Thursday 28 January 2021

The Simple Truths

The dash to go Green (capital G) as espoused by Biden and now most significant leaders is being fuelled by those who can profit from it.... and there is no profit in encouraging individual green actions such as reducing one’s energy needs. If the objective really is to save the planet, then using fewer of the planet’s resources and seeking to use ever less energy is the way. But that is no recipe for money-hungry exploiters of faddish thinking.

Wear an extra layer, beef up your thermal insulation at home, work from home or live nearer to work to reduce transport emissions, drive economically, reduce the number of shopping trips by more careful planning. We could all of us, every one, reduce our overall consumption of bought energy and hence carbon emissions by, I imagine, around ten per-cent. But that just isn’t sexy.

In contrast the industrialisation of ‘green solutions’ is a rapacious endeavour, consuming more resources in the short term – extraction, transport, manufacture, transport, implementation, transport and maintenance… which will involve transport. And all that has to be paid for in both financial, environmental and human terms; money spent by governments to line the coffers of the Big Green Machine isn’t being spent elsewhere, where it could arguably do more immediate good.

To take just one example of the absurdity of trying to move so quickly, the suppose electric car revolution will demand ever more electricity generated from fossil fuel sources because renewable generation is simply not reliable enough. The UK National Grid has estimated a doubling of generation demand in the next ten years, but optimistically places faith in the twin miracles of wind and light to provide this.

The big, national conversation has not been had. Despite tsunamis of environmental programming – green this, green that, everywhere you tune in – it is almost all polemic. Persuasive talking heads telling us all to follow where they lead. But whenever I personally try to get to the truth I discover wildly optimistic evangelists, wide-eyed with wonder. Or else I stumble upon cynical climate deniers and anti-Green movements. I just want the truth; this is supposedly science, so why is the truth so hard to find?

It depends, of course, on what kind of truth we want to hear. The obfuscating truth that expects you to sign up on the basis of woolly sentiment or the fuzzy logic of ideologues? The warped truths presented by extremes on either side of the green divide? The partial truth which paints a shiny, beautifully crafted icon, just so long as you don’t pull focus and see the chaos in the background? Or the downright untruths dressed as virtue or shame which are used to alternately entice or punish us into compliance?

I see no sinister hand of conspiracy, but I do see why so many observers imagine collusion between government and business. And it isn’t so hard to see a causal chain. Politicians are not well paid in the scheme of things, so politics simply does not attract brilliant minds and the days of honest service of one’s country are, for the most part, in the past. So national leaders must surround themselves with others who are similarly limited in intellect and depth of knowledge. They need to get their push to action from somewhere.

Protesters are no source of action, so disunified and shambolic are their demands. And this is usually the only thing protesters always come armed with; demand, without concrete solutions. A business, however, which can profit mightily from the construction of windfarms, will spend a fortune on creating an argument which then becomes pervasive as it is spread across society. Flood the airwaves with that message and suddenly it appears to come from the people. What would you, as the Minister of Decisions, do?

I have always been an advocate of the principle that if we want to see change we have to be the change, that charity begins at home and that if you look after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves. In short, don’t look to politics or big business to bring about your green revolution, look to yourselves. Ask not how the country can spend all your money but how you can keep more of it for yourselves! Make it a quiet revolution; it will drive them crazy!  

Wednesday 27 January 2021

Rule and Divide

And so, it begins. Biden is issuing executive orders on racial equality, left, right and Chelsea, in the fervid hope that playing the race game will gain him his legacy. This is an already forgotten president who has learned nothing whatsoever from the last four years, or, indeed, his last 47 years in Washington. Trump was necessary and in many instincts was dead right, but the left of western politics was never going to give him a chance, sticking the knife in and twisting it over and over again, instead of listening.

One thing Trump was dead right about was that the swamp needed – and still needs – draining. Another was his clear love for his country, however clumsily he expressed it at times, and the need for all Americans to share that love and join in a common endeavour to heal the rifts. He saw, even though his intellect and oratory was unable to analyse or disseminate it, that the politics of race division would never solve the massive societal problems throughout the disunited states. And his supporters followed him because they saw a faint glimmer of swamp gas leading the way.

