. Some have flexible hours, which means that instead of having to be at work at 8am sharp, they can choose to come in between 6am and 9am. If they are lucky.

Lunch – whether you take it or not, is counted off of your working hours, which means that some spend 9 hours a day at the office, while getting paid for 8.

You work five days a week – 8 hours a day – unless you work shifts or put in way too much overtime at the office.

Now to the core of the problem – not every single person works the same! We all have different abilities and capabilities, which means that person A takes two hours to complete a task while person B gets it done over thirty minutes. And no, that doesn’t automatically mean person B was sloppy and did a half ass job – in many cases, it’s the quite opposite, that person B did a better job then person A, while saving 1.5h to other things.

Person A and person B both sit off 8 hours at the office – during that time, simplified, person B gets 16 things done, while person B gets four things done. And, considering most of us are measured by statistics - how many phone-calls we reply to, how many contracts we sign, how many job tasks we complete, whatever it is we do at our jobs - it’s all tallied up to nice, even numbers, percentages, and compare worker to worker.

Person B sets the standard – s/he shows that it’s quite possible to get 16 things done through a normal day. S/he hikes up the statistics, which means the slower workers get higher demands, and as they can’t perform more then they are during those 8 hours, it’s ordered overtime. When the office starts falling behind, everybody gets punished, as everybody gets overtime – the faster colleagues have to help the slower ones. 8 hours a day have suddenly exceeded to 9 or 10 or 12 – or like in some cases, 16 hours a day at the office.

Let’s play Utopia. Let’s say that the amount of hours you put in at the office isn’t squarely decided by a norm, but by how much you actually produce during that time. Say, that instead of being counted on 9-to-5 mentality, you get counted on whether you complete your job or not – and then, if you get it done in three hours, great! If you need to put in 10 hours, then, well, tough.

There’s a lot of talking about right man at the right job – which to me is fine. And I’m fully aware this rises problems for certain people, because there will always be faster rats, and it would be very irritating to see my colleague go home at noon every day while I had to stay till midnight – but if we both have point A to point D to get through, through the day, and he just is faster then me, then why not?

Today’s collective mentality is set on helping out, those that can’t or wont – the “weaker” parts of the society. That mentality is present at the job market today as well. If you complete your job for the day, you’re often stuck helping out those that haven’t, because you all should get along and think of what’s best for the company.

This is nice, some need extra help – but if person B has to do 50% of person A’s job, because person B is faster while person A never finishes, then person B should earn 50% more then person A!

Collective protest is on, huh? Because “equal job should give equal pay”. Does it? If person B completes his/her job (100%) and then has to take over half of person A’s job, because person A can’t quite hurry up (50%), we’ve got this situation:

Person A....50%......100%....+50%
Person B...150%......100%....-50%

Today, doing a good, fast job at most workplaces is like wetting yourself in a dark suit – you get a warm feeling, but nobody notices anything. And a job well done, a deadline that haven’t made a swooshing sound as it passed right over your head at warp speed when you’re half way through the project is rewarded by – more work!

How about truly flexible working hours? Measured by the amount of actual work we put in then the time we spend by our desks? I mean, most of us would prefer to have a little less conversation and coffee breaks at the office and get home earlier, then the other way around…

Imagine this – you get to work at nine am, work for four hours, have your coffee by your desk, and then, at 1pm, when you’re done with all the tasks you had set for that day, you go home. Enjoy your life.

Now, off course, this wouldn’t be mandatory. If you want to spend hours and hours at the office, work and coffee, and work and lunch and work and coffee and work and go home at 6pm, then fine. So be it. Just don’t force me to do the same.

Then there’s the morning mentality. We’ve come a long way from farming, where we need to get up at the crack of dawn to milk the cows, yet every single business starts in the morning (well, the legal ones do).

Some people are morning people – others are evening people. They feel better in the afternoon, in the evening, get more job done the later they start… why do they have to adjust to the morning routine?

I know many will protest – some with valid arguments, others for the heck of it – but in today’s individual society, with so many things that sets us apart, internal as well as external, the sheep mentality is taking over. We put our uniform on, go sit in a booth (like veal), spend our 8 hours a day at the office and then go home. No matter whom we are, how we work, what we produce. 8 hours a day, every day. Period.

So, if we had flexible work hours, and started the world on a two-shift mentality – one for morning people and one for evening people – we would soon see the benefits. Not only does a better working environment (which would be supplied by the simple fact that not everybody gets their best job done in the mornings, with a cracking whip at them) mean more actual job would get done, but this is actually a way of getting more people into work! And anything that minimizes the unemployment is a good thing, right?

Certainly, we’d have to start taking others (then ourselves) under consideration, and not crank the stereo up to the max when we get home from work or school, because we might have a neighbour that’s sleeping in the middle of the day, just because s/he starts the job in the evening. But those are small fees for a big reward. We can’t think “I’m off work now, so I’m gonna do exactly what I want”, because then we don’t have the right to complain when the evening people get home from work at, say 3am, and turn their stereos on.

Fluent hours. Fluent days. If everything would work on morning shift and evening shift – banks, shops, daycare, hospitals etc – we could actually make this work, and start enjoying our lives. Get the job done, instead of sit on our ass at the office and listen to it grow. Work, not time.

In many cases, a job means imprisonment for many – no matter what you do during the time you spend between the four walls, you have to sit your time off. How’s that efficient? How’s three coffee breaks, all longer then the standard 10minutes, because when people get together and start talking, they are not going to sit and watch the minutes tick off – and no, nobody will end mid-sentence just because his 10 minutes ran out – more efficient then one coffee break, or no coffee breaks, and shorter time at the office?

Now you might argue that this would be fine and dandy if everybody had the same capability, which I’ve already argued they don’t. I’m far ahead of you on this.

