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Insignificant Speck

5 min read

This is a story about sonder...


Is it useful to have a realistic appreciation of your own insignificance? Is it useful to correctly perceive that you're not significantly different from any of the 7.6 billion other people on the planet, or the 108 billion humans who lived and died since homo sapiens first appeared as a new species? Is it useful to be conscious of your cosmological insignificance, where the entire human race will be obliterated so completely that it will be as if we never existed? Is it useful to understand the fundmental laws of physics well enough to know that there isn't going to be a technological breakthrough which might allow us to travel to another star when our sun dies? Is it good to know that in the long run, nothing matters, because we live in a godless universe with no afterlife, and we are destined to be forgotten?

Just as we might become aware that every other person has a rich and complex life of their own, we can equally become aware of humanity's wider insignificance.

Warp drives, wormholes, time travel, cryogenics and hypersleep are all lovely sci-fi fantasies, but we can't even solve the basics, such as the fair distribution of wealth so that we can all have clean drinking water and enough to eat. There isn't going to be a colony on Mars. We're as likely to kill ourselves in nuclear armageddon as we are to die because of runaway man-made climate change. Yes, we've made great strides in science and technology in recent years. All those advancements are being used for killing each other in increasingly nasty ways.

The population growth trends are easy to extrapolate, along with predictions about our ability to use the available land to produce food, leading to the unavoidably obvious conclusion that we're going to have mass-starvation of billions of people, in barely a couple of decades. If you like to trot out the tired old lines about what a monster Stalin was, you ain't seen nothing until you've seen what capitalism can do to billions. It's already easy to see what industrial capitalist society has done to the environment, causing all manner of extreme weather events and natural disasters, which are anything but natural, because things are exacerbated by man-made climate change.

It's easy for me to write about the need to show some restraint and forego some luxuries, because I've been lucky enough to have enjoyed those luxuries for quite a long time. What about all those people who haven't yet had a taste of Western imperialist decadence? Isn't it unfair that those who've only ever known poverty and deprivation will never get to live a decadent lifestyle?

Many in the guardian class would prefer it if you just damn well knew your place, and stopped trying to improve your standard of living. How else are the guardian class going to snobbily believe they're a cut above the rest of the society, if every man and his dog is able to have a nice lifestyle? Get back in your place, you proletariat scum.

Thus, we arrive at the new class warfare. We ALL think that we should be at the front of the queue, and we ALL know how to get there, thanks to the internet.

The internet is a humbling place. Where else can you face such an enormous deluge of individual people who all think they're special, unique and different? Everybody's going what they think is an important opinion to share; that they have a voice that needs to be heard. Everybody thinks they're good looking, talented, intelligent. Everybody thinks they're capable of original thoughts and ideas; that they're creative.

It's hard to maintain your own sanity when you see all those social media accounts controlled by all those individuals, who've carefully chosen their name, bio, profile picture, and then carefully creates and curates their own content, according to their personality and the image they wish to project. It's hard to be a homo sapiens with the same hardware that evolved 350,000 years ago, when the population was 99.999% smaller and we didn't have any technology except fire and pointy sticks. Our brains really aren't built to cope with constant reminders that we're an insignificant speck.

We might hope to build up our social media following - our celebrity status - and begin to broadcast ourselves to big audiences, hoping to make ourselves feel somewhat less insignificant, but it's delusional. A judge and jury might convict a person of a serious crime, locking them up for life, but all 14 of those people will die at more-or-less the same time, be cremated or buried. In 4 or 5 generations, those 14 people will be completely forgotten - the criminal will be indistinguishable from those who sat in judgement. For a psychiatrist to diagnose a patient as having delusions of grandeur, is also a delusion of grandeur - both are suffering from the delusion that they have any importance at all, when clearly they are both equally insignificant.

Significance is an invention of the human mind, as a coping mechanism for the increasingly inescapable realisation that nobody matters, nothing matters, we're all dead in the long-run and every piece of evidence that we ever existed is destined to be obliterated some completely, that even alien archeologists with futuristic gadgetry, would never know anything about our entire race; our whole history.

It's pure vanity to think that you're important; that you'll be remembered.





10 min read

This is a story about faith...


I have far too much of a skeptical inquiring mind to foolishly believe that religions are anything other than a terrestrial invention, born in the minds of mortal men who were afraid of death, during unenlightened pre-scientific times. I've had access to far too much knowledge and information to ever believe in fairy tales about omnipotent sky monsters. However, it does mean that my existence is pretty absurd and meaningless. Religion gives a sense of community and belonging - those who have chosen to follow a particular faith are able to identify others who believe the same weird things, because of their weird customs, their weird traditions, their weird buildings and the weird books they read. It must be nice to have that sense of belonging, and to strongly believe that there is order, purpose, meaning and easy-to-grasp comforting explanations for everything that happens in our otherwise hostile and chaotic universe... it's all part of God's plan.

I used to pity those who have religious faith as deluded simpletons. I used to want them to wake up and consider the evidence - or lack thereof - and to have a scientific awakening; to become atheists. However, I think it's those who don't subscribe to any kind of philosophical or theological framework, who should be pitied. What do you believe in if you know - from the overwhelming weight of empirical evidence - that the universe is nothing more that a cosmic accident; the byproduct of the universal laws of physics and nothing more. Why are we here? What meaning and purpose is there? Humanity will be wiped off the face of the Earth and everything that we ever thought was important will be erased; as if it never existed. We're not even a microscopic speck in the unimaginably huge - and ever-expanding - universe.

The author Douglas Adams wrote in one work of fiction, about the worst torture being to be shown the entire universe all at once such that you fully perceive your own insignificance, which would blow your mind and destroy you. So many good novelists are more imaginative than our best scientists, and they foresee the cultural and social problems which the inventors of new technology don't, because the inventors are too in love with their creations. Our thirst for knowledge, and the invention of the biggest and most complicated machine ever built, which connects most of humanity in a world wide web - the internet - has not brought with it any comfort, unlike religion. Having this incredible information vault accessible anytime, anywhere, along with the ability to communicate and connect with anybody, is something which no engineer who built the internet thought might lead to incredibly awful social and cultural problems. Engineers are utopians, but they invent things not ideas, philosophies and belief systems. Engineers created the internet and they left it up to others to decide what to do with it; they've left it to us to make sense of things.

Google and Wikipedia appear to be unopinionated. In theory, you can use Google and Wikipedia to simply discover the information which you're looking for, and consume it. In theory, Google and Wikipedia will not tell you that certain ideas are heretical, or ascribe a sinfulness to the pursuit of certain knowledge. You're free to search "anal fissures" out of pure morbid fascination with the disgusting and depraved, and you won't be judged - it's all just between you and the computer. You can ask Google the questions that you would have asked your priest 100 years ago, and Google will give you the information so that you can make up your own mind. In fact Google is giving you the information that the most people clicked on, and some information which has been growth hacked by people with a commercial objective. Wikipedia presents the prevailing consensus of opinion in academia, with some degree of peer-review process, however it's just the opinion of the handful of people who wrote the particular page you're reading.

None of the stuff you read online is informed by an over-arching unified goal of shepherding the flock towards a state of existence deemed better than pure anarchy. Perhaps certain online news sources have editorial leanings which border on the paternalistic, but the vast majority of what's published online is done so to satisfy the particular individual's personal goals, and not as part of any master plan.

You might think it's the role of the government to think about the future of society and civilisation, and the government will be strongly opinionated about the purpose and meaning of our lives, but in fact governments are simply the victors in a commercial popularity contest, driven by individual egos and the survival needs of the massive party-political organisations. As such, governments simply parrot back whatever the people are demanding.