Trump isn’t coming back; he will find no support where it matters and although the frantic and frankly hysterical show trial of a second impeachment hearing is merely an act of impotent revenge, it will deny him future funding. So that fox has been shot, but Biden has fish to fry for which he has no skillet anywhere near big enough, nor competent chefs to oversee the process. He is taking his advice – and this is in plain view – from the very people who foment the unrest in the first place.

There was a time when the USA would not negotiate with terrorists, but now they are openly invited to the White House to discuss the supper menu. And throughout the once civilised world the subject of the big carve up is poor white men. White supremacy? Tell that to the unemployed of the rust belt and dust bowls who just want a chance. Black oppression? Tell that to the neighbourhoods terrorised by the rioting and looting and direct threats to life.

Emboldening organisations like Black Lives Matter and their many hangers on will only perpetuate the imagined oppression and with every inch of ground gained they will demand more. In the UK, the Liberal Democrat MP, Wera Hobhouse tabled an early day motion on, of all things ‘hair discrimination’. Give me strength...

Where does this end? It is pretty clear that in the race to ‘level up’, which is an impossible feat to achieve, the left will always begin by hobbling those with perceived advantages. When your passport to a better life is to identify as a victim, the disadvantage is conferred to those who have already suffered at the hands of anti-discrimination legislation. It’s fun being labelled as a Nazi just for striving for success and paying more taxes, isn’t it?

The persistent lies which obscure the inconvenient truths.
The left will never challenge this perception.

The soft bigotry of low expectations  is an overused phrase, but it haunts every move the left makes. When you demand special considerations for every group except whites you reveal yourself as nothing other than an anti-white racist. Or, as in Biden’s case (his nest being already well feathered, thank you very much) a useful idiot for that cause. So, no, his presidency will not be marked by peace and harmony and loving equality, but by the furtherance of resentment and exclusion. Just wait and see.

Tuesday 26 January 2021

Say what, now?

When I started this blog, way back in, er… oh, it doesn’t matter, I thought my intention was to put the world to rights. Hence the self-aggrandising title. It all started off as intended but I quickly strayed from my original thesis and began commenting on matters about which I admittedly knew little, yet still had opinions. Over the years I think I have become more open to challenge, but less tolerant of those who cleave to what I consider superstitions, folklore or the blind following of memetic themes.

Some of my earlier efforts – and they are all there, untouched, archived – involved fanciful parodies and reductio ad absurdum skits on the lines of you-couldn’t-make-this-up-but-imagine-if-you-did… Taking a ridiculous notion a stage too far used to be an easy way of getting a laugh, raising an eyebrow or further infuriating the perpetually offended. But now? Now it is almost impossible to tell what is fact and what is fiction.

Donald Trump popularised and possibly weaponised the upsurge of fake news (or as he pronounced it, to a British ear, ‘fake doos’) but he certainly did not originate it. When a story emerges showing your side in a bad light the drill is now to immediately dismiss it as an outright fake, an exaggeration, a misreading of the facts, or simply unproveable. And then you counter with some equally unsubstantiable trash talk of our own.

Or you downplay events. You lied to a select committee? So what, everybody lies, select committee panel members lie. Keith Vaz chaired one, for heaven’s sake, so how can a select committee hold somebody up to standards they can’t meet themselves? The focus switches to digging up the past misdemeanours of the select committee which is then, itself discredited and the original charge gets buried. Politicians and public figures are repeatedly let off from indiscretions and improprieties which would get most of us sacked. (Dare I even mention Max Moseley?)

So, I have long since lost become immune to gaping, wide-eyed, at the bizarre proclamations of academics. From a position of unimpeachable integrity, the world of higher education has fallen to the status of mildly amusing freak show, without a shred of credibility. Even so, the latest drama-crisis from the University of York absolutely beggars belief. They have decreed that the three wise monkeys are racist. And they say this because of something you or I would be excoriated for saying.

When I hear about calls to stop using words like ‘blacklist’ or phrase such as ‘black arts’ even my sub Neanderthal brain can understand where they are coming from. Associating bad things with words which are also used to describe certain ethnicities can bring about some negative correlations. I see that. But deciding that the depiction of monkeys – wise monkeys, who advise us against intemperate actions – is tantamount to depicting those ethnicities as simian. Isn’t that… racist? One would have thought that academics would be able to think at least a layer deeper than that.