If person A has lower capability to perform then person B, then lower the expectations. Just as long as you lower the pay. You should get a dollar a task and not a dollar a minute. And, if you can manage to get 10 things done during the reasonable timeframe, then you go home with 10 bucks – if you can’t manage more then 3, then hey, 3 dollars are okay too.

Pay me for the job I do, not the time I sit off at the office. And pay my co-workers according to the same standard. Here’s another useful hint – everybody will always feel underpaid, claim they are worth more and go on strike. We are – we are all worth more. But if the nurses get more paid, then the teachers will follow, and then the factory workers and then the cashiers and then the lawyers and then the… yeah, this never stops.

Chart it. Pay according to education level, work experience, ability and capability. And task. Not time. I promise you, in Utopia, we’ll be happier.

…now… Utopia… well, we can always dream!

Wednesday 28 May 2008

Scraps of thoughts

Saw one of the women who sweep stranding under the tree outside the hostel. Face upturned, she was reaching upwards, plucking red berries off the tree. Some went into her pocket, some straight into her opened mouth....

Under the tree with the hanging branches
In the country over the sea
Tarries a woman who’s had too many chances
There she stands, waiting for me ….


It bothers me,
That someone calls to say goodnight
And seeks me out even when I hide
And it’s not you

I wake to ‘good mornings’ from everyone else
I try not to care – not to pity myself
And I wish someday ..
that message would come from you

To ask too much is to force your hand
And I do not need an unwilling man
I remember too well – they said I made
too many demands

Afraid to ask for more than you’d give
And consciously run the risk that you’d leave
Yet reluctant, still, to settle for less
Wondering if we’d both fail the test

Daring to dream, throwing dice
Love shows itself in many a guise
You here today; I gone tomorrow
Cry a cupful to drown my sorrow

And yet…

Each time you call
And tell me you miss me
I’m back again
In our fantasy
So if you should fall
I’ll come if you call me
But I’ll build strong that wall
You’ll never get to me


I reached up for the highest leaf
It brushed my fingertips
Then chose to keep on walking
Enjoying the evening breeze

Still another, a little lower
I held it for a moment
Then shook my head upon impulse
And let go without hesitation

And last I found a leaf my level
I took it in my hand
I plucked it and I brought it home
And I guess that’s how it ends.


I would like..
To be permitted to make you happy, every day...

To be your comfort, in time of need
To hold you close, while you sleep
To be waiting each day for night to fall
To be back at home at your beck and call
To kiss your feet and lie in your lap
To nod and smile when you're talking crap
To be, even, the one you scold
When stress and frustration take their toll
And I hope... I will not grow weary, or impatient,
although no doubt I will...
but then, I would be disappointed with myself..
That my love was not strong enough.


And here, some better verses, written by wise men...

A nice thought re: God....

Psalm 56: 8 - You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

And a good one by King Solomon about love..

Song of songs 8: 6-7 - Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm.For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it.If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.

I shouldn't Brag, But...

I am fast approaching my ideal weight. Key words- MY ideal weight, the weight I was in what I consider to have been my heyday...

This has largely been acheived by not drinking such huge volumes of beer- this tended to counteract my sparse eating habits and keep me up in the 11.5 stone mark (160 pounds approx).

Anyway, right now, I'm just over 10 stone. 142 Pounds, or, for readers used to metric, 64 Kilograms.
Just half a stone to go before I once more reach the waif-like physique of my early twenties- if I can get back down to 130 pounds, I'll be overjoyed...

Dizzy doesn't think I should lose any more, or I might blow away with a strong wind. The funny thing is, I almost WAS blown away by a strong gust the other day. The high buildings along the Hagley Road create a wind tunnel affect near Five Ways Island, and the other day, I really was struggling to keep my feet on the ground.

But it has been something that's cheered me up, certainly, of late. Not everything's been that marvellous recently, but the thought that I can push my weight in stone back into single figures buoys me no end. How many men can do that?

Pleasure Distribution- How the System Works

Note: I have used this post before. But put simply, this is how the REAL matrix works. This how they have us enmeshed. THEY REALLY do control you. Because they control your pleasure, they control your pain. Now, do you still want to take their blue pill?

Human society is based on a very simple premise. You can analyse as much as you like the differing motivating factors that influence people, but put simply, we are driven to experience pleasure and avoid pain.

We know when we feel good.
We know when we feel bad.

And that of course, is what the whole thing is all about.

Marx was almost on the right lines when he noticed that all human history is about distribution of resources- the power lies in the hands of those the rest of us permit to control resources.
But in a sense, his critics are right. He DID get bogged down by materials- it's slightly deeper than that.
Power rests with those who can allocate pleasure, or pain.

In early cultures, social cohesion could only work if everyone pulled together and knew the deal.

Till the fields for ten hours, get fed. It was fair. EVERYONE was doing their bit, if you didn't, you didn't get fed.
As societies got more complex, various groups needed to be removed from these labours. Someone had to be spending time thinking and planning- societies needed Generals, Poets, Philosophers, etc.

They also did their bit, and received a share.

To maintain society in these hard days, it had to be made clear.
Work with us, get pleasure.
Work against us, get pain.

Society became more efficient as the capacity of the distributors to distribute both increased.

Kings sitting in piles of gold, could give any man who really helped him, a limitless capacity for pleasure.
Whilst those who opposed him could expect a slow and painful death.

What was important, for this to really work, is that for most people, pleasure MUST be rationed.
The rate of exchange of work to pleasure must be such that most people have no choice but to obey. Otherwise, they starve.

Even if your society has progressed to the level that no one actually needs to work QUITE that hard to maintain it, that surplus labour can be used wisely. The surplus wealth created can be accrued by the pleasure-pain distributors.
As society progresses, their power capacity increases.