Progressive policies which have advanced our society have not come about because people demanded that we drag ourselves out of the dark ages, but in fact as a result of opinionated elites pushing through changes in the law which were not at all popular with the public. The death sentence is not something the public wanted to see repealed. The public are barbaric baboons and the idea that true democracy would lead us towards a progressive liberal utopia is completely wrong - instead we'd legalise xenophobia, racism and the persecution of minorities, if we left it up to the masses; mob rule.

It's wrong to assume that we have within us a moral compass; a strong sense of right and wrong and social justice. It's wrong to assume that people are basically good; they're not. People are selfish assholes. People are only interested in them and theirs, at the expense of anybody who's not like them. People are just dirty beasts with fancy clothes.

Yes, I'm pro paternalistic elitism. I'm pro social engineering. I'm pro giving people what's good for them, even though they don't like it and it's not what they want. Any move towards greater democracy is a move towards barbarism and the collapse of civilised society.

In my experience, people want simple fables; they want to believe in goodies and baddies; they want to believe in a black and white world, where everything can be simplified into easy to digest nonsense, which strips away all the complexity of reality and replaces it with comforting falsehoods. In my experience, people want to believe in lies, because lies are easier than hard truths. In short, people want religion.

Nobody much cares about the universal laws of physics and the optical illusion which makes solid objects appear to be solid, when in actual fact they're made of mostly nothing; a scattering of particles with indeterminate positions. People don't want to know about the deeply unsettling subatomic world, where things behave in non-intuitive ways. People want to believe that the world is a magical, mysterious and unknowable place, invented by a sky monster, because it's easier than grasping quantum mechanics.

Nobody much cares about the complex history of humanity and all the inter-breeding that's gone on, such that there are no 'pure blood' races. People just want to separate into "us" and "them". People want to belong to clubs, clans, tribes, nations, parties, teams, dynasties and every other conceivable way of slicing and dicing ourselves, such that we feel part of something. People want to hate. People want war and they want to dominate.

Nobody much cares that there are perfectly viable ways to divide our wealth and peacefully co-exist. Nobody much cares that billions of people could have their standard of living dramatically improved, at the expense of greed and selfishness. People want to live under hierarchies; they want to worship prophets and elevate ordinary mortal men to positions and status which are obscene and unjustifiable. Do you really think that a TV pastor deserves to live in a huge mansion while there are people starving on the streets? That's what people want - they want the haves and the have-nots.

Our terrestrial mortal destiny is in our own hands, and we know - in our heart of hearts - that when we die it's all over. There is no afterlife. There is no promised land. It's all bullshit that was invented to lessen the fear of death and make our lives of suffering appear to have some meaning in an otherwise ludicrously absurd existence. In the end you. just. die.

If our destiny is in our own hands, why aren't we making our existence on Earth into a more pleasant experience? Why aren't we bothered about making the most of the short time we're alive? Why are we content to have so much struggle, pain and suffering? We're quite capable of alleviating that suffering, but there's no will to change. We busy ourselves with absurdities, like getting jobs as bakers so that we can earn money to afford to be able to buy a slice of bread, from one of the loaves which we baked. We've constructed ludicrous inefficient systems which only serve to enslave us and make us desperately unhappy.

Of course none of this is God's plan. If there is a God - which there isn't - then why would He have us punching made-up numbers into a spreadsheet, at a desk, in an office, in the middle of a concrete jungle? Why would He have us exchanging pieces of paper with each other until the day we die? Why would He have made the money lenders into the richest and most powerful people on the planet, when His son was evidently not a big fan of usury when he drove those money lenders out of Herod's Temple?

Those who are afflicted with the madness that is religious faith might in fact be onto something, because at least their lives have meaning and they're looking forward to something, as opposed to enduring awful suffering until the day they die. We end our lives afraid and in pain and we know we're not going to see our children and grandchildren again. It might be insane to believe in an immortal and everlasting afterlife, but it's a damnsight better than anything on offer in a world run for the sole benefit of the mega-rich, which we have willingly allowed to come into existence.

In a godless universe with no afterlife, what's the meaning and purpose of anything? Nothing has any meaning. You might as well go and commit whatever crimes you want, because we all die anyway. You might as well indulge hedonistic pursuits to the maximum, because none of us are getting out of this alive.

In a world without religion, what fills that void? It can't be the pursuit of wealth, because that's even more insane.




Eccentric Orbit

5 min read

This is a story about resonant frequencies...

Wet wheels

Little things can send me into an unexpected tailspin. Little things matter. Molehills get magnified into mountains and there are storms in teacups. My life appears to be quite normal, ordered, sensible and stable, but it's an illusion: everything is really quite fragile under the thin veneer.

Last week I spent several hours trying to get the sound working on my battered Macbook Pro, which had been recently repaired after some water/moisture damage. There had been a small puff of smoke and the smell of electrical burning at the weekend, which had been rather worrisome, but the laptop seemed to soldier on unaffected... I hadn't noticed that it had become mute.

Software is my job, so I threw all of my 21+ years of experience at solving the problem, plus all the other years of my youth which were mis-spent tinkering with computers... I should have been able to fix the problem. Alas, I decided that it must definitely be a hardware problem and therefore it was going to be expensive to fix and well beyond my very amateurish soldering abilities: I'm a software expert, not a hardware expert.

It's rare that a technical problem like that defeats me. Having already spent the best part of £600 having my Macbook repaired, I was pretty disappointed that something had gone bang inside it, leaving me with a partially-broken Macbook.

I knew that I could buy an adapter for my headphones for less than £10 which would be a cheap workaround for the problem, but every single thing that's a bit tatty and old and partially-broken in my life adds up to a bigger feeling of being overwhelmed by life; that everything's falling apart.

It seems like everything that's damaged tells the same story: stuff got messed up when I myself was in a messed up sick state.

I've replaced a lot of things like-for-like and that really helps. Rather than having constant daily reminders that I broke, damaged or lost things of importance, I've spent the money to get things back to how they should be. Fixing those little things has cost me a lot of money, but the benefit is greater than you might imagine. You probably think you could put up with all the annoying little things, and the things which seem to be superficial, but I can't; it upsets me.

I forgot to wash, dry and pack a couple of T-shirts for my working week. At lunch I managed to drop some food onto my nice clean shirt that I was wearing, so I won't be able to wear that again this week. The nice hotel I was staying in near the office had a laundry service, but the one I was forced to book as an alternative doesn't have those facilities. Tomorrow I have to choose between wearing an unironed shirt, an unironed T-shirt or a smelly T-shirt. I already had to spend all afternoon sat at my desk with a stain on my shirt, because I knew there was no point in going to the car to swap my stained shirt for any of those unappealing options.

These little things - the laptop sound, the hotel, the shirt - they sound like nothing, but they have a far bigger impact my my sense of wellbeing than you would expect.

One might imagine that it's only catastrophic events which truly affect us, and everything else can be tolerated, but all the little things add up: it's death by a thousand cuts.

The things that bother me are quite mundane and boring, and some sound quite easy to fix if you don't actually have to do the fixing... for example a couple of bits of damage to the paint and plasterwork in my apartment. Any idiot knows that a bit of filler and a bit of paint will take care of the problem, but of course to repair anything properly is a lot easier said than done. Perhaps nobody notices the little blemishes and the bodge-jobs, but I do and it's me who has to see them morning, noon and night, every day of my miserable life.