But hey, that brings me right back to one of my regular trains of thought; we are none of us as clever as we think we are. Few of us possess the self-awareness to both examine our inner souls and DIY a bit of improvement. And this effort by the Dudes of York shows that a shallow attempt to appear woke simply uncovers a deep inability to deploy simple common sense. It strikes me that this was a topic to leave well alone. In fact, the ideal aphorism of reflection here is; see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Hoist, I’d say.

Friday 22 January 2021

Regime Change

So the baton has been passed, the pie-in-the-sky speeches intoned and the purge of the ‘far right’ has begun. It is imperative, they believe, that the Democrat administration roots out the evil people who 'Stormed the Capitol' by strolling up the hill on 6th January, and after being aggressively admitted were allowed to roam through the building, mostly aimlessly. Yes there was a bit of shouting and yes, some people had heart attacks in all the excitement... and this is why these treacherous dogs must be brought to heel.

Sleepy Joe’s favoured vibrant and far more worthy rioters celebrated the inauguration in time-honoured fashion, by setting light to businesses and offices, screaming obscenities and demanding more. That, of course, is the price of identity politics; give an inch on the gender front and you are surrendering yards and yards of hard won civilisation on every other fringe because, of course, Antifa, it turns out, are NOT your friends or allies. Damn, and you thought it would all be over by issuing a few executive orders to reinstate some of the policies which, in part were the reasons Trump was elected in the first place.

I watched The Comey Rule on Sky Atlantic over the last few nights and while it is a sympathetic telling of the former FBI Director’s story, Trump’s portrayal by Brendan Gleeson was the stuff of nightmares. I didn’t detect a single point in the whole dramatisation where any trace of humanity was shown. Trump was a one-dimensional manipulative monster and all his staff were fatuous and unsuited to their office. As drama it was clever and gripping; as polemic it was, frankly, rather full-on.

That such an excoriation of a sitting president was actually aired in the run up to the election would be astonishing if you had not been paying attention to the partisan nature of mainstream broadcast media. But in dismissing the entire Trump legacy in such a facile fashion you also condemn all those who voted for him as simply biddable. The new administration has been happy to talk about healing and unity while at the same time dismissing over 70 million voters as dangerously deluded, easily led or just downright stupid.

Lessons have been learned? Not about people, they haven’t. When the Biden edicts do nothing to improve the lives of those who denied the last Democrat candidate a spell in the White House where will they turn? They have been shown that their politics are not wanted here; they have been insulted and ignored, vilified and sidelined. What choice do some of the most passionate have other than to take up arms and become the revolutionary nightmare of the Dems worst imaginings, as the constitution demands?

If the exaggerated show of state military force on display for the lacklustre inauguration of a man who has made little memorable impact in politics over half a century is anything to go by, this president and his team will not hesitate to impose their will by any means necessary. And does this not go against every instinct of the Land of the Free? Oh, say, does the star-spangled banner yet wave? We’ll see.

Monday 18 January 2021

We Need to Talk About Democracy

We all think we know what a democracy is, don’t we? Growing up, the common retort to somebody poking their nose into your business was “It’s a free country!” and we all instinctively knew what we meant. Had we been asked to expand on our assertion we would no doubt have deployed the D word as ultimate proof that as long as we weren’t hurting anybody else we could do or say pretty much what we liked. That’s democracy, we assured ourselves.

Turns out that’s more like anarchy, although until the Sex Pistols came along with their half-baked take on the national character few had any notion of what anarchy really meant. But as the years rolled by we began to invoke democracy more and more whenever we wished to justify a life of peaceful hedonism, bankrolled by the ambitious pursuit of gainful employment. It’s a free country… democracy, innit?

It turns out that despite what we might think we know, democracy doesn’t work the way we always assumed it did. For a start, the popular definition of democracy – governance according to the wishes of the majority – is only one possible interpretation. And these days that version is called ‘populism’ and derided as a far right, mob rule irrelevance. And given that ‘the far right’ is now everybody who voted for Brexit and Boris, this type of democracy is now a horrible distortion of the original intention.