Another great idea was the rationing of sex. Sex, after all, is a pleasure. Society is rigged so that sex becomes forbidden, except for procreation. No man shall make love to several women, CERTAINLY no woman make love to several men- and men with men, or women with women, that serves no useful purpose, so NO.

Love making shall be rationed, like all other pleasures.

You shall marry to do it. And you need to prove yourself a hard working citizen before society will let you do that...

Conditioned, like lab rats...

Have you ever wondered why we still work all day to put a roof over our head after thousands of years of technological development?

It's simple- though the actual material wealth of our species and its capacity to feed, clothe and house us all has increased a hundredfold, that capacity for comfort and pleasure is stored up and rationed out to us, keeping us like rats on a tread mill.

You've worked hard- you can afford to go for a pint.

While Bill Gates sits on 33 Billion.

Unused pleasure tokens. He'll never use them.
How can one man EVER use 33 billion dollars worth of pleasure?

He uses it to buy PEOPLE with.
That's the point of wealth- to hold it over people, tokens they can spend.
The Corporations employ us, they pay us, we use the tokens buying THEIR goods.

Most of what we do is COMPLETELY pointless. They use up our energies, to keep us slaves- the real power game is between them, Microsoft, HSBC, Walmart, they play it every day, the real superpowers of the world.
The day to day battle to see which corporation owns most of the world. That's your precious capitalist system. That's the REAL war. The rest is an illusion.
Your governments are chosen by them, because through their newspapers and their TV stations, they TELL you who to vote for.

YOU are their foot soldiers, whether you count their money for them, sell their goods, keep their assets safe for them, process our children into more good wageslaves, or help amuse us in our hours off, we are ALL tools.

They say jump, we say how high.
Because our homes, our meals, our loves, our pleasures ARE ALL DISTRIBUTED TO US AT THEIR WHIM.

We live in a world where people work three times as much as they need to, yet most of the world's capacity for pleasure and happiness remains untapped, unspent tokens in the hands of the distributors.

They condition you. They tell you that love must be rationed, that you can only love ONE person.
They tell you all drugs are like heroin- rubbish, what really scares them is easy access to pleasure they can't control. That's why they hated the rave scene.
They hate anything that causes people to bond socially with heightened brain activity.

They press down on your nerves and keep forcing you back on to that treadmill.

And when you notice, they create imaginary fears for you.
Reds under the bed, or Islamic suicide bombers. Get real.
Who has all the nukes?

Who PAYS for all the nukes?



Rats on a treadmill.

Tuesday 27 May 2008

I Offer You- The Red Pill

This blog has a point. A very important point. Want to know what it is?
I'll let Morpheus tell you.

I think most of you who come here regularly have got that far. You took the red pill and you're still here. Sometimes you go away from here reeling, sometimes you go away shocked, quite often you don't agree with me, but hey, you're taking the red pill, so that's all good as far as I'm concerned.

Of course, taking the red pill isn't as easy for you as it was for Neo, but...

Right. So it's sinking in. Now what? I'll show you. Because if you really HAVE swallowed the red pill, than surely you realise what we're up against?

I'll demonstrate.

It's true. People don't want to hear it. They really do want to stay in the Matrix. And SOME, some will stand there crying and putting their hands over their eyes and shutting their eyes 'Don't let the truth get to me!'

Some people come here and go away wishing they had taken the blue pill...
They'd even sell out to Agent Smith to hide from the truth they fear...

THAT's what we're up against.
THAT's the level of emotional investment everyday people have in the established order that their hopes and dreams are founded on, the order that is falling apart before their very eyes and they haven't the moral courage to come out of the past and face the future.

The Western Capitalist system has created a Matrix of Party Politics, Pseudo-Democracy, Family Values, Patriotism, Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Holidays on the Costa Del Sol, The Queen, Pokemon, Walt Disney, Mastercard, Conservatories, Waitrose, Homophobia, Sexism, Racism, FASCISM, it's a Matrix.

And most people will cling onto it until the writing shines out on the wall in Neon lights.

So. You.
Blue Pill or Red Pill?

Monday 26 May 2008

The Ron Davies Problem

Here's a men from the boys post.
A wheat from the chaff post, shall we say.
You either get the point I'm making here, the whole principle of EVERYTHING I'm on about or...

You'll never get this blog.

In the spring of 1999, Ron Davies, Secretary of State for Wales, nominee to lead Labour's team in the first elections to the Welsh Assembly, went for a drive on Clapham Common.
Everybody is agreed on this.

Also on Clapham Common were- well, Crack dealers. Now let me just say, that the colour of the crack dealer that now appears in the story is relevant- to Ron- but not relevant to the fact he was selling Crack.
Because Ron wasn't looking for Crack. He WAS looking for black men.

Ron a-rolls down his window...
No, he doesn't want a baggie for a tenner. He wants to suck a black man's penis for a hundred.
'Not me gov!' says the Crack dealer 'But I can sort you out.'

And this is where things started to go wrong for Ron.

Ron returns with his new friend to an apartment in a tower block. Another well endowed black man appears.
The next bit is kind of surmise, because it seemed for ever and a day before the public heard the true story, but it seems that as Ron was just starting to get his lips round the black manhood in question, the click of a camera was heard...

Never assume the fact that a man is black, or the fact he sells Crack on Clapham Common, means he doesn't watch Newsnight...
'Hello Ron! Ron Davies, isn't it? Secretary of State for Wales? Let's go for a walk.'

They took Ron to the cash till. They cleaned him out.
They drove off with his car.
Left him standing in the street.
And rung Downing Street 'We've got this red box. What do you want us to do with it?'

That was the end of the career of Ron Davies.

OK. Not a very creditable story. And putting the red box in danger, certainly a breach of national security.

But they got the red box back. No damage was done.

Tony Blair stood up in the legislature, in front of the elected representatives of the British people and LIED to them about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
He lied to Parliament, to make them approve a war.
A war founded on the ludicrous suggestion that Saddam Hussein had an alliance with Osama Bin Laden.