It seems so petty to be whining about tiny blemishes, but the only way I can think to describe it with the analogy of a heavy flywheel which is rotating extremely fast. A tiny chip out of the flywheel's metal will cause vibration. The weight of the flywheel creates tremendously high energy from the centripetal force of its rotation, and the vibration puts a lot of stress on the axle. Before long, the whole machine which the flywheel is attached to will shake itself to pieces.

All of the disruption to my routine, my stability, my living, working, travelling, eating and other such arrangements... it's all highly stressful. Chuck in a few seemingly insignificant other things, and I worry that I'm going to fly off the handle unpredictably, or something apparently minor will trigger a major breakdown.

Why make things any harder than they need to be?




How to Become Irreverent

14 min read

This is a story about the values you raise your children with...

Church window

It seems like I have had the sentimental attachment most of us feel towards everything we revere in society systematically thrashed out of me. If you pick one thing that summons feelings of safety, security, comfort, respect for authority and faith in the divine/spiritual, then I will tell you how exactly how I came to question everything: every institution, everything sacred, every tradition, every profession, people who are normally considered beyond reproach and ultimately even existence and its purpose.

Starting with my birth, I'm literally a bastard. I was born outside of wedlock. My parents never married and always planned to remain unmarried, such that I took my mother's surname instead of my father's. Ironically, my mother had once been married, and I have the surname of her ex-husband instead of her maiden name. Confused? Imagine trying to explain that to your fellow pre-schoolers when you're 3 years old. I didn't really understand it at the time, but I understood that I was different; unusual.

My schools would often address letters intended for my parents to Mr & Mrs Grant, and my father would always tell me that I was the only Mr Grant in the house and therefore the letter was addressed to me. My mother would tell me that she was no longer Mrs Grant and she was Ms Grant. "Why not Miss?" I would ask, and she would explain that she had been married, and Miss was only used by women who hadn't been married. If anybody telephoned the house and asked to speak to Mr Grant, my father would hand the receiver to me and say "it's for you", which it never was, of course.

I understood that there was divorce and some of my school-friends were raised by a single parent, or a step-parent. My peers would often ask if my father was my step-father, to which I would reply "no". Nobody could understand how I came to have a different surname from my biological father, or entertain the notion that I could have been given my mother's surname, not my father's.

At some point, a fairly clear question formed in my mind: "why aren't my parents married?". 

The reasons why people get married had become quite clear in my mind, for the very simple reason that I had endured years and years of people's reactions that suggested that not getting married was very atypical behaviour. Nobody wants to feel unusual; freakish. Nobody likes to feel odd.

When I posed my question - "why aren't you married?" - to my parents, they replied with their own question: "why should we get married?". I had a pretty easy answer for them, as I've explained: because that's what everybody else does. "Do you want to be like everybody else?" my parents asked. "Yes" I replied.

[I just burst into uncontrollable sobbing. If it wasn't what you experienced, I don't think you can begin to understand what it's like to spend your entire childhood as the freakish weirdo; the odd one out... the one who's different from everybody else]

Having covered marriage there is a natural segue into the topic of religion, and the origins of my atheism.

For a number of formative and important childhood years I lived in an attractive terraced house in an area called Jericho, on one of the most desirable roads in central Oxford. These houses are the most expensive in the world, far exceeding real estate prices in London, San Francisco and Hong Kong, in terms of their affordability. However, these £1.5 million houses were bought by the first wave of gentrifiers, when academics and young professionals with families started to move into slummy areas because they couldn't afford family homes in the more desirable parts of the city.

When your immediate neighbours include an MP, a barrister, a heart surgeon, a City banker and a number of promenant Oxford dons and professors, their children were raised in an environment which was knowledge-rich and encouraged the exploration afforded by a curious rational mind; critical thinking. Nobody went to church. My friends, whose father was a consultant at Oxford John Radcliffe Hospital, went to Quaker "friends meetings" occasionally, but my peer group - the sons and daughters of the intellectual elite - had little place for God and church in their lives.

We should rewind a little bit, back to the village our family lived in before we moved to central Oxford. If one were to imagine the most quintessentially English picturesque Cotswolds village, with the manor house, the village green, the workers' cottages, the post office and village shop, the village pub, the village school, one should not forget the church and its graveyard. The church's presence and influence is not to be underestimated. My religious indoctrination began as soon as I started school, with the vicar regularly present. Village social events are very often church-linked, like harvest festival, and of course everybody who grew up in such an idyllic village wants to get married in that particular church, have their children baptised there and be buried in that graveyard.

Essentially, the church's opportunity to exploit a child's vulnerable immature mind were scuppered by my father. For everything that the church had a comforting but incorrect explanation for, my dad cited a lack of evidence and instilled in me the skepticism which gradually became integral to my developing personality: "show me the evidence".

When we moved to the centre of a city whose university is globally recognised for its academic excellence, I never encountered another simple-minded fool who had been persuaded to believe in Gods and other aspects of religion, which are so obviously irreconcilable with the pursuit of knowledge. Religion encourages ignorance but I had been raised to question everything and remain skeptical until I had seen convincing proof. "What are atoms made of?" I remember asking one of my friends who lived on my street. "Quarks" he replied. We were perhaps only 5 or 6 years old - the product of a childhood immersed in academic culture, as opposed to the sentimental and traditional.

The disturbing and unpleasant consequences of an irreverent life can impose themselves on a child at a worryingly young age. I've already been uncontrollably sobbing about just one thing - the tradition and sanctity of the institution of marriage - and I haven't even mentioned how a child deals with the concept of mortality and threat of death without the comfort of religion.

A US Air Force pilot who drank at the village pub which my parents later bought and now live in, drunkenly boasted about the ability of the United States to wipe humanity off the face of the earth. I was definitely no older than 4 years old. With my friend with whom I had discussed subatomic particles, we talked about the temperatures which could be reached near ground zero of a fission or fusion nuclear bomb, and how the radiated 'heat' (electromagnetic radiation) had instantly vaporised human beings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with only their shadows left behind, permanently etched into the walls of buildings.

If you believe you live in a Godless world with no afterlife you naturally want to know what everything's made of if God didn't make it; you want to know why it's here. How did it get here? Why is it here? You start to pick everything to pieces by iteratively asking what each thing is made of: humans are made of cells, and cells are made of molecules, and molecules are made of atoms, and atoms are made of quarks and leptons... and you can in fact keep asking the question. There's good proof that the electron is not a fundamental particle, as had originally been thought.

When your schoolmates are smart-arse little shits, because their parents are brilliant academics, teachers and school loses its awe and authority. If you're being taught science that's almost 100 years old, and sometimes even 200+ years old, the whole exercise is nothing more than a box-ticking exercise to be endured.

The other thing to consider is that my parents used illegal drugs on a daily basis, and had strong views about the legitimacy and usefulness of the law, certainly in the instances that suited their own addictions. As with many drug users, they were very paranoid. They viewed the police as corrupt and not to be trusted - the enemy. My father's criminal conviction for drugs not only poisoned his views on the police, but also made him very anti-American, as he believed he would never be allowed to enter the country due to his criminal record.

[I'm crying again]

It was only because of first-hand dealings with the police that my viewpoint changed from skepticism due to lack of evidence: the police had never caused me any harm, and in fact I had never had any dealings with the police at all for most of my adult life. You might be surprised to learn I adore and respect the police. My accumulated experience of police encounters has consistently shown that they are some of the most kind, patient, empathetic, forgiving, reasonable people, who have always gone out of their way to bend the rules and simply help as opposed to ever enforcing the letter of the law.