No, no; what we have is ‘representative democracy’, which is little removed from an autocracy – governance by a single person who holds all the power – when all the representatives seek election via a supposed democratic process of one man, one vote, only to then conform to a hive mentality in office. The whole of the western world appears to have a political class which is broadly in agreement with itself, and broadly out of synch with its electorate.

It’s a good trick if you can pull it off and they have been doing it for years. Telling themselves that letting the population at large make important decisions about which they understand little, the elected representatives (who themselves barely know more) make decisions guided by a political staff class who appear to overwhelmingly hold one set of values. We see it in the broadcast media, the civil service, the education system and even in the lawyers. We are actually governed by bureaucracy, while the bureaucrats themselves claim to be mere functionaries.

But if they are simply the pen pushers, who pulls their strings? There has long been plenty of evidence for a form of plutocracy, whereby the real power lies with those who have all the money. But ask yourself this; if you already have all the money the existing system obviously works in your favour, so why would you risk upsetting the apple cart by taking control? Nope, I don’t buy the New World Order theories at all; people who are that successful are often incapable of the kind of cooperation that would require. Competitive, suspicious, prone to paranoia; I think they would quickly fall out and break any such consensus.

Government... it's simple

All of which leads me back to the same conclusions I’ve been arriving at every time I look at this. For all the good intention to govern by common consent the best system we can devise is one in which nearly everybody is regularly disappointed. But just as with any set of rules, some can find a way to turn them to their advantage. In an atmosphere of mutual suspicion, when governance is more by trial and error, there is one group who rarely suffer, no matter how incompetent or venal they are; we call this group 'politicians'. Democracy? No. If anything, we are governed by a Mediocracy.

Sunday 17 January 2021

Define Normal

I had a brief, but useful interchange on Twitter the other day, regarding rights, in particular the rights of people not to wear a mask and to refuse to give a reason when challenged. It turns out that to insist somebody explain why they refuse to follow the rules everybody else follows is an example of ‘indirect discrimination’. So, even if you think you are doing the right thing and following the guidance you can still be a bigoted monster with hatred in your heart.

What chance have we got against this? Along with involuntary micro-aggressions and the ridiculous CPS definition of perceived offence we are stuck between an immoveable object and, er… another immoveable object. Is breathing now likely to upset somebody – I mean, it might bother somebody who wishes you dead, but hang on isn’t the aggression in this case coming from them? My dogged determination to continue existing could be criminalised. To me, all this sounds like a five-star buffet for the human rights lawyers and their hangers-on.

The whole issue of human rights is a mess. Most ordinary people, of sound mind and reasonable expectation might imagine that, enshrined in law, should be rights to live your life free of threat, extreme hardship and undue harassment. It would be nice if everybody could be safe, secure, nourished and accepted. But what the movement has done is challenge, perhaps rightly, to a point, the concept of normal.

Copying verbatim from different sources, normal is variously defined as: conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected - characterised by that which is considered usual, typical, or routine - the standard or the common type - usual; thinking, behaving, or looking like most people approximately average in any psychological trait, as intelligence, personality, or emotional adjustment – and in the context we are concerned with here - free from any mental disorder; sane.

Ah, sane. Who gets to decide? Where does simple human tolerance for eccentricity in all its forms end and how far beyond that does ‘tolerance’ have to be enforced by law? Where, for instance do people who go so far as to wholeheartedly support gender election stand on transableism? This story from five years ago popped up on Twitter the other day and I quote-tweeted it. To date I have had around 500 replies and over 1000 likes and quote-tweets, not one of them in support. It clearly bothers people. 

This is, surely about as far from normal as it is possible to get. Actually wanting to be physically disabled (not just pretending) but also to be accepted as ‘normal’ has to be about as far from normal as it is possible to get. But, if you think about it, we have been coerced to embrace so many aberrant states that we now accept as ‘normal’ people who are almost entirely unique – the polar opposite of what normal actually means. War is peace, indeed.