And how many people have died because of that lie?

What damage to the relations between the world's peoples has that lie done?

So- what sort of people do we want holding responsible positions- Human beings who make personal mistakes, but do their jobs- or people who seem flawless, but really, it's the flawlessness of the Adept Deceiver?

Sunday 25 May 2008

Brief But Necessary Statement

Sadly, it has become necessary to clarify Blog Policy.

I have no remote intention of ever meeting any of you for sex.

Sadly, it has become necessary to clarify this point.

Being a reader of this blog disqualifies you from physical intimacy in that way.

If we ever met, we WOULDN'T have sex.

And that is blog policy.

Sorry this had to be stated.

Postscript for female friends: This wasn't aimed at any of you. This is written for the benefit of people I DON'T like so much :(

More Postscript: I decided July last year that you have to have a boundary: Don't fuck your readers. Just a bad idea. Bad for the blog. Don't do it. Never be tempted to fuck a reader. Sorry, that is- and has basically been- blog policy since July 2007. So sorry if anyone thought otherwise.


The Chimney Sweep Just Said...

'That book you got on the shelf there, The Celts. What's that about?'

Let it Out- We're All Broken

There's a good line in Crocodile Dundee where the Linda Kozlowski character explains to Paul Hogan that in America, people see 'Shrinks', not for any particular reason, but basically because they want to discuss their problems.

Paul Hogan explains that back in Walkabout Creek, if you've got a problem, you tell Wally. Wally then tells everyone else.

A problem shared is a problem halved, they say.

It's a flippant point, but of course, it's true. The scriptwriters had hit on a fairly good social point here.

I suppose the catalyst for this post is an excellent post I read recently, where a blogger really did open up their heart and tell their readers everything. It was a very moving post, and the only reason I'm not putting a bright Neon 'It's here' link for you, is because I think it was written to be read by her regular readers, not comparative strangers.

We are starting to see this a lot now, and it seems to be a good thing. I've posted things I never thought I would at one time, and in fact, the results have been surprising.
We bottle things up, fearing to tell people, not realising that telling people in fact brings us closer together, because we understand eachother better and realise we aren't alone.

It always seems to have been a facet of human existence that we have things we NEED to talk about, but don't WANT to talk about. We don't believe that talking about them will solve anything as such, except it will get it off our chests. We want to be validated, to be reassured, in a sense, to feel we don't carry it alone.

Americans don't really go and see a shrink because the shrink can help them. What s/he is doing, is listening. He is the modern equivalent of a priest hearing confession. And the real attraction with confession, is letting it out. Talking to someone. It's hearing that reassurance that you walk out being validated again, at peace with the universe.
I know that, because I used to use priests for exactly that. When I went for confession, more often than not, they became philosophical chats. I didn't just confess my sins, I would discuss my fears and anxieties too. I'd discuss how I saw Good and Evil and how they impacted on my day to day existence.

The sense that you can't lie, or keep anything back from a priest, is so strongly ingrained in me, that visiting a priest is very significant to me. Furthermore, he cannot break your confidence.

And on more than one occassion I've visited a priest not because I wanted to confess, but because I was distressed myself. In one instance, it was effectively me using confession to deal with what was stopping me sleeping properly. What was it? Well, if you must know, I'd spent several months talking to and associating with someone who turned out to have abducted children. And once I found that out, I started having problems sleeping. Because I'd chatted to him as if he was a normal person, told him things about my life, etcetera, as you do to normal people.

And once I found out the truth, I felt ALMOST abused myself. Soiled. Dirtied. I had looked into the eyes of evil, and hadn't known.
I needed to talk to someone about it, and of course, I turned to a priest.

It isn't something I'll ever forget. Because it totally shocked me. He didn't seem the sort. He really seemed such a pleasant person, shy, retiring, the type who you'd imagine kept an allotment, or went fishing. Not a child molester.
But he was.

And that was what was so hard to take in, to realise that every conversation you had with him was based on the most fundamental lie of all, the lie that he had any claim to talk to you as a human being.

It still disturbs me today. That I looked into the Eyes of Evil, and couldn't tell.

Now this story is, and I guess always will be, something that unsettles me. I never forget it, it affects the way I think in so many ways. I guess I have become hypersensitive to the existence of such people as a result. I find myself in pubs looking at people and thinking 'Is he one?'
And sometimes I want to talk about it, but thing is, it's something people don't want to hear. Every time I try to talk to my best mate about it, he says 'I don't really want to think about that stuff. Just try and forget about it. It's over now.'

And yet we all carry stuff. Burdens. Things we hide from people. Things we don't want to talk about, and yet we DO want to talk about.
Things we went through. Things we saw. Things that hurt us. Things we do. Thoughts we can't shake.

And we don't understand eachother, because we don't know.

It's a hard business, this living game. We all get battered and bruised along the way. Some things are like Aversion therapy. Everyone has their electric shocks- things which will give them an unpleasant memory, but seem innocuous to everyone else.

We spend so much time trying to appear perfect; Smart, sassy, clever, strong, that we hide our failings. We don't want to say 'I have an eating disorder' or 'I go into spasms just on seeing a cockroach' or 'I have these issues I can't come to terms with'.

But it needn't be something major. As I write this, I'm chatting to someone about an aspect of my work I don't like. And that, is getting technical specifications from 'Meat Packing Operators'. Slaughterhouses, basically. I just don't like getting down to the nitty gritty of the full process, pigs in one end, sausages out the other. I like sausages. I try hard to forget my sausages were once a living, breathing pig. And I don't find people who've worked in such an environment for a long time to be particularly pleasant people. And I find it hard to use '78,000 daily throughput' in a file, when what I really mean, is 78,000 carcasses. The whole thing revolts me, and I find it helpful to talk about it sometimes.

