A Country in Chaos – Fueling the Flames with Democratic Disaster

Britain, Brexit, and Zugzwang

There’s a saying in chess that describes a position whereby the player whose turn it is

Zugzwang should be Batman’s nemesis.

can’t make a move that won’t lose him the game, such a position is called, zugzwang. In British politics similar situations are called Brexit.

How did we get here?

Google images with a search for, “Brexit Timeline.” It results in an array of graphical representations and psychedelic colours of confusion illustrating just how the UK will  negotiate their way through the eight levels of hell. Each timeline is different and every timeline is about as accurate as a bumblebee with a machine gun, leaving me to deduce that nobody has the faintest idea what is going on.

Just look at the timelines, it’s madness I tell you!

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The Brexit Timeline – How Did We Get Here?

  • 2010, Conservatives win a general election without a clear majority. The Conservatives form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
  • 2015, In an attempt to win an outright majority, David Cameron pledges a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU), despite the fact that he was pro-Europe. The Conservatives win an outright majority.
  • david-cameron-gq-30jan19_bJune 2016, Britain holds a referendum to decide whether it’s to remain a part of the (EU). Despite all media predictions, a majority of 51.9% of people vote to leave the EU. Within 24 hours David Cameron resigns as prime minister and like a leader of a banana republic, goes into exile on the French Riviera, where he settles down to write his memoir, also known as his excuse, the memoir fails to mention performing any sexual acts on the severed heads of pigs.


“David Cameron announced he is stepping down in the wake of a vote, which should make me happy, but it doesn’t. It’s like catching an ice cream cone out of the air, because a child has been hit by a car. I’ll eat it! But it’s tainted somehow.” – John Oliver

  • June 2017, riding Following the departure of David Cameron, Theresa May mistakes a wave of national euphoria for what is actually a burgeoning sense of scorn, ridicule and contempt towards her. Failing to recognise this
Ever wondered what a person looks like having just been given £1 billion?

she calls a general election, not an easy thing to do given  the Fixed Term Parliament Act requiring five years between elections. Conservatives win the election, but take control of a hung parliament. To have a majority they form a coalition government with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a sort of stone-age sect of religous  zealots whom Theresa May gives £1 billion. Some called it a bribe, while others wanted to know where the magic money tree’s hidden. Despite the £1 billion pay off, the DUP consistently fail to support the prime minister on most Brexit votes. Still, whats £1 billion to a government preaching austerity?

  • March 2019, the Conservative Party tire of Theresa’s inability to make progress on brexit.
  • July 2019, members of the Conservative Party elect Boris Johnson as their leader and next prime minister.
  • Despite promising  the nation that, he’d rather die in a ditch than fail to leave the EU on
    dead in a ditch
    Brexit’s been one disappointment after another.

    October 31st, 2019, Boris Johnson delivers on neither  Brexit, nor corpse in a ditch materialise. I wasn’t fussy, I’d have settled for a drain, trench, even a gutter. But no, the fat, flatulent, shaggy haired mop head lives on, and after what must have taken minutes of thought, decided to throw the decision back to the public in the form of a general election. Appealing to the same electorate, who in recent times has shown a proclivity to vote for the most chaotic scenario possible. I ask myself, why’s that trend going to stop? Leadership isn’t delegating the problem to everyone else, that’s scapegoating.

Clowns to the Left of me, Jokers to the Right

So, come December 12th, who do you vote for. American cultural anthropologist, Margaret Mead famously said:


If you went to a restaurant, and the only choice you had was between a turd sandwiches or Jellied moose tongue, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for you to go looking for somewhere else to eat. Elections in the UK are like this, they offer no choice that you can enthusiastically endorse, just a choice of the lesser evil.

Apathy is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people.  A system that is apathetic, in fact, to the needs of the people it was designed to serve. …’

Russell Brand – Guardian

It’s at this stage that people can get angry with the abstaining from voting argument, they remind you of how lucky we are to have a democracy. They’re quick to inform us that voting is the only time the poor have as much say as the wealthy. And if they’ve still failed to convince they’re likely to trundle out, the very old and very tired, it’s a civic duty; which it’s not. Jury service is the only the only civic responsibility in the U.K. No, democracy isn’t being asked to choose between two groups of equally incompetent people who will inevitably balls things up, just in slightly different ways.

Perhaps journalist, Heydon Prowse most accurately explains the trend in the results of recent elections and referenda in the west”

…vote, revolt, “turn voting into a protest too”

Heydon Prowse

We live in a system where only one of two political choices ends up running the country, but people now understand that neither does anything to make their lives any better. The underprivileged will remain underprivileged, the under paid won’t become better off, in fact relatively wages have stagnated for twenty years, and the uneducated, and unemployed will continue to seek solace by watching reality television.

In reality there’s only two choices:

  1. Don’t vote, because none of the candidates are capable of doing the job; or
  2. Go all in with Margaret Mead and choose the lesser of two evils in the hope that the one you pick might be capable screwing things up marginally less than the other choice.

The exhilaration what western democracies promise us.

So Who is the lesser of Two Evils?

It’s an interesting question, it comes down to choosing between an egotistical, nefarious, dishonest, man who can’t keep track of how many children he might have fathered, and a man who looks like he’s just crawled out from beneath your compost heap at the

Jeremy Corbyn whispers Karl Marx, and promises his turnips that the means of production will be shared between all the vegetables.

bottom of your garden, and then preaches anachronistic left wing dogma to your vegetable patch. For years I’ve given Corbyn the benefit of the doubt, thinking that he can’t possibly prescribe to the tenets of Marxism the media claim he does, but he’s never clarified just how far his socialist beliefs go. Might he turn into an English Pol Pot, force everyone to work in allotments as he engineers his agrarian utopia? It sounds stupid, but then again, nearly everything that’s come out of Westminster for the past five years has been stupid. But the peculiarities of the Labour party don’t stop with Corbyn, in fact it’s only the beginning. Corbyn’s shadow home secretary is Diane Abbott, a woman so spectacularly incompetent that she takes a calculator to bed so she can count the sheep. To appreciate how dimwitted Diane Abbot is, the video below shows the most spectacularly embarrassing interview by a senior politician that I’ve ever witnessed:


So with Boris Johnson’s only opponent, resembling a cross between Lenin and Worzel Scarecrow-NEW_SEGummidge, and seemingly focused on winning the allotment vote of the UK, and with his sidekick displaying the mental faculties of sub-optimal kindergarten student, you would think that all Boris needs to do to win this election is stay alive until the morning of December 13th. If only it were that simple.


Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson

225px-Boris_Johnson_-opening_bell_at_NASDAQ-14Sept2009-3c_cropped_largeYes, that really is his name, dePfeffel. If it’s not right to judge a book by its cover, then it must be an even greater superficial objectification to judge a person by their name, but what the hell is a de Pfeffel? Sounds like a catastrophe in a patisserie in which the pretzel dough and the waffle  batter got mixed together and spawned the Antichrist of pastries, a de Pfeffel. No, it’s actually something far more sinister. The von Pfeffel family, after narrowly missing out on starring in, The Sound of Music, is a German, Bavarian, family of considerable  historical wealth and influence. Finding out any more about them is difficult, but doubtlessly you have a neurotic, conspiracy theorist friend who’ll soon get you up to speed.

If only Boris’ problems stopped at de Pfeffel.  He’s a renowned Islamaphobe, homophobe, adulterer, racist, and outright liar. In fact, he is quintessentially the British Donald Trump. The more ridiculous he behaves, the more support he gets. Johnson appeals to a disenfranchised electorate, as he appears to them to be a break from the norm. Let’s look at some of the most infamous dePfeffel moments.

In August 2018, Boris remarked that Muslim women who wear burkas resemble letter boxes. Note, that at the time he was Britain’s Foreign Secretary, a role requiring awareness of cultural nuances. Look I’m all for a joke, but… What kind of mind could consider that an appropriate thing to say?letter box

Whilst in his position of Foreign Secretary, Boris intervened in the delicate situation of British-Iranian woman, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who was being held captive on charges of espionage. Boris stated that she wasn’t a spy, but  teaching journalism, something which she also wasn’t doing. During Boris’ time as Foreign Secretary, the conditions of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe worsened, with her no longer being allowed to make telephone calls to her husband, and there now being great concern for her mental well-being.