One shouldn't mistake my respect for the men and women of the police force for reverence. I would never for a minute expect that a 999 call is somehow going to be the answer to my prayers. I don't feel safer or more secure, knowing that I can call for police assistance. I wouldn't feel any more comfortable in a stressful situation if there was a police officer present. Of the very many police men and women who I have had first-hand dealings with, they have always treated me very fairly and kindly, and it's quite clear that they deal on a daily basis with a huge number of very vulnerable and damaged people, which they do so with incredible compassion - they are the living embodiment of humanity not deities who should be worshipped and revered.

[More crying]

So if I don't revere priests, vicars, teachers, headmistresses, marriage, religion, military superpowers, soldiers, the police, the law and my own parents, what else is there left for me to lack reverence for?

Cumulatively, I've spent almost 6 months having my life saved in hospital - often in high dependency and intensive treatment unit (ITU) wards. Shouldn't I revere doctors; surgeons?

I think that if there was one thing that would make almost anybody feel more secure and happy in a stressful situation, it would be knowing that there's a doctor present. It's such a clichéd question: "is there a doctor here?".

To explain my irreverence for doctors, we merely need to explore the reasons why I have ever had to deal with one, and the outcomes of those interactions.

Having been lucky enough to escape congenital abnormality, it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out what I want from a doctor and why. You don't need to spend 5 or 6 years at medical school to know that the human body has been dealing with pathogens since the species first came into existence. You hardly have to be brain of Britain to figure out whether you're dealing with a viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection, and furthermore, which is likely to be treatable. In actual fact, I've never been to my doctor for antibiotics: every infection has always cleared up on its own. Fungal and parasitic infections can be dealt with without a doctor obviously: head lice shampoo is available in every pharmacy, without a prescription, for example.

At the age of 28 I went to my doctor wanting treatment for depression, but I knew which specific medications I was prepared to try and which medications I didn't want because the side effects were not acceptable. Having my choices limited only to SSRIs provided firm evidence that doctors were an obstacle to be overcome, not a panacea.

When we think about the first time I was hospitalised, do you think I didn't know that I was going to end up there and what the problems were going to be? Do you think it was an accident that I ended up in hospital?

Again, you don't need to spend 5 or 6 years at medical school to know that the human body needs water, salt, glucose, proteins, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and myriad trace elements, or else the bodily functions haven't got the fuel, carrier fluid and raw materiels they need. You don't need to be a doctor to know that human body temperature needs to be homeostatic as much as possible - much like every other measurable thing in the human body - and any extreme variation too high or too low is going to have dire consequences.

When you are making choices in full knowledge of the likely consequences, medicine ceases to be lifesaving magic, and instead it becomes another simple case of what do you want and why?

One must consider the very last time I was hospitalised to truly understand my irreverence.

Not only had I quite carefully pre-planned my suicide attempt, when I arrived at hospital against my will, I gave very clear instructions: do not put activated charcoal into my stomach, do not perform gastric lavage, do not intubate, do not provide life support and most importantly of all, do not resuscitate. "Do you know what's going to happen?" the A&E doctor asked. "Yes. I'm going to die of a combination of organ failure and serotonin syndrome, with a lot of seizures" I replied. "Do you think you'll be unconscious? Do you think it'll be painless?" the doctor asked. "No. I expect that it will take a long time to die and I'll be conscious and in a lot of pain for most of it" I replied. Then I started having seizures.

Doctors see a lot of people who are scared and they don't understand what's happening to them. They're desperate for somebody who seems to know what they're doing and what they're talking about; doctors are an authority figure. I have no doubt that for feckless simpletons and those who lack access to medicine, the arrival of a doctor or a priest/shamen/witch-doctor is incredibly soothing and comforting. If you don't know what you want and why, your reverence is misplaced, but it may still ease your passage from life to death.

When shit goes bad, who are you going to turn to? If you have to pick your team of people to survive on a remote island, who are you going to pick and why?

Why revere anyone? Why kiss anyone's arse and tell them they're great because they did the study and training that you could've done if you wanted to. You could have passed those exams. You could have gained those qualifications. You could have followed that path if you wanted to. If you wanted it bad enough, you could put on that uniform; you could get that job title; you could prefix or suffix your name with the bit that tells the world just exactly why everyone should drop to their knees and worship you.

Nothing's sacred to me. I could do your job if I wanted to.

I'm not smarter than anybody. I'm not better than anybody. That's the whole point: I'm lucky enough to not have anything that's holding me back; limiting my potential.

I really don't recommend telling your kids they can follow their dreams and be anything they want to be. I really don't recommend telling your kids to question everything, and understand everything about how the universe works, to the point where they reach the very bleeding edge of scientific research. I really don't recommend raising your kids to challenge the status quo and resist the urge to fit in with wider society and their peers.

Take it from me: there's a mind-destroying kind of cold uncaring "nothing matters" bad feeling that comes from being too rational; too much of a free-thinker. Take my word for it: understanding the absurdity of existence will destroy your mental health.

You should probably experiment with hard drugs. That's probably way less likely to fuck up your life than going down the rabbit-hole of picking everything to pieces and trying to reason from first principles and pure logic.




Without hope, why go on?

6 min read

This is a story about motivation...

King of Bohemia

In a godless universe with no afterlife, if you're not fulfilling the will of your genes and reproducing, what's the point in being alive? We all die and we're all forgotten; everything is meaningless. Entropy will destroy everything that's structured, ordered and regular - we are being systematically destroyed; in the blink of an eye it will be as if we never even existed... all of human history, all civilisations, all buildings, all scientific knowledge, all great men and women, all works of art... it will all be gone.

Replication; reproduction is the force that fights against entropy. While entropy seeks to return everything to a jumbled and unordered chaotic mess, molecules that are mathematically probable to exist turn into more complex hydrocarbons, acids, proteins and all the other building blocks in the primordial soup, from which emerged the first self-replicating entities. Replication is as inevitable as the force that destroys everything that is ordered and regular, and returns it to disorder and chaos. Replication is the yin to entropy's yang.

The fact that you are conscious today, and not at some earlier point in history, is proof that you're the only consciousness in the cosmos. When you die, the universe dies with you too. You are the sole observer of events from your frame of reference, which means that your universe is unique to you. There are lots of other universes that are similar, but you cannot be conscious of those where you are dead, because your consciousness has ceased to exist, or never existed in them - you can only be conscious when you are alive. It's inevitable that there would be many other self-replicating entities in your universe with you, in close proximity, because of the spectacularly improbability of all the circumstances being right to create a consciousness - of course there'd be billions of very similar entities, with all very similar experiences, and all similarly 'conscious'... but your consciousness is unique in your universe, and your universe will end when you do.

If you're fulfilling the will of your genes, you are not conscious, you are merely one of the hundreds of billions of human animals that lived and died before you - unthinking fucking baby-making machines, making yet more beasts which will fuck and make more babies... and so on. You're just a disposable bundle of chemicals that has been used to replicate your genes. You're spent. You're trash. You're a husk; a shell.

In a godless universe with no afterlife, there's no point in anything, so you might as well do whatever you want. It could be a good excuse to live a hedonistic pleasure and sensation-seeking life that will maximise the amount of euphoria that you feel. However, you might sadly discover that you're immortal and find that your morals are completely corrupted. If you believe that the reason for living is to maximise your pleasure, what's to stop you raping and killing, just for fun? What's to stop you from raping the earth for your own pleasure? What's to stop you using and abusing the whole human race, and leaving the surface of the earth scorched and barren, plundered for every single drop of pleasure that you could possibly extract?