I think we all have things like this. We need to talk, but are scared to. Scared to be judged.
But where did it come from, this judging?

We've got used to judging, because we've got so used to not really knowing eachother. We fill in the blanks and create monsters, when in fact, the blanks are often similar blanks to our own.

I think we get so wrapped up in ourselves we don't stop to think what other people hide from us, scared of our judgement.
Is your boss a bastard because he's a bastard? Maybe he has a story he will never tell you, that would make you understand him and put yours arms round him.

When I was a child, if I broke one of my toys, I'd hide it. Why? I really don't know, but I think partly, there was this sense that you got into trouble for breaking things. And also, I didn't want to admit to a failing.

But in a deeper sense, I think we all do this. We hide the places WE are broken. We don't tell people and the problem is, they carry on treating us as if we aren't broken in certain places.

Part of the problem is power, again. As so much is. Because we are so used to hiding our flaws, we give huge power to those we show them to. We only show those we trust, but sometimes they let us down. So many times, we show people 'Look, I'm broken here' and they use that against us, they know exactly where to hit us AND IT WILL HURT.

And that just breaks us again, in another place.

And the danger is one day, we'll never trust again. Because we can't risk being broken again. But unless we trust people, how can we be healed? Unless we trust people, how can we have people guard us from being hit where we are broken?

I think it is better now we are able to 'Let it all hang out'. We find we are not alone and we actually find we aren't judged- not by people who matter. Let those who judge, judge.
Judging is something reserved for God, when people do it, it's usually because they are trying to hide the places they themselves are broken. The very fact they judge you, shows they envy your honesty and integrity. You have come to terms with yourself, they haven't come to terms with THEMselves.

So hold your head up high, and shout to the world;
'I'm broken. I have battle scars. I'm wounded here, here and here. There are things I do, I wish I didn't. I have this issue and this hang up and I'm scared of this, this and this. But I'm still here. And I haven't given up yet.'

Your scars are beautiful. The machinations we use to hide them, are not.

I would say, we're all only human, but there's no 'only' about it.

We ARE all in this together, I just don't think we appreciate quite how much. We all struggle, fight our own battles, but the battlefield we fight in, is so often the same.

We can learn a lot from eachother. It's good to talk. And good to listen too.

Saturday 24 May 2008


I'm not sure if I've posted this one before.
It's my favourite Depeche Mode single apart from shake the Disease NOT to be found on Violator. I know I've posted the entire Violator album and I know I've posted Shake the Disease.

But this track is definitely one of the best.

I will post something serious tomorrow I promise- unscheduled social activity kind of prevented a post today.

Friday 23 May 2008

What's in a By-Election?

The Crewe and Nantwich By-election;

Ed Timpson (Conservative): 20539 (49.5%) +16.9
Tamsin Dunwoody (Labour): 12679 (30.6%) -18.2
Elizabeth Shenton (Lib Dem): 6040 (14.6%) -4.0
Mike Natrass (UKIP): 922 (2.2%)
Robert Smith (Green): 359 (0.9%)
David Roberts (Eng Dem): 275 (0.7%)
The Flying Brick (Loony): 236 (0.6%)
Mark Walklate (Ind): 217 (0.5%)
Paul Thorogood (Cut Tax): 118 (0.3%)
Gemma Garrett (Ind): 113 (0.3%)
Majority: 7860 (18.9%)

Boring, for those of you outside the UK.

Boring for most of you in it, too.

And, strangely, not interesting really to me, in spite of the fact you might call me a bit of an election result nut.
I enjoy elections. I find them fascinating to watch. I'll always stay up to watch results come in.

But this one was more interesting when I first knew it was going to happen, than it was once the result came in. Why?

Well, because I wasn't shocked. It was in line with what I had guessed.
Of course it's a historic result- it's the symbolism- The Crewe part a Labour seat since 1945, represented for for over thirty years by such a well known Old Labour figure, a seat Labour held even in the 1983 rout, the first seat WON by the Tories from Labour, since 1982.

But you see, as soon as I heard Gwyneth Dunwoody was dead, my first thought was 'Potential morale boost for Cameron there.'

Of course it was. In spite of it's Labour history, demographic changes meant even Gwyneth Dunwoody only scored a 14% majority in the last election. Fact is, Crewe and Nantwich, had now become one of those seats Cameron would HAVE to win in a general election, were he to gain a working majority. And if Gwyneth Dunwoody had lived to retire at the next election, then this is exactly the sort of seat the Tories needed to win.

And in by-election, if they don't romp home in seats like this, than they obviously aren't going to anywhere.

So logical deduction, if Boris Johnson can get elected Mayor of London, then the Tories should consider anything less than a 16% swing, as a setback.

They got 17.6%. So that tells me, Cameron should scrape a majority next time. And hold Crewe and Nantwich, by a thousand votes or so.

Yes, by-elections do tell us things. But we really need to take them with a pinch of salt. People vote against not only THE government, but they also often just vote against government, period. The smaller the party, the less likely it is to ever be in government, the more likely it is to have by-election performances that bear no relevance to how well it would do in a General Election.
We know this- for about forty years, since Orpington in 1962 The Liberals, then the Alliance, now the Lib Dems, have enjoyed amazing by-election results, because they allowed voters to show they didn't like the government, without showing they much cared for the alternative government. They weren't voting for the Lib Dems as a possible government, they were saying 'A plague on both your houses- let's have an MP who has no chance of EVER sitting on the government benches'.

This one is what we would expect. It should come as no shock to anyone. Not really.

Yes, it was historic. Because of the history of the seat and the recent history of the Tories.

But a shock?


Thursday 22 May 2008

A Little Nietzche Wisdom

As I often say, the guy is under-rated. One of the greatest philosophers who ever lived.

I'll let him tell you why.