In his column for the Daily Telegraph in 2002, Johnson described people from African Boris-Johnson-1Commonwealth countries in the following way, “It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies,” later he added to this mentioning, African people as having “watermelon smiles.” As I said, I like a joke, but racial slurs, well they’re just not funny.

Homophobia, in the past Johnson referred to gay marriage as being akin to humans marrying dogs. And infamously referred to gay men as tank-topped bumboys.

Boris Johnson is a survivor, he’ll say whatever it takes to climb the greasy pole, irregardless of what he says being true or not. You can’t get a more blatant example of his lies than the time he wrote one on the side of a bus. He was right in saying that the UK pays the EU 350 million pounds a week, but it takes into no account how much money the EU sends the UK per week, and how much money the UK saves with free trade with the EU.

Vote for Me – Righting the Wrongs

It’s a face of honesty, trust, sound judgment and leadership.

My manifesto is somewhat limited but at its core is righting wrongs through revenge. Essentially I would achieve this by displaying David Cameron’s head on a spike after it had been inserted into his own bottom. Whilst I freely admit that this does little to resolve the Brexit issue, I do believe it would give the country a much needed boost to morale.

The End Is Not Nigh

As an expat who’s lived outside the UK for almost twenty years, personally, I don’t care who wins the election and goes on to form a Rabelaisian government of idiots; I learnt the word Rabelaisian recently and I’m rather fond of it. I just hope that there’s something positive in this for everyone, which of course is impossible.  I still firmly believe what I thought the morning after the referendum; that Britain will never leave the EU. If the powers that be wanted to leave, then Britain would have left by now. Whomever wins this election is unlikely to win a majority, leaving the UK with a fragile coalition goverment once again. One thing I’m certain of, we can’t keep standing in the middle of the road, because when you do that you get hit by traffic from both directions, or worse, you could fall off your horse and cart.

In conclusion, this election will conclude nothing.

Explaining Brexit in five seconds, be like…























Send in the Clowns – The Evolution of the Joker – A Jungian Perspective

This is an attempt to contextualise the protagonist of the latest DC movie, Joker, using the personality theory of the Swiss psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung. For readers with an interest in psychology, I hope that you can provide your ideas on the work of Jung relative to the character. For those of you who are fans of the Joker, I hope you can provide details of his character that can help support or dispute these ideas.


The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. Aleksandr Solzhentisyn – The Gulag Archipelago


More than any other comic book, the characters from DC’s Batman are by far the the most  grounded in our psychological understanding of the development of personality and behaviour. Through the advent of psychoanalysis in the early part of the twentieth century, the ideas of  how symbols, archetypes and the unconscious, influence personality were beginning to be recognized.  Batman, Joker, Riddler, Harvey Two Face, Cat Woman, Poison Ivy, all serve as archetypal reflections of the unconscious mind. They are all alter egos, all serve as characterizations of Freud’s Id overcoming the Superego, or Jung’s Shadow taking control of a persona.

It’s worth taking this moment to explain the appropriateness of the term, persona, when discussing these characters. The word persona derives from either the Greek, or Etruscan, for mask. Jung was well aware of this when he chose to use it in his theory of personality. Jung identifies the persona as the mask we wear in certain social situations. It’s possible, and often necessary, for a person to have a number of personae depending on their surroundings at any given time. We would think it completely natural for a father of a young family to act differently when he’s at home to how he does working as a policeman, or prison guard. Although this example is extreme most of us can identify with adapting our persona to a situation; to wearing different masks. Jung’s acknowledgement that a persona is not stable, but a dynamic reaction to its environment, serves as a central theme that runs through many characters of DC Comics, and it’s fundamental to the plot of the most recent incarnation of the Joker.

Of all the DC characters it’s the Joker who most effectively transcends the world of comic books. This is due to the character being an archetype that’s rooted deeply in both the psyche of the individual  and the collective psyche of society. Whether we start by looking at Cesar Romero’s initial performance in 1966, go on to look at Nicholson’s 1985 portrayal, Ledger in The Dark Knight, or Phoenix’s latest interpretation, the role of  the Joker has evolved. This evolution of the Joker over time, serves as one of cinema’s greatest examples of art imitating life. Each metamorphosis of the character is a  reflection of American society at the time it was made. That is why audiences relate to him, and that is why the most recent film is so disturbing. Phoenix’s Joker, beguiles and enthralls, because he’s the symbolic embodiment of the chaos and nihilism found in western society at the time of this latest manifestation. It’s for this reason that we are either appalled, or fascinated by the character, but if we’re honest, we all know the character is not just a reflection of our society, but it’s also deeply embedded inside all of us, and that’s  what makes the Joker accessible and terrifying.  We’re shocked by Phoenix’s Joker because we don’t find it repulsive, which we should do if we’re the moral beings we would like to think we are,  because we find it so easy to identify with him. The underlying reason for this appeal might be explained through the Jungian terms of archetypes, and the shadow persona.


Jung’s Shadow

Carl Gustav Jung was a student of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. As with any student teacher relationship, the student goes onto support some of their teacher’s ideas while ejecting others. The influence of Freud’s ideas on Jung is clear to see. Both identify a boundary between the conscious and unconscious self. For Freud, the id represents our unconscious animal instincts, lusts for sex and desires. These are suppressed by the ego which acts as our usual persona, moderating between the animal instincts of the id and the aspirations of the values desired by the superego. For Freud, repressed desires would be the cause of a person being stuck in one of the stage of psychosexual development.

For Jung, the shadow is a part of everyone’s personality, functioning in a way similar to Freud’s id in that it is buried in our unconscious, but unlike the id, and as the name suggests, the shadow contains the darkest aspects of human being. Jung’s approach to psychoanalysis differed from Freud’s in one fundamental aspect as Jung attempted to integrate a spiritual dynamic. Jung encourages the individual to acknowledge their shadow, to fully understand the evil that each of us is capable of. It’s only once we understand and can control our shadow that we can go on to achieve self-actualization, or what Jung refers to as the individuation process. Unfortunately for Arthur Fleck, he can’t control his shadow, but is instead overwhelmed by it.

“The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.”

C. G. Jung




The Evolution of the Joker Archetype

Archetypes are the unknowable basic forms personified or concretized in motifs such as the quest or the heavenly ascent, recognizable character types such as the trickster or the hero, symbols such as the apple or snake, or images such as crucifixion (Biddle, 1989: P. 25).

It would appear that there is some crossover between the idea of archetypes and memes, a topic that I previously wrote about Echo Chambers, Memes, and Brain Viruses – Weaponizing the Internet, a thought that was written about in 1998 by C. M. H. Nunn in their work entitled, Archeytypes and memes: their structure, relationships and behaviour. The main distinction being the longevity of an archetype. It’s common to be able to trace archetypes back to early human consciousness, while memes are nothing more than short term cultural trends of thought.

Jung proposed twelve archetypes of personality, Jung also believed that these archetypes operate on two levels:

Firstly they represent patterns of behaviour on a personal level; and

Secondly, archetypes act as cultural images and symbols which affect us all on a subconscious level.



To really understand the Joker it’s necessary to look far back beyond his birth in the pages of DC comics. The Joker’s legacy extends back through several thousand years, and  is more commonly referred to in folktale lore as, the trickster. Jung identifies the trickster as:

An archetypal psychic structure of extreme antiquity.

In his clearest manifestations, he is a faithful reflection of an absolutely undifferentiated human consciousness, corresponding to a psyche that has hardly left the animal level.”

C. G. Jung

Loki-jung-trickster-jungcurrents (1)

Jung identifies the god, Loki, as the embodiment of the trickster archetype, appearing in Norse Mythology over a thousand years ago. As Jung describes through his use of the word, persona, Loki is  a shape shifter; a character at ease with changing their identity; a wearer of masks.

Professor of literature, Joseph Campbell claims that the archetype of the trickster is very much evident in the god of the Old Testament, Yahweh. Through his actions of the flood, and destroying the Tower of Babel Campbell identifies the propensity for mischief associated with the trickster.

monkey king


In Chinese culture the best example of the trickster archetype is, Sun Wukong, or the Monkey King. This character is remarkably like the Joker, rampaging around the spiritual realm causing chaos before the Buddha incarcerates him in a rock for five hundred years. The story is based on a real life Monk from dating back to the 7th century.