Thus, we arrive at a vision of hell: a planet made uninhabitable by an all-powerful immortal overlord who believes in nothing except their own pleasure, and damn the long-term consequences. It's pretty easy to see the evidence for that all around us.

Is there a middle ground?

I like to think that one day I'll be able to quit the rat race and become an artist. You might say that I'm already an artist, because I'm a writer, but the bulk of my time and effort is diverted into very mundane bullshit. My day job exhausts me. The need to pay rent and bills and service debts is a huge stress and a strain; a distraction. I'm completely unable to immerse myself in art, because of the arduous job of simply keeping a roof over my head and putting food on the table.

I've worked very hard during my 21+ year full-time career, and although I've been able to pursue a period of hedonism up to the point where it nearly killed me, I've not been able to ever pursue something I really love and am passionate about. It seems like the opportunity to indulge my passion for art might never be realised - it's somewhat unattainable.

I work, always with the slim hope that through hard work I'll be able to dig myself out of the hole and be able to then follow my dreams, but the realisation of that hope is eternally just out of reach. Hard work just isn't paying off. It doesn't matter how hard I work, and how long I work for... I can never reach my goal.

Why bother? Why bother with the early mornings and the dreadful boredom? Why put up with the stress and the anxiety and the slog of it all? Why put in the effort? Where's it getting me? Where's the payoff?

If life is about the hedonistic pursuit of pleasure, I can do that today and not have to work a single day more. I can end the struggle and return to my hedonistic life. Why bother struggling any more?

However, if life is about following your dream, and ideally pursuing some aesthetic abstract thing, like art, then I don't think I'll ever get there. I think being an artist would be perfect, because it's a change from the relentless pursuit of things that simply consume and exhaust resources, like procreation and hedonism, growth and conquest, business and capitalism, war, slavery and all the other things that inflict untold human misery.

I feel like I should be more comfortable than I am; more able to be an artist; more free.

Why go on? Why struggle anymore?

I'm not sure if I want to kill myself, or if I just need 2 weeks lying on a beach in a hot country.




Mother's Day

5 min read

This is a story about thankless tasks...

White rose

If you wanted a companion animal, you should've gotten a dog. If you wanted unconditional love from your dependent, you should've gotten a dog. If you expected to get more out than you put in, you should've gotten a dog.

Children are not dogs. Children can't be trained to be obedient creatures that adore their owners. Children don't owe their parents anything. Respect is earned. Trust is earned. If you want to be loved, love. The arrow of responsibility is clear - parents are responsible for their children, but not vice-versa. Parents make a selfish decision to bring children into existence, without their permission. Existence is agonising. Unless you can give your children the opportunity to do anything they want and fulfil their potential, what the fuck are you doing creating more mouths to feed on this overcrowded planet? To inflict the agony of existence onto an innocent child is a sin. To bring kids into the world when you care more about your studies, your career, your sex life, your drugs, your alcohol, your cigarettes.... what the actual fuck?

I'm an antinatalist. "There's never a right time to have children" - you're damn straight there isn't. Take a look around. Poverty and suffering is rife and living standards are declining. The reason why you were in two minds about getting an abortion is because you know that you should have done. You should have used birth control. Children aren't accidents. We're not primative beasts. We know where babies come from and how to prevent pregnancy. We know how to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Children know when they're unwanted. Children are receptive little sponges, who pick up on all those subtle hints that they've somehow made life more stressful and unpleasant. Children didn't ask to be born.

"What if my child becomes the next Mozart or Einstein?" some mothers might ask. There's a presumption that by choosing not to have children, we might be depriving society of potential geniuses. The truth is that 99.99999% of children will be useless fucktards, tormented by the agony of existence and a total waste of oxygen. The truth is that it's a very flimsy excuse for inflicting existence onto an innocent child, to argue that it's a contribution to society.

There are very good data to suggest that abortions have been hugely beneficial for society. When birth control and abortions became more commonplace in the 1960s and 1970s we saw a huge fall in crime rates 15 or 20 years later. We know that lower birth rates lead to more advanced civilisations. If you consider yourself to be educated and intelligent, you should make the smart choice and not have children, because it's immoral to eject these unfortunate creatures from your vagina into the present harsh reality. The world is a shitty place and it's getting shittier by the day. It would be better not to exist.

If you want a companion animal, get a dog.

Even getting a dog is pretty cruel. Dogs are hungry all the time, bored, and we cut their balls off and cut out their ovaries. Dogs are enslaved for our enjoyment, sitting at home all day in their crates (i.e. cages) waiting for us to return home, patiently waiting for a bit of attention. The life of a child is worse, because a human has greater intellect. A human can better perceive their own suffering. Existence is agony.

If you've got kids, fine, whatever. You did your thing. Whatever. Don't expect me to fucking congratulate on doing what every ancestor of yours did, back to the time when life first sprung into existence. Don't expect a fucking medal for acting just like every other stupid beast that ever existed. There are no medals for acting like slime mould or an amoeba. There are no medals for procreation - it was inevitable that you were going to spread, like bacteria or a parasite; it was inevitable that you were going to act like lichen or moss, or any other kind of fucking brainless organism. No medal.

Being a mother is a thankless task because no thanks are owed. There's no debt. There's nothing to be thankful for. You didn't do anything, except that which every ancestor of yours did back to the first replicating organism that ever existed. No thanks for simply being are owed.

It's harsh, but it's true. I have no reverence for mothers, fathers, parents or any other replicating individual. There's nothing special. There's nothing to be celebrated. There's nothing, except what is demonstrably inevitable given the universal laws of physics and evolutionary biology. I'm sure dads are pretty chuffed that they managed to get somebody pregnant and they've passed on their genes to some unfortunate offspring, but don't ask the children to be grateful. Existence is agony. Existence is a curse.

This is super bitter and aggressive, but this is the fact of the matter. Existence is a curse. No thanks are due. If you had a shred of morality, you wouldn't inflict existence on the innocent. If you had a shred of moral decency, you wouldn't perpetuate the suffering.

Yes, children bring joy. Yes, children have moments of happiness. The point is though, do they owe you any thanks? Are children inheriting a world they're going to be able to have a nice life in? Perhaps there would be thanks due if living standards were improving, but they aren't. All that awaits is a life of indentured servitude. All that awaits is climate change, economic collapse, housing crises, pensions crises, debt crises and all the other problems that have been stored up for the younger generations; the childless.

It's immoral to just hope for the best, when the evidence is quite clear - the world's a fucked up miserable place. Thanks for nothing.




Long Case

9 min read

This is a story about medical notes...

Hospital Note

My ex-wife - a biochemist by way of undergraduate degree - once screamed at me in an incoherent rage because I had innocently asked her "how big is a protein?" having wondered how many nanometers across, the average protein molecule measured. The sheer audacity of me asking such a question enraged her, perhaps because free thinking is expressly forbidden in an academic world which promotes rote-learning of facts and examinations graded to a marking scheme, ahead of learning.

(The answer, by the way, is roughly 3 nanometres in radius).

When I attempt to answer a difficult question, I sometimes pause and chuckle. "What is consciousness?" came one question. Although I was desperate to talk about weakly interacting subatomic particles, General Relativity and nuclear fusion, I somehow managed to constrain myself to a meaningless analogy, while keeping quiet about my "mind's eye" which could picture every piece of information that captured my entire existence, smeared out in a infinitely thin sphere at the event horizon of a singularity, across all meaningful spacetime for the entire universe that I will ever perceive, which would have been rather a mouthful to express.