A good writer possesses not only his own spirit but also the spirit of his friends.

A subject for a great poet would be God's boredom after the seventh day of creation.

A woman may very well form a friendship with a man, but for this to endure, it must be assisted by a little physical antipathy.

Admiration for a quality or an art can be so strong that it deters us from striving to possess it.

All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses.

All sciences are now under the obligation to prepare the ground for the future task of the philosopher, which is to solve the problem of value, to determine the true hierarchy of values.

All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.

All truth is simple... is that not doubly a lie?

Although the most acute judges of the witches and even the witches themselves, were convinced of the guilt of witchery, the guilt nevertheless was non-existent. It is thus with all guilt.

Anyone who has declared someone else to be an idiot, a bad apple, is annoyed when it turns out in the end that he isn't.

Art raises its head where creeds relax.

Do whatever you will, but first be such as are able to will.

Egoism is the very essence of a noble soul.

Experience, as a desire for experience, does not come off. We must not study ourselves while having an experience.

Extreme positions are not succeeded by moderate ones, but by contrary extreme positions.

Faith: not wanting to know what is true.

Fanatics are picturesque, mankind would rather see gestures than listen to reasons.

Fear is the mother of morality.

For art to exist, for any sort of aesthetic activity to exist, a certain physiological precondition is indispensable: intoxication.

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.

I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage.

I cannot believe in a God who wants to be praised all the time.

I still live, I still think: I still have to live, for I still have to think.

In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play.

In heaven, all the interesting people are missing.

Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?

It is good to express a thing twice right at the outset and so to give it a right foot and also a left one. Truth can surely stand on one leg, but with two it will be able to walk and get around.

It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.

Madness is rare in individuals - but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule.

Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.

Mystical explanations are thought to be deep; the truth is that they are not even shallow.

Not necessity, not desire - no, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything - health, food, a place to live, entertainment - they are and remain unhappy and low-spirited: for the demon waits and waits and will be satisfied.

Not when truth is dirty, but when it is shallow, does the enlightened man dislike to wade into its waters.

Nothing has been purchased more dearly than the little bit of reason and sense of freedom which now constitutes our pride.

Of all that is written, I love only what a person has written with his own blood.

On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow.

One has to pay dearly for immortality; one has to die several times while one is still alive.

One ought to hold on to one's heart; for if one lets it go, one soon loses control of the head too.

One should die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly.

Our treasure lies in the beehive of our knowledge. We are perpetually on the way thither, being by nature winged insects and honey gatherers of the mind.

People who have given us their complete confidence believe that they have a right to ours. The inference is false, a gift confers no rights.

The "kingdom of Heaven" is a condition of the heart - not something that comes "upon the earth" or "after death."

The demand to be loved is the greatest of all arrogant presumptions.

The doer alone learneth.

The future influences the present just as much as the past.

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.

The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.

The world itself is the will to power - and nothing else! And you yourself are the will to power - and nothing else!

There are no moral phenomena at all, but only a moral interpretation of phenomena.

There is an innocence in admiration; it is found in those to whom it has never yet occurred that they, too, might be admired some day.

There is in general good reason to suppose that in several respects the gods could all benefit from instruction by us human beings. We humans are - more humane.

There is not enough love and goodness in the world to permit giving any of it away to imaginary beings.

These people abstain, it is true: but the bitch Sensuality glares enviously out of all they do.

This is what is hardest: to close the open hand because one loves.

What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

Women can form a friendship with a man very well; but to preserve it - to that end a slight physical antipathy must probably help.

Power Matrices- The Urge of The Silverback and Tony Blair

Why do we do it?

After all, it's one of the recurring themes of this blog, the perpetual corruption of human social systems, the perversion of progressive aims to create power matrices.

And yes, you could say it's a dominating theme in my mind.

I think the power nerve is the key to everything, it is the underlying flaw in human society, so powerful because it lies in the very instincts of the species. Each one of us, is power hungry.

Stark comment? Perhaps. But we first we need to look at what power is.
Power is energy. We talk of coal power, solar power, nuclear power, and we see these as good things- energy doing something.

Power really means impact.

We are social animals. The instincts of other apes are ours. But we overlook sometimes, that in many ways they are HEIGHTENED. As a species we have evolved to live collectively, way beyond the social patterns of our fellow apes. Every social instinct an ape has, is magnified in man.

We need to groom and be groomed so much more.
And the urge of the Silverback is stronger within us.

What is the urge of the Silverback?

It's very simple. It's basic survival. By effective use of social manipulation, by imposing his will on each individual separately, the Silverback creates a defence network around him suppoting his own existence. Each individual fears the Silverback so much so, they don't stop to think that collectively they can overpower him.

Creating social networks is a way of life, for all of us. We all like a bit of favorable grooming, a pat on the head, a cuddle. Our instincts are satisfied by feeling many and frequent connections.

For most of us, that is achieved as it should be, by seeing positive results.
But the need to be groomed can so easily become the urge of the Silverback. One sees it at a fairly routine level, even in social groups. Don't we all know someone who everyone else in the groups laughs WITH, but never AT, has a little coterie of hangers on, all of whom would give him a good kick, if he ever fell into the mud?

But of course, society produces more subtle Silverbacks. It took me really till my mid twenties to really come to terms with just how much we as individuals can abuse our own character facets, to effectively impose ourselves on others.

Because it's so easily done, if you have a certain type of character. And of course, when we do it, we're often not conscious of what we are doing and why. The REAL motivation.

The dark urge of the Silverback. Orwell knew what it was. The desire to make someone do something that they WOULDN'T do, unless you compelled them to.
The need to test that power nerve and check it's still there.

The point about button pressing, is that it isn't always naked use of power. A certain amount of it is necessary for society to function- although the danger is always when the users don't really stop to think what it is they are doing.