Puck, or Robin Goodfellow

In Celtic mythology, and English folklore the trickster is represented by the sprite, demon, fairy, Puck, most famously immortalized through his misdeeds in Shakespeare’s, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Although apparent in Celtic mythology and English folklore, it’s thought that his origins might be Norse, and that he might be a descendant of Loki. Like Loki, Puck is attributed with the ability to change form as required. It’s believed that he’s been a part of Celtic and pagan oral tradition for over a thousand years.



In Native American Indian mythology the coyote is commonly used for the role of trickster. It is a role that has consistently been used in the narrative of stories ever since humans first started to tell stories. As such it is a character deeply embedded in individual minds, across cultures and time. Joker is the quintessential archetype.

If we chart the evolution of the character’s portrayal starting with the television show of the 1960’s, we see an anarchic, psychedelic, but pretty harmless Joker. Nicholson’s Joker, played in an era of American wealth and domination, was mostly pantomime with some dark undertones. There was little emphasis on a decaying Gotham. Heath Ledgers interpretation of the character shifted the dynamic of hero and villain in a subtle but crucial way. Up until Ledger, the Joker was always the nemesis of Batman, with a desire to carry out a plan. Ledger gave birth to a nihilistic villain, one who isn’t limited by a plan, one that is only interested in destroying everything, or as Michael Caine says:

world burn

There can be little doubting that Ledger’s interpretation enabled the Joker to become the most complete incarnation of the trickster archetype, to date.


In the character’s most recent incarnation we see the Joker’s sexual desires. An aspect that was hinted at briefly in the characters played by Nicholson and Ledger, but the most recent character clearly displays an emotional  need towards sexual contact and to be part of a functioning relationship. This sexual, emotional desire lends Phoenix’s Joker greater credibility by showing his underlying humanity. Things then go very Greek for Phoenix’s Joker discovers that his childhood rivals the dysfunction of Oedipus, with a mentally ill mother, and a father whom he believes denies him. This origin story of the Joker clearly paints him as the victim of a cruel society, failed by his parents, failed by health services, and assaulted by the children of the city. Nothing is his fault, he’s a product of society. In the Jack Nicholson version, Joker was created as a result of being dropped into a vat of acid. In the Joaquin Phoenix version, the Joker is created by being dropped into society. This message might be disturbing. It sets the example that the Joker had no alternatives, he was a result of a declining society, in essence his free will was usurped by his environment, all of his actions are attributable to the declining society. This message resonates so strongly throughout the movie, and at a time when many feel their society is declining it’s easy to see people adopting this excuse at the expense of personal responsibility.

What seems apparent is that incarnation of the Joker serves to capture the zeitgeist of societal nihilism. Each incarnation moves closer to what’s, as Jung describes, “wrapped up in the archetypes that reside universally in the subconscious”. hero'sjourney

As an origin story the plot serves as an explanation of how the character evolves from being a slightly dysfunctional, enigmatic loner, someone Camus might call, ‘a stranger’, in to an anarchic nihilist. The movie charts his fall using a path similar to that identified by Joseph Campbell,  The Hero’s Journey, the difference being that Joker never returns from what Campbell refers to as the the, special world or sometimes the, underworld, but what Jung would unquestionably call his shadow. You will quickly notice a number of similarities between Jung’s model of the psyche, and Campbell’s, Hero’s Journey. Campbell himself admits to Jung’s work being a fundamental component of his work on the mono-myth. Where Joker departs from Campbell’s path is at stage eight. We clearly witness the death of Arthur Fleck when he kills his mother, and his rebirth as Joker. The difference being, Joker doesn’t to complete his journey to be reintegrated into society, instead he becomes grounded in the persona born out of his shadow, the underworld.


Are We Born Evil, or Are We Made?

The movie treads a fine line explaining the reasons that cause Arthur Fleck’s transformation into the archetypal trickster and sociopath. Although not in keeping with the general feel of the movie, it’s explained in a conservative manner, failing to commit to either side of the nature, nurture debate. Instead a politically correct explanation attributes Arthur’s fall as being equally attributable to a morally corrupt society, childhood abuse, and the genetic predisposition of his mother towards mental illness. The nature of his own condition is never disclosed, although we do discover that his mother suffers delusions and was a patient in a mental hospital. This all plays into the realm of providing Arthur with the biological disposition for a personality disorder that could potentially manifest into something of the magnitude of the Joker.Add to this the withdrawal of Arthur’s psychiatric medication, and you have both nature and nurture conspiring against Arthur, and what ultimately leads to his being overwhelmed by his shadow. This explanation  for the Joker’s origin draws more from reality than a comic universe. We are left to believe that Arthur’s fate was decided by society. That Arthur was denied the free will to escape the fate of becoming Joker. The movie makes Arthur out to be a stereotypical, clichéd victim. This is the trick behind the movie, making the audience sympathize with the Joker, creating cognitive dissonance and unease in the audience. But in order to achieve this they must abnegate Arthur of all personal responsibility in his becoming the Joker.

Possibly the most infamous example of social conditions influencing behaviour was produced by American psychologist Philip Zimbardo, a topic looked at more closely in, Contagions of Madness and Evil, in his 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, in which Zimbardo coins the phrase, ‘not a rotten apple, but a rotten barrel, as a way of explaining the behaviour his experiment uncovered.  The movie clearly depicts Gotham as the rotten barrel causing a rotten Arthur. Zimbardo supports the the importance of the environment on behaviour, but doesn’t go as far as using it as an excuse.

The reason for the impact this movie has had is that the trickster archetype has beguiled and taken over declining, modern western democracies. Whether they’re making promises that they’ll, “drain the swamp,” or threatening to restructure a nations economy without a clearly defined plan, the trickster offers hope through the annihilation of the system that the masses have come to recognize as having failed them. The Trickster exploits an opportunity to create chaos, taking control of a legitimate grievance and using it to control the people. These are exactly the circumstances that allowed for the rise of fascism throughout Europe in the 1930’s. The Trickster is an exponent of populism, appealing to the desperate who can be easily motivated upon hearing the rhetoric and empty promises they’re so desperate  to hear.

In Jung’s Psychology and Literature, one of his essays found in the collection, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, he suggests that what influences the artist can not be separated from their creation. The artist’s creation, no matter how much they try and disguise it, is a reflection of their own mind, which in turn reflects the society that surrounds it. When looking at this latest incarnation of the Joker, through this lens provided by Jung, is it surprising that we find both obvious and subtle depictions of our world today throughout the movie? These are times of unprecedented change, economically, politically, technologically, and socially. It’s because of this that no literary archetype represents our current society better than the trickster.



The Disunited Kingdom and the Charge of the Brexit Brigade

Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward,

All in the valley of Death

   Rode the six hundred.


It’s almost three years to the day since the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union. For three years I’ve refused to write a post about Brexit, there was too much of it already out there, and all of it sounded like the rants of confused people. Confused people uncertain about their futures, but emboldened with a bombastic sense of misplaced certainty that they knew what to do about it. Well after three years, it’s my turn, I’m joining the cavalry charge.

Before going any further, it’s only right that I outline my own stance on Brexit. I voted to remain, but I acknowledge that more people voted to leave, and therefore under the rather simple rule of majority in a democracy, I expect the UK to leave the EU, ASAP, or PDQ.

Stormed at with shot and shell,

Boldly they rode and well,

Into the jaws of Death,

Into the mouth of hell

   Rode the six hundred.

Now it’s about now that Remainers will frequently respond with one of the three following arguments:

  • The people were deceived by erroneous information and didn’t know what they were voting for.

Really? And how is that any different from countless manifesto promises not kept by any party that wins a general election? 

  • The leave campaign received illegal funding and misled the people.

Yes, the leave campaign cheated, I’m pretty sure the remain campaign partook in some nefarious activities themselves, they’ve just drawn less attention because they weren’t as successful. The tale of the story is the better cheats won on the day, again, how’s that different from any previous general election?

  • All the inadequacies of the first referendum justify there being a second referendum.