If you search for body dysmorphia, body identity disorder, apotemnophilia and various other medical terms don’t forget to also check out Munchausen’s, paraphilia and narcissism. And if you do, try to decide whether you view all of this as normal, atypical, dangerous or just plain weird. And then ask yourself why we normies should pay for it all, because it is always those who conform to society’s norms who pay for its fringes.

If, on the other hand, you are on the side of humanities oddities, you might like to consider how theirs is a realm of strange self-justification. Some will no doubt land lucrative positions to proselytise for their causes and be given credence disproportionate to their numbers. To show solidarity, a certain flavour of politician will fly their flag and assist in the creation of every more nuanced and unfathomable human rights bear traps for the rest of us to fall into. Prepare yourselves for a future containing more transhumanism, transdeathism, transMartiansim or whatever. Expect free trans-trading where you can one day be a transabled black lesbian and the next become a ghost inhabiting the shell of a white, cisgendered paedophile.

Treading on eggshells here...

Me, I’m waiting for the day when I can self-identify as a comic-book superhero. I will campaign to force everybody to recognise and accept my transformation into that persona and address me by my proper name – TransHeroLord. And then, when my super powers fail to manifest, I expect to be granted the legal right to sue the state, with the full expectation that compensation will flow. How DARE you mock my lack of disability!

Thursday 14 January 2021

Are you Sure?

Let me state, once again and for the record, I think Donald Trump is an idiot. But ‘evil’, seriously? A traitor; on what basis? The actual devil? Do me a favour; even for gullible god-brothers that is just childish. The hyperbole of antipathetic commentators is bordering on hysterical. In fact, strike that, it is hysterical. Some of the statements coming out of the House of Representatives would shame a teenage wannabe horror writer searching for the language to shock. The obvious hypocrisy can most readily be seen in the descriptions from these same commentators, of the BLM shittery last summer. ‘Mostly peaceful’ said the on-the-spot reporter to the background of burning cars, wrecked businesses and running battles on streets across the USA.

But this is how language has deteriorated in the Internet age. In the search for ever more reach the headline writers have become mainstream ‘journalists’. 'Phew, what a scorcher' just wouldn’t attract the clicks today. The next heatwave would have to be some idiocy such as: 'Searing tongues of flame straight from the jaws of hell itself burns millions alive! Devil to give evidence at Senate hearing'. Or some such bollocks; because it is all bollocks, isn’t it?

In my day job I deal with physics, of a specific variety, and of course physics is pretty much tied to observable repeatable phenomena and dare I say it, facts. But I frequently discover how little I actually know about these long-established realities. I know what I need to know, but how deep does my knowledge go? Often I discover my real understanding barely scratches the surface. And this is stuff I study and teach and often research from a wide variety of sources which 100% agree on those actualities.

So where do I stand on coming to an opinion on subjects about which I have no first-hand knowledge; things I only hear or read after they have been filtered through the febrile minds of partisans? Left and right in politics; pro or anti masks and vaccinations, meddling child or working class hero Rashford, etc... Every day there seem to be new campaigns to get behind, situations about which you are positively urged to take a position. But how are some people so solidly on one side of the fence when only a part of the scenario is revealed?

Confirmation bias is so strong that it often affects people whose very existence is founded on a search for truth. The moral philosophers who really ought to be able to consider things in the round are invariably of one single mind and pursue that track relentlessly. And the rest of us look to all kinds of unproven, untested demagogues to tell us what to think. My mate’s an expert; I have a friend who is a nurse and she says... ; the science is settled (it rarely ever is); the Bible tells us… And the most flippant of all: “everybody knows”.

They say a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing and I am as guilty as anybody of proving that truism. But I do try and I do, sometimes, change my mind. Clearly, then, I must be a dangerous far right troll, believing, as I do, that nobody should suffer, but all have responsibility for their actions. How is it possible that I can see some of the good in both socialism and capitalism? What kind of a monster am I? Why won’t I just behave like the fash I so clearly am?

Certainty is a dangerous illusion, but so certain are some people in positions of power and influence that they believe they get to decide when free speech becomes hate speech. The flag-waving cheerleaders for direct action against the state throughout last summer have decided that when the other side takes a stand it is repugnant. Who gets to decide what is and isn’t insurrection? If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, where is hatred perceived?