Because yes, power corrupts. But on a fairly rudimentary level, some people are born with it. And I don't mean hereditary Sultans, necessarily. I mean that it's taken me a long time to realise that if you're intelligent and a good communicator and don't look like a mis-shapen dwarf, you actually do have power, and it's very easy to abuse- because you are just doing what comes naturally, and you aren't stopping to think.

This country is starting to wake up now to the fact that it has been the victim of a con trick.

What was Blair, if not the charismatic con man?

Goodbye Boom and Bust?
'Hey Gordon, here's the deal- I'll fly on the back of the ten year Boom, you can have the Bust'.

Tony Blair, magificent in his shiny, caring, grin.
Tony Blair, with the power lust of a Caesar.
Tony Blair, the man who made nothing look like something for so long.

And his legacy? What will it be?

I think it begins with 'I'...

But the Power matrix has become more obvious- not just here, but everywhere. Of course it has, it's failing. The system is teetering, the economy that demands eternal growth has reached it's doomsday.

And adding Satan himself to the list of terror threats isn't going to change anything.

So the state becomes more blatant in it's repression. It tells us it protects us from ourselves, as it pushes down on us.

Was the Soviet Union a dictatorship because there was only one party permitted, or because the citizens could be dragged away to the Gulag, without a fair trial?

The power matrix has to try justify itself. The Silverbacks who decide what we should do to earn our food will press that nerve as hard as they can now. Because it's all going wrong. They can't deliver.
They can't guarantee anything to us any more.

They do what they do, because it's human nature.

The urge of the Silverback.

Wednesday 21 May 2008

Won't The Past Go Away?

I'm a bit too shaken right now to go visiting.
I don't know how I feel.

I've just put my own flat back into shape.

I didn't really know whether I wanted to write about this at all, but I felt you all deserved some explanation and I think I do want to talk about it, just not to anyone in Real Life.

May 14th.
It passed without me twigging. But it shouldn't have done. May 14th.

May 14th is that special anniversary.

On May 14th 2004, the Judge said Four Years.

On May 14th 2006, I walked free.

On May 14th 2007, I no longer had to report to a probation officer- although in fact, they cancelled my probation long before that.

I never stopped to think that in a technical sense, the sentence didn't end until May 14th 2008.

I have said goodbye to Ecstasy. I have said goodbye to Cocaine.

Partly because I've outgrown them. Partly because I've found things to fulfill me that aren't those two substances. But mainly, because the game just isn't worth the risks. Even using these things leaves yourself wide open.

I made a decision my thirtieth should mark an end to even sporadic recreational usage, and it's something I mean to stick to.
In spite of the drivel talked about both those chemicals, they are very easy to walk away from in some ways. They aren't physically addictive, the attraction is psychological. I'm not saying I've suddenly decided they are evil- I haven't, it's just that while the law is what it is, I now have too much too lose for brief moments of chemical high.

My bank balance, my career, this blog and the people in my life, are all sound reasons for giving up on a ten-odd year love/hate relationship with chemicals.

And I don't really miss them.

Three times in the last two months, I have refused offers on a Friday night to go to a party, where such activities would be going on. And on all occasions I have said 'No, I'm really not doing any of that any more.'

I came home today to find my door had been forced. It had been pulled to, but it was open.
The place had been turned over.

OK, it was a tip this morning. But this looked like the work of burglars.

Yes, they'd been through everything. Everything.

They took nothing.

But they left me two souvenirs.

A pile of dirty blue rubber gloves by my waste bin.

And a warrant lieing on a chair in the living room. A warrant to search the premises to look for controlled drugs and evidence of drug dealing equipment.

A little note 'We searched your place for drugs. There weren't any. Goodbye!'

Why? I asked myself.
Why do this to me? I'm thirty now. I was twenty four back then, when I was arrested.

I tidied up. I smoked- I've smoked about ten fags this evening and had about three coffees. My nerves are all over the shop.
Could someone have it in for me?

It was only when I looked at the warrant again, I saw the reason.
The warrant was applied for on May 14th, 2008.

So a computer somewhere says- 'His sentence is totally expired- give him a routine check.'

While I'm at work. Which involves leaving me with a front door which is a security risk and I'll have to repair out of my own pocket.
And the sense my privacy has been invaded, that people I don't even know have been going through my drawers.

My home. Where I feel safe. My home, which I work very hard to pay the rent for. Legally.

Tonight, I really DO feel Crushed by Ingsoc.

But I actually feel better now I've talked to you lot about it.

I'll be OK tomorrow :)

But I've only got one thing to say to my burglars in blue.


Tuesday 20 May 2008

What Does it Mean, to 'Be a Man'?

Let's start this post with a simple story.

I worked with a guy once who could have given Graham Norton a run for his money, maybe even Julian Clary a run for his money, in terms of exaggerated campness for the sole benefit of ensuring that no one, for a split second ever made the mistake of thinking he liked to sleep with women.

Nice guy. Funny guy.

But one day, I lost patience with the act.

Crushed: Did you watch the England game last night?
Julian Emulator: Crushed, I'm gay.
Crushed: I didn't ask that. I know that. I asked you about a game of football. Where you like to put your penis is not related to your enjoyment of a game of football.

And it isn't. It's gay people responding to an outmoded linkage between sex, sexuality and gender. Gay people are NOT men trapped in women's bodies. People who feel themselves to have a different gender to their bodily sex, are not homosexual. The idea that gay men are NOT masculine but feminine, is a ludicrous stereotype- a blast from the past- which the gay community could do with dropping, such as this idea that being gay and liking football are somehow mutually exclusive.

The fact is, campness is an act. It is an act developed over the ages when being gay was socially unacceptable, for like minded people to find eachother. But it IS an act. And one that a number of straight men have learned to mimic very well, for their own purposes. I should know. I'm one of them. I roll it out when it needs rolling out, so well, that I can fool most gay men into thinking I'm one of their own. And often, in social situations, it pays off. It's non threatening and if not done too ridiculously, it puts the majority of people at ease very quickly.