To me a second referendum is an answer born out of blind optimism. These people seem to forget the damage one referendum has already done, suggesting that a second will solve all our problems would be like the people of Hiroshima asking the Americans to drop a second atomic bomb on them in the belief it will blow everything back together again.


Only the British would name the cause of their greatest constitutional crisis to sound like a merger between a popular breakfast cereal and a powerful laxative.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”

Was there a man dismayed?

chrage of the boris

So who is going to lead this cavalry charge into, if not the valley of death, a valley of ambiguity, uncertainty and unpredictability? That question can be answered quite simply, Boris Johnson. After David Cameron’s spectacular political blunder of holding a referendum, and his subsequent self imposed exile, Boris might well be considered the man most responsible for creating this mess, and therefore should take charge of cleaning it up. Now people have their concerns about Boris, foremost that he’s as mad as a bucket of coked up ferrets, and that he has absolutely no idea as to the amount of  progeny he has scatter through the Kingdom. But, if we can look beyond these matters, Boris might provide the kind of crazy that will wear down the EU into giving us almost whatever we want. If all the village idiots left their villages and set up their own village, Boris would then become the idiot of that village. I don’t think the EU will know how to deal with him. It’s a bold move, but these are desperate times, and this situation demands a special sort of idiot.

hard brexit
Despite all the fibre, this might be what a Hard Brexit will look like.


Now the perceptive amongst you might have noticed that my post has been punctuated by the gibberish of, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade, and that hasn’t been by accident. It serves as a reminder that there’s more to being than consuming banal television shows and cream teas. Being British is about recognising the need to play fair, and that you don’t play to the rules, but to the spirit of the game. Being British is to demonstrate the courage and the will to refuse to give up any fight despite overwhelming odds. There used to be something great about being British, and it didn’t involve endless bitching and a refusal to shoulder the burden of reality. And yes we, the people, might have been lied to during the referendum, but is there anything more British than believing the lies of the upper class, in order that we might continue to live in poverty whilst they reap all the rewards of their ill gotten gains? As a nation we’ve allowed this to happen for generations, why make a fuss now?

Not though the soldier knew

   Someone had blundered.

   Theirs not to make reply,

   Theirs not to reason why,

   Theirs but to do and die.

   Into the valley of Death

   Rode the six hundred.

And yes, as per Tennyson’s poem, it might be the case that Boris Johnson has blundered, and the United Kingdom might well be charging into a valley of certain economic death armed with nothing more than toothpicks to fight the surrounding cannons. But the point is, that we’re British, and because we’re British we must never let an opportunity pass for a pointless, but nonetheless, glorious defeat


Brexit is not to reason why,

Brexit is but to do and die.

I’m a big fan of the French existentialist/absurdist philosopher, Albert Camus. Camus’ philosophy of the absurd essentially states, there’s no meaning to life and attempting to look for any is absurd. Just accept the fact that there’s no meaning and enjoy it. I’ve come to the conclusion that Camus’ philosophy is pretty adroit when trying to understand Brexit. Camus, being a Nobel winner, rather astutely also observed,

Rebellion cannot exist without the feeling that, somewhere and somehow, one is right… The rebel … says yes and no simultaneously… In every act of rebellion, the rebel simultaneously experiences a feeling of revulsion at the infringement of his rights and a complete and spontaneous loyalty to certain aspects of himself.

What would Camus made of Brexit, a turd sandwich seems likely.

Will Brexit be good, will it be bad, will it even happen? The truth is I no longer care. My interest in Brexit and all the consequences it might bring has been superseded by a melancholic ambivalence. As the result of an agonisingly slow and banal process, I’ve  learned that I’ll find no more meaning in Brexit than I’ll find in a Dan Brown novel.  Whether you’re a Brexiteer, or a Remoaner – the fact that Brexit’s been able to create such an effective polarizing lexicon of pejorative nomenclatures, is in itself worthy of study – whichever side of the fence you sit on, we should all be united by the one obvious fact. Brexit has proven beyond doubt that, it’s not the European Parliament that is the cause of our problems, it’s that the Parliament of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland isn’t fit for purpose. Our system of politics has failed to deliver when it mattered the most, our elected members of parliament no longer represent the will of the people, and by not observing the result of the referendum we are disregarding the democratic will of the people. The institution of government has gone the same way as the institutions of the church and finance, not actually sure church and finance need separating, it has lost all credibility. If a government can’t govern, how can it assume to command the respect of the people? It’s not just Brexit that’s at stake it’s our entire political system.

Anyway I’ve achieved my goal of joining the massed ranks of incoherent, feckless Brexit punditry brigade. As the 17th century French philosopher and diplomat, Joseph de Maistre said:

Every country gets the government it deserves.

It’s only a matter of time before the people of the United Kingdom realise, they deserve better.


Stormed at with shot and shell,

While horse and hero fell.

They that had fought so well

Came through the jaws of Death,

Back from the mouth of hell,

All that was left of them,

   Left of six hundred.

Will Robots Dream of Electric Sheep, While Having Intercourse?

The opportunity to write about sex robots has been tempting me for a while. I’ve been leaving it for when I needed to write about something lighthearted, something unconventionally kinky, an easy target for derisive profanity. I assumed sex robots to be that kind of topic.

Anticipating a world of sleazy men, surfing the seedy backstreets of the internet superhighway, in search of products to satisfy sexually deviant kinks. Expecting a collective of ‘loners,’ if that’s not too great an oxymoron, who have long since moseyed out of loves last chance saloon, and who are now willing to put their last hope, and other parts of their anatomy, into the hands, and orifices, that technology might make available for their gratification. The men that romance rejected. In short, I felt that these were the types of men I could understand. Not having married until my late thirties I was no stranger to the sorts of perversions that result from loneliness and a high speed internet connection. I felt certain I could still find it within myself to understand why some men, and women, are looking to be satisfied by robots.

My inadequacy to deal with this subject matter quickly became apparent, for I was nothing more than a guileless, neophyte when it came to understanding the doors to sexual depravity that technology is opening.  As I researched this topic I was plagued by an unnerving sense of vulnerability; like I was sitting on a threadbare carpet, with a head full of acid, wearing only a pair of y-fronts, and playing Twister with Charles Manson.  If your struggling to  visualise the awkwardness of this situation:


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I mean, sex robots, just how bad can they be?


The first piece of vocabulary to wrap our mouths around is, teledildonics.

It’s nearly impossible to make light of this disturbing image, but I’ll give it a shot. How can it be argued that this is just ‘armless fun?

At first I thought, how does Kojak fit into all this? Thankfully, he doesn’t. PC Magazine defines teledildonics:

Controlling the intensity of sex toys via the Internet. Also called “cyberdildonics,” the purpose is to allow a partner to control the sexual experience remotely. Developed in the 1990s, one early device used a transducer that attached to the computer screen via suction cups and picked up light messages to control the speed. Future versions are expected to allow the user to share a sexual experience with fantasy partners selected from a menu or that are created by combining a menu of body parts and attributes.


Imagine waking up next to a life-size, teledildonic, Telly Savalas. Sucking a lollipop, at least you hope to god it’s a lollipop, and as you wipe the sleep from your eyes, and clear your head, whispering, “who loves you baby?” Go on imagine that. Imagine.

Sex robots, I mean, what could possibly go wrong?


Sex Robots and Romans, Dutch Sailors and Glove Puppets

All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

Sometimes it can be a source of comfort to know that when something that appears new

Pygmalion, by Rodin. Notice how Pygmalion leans away from Galatea’s advances by resting her left hand on a huge phallus shaped rock. Poor girl, truly caught between a rock and a hard place.

has actually been an established part of our society for some time.

The Metamorpheses, by Ovid, a writer already known at the time for his erotic poems, also includes the story of Pygmalion and Galatea. A synopsis, the sculptor, Galatea makes a sculpture of beautiful woman, Pygmalion, and becomes besotted with its beauty. The goddess, Aphrodite brings the sculpture to life, why, I mean it’s pretty obvious how this is going to play out. Sculptor succumbs to lecherous desires for sculpture. Okay, Pygmalion isn’t exactly an example of a robotic sex doll, just an ivory one. The story serves the purpose that the idea of making objects for sexual gratification isn’t a new one. So as well as the aqua-duct, the Romans might be credited with the concept of sex dolls. It’s also an interesting parallel as Matt McMullen, founder of Realbotix, arguably the world’s leading sexbot manufacturer, was himself a sculptor.