I haven’t penned a blog for a while, partly because I have been swamped at work, but also because I haven’t had the will. Some days I feel I am drowning in a sea of idiots, taking at face value all that they are told. This is something children do, but don’t we tell children not to blindly believe what others tell them? Don’t we tell them not to just copy the bigger boys? Do we no longer teach them to think for themselves? Maybe it’s time we started.

Sunday 3 January 2021

Poll of Polls

In a poll of people who enjoy the attention of being regularly polled, 78% of those who just love to be consulted think that polls provide accurate insights into important matters of the day, regardless of the sample size, cohort demographic and quality of the questions, just so long as the exercise produces the right answer. There is a debate to be had as to what constitutes ‘the right answer’ but without drilling down deeply into the data it can be assumed to be whatever it was the poll set out to find in the first place.

So, following several decades in which the BBC’s popularity and relevance to the general population’s values, hopes and fears has suffered progressive decline it has come as no surprise that the latest poll finds no better than 50% satisfaction with the corporation’s offerings. When I say it comes as no surprise, I include Aunty herself, an organisation which is regularly slated for its soft, woke, lefty stance on everything by… well by about half the population.

What then, is the point of polling when the result is exactly what was expected? And given that any poll which doesn’t match your expectation is automatically derided as rigged, fake, or taken at at the wrong time or place by the ‘wrong’ people, why even bother at all? What is the point, why are there so many polls, and what do they bring to the nations’ health, well-being or prosperity?

There is such a thing as push-polling, where the published outcomes are intended to coerce the masses into believing a thing they don’t believe. You know all about them; Britain is institutionally racist, the EU was the only thing that prevented war in Europe, employees say that diversity is more important than competence, that sort of thing. Companies use polls to sell their products, governments to sell their policies. You can’t fucking breathe for polls, ever minute of every day of your choose-an-option life.

But does any of it improve anything? Given that the automatic reaction of most people to pollsters, in person, online, or on the phone is to shun them, the outcome of polling may be heavily influenced by those who have nothing better to do with their time. It could be just that some people actually feel important if they are asked their views, but should we listen to what such people think?

An entire sector of our economy is based on information, regardless of how accurate that information is, and right now accurate information could be literally life-saving. But the polling trade has never been concerned with accuracy. How much opinion, both lay and professional, is shaped by inaccurate polling - doubtful outputs shaped by dodgy inputs, results pre-ordained by political and other biases – and how many poor decisions have been made because of them?

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? 
No, it's just another fucking poll...

It is little wonder we don’t trust experts even when we lack the ability to make our own minds up, especially given that polls pull us one way then push us another. What I would really welcome is a proper investigation into this entire field; to what extent are polling activities impacting negatively on productivity, mental stability, national unity and harmony, etc? Because if, as I strongly suspect, polling is a big part of ‘the problem’ then the sooner it is exposed the better. Who’s with me?

Saturday 2 January 2021

Careful where you tread!

I had an idea for a tweet; in fact I was halfway through writing it when it suddenly occurred to me that some of my followers have gone a bit mental and might take it personally. And, yes, they would be correct that it was sort of personal, but it was just something I wanted to say. So I said it anyway, and I was right. Within a couple of minutes three of my long term followers popped up to tell me I was wrong.

Not misinformed, not behind the times, not possibly swayed by a vexatious narrative, but just plain wrong. And then, when I tried to suggest that maybe this was a matter of opinion, all three responded by insulting me and blocking. Okay, I admit the details here are truncated and modified a tad to suit my purpose, but who among you have not experience similar, in real life as well as online?

Twitter used to be quite good fun a lot of the time, tweeting out daft comments and photos of found idiocy from t’internet. And yes, on occasion organising a pile-on directed at pompous blue-ticks and their ridiculous sense of self-importance. And politics, of course, was often the source of great merriment and malice, banter and downright hostility. But the thing was, you always knew where you stood; you knew where the brickbats were going to come from and who would back you.

Things have changed, however, and you really do find some surprising, often startling disparities between what you imagined a person believed in and what they now seem to have swallowed hook, line and sinker. We’ve all fallen for parody accounts of course and we’ve all, if we’re honest, tweeted out some most egregious tripe from time to time. We’ve innocently retweeted lies that fit our feelings, without bothering to check our facts.