Just as one may cram for an exam the night before, I've attempted to only ever amass the prerequisite knowledge that may be considered the minimum viable to navigate whatever situations I have had to endure to reach my goals. Education has never seemed like an end in and of itself, given that our understanding of the fundmental nature of reality is evolving, and the Standard Model of particle physics is rather long in the tooth. Although I find it quite delightful that there are quarks named strange, charm and beauty in the particle zoo, I would find it rather frustrating to dedicate years of my life, obtaining a degree and writing a thesis using tools which may soon look as clunky and outdated as Newton's inverse-square law of gravity.

The mathematicians will mock physics as simply being applied mathematics. The physicists will mock chemistry as simply being applied physics. The chemists will mock biology as simply being applied chemistry, and so on.

Computers are now capable of solving equations and modelling real-world phenomena, potentially making algebra and calculus into dying arts, along with handwriting and long-division. The Fractal Geometry of Nature has revealed that cold rational calculating machines can produce simulations that imitate reality, through repeating patterns. Massive computational power does not only aid human discovery of hidden algebraic equations.

Amid much fanfare, computer software is touted as potentiating new drug discovery by simulating molecular binding, protein folding, rapid gene sequencing and personalised medicine. However, we seem to have forgotten that half the planet is impoverished & hungry, and vast numbers of those who are fortunate enough to live in advanced, wealthy & technologically advanced societies, are suffering from an epidemic of anxiety, depression and other mental health issues that is bad enough to drive vast numbers of men in the prime of their life to commit suicide: the biggest killer of males under the age of 45 in the UK - more than road traffic accidents, drug-related deaths, physical disease, murder, accidents and all the other causes of death.

One should consider that I took leave of my senses in 2008, but since that time I have only managed to attract two clinical diagnoses - convenient medical short-hand - although I have acquired a third which is perhaps the bluntest instrument of the three, and much more of a pejorative than a diagnosis.

"Substance abuse" is a catch-all term which serves me well when I haven't the time & energy to go into detail. Given humanity's long history of self-intoxication, some physicians would consider themselves to be well-versed in the matter. Even the most insulated amongst us, will have struggled to escape contact with a drunk in our lives. We quickly forget, of course, that psychiatry is an extremely young discipline. The isolation, refinement and synthesis of molecules which can short-circuit brain mechanisms, is something that dates back only 70 or 80 years, along with the branch of medicine chiefly concerned with treatment of matters of the mind.

The brain: the most complicated organ in the human body - estimated to have up to a quadrillion neuronal synapses - is often considered only in terms of its vital function as central nervous system, insofar as the same fatty grey matter helps other species to fuck, fight, flee and feed. This does not, however, tell us much about human consciousness, and even less still about pathological thought.

I once sat down and hand-wrote 12 pages of notes, from memory, of every General Practice doctor, psychiatrist and hospital, which I had attended during a 7 year period. Although I kept things as brief as I could, with names, dates and locations, as well as diagnoses and medications, there was a great deal to write. I'm not a complete hypochondriac - there were important notes about my episodes of depression and hypomania, where my mental health had caused me to become significantly dysfunctional.

Perhaps your mind is now skipping ahead - as mine often does - and you're attempting to finish my sentences. Presumably, you're trying to guess the punchline of the joke. I assume you've already got more than enough information to diagnose and treat me.

I'm second-guessing myself here, and I'm struck by the egotism and "navel gazing" of the very act of being sufficiently appraised of my own medical history that I should remember such a level of detail. Who the hell am I to take an interest in my own diagnosis and treatment? Where's my certificate, framed on the wall? Where's the photo of me wearing a mortar board & gown, and clutching a scroll of parchment with a red ribbon tied around it?

When I think about where I should spend my precious time and effort, I'm not motivated by the prospect of being an understudy to a failure. While psychiatry continues to produce dismal outcomes for humanity, in terms of the epidemic of mental health problems, addiction and general societal collapse under the weight of stress and burnout, I'm reluctant to follow in the path of those who are not succeeding in improving the human condition. It should however be noted that I do not for a single moment, criticise the well-meaning intent of those in the healthcare professions, nor do I mean to discredit the lifesaving work that takes place every single day.

The idea of using myself as a case study seems quite ridiculous, but one must consider that it would be unethical to - for example - risk a person's life when there is a treatment available that has been proven to be more effective than placebo.

With a sample size of one, perhaps nothing useful can be gleaned from my first-hand experiences, but I have attempted to corroborate my findings with other evidence wherever possible. I have deliberately avoided areas where another data point would make no difference: what use would it be if I too experienced anorgasmia as a result of SSRI medication, for example?

A great deal of our knowledge regarding the anatomy of the human brain has been gleaned from unethical experiments on unconsenting psychiatric patients - lobotomies, testing of medications and induced seizures. Animal studies have been gratuitously gruesome, with a great deal of unnecessary suffering inflicted upon primates. I'm not an anti-vivisection nutcase, but there must be very tangible goals to justify the means of obtaining the results.

To bathe a brain in psychoactive molecules that will cross the blood-brain barrier, is barbaric when we consider that the theoretical reasons why drugs have the effect that they do - the theories have so often been disproven. The 'chemical imbalance' theory that said that depressed brains had lower levels of serotonin, and that SSRIs would increase levels of synaptic serotonin, has been conclusively disproven, yet it is still a widely-circulated myth.

The much-vaunted sequencing of the human genome looks like a ridiculous white elephant of a project, when we consider that epigenetic gene expression had been discovered to allow genetically identical animals to exhibit completely different physical characteristics, depending on the environment that they have been exposed to.

In a collapsing global economy, education is one of the few sectors that's not feeling the pinch, and good solid science is getting drowned out in a sea of noise: pointless research. There are already excellent animal models which demonstrate that overpopulation and otherwise horrible living conditions, will produce a "behavioural sink" and addiction, in individuals who would otherwise lead happy healthy lives.

It has seemed fairly obvious to me from the start, that my mental health problems have stemmed from the ethical objections I had to the conduct of financial services organisations, and the role of global capitalism in ruining billions of human lives, in pursuit of unrestrained, unregulated and immoral profits, to the exclusion of any and all consideration of long-term consequences. In short: my problems should not be medicalised. I'm having a sane reaction to an insane world.

While this essay goes well beyond the "answer A, B or C" multiple-choice options on the prescriptive menu that is on offer, I feel that this does not invalidate the points I am making.

To have invested heavily in a mainstream education, would be to risk becoming incoherent with rage whenever somebody was so impertinent as to ask a thoughtful question - questions that spring into a mind that's unconstrained by the narrow status quo viewpoint, rote-learned while kowtowing to those with the necessary credentials to approve clones of themselves.

This is not "my ignorance is as good as your knowledge" anti-intellectualism, but instead a suggestion that we don't need so many people who've all read exactly the same books and sat more-or-less exactly the same tests. Moving towards intellectual homogeny is as dangerous as book burning, in my opinion.

In conclusion: this is a convoluted way of saying that you're unqualified to judge me, although you're possibly technically correct if you say that my problems are mostly of my own making.




Don't Scare the Horses

6 min read

This is a story about comfort...

New Forest Ponies

Halley's Comet will next be visible in our skies on the 28th of July 2061. If I live that long, I'll be 82 years old, which is not inconceivable given that the current life expectancy of a man in the United Kingdom is 81.6 years old. As a lifelong non-smoker, I've also enjoyed a highly nutritious diet and not done a lot of manual labour or worked with particularly toxic chemicals - in theory, I can reasonably expect to live longer than the current national average, which increases quite steadily. In fact, on average, most men my age can expect to live into their 90s.