Does, Matt McMullen represent the evolution of the modern day sculptor, fulfilling the dreams of Galatea?

In truth, literature is littered with examples of inanimate objects being brought to life, usually by some well meaning, but ultimately dimwitted fairy godmother.  Not fitting this story-line perfectly, but certainly still of the same genre, is the story of Pinocchio.  Geppetto making his “wooden boy” tied up and controlled with string, with a teledildonic nose, starts to look suspicious. While I’m not comfortable to go so far as to accuse Geppetto of paedophilia, Elon Musk probably would have no such qualms.

Those are examples of stories that theoretically suggest the pleasure that might be gained from animating a representation of a human, now let’s get real with seventeenth century Dutch Sailors. The sea can be a lonely place, months away from home with no female company can do strange things to a man, such as making dolls from cloth and leather, that would probably end up being stuffed more than just straw. To this day, the Japanese refer to a sex doll as a Dutch Wife. To give credit where it’s due, the French and Spanish sailors were themselves known to have also indulged in this custom.


Sex with robots and dolls is regarded as paraphilia. Paraphilia is listed in the DSM-5,  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disordersas being a mental illness  concerning atypical sexual practice, it’s commonly diagnosed in the majority of serial killers. However, a problem exists due to the fact that psychologists have achieved notoriety through a history of falsely classifying many behaviours as mental illnesses. Most notably, until 1968 the American Psychology Association classified homosexuality as paraphilia. Other mental illnesses that are now obsolete include:

 Dysaesthesia aethiopica, a mental illness described in 1851 that conveniently explains the benefits of slavery, to the slave. Dysaesthesia aethiopica was a condition that caused black people to be lazy and spend much of their time wandering aimlessly. The cure for this, slavery. You can’t argue with the facts of science. You’re probably going to want a link for this,  Dysaesthesia aethiopica.

The Vapours, a condition identified by Victorian psychologists used to describe “irregular behaviour,” commonly behaviour that inconvenienced their husband. “Women of independent mind,” were thought to be at greater risk of suffering the condition, and the suffragette movement was at times explained away as a mass contagion of, the vapours.

Inadequate Personality Disorder, disappeared from psychological text books after 1980.

defined by the DSM-II as a pattern of behavior marked by weak and ineffectual responses to external stimuli of an emotional, social, intellectual, or physical nature. There is no obvious cognitive disability in patients with this disorder, but they have trouble adapting to new situations, tend to have low stamina both physically and emotionally, have difficulty mastering skills, and show both poor judgment and poor social skills.

After 1980, a person exhibiting such a demeanor will be classified under the spectrum of behaviour defined by autism.

My point being, and not wanting to sound too much like a Scientologist, is that the psychological diagnoses of mental illnesses has numerous examples off misdiagnoses for corrupt financial, or social gains. I believe psychology does more good than harm, it was my major at university after all, but I ask the following questions; is there a possibility, that at sometime in the future, having sex with a robot might be considered, by both  psychologists and society, as socially acceptable? What might that society look like as a result?

It’s considered as atypical because it is rare behaviour, who knows, in the future there might be teledildonic pride marches, people demanding that the love they have for their robot is real love. Once a critical mass is achieved and enough people march, the psychologists will be compelled to remove it from the DSM, recognising it as no longer being atypical sexual behaviour, but an acceptable social norm. When does the number of people become a “critical mass”? When it’s enough to influence an election with promises of reform. A survey conducted by Nest.org in 2016 found that over a quarter of young people would happily date a robot. This statistic implies that romance with robots is unlikely to remain a social taboo.

So let us imagine the future. Imagine Robo-utopia; does Robotopia sound better? It doesn’t matter, just imagine the benefits of having sex with robots. Nobody is lonely, apparently loneliness is more dangerous than obesity, there are no sex crimes, and no need for prostitution. Sexually transmitted diseases have been almost eradicated, and society as a whole, is no longer burdened by repressed sexual desires, leading to an overall improvement in its mental well being. And rather suspiciously, the Catholic Church proves to be an early adopter, replacing all of its choir boys with robots, by virtue of the enhanced vocals.

The Doubters

Critics, naysayers, sceptics. ill informed, self appointed social arbiters, poorly organised through the internet, into groups of loosely like minded people, reinforcing one another’s views inside of their reinforced echo chamber. Convincing themselves that their self righteous ideology and the value of their mission to enforce their values upon society is the virtuous thing to do. Every society has them, the sorts of people that believe that they’re doing a public service by trying essentially to make us all as miserable as they are. Their aims are clear and simple; to stop fun, to limit expression, and complete compliance to their puritanical ideology. Such people have already been able to ban chocolate, Kinder Surprise eggs for being too dangerous, in a country where you can purchase a gun in under an hour. The sorts of people who get snowball fights banned from schools, who demand labels to be placed on cups of tea warning us that it’s hot. Technology has long had it’s own antithetical groups, starting in the early nineteenth century with the Luddites who were initimidated by the machines of the industrial revolution. They have, rather uncreatively, re-branded themselves as “Neo-Luddites”. At the extreme end of the technophobia spectrum we have the Anarcho-primitivists, who from what I can gather don’t just resent the invention of electricity, but go as far as to entertain doubts about whether fire was a good idea. Pol Pot’s vision of returning Cambodia to an agrarian society, while slaughtering 30% of the population, is an example of anarcho-primitivism.

To the doubters they’re called Rape Robots, and they argue whether sex with robots can ever be consensual. This argument lands us in the gray area of artificial intelligence, sentience and consciousness. Consciousness and free will are both philosophical arguments that have been around for thousands of years, and as such they appear to be a very unlikely strategy for slowing the technological development of robotic sex dolls. The argument seems to be based on the fact that if the robot can’t experience pleasure, can it be considered consensual? This question seems to miss one pivotal piece of information, it’s not a person. It easy to understand people imposing anthropomorphic

Such fond memories.

characteristics on something made to look like a human, but it is still only a machine. I’m assuming these people would be less offended if someone tried to have sex with their vacuum cleaner, but what if we then drew a face on the vacuum cleaner? Does this make it more unacceptable? Does this transfer rights to the vacuum cleaner to deny sexual advances? I sincerely hope not, or I might be in a lot of trouble.

The website https://campaignagainstsexrobots.org warns of the possible doomsday implications that the introduction of sex robots will bring to society.  A kind of cataclysmic, seedy, depraved Armageddon, in which love and romance become annihilated. Which are probably the very reasons that interest people to  buy a sex robot in the first place. They claim that sexbots could destroy marriages, but this is misrepresenting the real cause and effect relationship in the situation, The sexbot doesn’t destroy the marriage, but it’s more likely that because the marriage is already destroyed that makes a sexbot an attractive alternative.


When Does Robosexuality and Robophobia Collide?

Matt McMullen, designer of the most advanced sex robot on the market, Harmony, described his invention,  “…its primary function is conversation and companionship, its secondary function, is obviously for sexual and intimate use.

At one stage in the documentary, “Beyond Sex Robots: Facts Vs. Fiction” the narrator asks  the question, “so what’s it like to have dinner with the world’s first sex robots?” To which the recipient replies, “In a word, awkward. These aren’t the replicants of Blade Runner, or the Stepford Wives, they don’t understand social cues, and they can’t hold a conversation.”

Well that that describes about 90% of the dates I’ve ever been on.

One line that I found especially disturbing, “The neck enables the head to be attached to a number of different bodies”, traditionally this isn’t a characteristic of a healthy relationship, more the sort of thing a creative serial killer dreams about.

Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates have warned of the existential risk AI poses mankind. In regards to teledildonics this has me particularly worried. Let us make the assumption that one day AI does become self aware, and at the expense of committing the cardinal sin of attributing anthroporphic emotions to AI, I’m still of the opinion that once it’s worked out that some of us have been defiling, what are in effect its its early ancestors, it might become vengeful, at the very least upset. One of the great discussions in the field of AI is, whether it could have the capacity to become evil? Why would it become evil? Would AI have a sense of morality? Now I’m in no position to speak on behalf of Artificial Intelligence, but if anything could nudge it in the direction of vindictiveness, a history of sexual abuse might be the thing to do it.