And it's no less real- or no more fake- than when most gay men do it. The fact is, it's a proven way of behaving that's disarming. Men behaving in a non threatening way to members of both sexes. THAT'S the secret behind the social success of gay men- and the straight men who learn to practise that way of acting, when it suits.

Quite obviously, it's put back in it's box when I stride into The Star...

I've heard it said that ALL sexuality is a social construct. I agree. But that doesn't prove that any one sexuality has been invented. What it proves is that the boxes we've created are just that, boxes.

My own view is that we still live in the shadow of sexual taboo. I don't see anything wrong with being gay, and I'll go further than that.
I've never slept with a member of the same sex, nor ever really considered it. But I'm more than willing to bet that that is largely down to believing it to be fundamentally unnatural for all my early years. I think most people in fact, are bisexual to some degree, and in most cases it's just we have a definite preference. I think most of us heterosexual males have been conditioned to be 100% heterosexual males, when perhaps, if sexual taboo hadn't still had a residue as we grew up, we'd be 70%, 80%, or 90%, inclined towards heterosexuality.

I don't think the REAL gender differences have anything to do with sexual preferences.

Men and women ARE different.
But how?

Well, as I often say in RL 'Bottom line is, they'll never p*ss standing up'.
By which I mean, of course there are programming differences. Often not the ones men believe, but there are differences in our programming.

And I think women are ACTUALLY more aware of what those differences REALLY are, than men are.
Not that feminism hasn't created it's own myths. I'm not quite convinced, for example that women are better communicators. And I think that statements such as 'All men are rapists and murderers' are profoundly unhelpful.

But how helpful are traditional ideas of masculinity? How often do any of things that make people say 'Be a man', have anything to do with masculinity?
Does physical strength and endurance make you a man?

I mean, I could come down on the side of ability to consume six pints and still be sober enough to answer comments on this blog as proof of being a man- because it suits me to do so, and there are men who would say that being able to drink a lot, makes you a man.
But it's a total non-sequiter, really.

So what IS being a man?


I have a Lesbian friend who often comments that in spite of some of my girly ways, the way I think is very male. Note she doesn't say MASCULINE. Male.

Perhaps her own sexuality enables her more than other women to recognise EXACTLY those qualitative differences which separate the male psyche from the female.

But I think I know what they are as well.

I'm going to say something now which could potentially destroy my pro-feminist credentials, so I'm first going to state that I think that since Women HAVE been allowed a role to play in scientific advance, many have made HUGE contributions. Henrietta Swan Leavitt and Lise Meitner stand out. But the point is, what type of contribution. The women of twentieth century science made advances by meticulous methodology, by pinning down details and persisting.

It is always said that one of the great things about human progress has been Man's ability to spot patterns. Making conceptual connections between seemingly unrelated facts, searching for order in seeming chaos.

The great breakthroughs. Einstein's mental leap of trying to combine laws of energy, with laws of matter.
And that, will always be a male trait.

That's how men think. Men think in terms of spatial relationships and patterns. Women observe details. That's the difference.
Highly strung males exhibit OCD by obsessing over how things are aligned, women exhibit it by cleaning.

It's the age old stereotype that women can't read maps. Stereotype, but true. And from personal observation, I've noticed that women just do not have the same inbuilt sense of WHERE they are, geographically. Go to a town where you have never been before, they soon lose track of where they are SPATIALLY, in relation to the car. To get back, they'd have to retrace their steps, only they can't remember. You don't. You actually know that going down this street on the left SHOULD lead BACK to where the car is parked. And as you go along, you point out a building 'See? That's the back of the yellow building we passed earlier.'
And they say 'Is it?'

Because out on the savannah, Homo Erectus thought 'That's the back view I had of the rock I saw from the front when I went out hunting this morning'.

Territory, positions, strategy, patterns.

It's how the male mind works.

We have found so many more useful and amazing things to do with our hunting skills. And so too have women with their nurturing skills, their homebuilding skills, their community cohesion skills.

But the instincts of the male, remain those of the hunter, the predator.

It is the joy in bonding with people- male and female- for it's own sake, the compulsive need to belong to a pack, it is the roar of triumph when a goal is scored, the passionate hugging of your friends, it is the snarl as you turn round and face off another predator 'Get off my territory!', whether done with iron fist or velvet glove, it is the obsession with games of strategy, be they chess, backgammon, pool or football, it is doing the Telegraph Crossword, it is the compulsive desire to put everything into ordered tables in clear positions, League tables, Periodic tables, classification systems, the desire to see something through.

To the exclusion sometimes, of the details.

Isn't that what women mean when they say 'Typical man'?

Testosterone and Adrenalin.

I think we all see Feminism the wrong way.
Feminism HAS been about empowering women, yes.

Because we recognised our previous conceptions of what made men and women what they are, was wrong.

Men gripe about Feminism, thinking that women now have the upper hand.
Yes, they do. But not in the way men think.

Women are coming to terms with who they are, not as men want them to be, but as they really are. Human beings, with intelligent minds, healthy sex drives, needs and desires.

And men just sit back and throw their rattles out of the pram at having LOST their power over women.
Gender relations will regain some sanity when men repeat the same exercise themselves. When they seek to learn what MEN are and come to terms with it. Not as the gender invested by God with the mastery, but as one of the two sexes into which humanity is divided, two sexes which on their own are a nightmare, but together make this species what it is.

Masculism- if we choose to use such a word- should be about finding a way to recognise and celebrate the positives in being male, the things which men should justifiably celebrate- so BOTH sexes can move forward together in equal partnership.

Then maybe we can just get on with the business of loving eachother.