Edmund Halley was able to calculate how regularly the comet that now bears his name, would be visible in our skies, in 1705 - just 18 years after Isaac Newton published Principia Mathematica which famously contained the inverse-square law of gravity.

Today, we are lucky enough to have telescopes capable of tracking celestial objects with incredible accuracy. We are also blessed with Albert Einstein's General Relativity which allows us to calculate the movement of the heavenly bodies, in agreement with our observations. Before Einstein's GR superseded Newton's law, the orbit of Mercury had not matched up with the predictions of the prevailing theory.

The question that we are left with is this: were the scientific community to discover a huge space rock hurtling towards Earth on collision course, would it be ethical for them to tell the general public?

I'll rephrase and repeat that question again for emphasis: if it were to be discovered that we're all going to die when a massive asteroid smashes into the planet at 38,000 miles per hour, then should we know about it?

Ignorance is bliss.

There will be a certain proportion of society - those who believe all the plants, animals and the Earth were created by a sky monster in just 6 days - who would be resistant to anything that challenges their dogma, no matter how incontrovertible the evidence. There are people who are ridiculously wilfully ignorant, despite the facts, scientific consensus and oversimplifications that spell things out in words of four letters or fewer, complete with cartoon picture-books.

However, one would have to assume that a large proportion of society would accept that they're going to die in an incinerating fireball, earthquake, tsunami, shockwave or some other catastrophic consequence of a huge rock vaporising at millions of degrees, as it collides with the globe.

We could know the specific day that almost everybody is going to be wiped out. Any survivors are likely to die soon after the asteroid impact, due to a cloud of dust and ash that will block out all the heat from the sun. If we were to burn all the coal, oil, gas, trees and use every other energy reserve we have on the planet, we'd only be able to keep ourselves alive for a matter of hours.

Leaving the planet to go and live on the Moon or Mars is a ridiculous idea - only a handful of people would be able to go, and they'd soon die without shuttles from Earth to restock them with everything that moons and planets lack to support life.

The choices are: stay and die, or leave and die.

Given that most of us are going to die in a horrible catastrophe here on Earth, do you think we're just going to sit back and calmly let the billionaires leave and watch our death from space, like some kind of firework show?

Knowing that we're going to die on or around a certain date, along with our family, friends and virtually everybody else on the planet, do you think we're going to act like normal until it happens?

Obviously, there would be anarchy, chaos, looting, barbarism.

If the general public were to learn of the impending doom, wouldn't they plunge civilisation into such chaos that any efforts to save the planet would be derailed - it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy, because the scientists and engineers who might be able to save the entire Earth and its residents, would be ripped limb-from-limb by a crazed mob.

The public might not mean to shoot themselves in the foot, but they surely would. Some people who've seen too many Hollywood movies would endlessly insist that we fire off our entire nuclear arsenal to vaporise the asteroid in space, which would in fact cause masses of fragments of highly radioactive rock to be rained down on half the globe, in a far more destructive bombardment than anything we'd suffer in a single impact.

Deflecting an asteroid could never be done on its impact orbit - the object would be too heavy and travelling too fast - so we simply wouldn't have enough time once we'd discovered the huge rock on collision course to kill us all.

We would be rabidly demanding the impossible, or simply wanting to live a few hours, days or possibly months longer, at the expense of 7.6 billion other souls - diverting our precious resources into lifeboats that would carry us into the hostile vacuum of space: out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Those who grasped the hopelessness of the situation would resign themselves to their fate. Knowing that it would be unethical to bring children into a doomed world, would we kill ourselves, live with the melancholy or become hedonists in our remaining time on Earth? Why bother going to work? Why bother paying your rent or your mortgage or otherwise attempting to lead any kind of life like your ancestors, when an extinction event is inevitable?

If the general public learned of their imminent demise, the collapse of civilised society would be inevitable. So, is it ethical to tell people? In some ways, I'm glad that the world is full of climate change deniers and people who believe that the Earth is flat. It seems plausible that we may have already reached the point of no return, and there are individuals who know beyond all reasonable doubt that we're all going to die, but they are comforted to know that the general public are sufficiently stupid to not realise until mere moments before their death.

Don't scare the horses.





5 min read

This is a story about winning a prize...

Visitor stats

This week's big climber in the UK top 40 is a new single from the National Health Service. This band has been churning out smash hits since 1948 and is loved by tens of millions of fans. Here on Top of the Pops tonight, you'll see a live performance from this sensational act. Keep watching to find out what the UK's number one hit single is, at the end of the show.

Here on this page are the dry words of a deranged individual. How will you choose to interpret them?

Language is a rather crude and imprecise tool to fully express ourselves. Ambiguity creeps in and the thoughts and feelings of the author are not communicated with high fidelity - each reader will arrive at a different impression from the text.

As a software engineer who's been building systems for some of the world's biggest companies for over 20 years, I could easily copy Uber's dastardly tactics of diverting any web requests from a certain region of the country - e.g. a specific city in the North of England - in order to display a different page.

Most of my readers are using smartphones or tablets. Readers who are using Windows XP and Internet Explorer are quite unusual, and it's easy to flag up those anomalies - they stand out in the data that I gather about my visitors.

It's not hard for tech companies and technologists to present something that has been customised and tailored for each visitor. You might think that you'd see the same Google search results as somebody else, for example, given the same search terms, but Google works very hard to identify individuals, even in their anonymised dataset.

Traditional print-media widely reports that we are living in social media bubbles, where we are fed things that we like, because we're more likely to share that content and spread it 'virally'. What is less well reported is how wedded we are to the walled gardens that we live in - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat et. al.

How long are you going to keep reading for? There's nearly 700,000 words here. Are you gonna read it all?

The best defence against anybody who would seek to jump to the wrong conclusions and make silly assumptions, is to present more data than can be reasonably processed - information overload - such that the farcical nature of reducing the complexities of life to some pathetic synopsis, are exposed as pure stupidity.

Of course, we would all love to feel that we understand all the laws of the universe. I've fried my mind with stacks of books and papers on theoretical physics, attempting to understand the fundamental nature of reality itself. Emotionally, I don't want to admit defeat, but digging deeper only seems to reveal even more unfathomable weirdness. Some of the quarks are called strange, charm and beauty. I love that.

Are you bored yet?

Can you not see that my intention is to create a maze of complexity that's impenetrable? It's not possible to know my mind. Even for me, I struggle to understand fully why I say and do the things I do. If it's hard for me, it's going to be impossible for you to dissect or categorise me; to judge me and to simplify me into something that can be captured by written language on a sheet of paper. What are you going to write in your report or your email?

There's mockery and disdain here, but if you dig a little deeper I hope you see that I don't have disrespect for anybody whose intention is to help and support me, and I have no intention of damaging my own treatment and recovery, nor anybody else's, nor cause any difficulty for the hard-working staff of the National Health Service and the ancillary support services.

Today, I'm a free man - an informal patient - but that puts me in an additionally vulnerable situation. I could be discharged from the hospital without a discharge plan - no place to live and no income. I'm sure some pen-pusher somewhere sees the opportunity for a quick win - am I just a statistic on a monthly report?

Tories out

It upsets me that front-line staff have been cut, while middle managers have plenty of time on their hands to justify their pointless existence. The managers have survived the cull, the pay freeze and the excessive demands placed on the over-stretched people who actually do the damn job. Police, NHS workers, teachers - to name but a few - are getting a bum rap.

The first thing that I'm excited about doing with my newfound freedom is going to a protest at Tory cuts and austerity, to co-incide with the start of the Conservative Party conference, in a certain Northern city. The establishment are coming to me, and I will thumb my nose at them and boo them. A friend suggested that I could throw eggs and if I got in trouble with the police, they'd probably just bring me back to hospital on a section 136... put that in your damn report.