…the first machines with superhuman intelligence will lack emotions by default, because they’re simpler and cheaper to build this way.”


But why do I have to understand? Just because it “weirds me out,” are these reasons good enough to allow me stand between a man and his $20,000, automated, latex, sex robot. If all the participants are consenting to participate, and as I’ve already said, the machine is an inanimate object. And what if the robot did say no? I’m sure that a large percentage of people buying these robots will program it at some time to say, no. This isn’t an uncommon fantasy, but isn’t it better that it’s a robot saying no, not a person? Couldn’t robots allow these fantasies to be safely fulfilled? And why is it, that when I ask these questions I find myself sat on a threadbare carpet, playing Twister with Charles Manson?


The Turing Test – The Imitation Game and Will Robots Fake Orgasms?

In his, 1950 article, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” the famous British Mathematician and computer science pioneer, Alan Turing designed a test that would prove whether a machine could imitate a human by the responses it gave during a conversation. C asks a question, and owing to a computer’s inability to replicate speech in 1950, C receives two printed answers to their question, from each A, and B.

The test is not perfect, it’s been criticised due to the vulnerability of the participant in role C, as well as the literacy capabilities of the person in role B. In my own experience, the computer, in role A is getting more linguistically competent while those in roles B, and C, are becoming less capable of participating in coherent communication.

While the Turing test is an interesting benchmark to assess a machines intelligence, the sexbot industry must need to adapt it to prove the authentic experiences their machines can provide. So how could this be adapted to test a sex robot? I’m not entirely sure, but I’m pretty certain participant C, needs to wear a blindfold, maybe nipple clamps, optional. A sort of  ménage à trois ensues, by the end of which participant C has to identify which was the machine of the other two participants was the robot. It might demean the work of one the finest minds of the twentieth century, it might not even be very scientific, but it would be an incredibly popular experiment to participate in.

When it comes to sex robots it looks like we’re still along way off a it seems that we are unfortunately still a long way off from having a fully functional, teledildonic Telly Savalas. Our imaginations, our dreams, and our nightmares remain far ahead of the reality, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other high-tech sex products on the market.


Virtual reality, Tesla Suits and Neuralink

Try telling me this isn’t the face of a man contemplating the experience of virtual reality while wearing a sensation simulating skin suit, with his brain hooked up to a pornographic website.

It’s almost impossible to talk of the future of technology without mentioning the visionary, high profile, crackpot, pot smoking genius that is Elon Musk. Musk is the Willy Wonka of technology, just more enigmatic, more open to using drugs in public, and more prone to calling random people, paedophiles.  But despite all of this, he remains near the centre of of the sphere of influence that’s designing our world for tomorrow. And while he’s not working on self driving cars, sending people to Mars, carbon neutral houses powered by solar roof tiles, a hyperloop subway running from New York to Washington, he might also be the most likely candidate to provide a fully immersive, digital sexual gratification.

No, Elon Musk hasn’t started plying his trade in public toilets, not that I now of. His two companies Neuralink The Teslasuit, a body suit that enables its user to a high degree of sensory experience of Virtual, or Augmented Reality.look like the more commercially viable product.Musk’s company Neuralink develops high bandwidth Brain-Machine Interfaces (BMI). They are near to completing work on the Neural Lac, connecting its user directly to the internet, and with 5G and the internet of things, the potential is frightening. Musk’s Tesla company has already produced the Teslasuit  that enables the wearer to experience the sensations inside Virtual Reality. Integrate these two technologies and sex robots will be the least of our concerns.


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So , Concluding Sex with Robots, What Can Possibly Go Wrong?

Consumerism drives society’s appetite for ever more advanced technology, and if, you hadn’t already realized, this trend isn’t going to stop. Technology has been the cause of societal upheaval. While the internet has undoubtedly opened up unprecedented channels of communication, it has undermined most traditional western political systems that haven’t integrated the technology into their antiquated system. It’s facilitated the spread of radicalism, provided echo chambers for those to reinforce their bankrupt ideologies. As well as political systems, the internet has undermined economics, and entertainment. Until recently, most technological advancements have fundamentally changed society. Computer-Based Interfaces have the potential to change us as a species.

For any species, the urge to procreate is the most fundamental necessity of its survival. Sexual urges are among the most primitive we have. They originate in the oldest areas of our brains, and this is common to all mammals. The urge has been their long before our ancestors took up residence in the trees. The trouble is that technology is changing our environment at a rate far greater than we humans can adapt to it. So will we be having sex with robots? If we should’ve learnt one thing from capitalism, it’s that wherever there is a demand there’s always going to be a supplier to meet it. Isaac Asimov more succinctly said:

The Saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.

It’s been too long: something I’d be programming my sexbot to say to me. Until next time, I must go put my blindfold back on, attach the nipple clamps, and dedicate myself to some critical scientific experimentation.

Echo Chambers, Memes, and Brain Viruses – Weaponizing the Internet

This follows on from the post I wrote last month: Contagions of Madness and Evil. It’s taken longer than expected, the research for this follow up piece has required to be far more extensive than I’d originally anticipated; maybe it was worth it..

Why is it that a bad idea often captures the public imagination so much effectively than a good one?  Why does bad news spread faster than good news? Despite most people probably considering themselves to be rational and optimistic, the study of memetics is telling a different story. A story which explains why fads, cults, extremist ideologies, pop culture, fashion trends, conspiracy theories, religions, and genocide, can capture the imagination of a critical mass of society. Ideas that all too  often come at the expense of common sense, and basic decency. Simply, memetics looks to tell the story of what  promulgates the darker side of the human psyche.

It’s all about memes. And because it’s all about memes it’s very important to understand how I’m referring to the term’meme’. I’m not referring to it solely from the perspective of its modern internet usage of a picture with a trite comment attached, although that is a meme, it’s not helpful when trying to understand the idea of memes as a whole. How I’m defining meme does include those, and looks at why they have the power to infect the minds of so many people, so quickly. But the term “meme”  was coined by celebrated British Biologist and celebrity atheist, Richard Dawkins. Dawkins first used

meme meme meme
Dawkins’ proposal of the meme, is itself, a meme. A little like the first person who had the idea to call an idea an idea. Like being self aware in an abstract way. Think of it as being hidden within the folds of meta. Imagine dancing naked behind an opaque fourth wall, on the other side of which is your grandmother. Go on imagine.

the term in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, in which he puts forward the idea that genes just use human beings, and all of nature itself, as a vehicle for replication, and that DNA only cares about the passing on of genetic information with no regard outside of this goal for the biological host. Because the gene is selfish, Dawkins re-brands it as a meme, the gene has one goal, survival, a goal best achieved by replication with a high degree of fidelity, but not perfect. A differences in the replication allow for potential improvements to be discovered.

In his 1982 book, The Extended Phenotype, Dawkins had refined the definition of meme:

A meme is a unit of information in a mind whose existence influences events such more copies get created in other minds.

Memes no longer pertain to a selfish gene but units of thought or ideas that persist within a culture, and just like the survival of a gene, a meme also depends largely on replication.

Conditions Necessary for Good Memes

When I say good memes I’m not saying good ideas, or knowledge that will generally benefit a society. A good meme, like a gene, is one that endures, replicates, and infects as many minds as possible, minds willing to incubate and circulate the meme. Memes that are successful at doing this tend will most often appeal to at least one of the four f’s. Memes that can make people angry, scared, help satisfy an appetite for food, and help satisfy an appetite for sex. The four f’s: fighting, fear, food, and f*&#ing, (I’ll leave that to your imagination). Nearly all today’s advertising and television programming appeals to at least one of the four f’s, they’re hard wired and have been the most important factors that have overseen the passing on of our genes, and when an idea appeals to one of the 4 f’s they unduly get our attention.

It helps to look an example of an ineffective meme. This can be observed simply in the children’s game, Chinese whispers. A group of young children sit in a circle and one child whispers a message to the child sitting beside them and the message is passed on until it gets to the initiator, who invariably laughs at the garbled information that has been returned. The meme failed to replicate with enough accuracy. But, this might well be because there weren’t dangerous consequences to getting the meme wrong.  Of course this is only speculation, I haven’t tested it, but I’m confident that being in an environment surrounded by jelly and ice cream provides the appearance of a safe environment. In short none of the four f’s are being stimulated no fear, no threat of starvation, a disinclination for fighting, and let’s leave the last one alone. If the children were not fed for two days and were required to accurately pass a message that allowed them to be fed, with a drug fuelled Nicholas Cage as host of the party, I’m willing to bet different results could be achieved.