But over the years I’d like to think most users of social media have become wise to those who attempt to lure us into a particular camp. Some of us – heaven forfend – have even conceded that ‘the other side’ may have a point, often to be regaled by accusations our accounts must have been hacked. And I know full-well that I have been guilty on more than one occasion of deliberately poking the bear by being contentious, frivolous or just downright rude. In fact I have been suspended many times for infringing rules I have wilfully overlooked, ‘for the craic’.

This last year, however, Twitter times have been fraught with peril and while I am still poking away there, I frequently delete rather than send because I have become dismayed at the way some people will find offence where none was intended. No wonder the three subjects thought unfit for the dinner table were politics, religion and money. But on those issues the traditional binary splits in opinion now look like kindergarten level debating points.

Today we have lefties for individual choice, Tories for state control, Covid deniers, lockdown advocates and free speech champions trying to shut people up. Where once you knew when you were on solid ground and preaching to the choir, there is no telling today when a chance remark, harmless in intent and aimed at nobody in particular, explodes into a full on slanging match and subsequent blockfest. To advise ‘think before you tweet’ is pointless; somebody, somewhere will find a way of making it personal. Just, tread carefully; it’s a minefield out there.

Friday 1 January 2021

Believe it or not

If 2020 was the year of the conspiracy theory it was little different from most years, apart from the perfect storm of Brexit, Trump and ma-ma-ma-MY-Corona! But there is nothing new under the sun, so although lots of locked down idle hands embarked on dot-joining fantasies of the highest order, all they really did was take a few of the old myths and use them to create a Hollywood-style remake of the classics.

Examine the claims and watch a few of the YouTubes, read a selection of blog posts and immerse yourself in the gloriously crazy world of what are now referred to as memes and you will see all the old favourites there: Chemtrails, 9/11, Elders of Zion, the Coudenhove-Kalergi plan, Agenda21, the Barcelona Declaration, Paris, The Great Reset, the 5G conspiracy, critical race theory, flat earthers, Q-anon… and of course Covid (and many, many more).

There is a book called Plotto, by William Wallace Cook, originally published in 1928, which purports to contain the basics of every narrative structure you will need for your novel, play, or movie. It is a starting point for struggling fiction writers, bringing together characters and situations from which you can weave your literary masterpiece. It has oft been said that 1984 was a warning, not an instruction manual, because you can read in that 70-year old book, astonishing parallels with what is happening today.

But, guess what, you could easily apply much of Orwell’s dark ‘prophecies’ in reverse to events which happened millennia ago. The Greek myths are filled with portents of doom, with mankind being manipulated by playful, fickle and sometimes evil gods. The only difference today are that the gods are no longer called Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon and Athena, but Bezos, Soros, Gates and Zuckerberg. Wait a minute; that last one – you don’t think he’s… Jewish, maybe? (See how easy this is?)

It would seem on the surface that it takes a great deal of denial of reality, of unquestioning credulity and an enormous effort to maintain the complex narrative of your typical convoluted conspiracy theory. That, in contrast, the simplicity of applying Occam’s Razor would seem so easy that almost nobody could be fooled into falling down the rabbit holes. But there must be something deep in the unconscious that prefers complexity to truth, that prefers a plotto to notto. And when you see this it all suddenly makes sense.

The Norse gods, the Egyptian idols, the fabulous manimals of Indian theology, the dreaming of Australia’s aboriginal people. Everywhere you look in history, from the original creation myths to the highly structured rituals of birth and death and the control hierarchies of the Catholic church, you can see the basics of every modern conspiracy myth. When Jack Nicholson’s Colonel Jessup shouted “You can’t handle the truth!” he was shouting at all of us.

In our world nobody got fired just for being bad at their job, nobody got sick by sheer coincidence and no election was won simply by one side getting more actual votes than the other. We crave complexity; there has to be something more and, to be fair, life seems somehow more vibrant, more edgy, if behind every sleepy community some overlord pulls all the strings. Will 2021 be the year we wake from our own Dream Time, taste the fruit of the tree of knowledge and realise that what we've got is just what we see? I somehow doubt it.