"Risk to the community - possibly going to throw eggs at Theresa May, to protest against cuts to front-line services and damage to the NHS, as well as undue stress on the police and other workers who care for and protect our most vulnerable members of society".





9 min read

This is a story about depression and burnout...

Lime cordial

If there's one thing I hate, it's a long drawn out journey to the grave. I really don't want to be on my deathbed, remembering the past, but unable to distinguish one day from any other. So many of us are in a routine of waking up, pressing the "snooze" button, having a shower, getting dressed, going to boring bullshit jobs, coming home, watching TV, preparing some food, loading the dishwasher, doing washing & ironing, and having joyless sex or masturbating to pornography - all purely to relieve the animal urges to copulate, eat, drink, piss, shit and sleep.

Life offers very few opportunities for memorable experiences, especially if you have made the ethical decision not to clone your genes through the impregnation of yourself or somebody else. This does not automatically mean that I consider myself morally superior or in a position to hand down judgements from my high horse. To write emotively on one topic does not logically confer that I hold negative views on those who have embarked up the one-way street that is motherhood or fatherhood. Please; do not send me your protestations that being a parent is both tough and rewarding. I KNOW that parenthood is something that I have no first-hand experience of. I DO respect everyone's unique set of life decisions - everyone's gotta live their own life as best as they see fit, and are able to do, playing the cards that have been randomly dealt to them.

My approach to life remains very much the same as it's always been: high risk, high reward.

I joked with a girl - mocking her - that I had fathered a string of illegitimate bastard children, and was being mercilessly pursued by the Child Support Agency (CSA) for money to pay for the upkeep of these offspring that I had carelessly brought into the world. She thought I was being serious.

So, where is all my wealth hidden? I've been a top-bracket taxpayer for most of my working life. Surely I can't have squandered so much disposable income on drink & drugs, and also been able to have a successful career. This is either unthinkable, or grossly unfair that I've had such a surplus, but yet still managed to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.

I've paid for convenience whenever I've been able to. Why would I clean my toilet, when I could pay somebody less than I earn per hour? While the cleaner has the close encounter with the porcelain throne, I could be working on a more glamourous project that pays very handsomely. It's a false economy to clean your own toilet, just as it is to do all of the many household chores, which can be done by a professional housekeeper.

When you apply this cost:benefit analysis to your entire life, you end up spending 37.5 hours a week reading news websites and planning your next holiday; enjoying a lifestyle that is approaching the much vaunted "age of leisure".

If you think I'm lazy, you're wrong. Only a crazy person would do the same repetitive tasks that they could easily automate, or train somebody who's prepared to do the work - subcontracted or outsourced - for less money, which leaves you with a net profit AND you don't have to do the shitty job. Repeat this process, because it is scalable, and you're on the right path... assuming you want to be rich and have lots of spare time. Perhaps you LIKE punching meaningless numbers into spreadsheets. Perhaps you WANT to clean toilets.

I looked at a list of the seven deadly sins, and realised that I could be a poster boy for Christian immorality.

If you've ever taken an interest in astrology and the signs of the zodiac, then you're easily fooled by writing that is deliberately ambiguous, leaving the interpretation to the reader, to apply to his or her own life. Religion has made a healthy living out of contrived platitudes that are completely meaningless in the context of the realities of human existence. The Bible, the Qu'ran, the Torah and all the other religious texts are so written as to be [mis]interepreted by the faithful flock.

One might as well say that if you breathe air, drink water, consume fats, proteins, carbohydrates, salts, amino acids and other vitamins and minerals, as well as trace amounts of every element & chemical compound, then you're a doomed sinner. If you urinate, defecate, ejaculate and perspirate, you're going straight to Hell. The demons that walk amongst us, corrupting our innocence and threatening to plunge society into chaos and destruction, are those who fornicate, copulate and enjoy fellatio or cunnilingus. The fact that all of these things are encoded into the very fabric of our corporeal vessels - the DNA of almost every cell in our body - is a fact that seems to have escaped the notice of those who are so easily conned by priests, vicars, preachers, witch doctors, shaman, tarot card readers, astrologers and other snake-oil salesmen and women.

I imagine I'd be pretty bummed if I found out I had an incurable terminal illness that was going to cut my life short, versus my expected lifespan. What would I do about it though? Which god should I pray to?

As a wise friend of mine said, you can be tricked by your genes into believing that love and hormonal bonding are real and tangible. If you think that parents, grandparents, great grandparents - and so on - are somehow going to end up 'less dead' than the people who didn't try to clone themselves, you're wrong. Even in the most anthropocentric & egocentric of interpretations of theoretical physics, you will have to witness the death of everybody you know, as well as the destruction of the planet, the solar system and the galaxies. Eventually entropy will be victorious over the entire universe, with time itself ceasing to be a meaningful concept and nowhere for you - or indeed anything - to exist.

If you believe in god(s) capable of making man and a world fit for human habitation, then you must also accept that this power is equally capable of destruction. He taketh away as much as He giveth - you can surely see this with your own eyes. This is the other side of the same coin that says that an infinitely small point, with infinite density and infinite energy, suddenly exploded into a universe. Following the same reasoning, either the universe will eventually collapse back into itself, by the force of its own gravitational pull, or it will expand until it is so uniformly cool and sparse that it is indistinguishable from the most perfect of vacuums - absolute nothingness.

I look at the world through a madman's eyes - I've read so much and delved so deep into the realm of the theoretical, proven in physical experiments as well as experiments that one can conduct through logical thought alone. I've seen, in my mind's eye, things that cannot be unseen. As Douglas Adams joked, if you see too much of the universe all at once it will destroy you - it's the ultimate torment; the ultimate death.

In an uncaring universe, I can see why people would seek comfort in the fairytale worlds of sky monsters and star signs, but it's pure childishness and immaturity. However, I envy the blissfully ignorant; I envy the blindly faithful, unshakable in their wilful stupidity.

I've worked very hard to master the machines of pure logic and reason - the computers - as well as spending most of my hard-earned wealth on lengthy periods, where I have absented myself from the demands of menial day-to-day existence. I told you that you were wrong about me having squandered my money on drink and drugs. The vast bulk of my conscious waking hours have been spent in startling sobriety; completely crystal clear thinking.

I carved three deep gashes the length of my forearm, with blood gushing out aplenty, before the arrival of two Metropolitan Police officers interrupted me. I can give you the long and exact chain of decisions that led me to do this, which were robustly defended by a logical thesis. That the police arrived was not a surprising outcome for me; in fact I had already anticipated everything that happened that day. The only thing that surprised me was that I was able to bandage my self-inflicted injuries using an actual first aid kit, which I discovered by chance, rather than having to resort to sanitary towels, kitchen roll and sellotape.

You would think that I would be completely insane, completely alcoholic, completely drug addicted or perfectly healthy, contented and conspicuously rich. Scratch the surface, and every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.

If you think the world's gonna end, why hasn't it already? If you think everything's held in stable equilibrium, you simply haven't looked outside your front door: it's fucking war out there and nothing is stable at all. Civilisations destroy themselves and species go extinct - there's evidence of it everywhere.

Thus, you discover me - a distilled and concentrated form of sinner; completely unrepentant and embodying everything you were told in church to fear and shun; the very epitome of evil. Yet, I'm made of the same stuff as you.

I invite you to judge me; to critiqué me. I invite this criticism, because how can good exist, without evil?