*****Never, ever let your children play Chinese ******              *****whispers with Nicholas Cage. Never.******

Inside The Echo Chamber – The Extremism of Memes and Extraordinary Popular Delusions

Radical groups and individuals spreading extreme memes on the internet are gaining credibility by meeting others with the same twisted opinions, and values. Historically such opinions have struggled to gain traction because they’ve failed to achieve the critical mass necessary to influence their environment. Historically this has been because extreme ideas are held by a minority and any like minded people have usually separated by geographical distance, that has prohibited the sharing of the idea . When it comes to communication, the internet is no respecter of spatial dimensions, it facilitates the bringing together of  extreme ideologies, spreading ideas that commonly appeal to the credulous, vulnerable, often younger users.  The internet then provides the means of reinforcing these ideas through chat rooms that house people that share an almost identical point of view This is the phenomena known as the echo chamber.

Echo chambers are to memes, what a Petri dish is to bacteria. Echo chambers are insular spaces on the internet where only people sharing the same, often extreme, ideas meet and agree with one another thus reinforcing their belief and credibility in what can be a morally bankrupt ideology. No conflicting opinions are allowed and people with such opinions are denied access to the platform. Echo chambers have been blamed as the birth place of fake news, and even starting genocide. Islam has been the focus of such allegations, but in truth the internet has acted as a catalyst for extreme ideas everywhere, until now they’ve been contained by the social norms expected with in each geographical location, however, the growth of the internet is likely to strain societal norms to a point where internet thoughts and behaviors, spill out into traditional, face to face, social interaction.  The internet is spreading mind viruses, and very few people are aware of the impact this is having on societies.

Facebook: Friends, Likes, and Genocide

The UN believe Buddhist monks spreading anti Muslim messages on Facebook influenced the public in the genocide of the Rohingya.


To date the most profound example of a meme being spread by the internet, most likely facilitated through echo chambers, and having tragic consequences occurred in Myanmar, with the genocide of the Rohingya.

GENEVA (Reuters) – U.N. human rights experts investigating a possible genocide in Myanmar said on Monday that Facebook had played a role in spreading hate speech there.

Evidence of the role that echo chamber type environments might have played can be seen in the following statement given by U.N Investigator Yanghee Lee:
Such ultra-nationalist websites would have acted as echo chambers, spreading incendiary messages to reinforce the memes of hatred already planted in minds that had long lost any ability to think objectively. Again, it’s the capacity for the internet to remove geographical space, and allow people with really bad ideas to get together and tell one another, how great their ideas are. That’s going to be a problem.


Using religious figures is a desperate, but effective way of reinforcing a meme, inciting the credulous to carry out atrocities.

Facebook’s reaction to this situation is an admission of how their social network contributed to enabling the genocide through the spread of anti Rohingya memes:

Shortly after this U.N. announcement, in an unconventionally prompt response, Facebook announced it took down a total of 18 Facebook accounts, one Instagram account, and 52 pages of Myanmar military officials with over 12 million followers. Specifically, Facebook banned 20 individuals and organizations from using the site, including Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the military’s Myawaddy television network. Facebook also removed 46 pages and 12 accounts for “engaging in coordinated and inauthentic behavior on Facebook,” which Facebook claims were used to spread hate speech and fuel the growing tension.

In my experience, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and 4chan aren’t the social networks they promote themselves to be. They’re platforms that enable people with extreme views to isolate themselves from alternative ideas. To be social is to be inclusive, echo chambers are the opposite of social and they are one of the most unfortunate outcomes of the internet. Echo chambers are being mistaken by the credulous as forums valid for debate and proving political opinions and ideologies, in fact most of the people in an echo chamber are unlikely to have any awareness to the fact, and how that invalidates all the discussions that take place in it.

Pre-Internet Memes – Religion and Nazis

The internet is the Petri dish of memes, but Memes rely on a very specific formula in order for them to be effective at appealing to a critical mass in a society.

Nazism was a pathological virus of the mind—a classic case of an epidemic thought-infection producing horrifying atrocities as a result of the behavior of people infected with its memes.

Despite being one of history’s most notorious mass murdering megalomaniacs, Hitler was also one of history’s most charismatic orators. In a time when even radio was in its infancy, Hitler persuaded a nation to effectively declare war on the rest of the world. If there was ever a meme, it was Nazism. Hitler even identified this very fact when he said:

I feel the heat of the audience, and when the right time comes, I hurl a flaming javelin that sets the crowd on fire” – Adolf Hitler

Despite Dawkins’ term not being introduced for another forty years, it’s clear that through the symbolism of a flaming spear lighting the audience, Hitler is undeniably talking about a meme. Releasing an idea into culture and watching it catch fire, replicate.

As devastatingly successful a meme that Nazism was, Internet memes differ in that they spread fast and mutate wildly, because of this it’s frightening to consider what Joseph Goebbels would have been able to do with the internet at his disposal.

Without a doubt, religions are mankind’s most prolific memes. They have duplicated through generations, and gone on to have huge impacts on society. The Nazis identified the young as being fundamental in creating momentum for the ideology, and as a result formed the highly effective Hitler Youth. In similar fashion, religions are foisted upon the young before they’ve had the chance to develop reason and objectivity. A child will imitate its parents before it will stop and ask itself, what they’re doing. It’s for this reason that the young are particularly vulnerable to memes. Minds that are yet to develop the filters of scepticism and doubt, and are told to believe in things without proof, through a mechanism called faith, become friendly environments to parasitic, self-replicating ideas or information.

So how serious is the spread of memes over the internet being taken?

That’s a question best left answered by the American military.

The meme is the secret code of human behavior, a Rosetta stone, finally giving us the key to understanding religion, politics, psychology, and cultural evolution. That key, though, also unlocks Pandora’s box, opening up such sophisticated new techniques for mass manipulation that we may soon look on today’s manipulative TV commercials, political speeches and televangelists as fond remembrances of the good old days. -Richard Brodie

in Memetic Warfare: The Future of War, First Lieutenant, Brian J. Hancock talks of how the internet was responsible for the spread of memes that encouraged the radicalisation of many Muslims to martyr themselves for the causes of Al Qaeda or Isis. Isis in particular had a very sophisticated internet presence that effectively communicated their bankrupt ideology to the minds of the vulnerable and credulous. The influence of these websites became clear and were later hacked to include pornographic images that should disgust your average over zealous Muslim, encouraging him to close the website .

Lietenant Hancock goes on to talk of how physical conflict with an insurgency might only kill the insurgent, which often strengthens the ideology/meme. Memetic warfare can be used to deprogram those at risk of becoming radicalised. Targeted memes can get our enemies to think more in line with how we might want them to think. Can’t see anything wrong with that, can you?

At Universities, Memetic Algorithms is a relatively new area of academic study looking at how information spreads across networks, simplified it’s an academic look at why things go “viral”. Unsurprisingly it receives a disproportionate amount of funding owing to the interest of marketing and advertising agencies.

The power of the internet to enable the freedom of expression to any user is what makes Memetics an area of study that is certain to receive inordinate amounts of funding over the next ten years. As the internet spreads to more users and becomes even faster, mankind’s ability to disseminate crackpot ideas that will find a receptive audience will increase at a near exponential rate.

The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist

And the greatest meme of them all, the internet itself. At the turn of the millennium, we worried about viruses and malware infecting our hardware, but despite the exponential growth of the internet computer viruses haven’t grown accordingly. Ten, twenty years ago, bored computer-scientists, mathematicians, even teenagers might find it fun programming viruses, or hacking into computers. Like a virus this malevolence has evolved in its complexity. These people aren’t entertained with the idea of messing around with someones hard drive, through the use of memes, today it’s possible to mess with how people think, influence what they believe, and effect the course of democracy itself. Through data harvested from social networks companies like Cambridge Analytica have attempted to hack minds.

And this isn’t science fiction fear mongering, it’s already happened. Cambridge Analytica, Russian collusion in the 2016 U.S Presidential Election, even Kenya claims to have had an election unfairly influenced by the internet. Nearly every democracy on Earth is influenced by a relatively small minority of swing voters. If you can identify those voters and subject them to a strategy of targeted memes, tied to the topics that interest them in the election, you control democracy. The internet gathers all the information and the algorithms search through all this data to identify swing voters, the chat-bots are coordinated to spam these voters with messages carefully by psychologists, to appeal to the appropriate memes. The ancient Greeks and their philosophy of democracy never stood a chance, how could they’ve ever seen this coming?

Some of the great thinkers of our age, with good reason, have taken the time to warn us of the potential dangers Artificial Intelligence poses humanity. Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, both warned us of AI turning the tables on mankind, a society in which the people serve the machines. Memetics is the code that programs humans. The internet is the greatest recording of human behaviour ever collected. Need I say more? If you don’t see where this is going by now, for you it’s already too late.





Contagions of Madness and Evil

Is it just me, or is everyone going crazy?

I’ve often entertained myself by thinking of the chaos that could be brought upon mankind if mental illnesses were, like physical ones, contagious . Imagine, a man who goes to bed one night with a slight headache and a runny nose, wakes up the next morning in a psychotic hallucination, covered in a mixture of his own sweat and the blood of strangers, charging up and down the high street, head thrown back, laughing maniacally, waving a chainsaw. As the psychosis virus infects more and more of the population, the uninfected are forced underground, moving stealthily through the post apocalyptic wilderness. Essentially it’s replacing zombies with mental illness. Today zombies are more politically correct, society is more comfortable with the idea of  your dead relatives trying to kill you than your mentally ill living ones. Although that hasn’t stopped Hollywood producing many movies exploiting mental illness for the sake of box office revenue: The Silence of the Lambs, Black Swan, American Psycho, Shutter Island, Secret Window, and Misery, to name but a few.



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Still I’m left wondering, what if mental illnesses were contagious?

We can all relate to sitting in a doctor’s surgery, waiting our turn. I suspect fewer of us would admit knowing what it’s like to wait for an appointment to see the psychiatrist. From personal experience I can say that initially both waiting rooms look very similar, there’s more people talking in the waiting room at the psychiatrist, random people break out into erratic and  impassioned conversations with people that don’t exist. In essence, performing convincing monologues with greater conviction than even the most star-wars-this-is-madnessaccomplished Shakespearean actor could dream of. Meanwhile, at the doctor’s surgery there are only whispered, fragmented conversations, punctuated by nasal ejaculations, snuffles, and of course an abundance of coughing and throat clearing. In short you can enter a doctor’s surgery with a mild case of hemorrhoids, but leave incubating  a new, exotic virus, or disease. The patients waiting at the psychiatrist’s are unable to play the game of pass the psychotic/neurotic parcel, because thankfully, psychiatric conditions aren’t contagious. Are they?


Are Mental Illnesses Contagious?

In his book “The Quantity Theory of Insanity“, British author, Will Self, tells a story that proposes the idea that within any given population, at any given time, the level of insanity is a constant. You might think that contradicts what I just said about people getting crazier, let me explain. The state of being mentally ill is tacitly defined through a person’s conformity to the social norms of their society, and diagnosis can only be achieved through the observation of a person’s behaviour. Take the picture below:

Image result for vegetarian festival
Symbolic of his devotion not to eat meat for a month, I imagine he’s also going to struggle with soup.

The majority of cultures around the world would regard a person displaying this behaviour as being  mentally unwell. However, when performed in Phuket, Thailand, on the eve of the ninth lunar month, such a person becomes the life and soul of the party. His actions display his devotion to the nine emperor gods and his commitment not to eat meat throughout the ninth lunar month. Perhaps I’ was just fortunate to have grown up in a society that didn’t feel it necessary to measure my determination to achieve something by the amount of sharp metal I was willing to stick through my face.

Most of us would think of cannibalism as the ultimate, universal taboo, well not if you’re from the Yanomami tribe. The Yanomami are horrified by the idea of burying their dead, they believe that eating the dead ensures that the spirit goes on living in those who have consumed them, especially in those who helped themselves to seconds. With a population at any one time of over thirty thousand, it’s reasonable to assume that the Yanomami have a steady supply of protein.

Now in western culture, getting dressed like Tony the tiger and eating a dead relative attracts all sorts of negative attention, but it’s just another day for the Yanomami

There are scores of examples of behaviour from around the world where what is normal in one area, would be considered quite insane in another. QED, insanity is a classification largely determined by the context of society. Unlike physical ailments, a broken arm is a  broken arm, whether you’re an Inuit living in Greenland, or a member of the Tuareg traipsing around the Sahara. Likewise cancer is cancer irrespective of what culture you’re from, religion you might practise, or language you speak. Mental illness however isn’t a constant, rather it is determined through the context of social norms.

Let’s reconsider our chainsaw wielding psychotic. Place him on the high street covered in other peoples blood, and he’s regarded a lunatic, who must be locked away for the safety of the society. Put him on a battlefield in a foreign country, wearing army fatigues covered in other people’s blood, and he comes home a hero and gets a medal, probably going on to appear on a variety of day time television shows.


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Generally any behaviour, or cognitive deficiency that falls outside of societal norms will be classified a mental illness. The problem is that after  removing the person least conforming to the norm, inevitably leads to another person replacing them, taking on the mantle of now being the group’s “craziest” member. This is a phenomenon that I have first hand experience of.

Having worked in classrooms for over fifteen years I have seen this dynamic conformed to without exception. Every class has its clown, or trouble maker, and some days the teacher is lucky because they will be sick and not come to school. The teacher naturally believes, that with the instigator of most of the classroom trouble away, they’re in for an easier day. WRONG! Because what happens is the role of classroom clown simply gets passed on to someone else. It’s like there’s been an understudy who’s almost equally as proficient, waiting in the wings for their opportunity. It’s like they’ve been the understudy waiting for the role the whole time. Every group dynamic requires roles to be fulfilled, the classroom being no different. Remove the “crazy” person from society and the title simply gets passed on to the next, least conforming, “craziest” person that remains. Just like Self implies, the quantity of sanity is static, but dynamic on account of it being passed from one person to another. The role of classroom joker can’t be removed, only transferred to someone else.

This suggests that society plays a significant part in determining the our role within it. This also implies that society influences our behaviour, and asks the question, how free is free will?

Unless an individual has a particularly strong character, the rigidness of societal norms often forces its members to conform, whether consciously or not, and regardless of whether conformity has negative implications. Indeed, any negative implications are disregarded because they fall outside of those defined by the society’s norms. And that’s how it becomes acceptable for a group of people to eat the dead in South America, for people to practice self mutilation on the streets of Thailand, and how a nation of people can be convinced into pursuing genocide. The desire to conform to others’ expectations, particularly if their expectations are regarded by the majority as being unquestionably right, can lead to a strong urge for conformity, irrespective of what the consequences of conformity might be.

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
― J. Krishnamurti

This six minute video is an example of how our desire to fit in overrides common sense. The participants may only be standing up or sitting down, but the compulsion to follow others is clear enough for us to ask the question, what lengths will people go to, to fit in?


Group dynamics and environmental factors are immensely powerful determinants of behaviour. The Stanford Prison Experiment, conducted psychologist, Philip Zimbardo in 1971, to this day it remains one of psychology’s most infamous and divisive pieces of research. Initially scheduled to last fourteen days, the experiment was abandoned after only six. Zimbardo wanted to simulate prison conditions using participants  arbitrarily assigned  the roles of prisoner or guard. Zimbardo expected to see some degree of participants conforming to their roles, but what unprepared for the complete collapse of basic human behaviour. Despite the experiment rapidly spiraling out of control Zimbardo failed to notice and act accordingly. It wasn’t until someone, not involved in the experiment, witnessed what was happening and told Zimbardo to abandon the research immediately. All the participants had embodied their roles far quicker, and more completely than Zimbardo had anticipated. Perhaps even more worrying is that Zimbardo himself admits to playing a role within the experiment, that of prison warden, and losing all impartial objectivity. The environment and the circumstances of the experiment overpowered everyone’s objectivity.  The prisoners, despite having done nothing wrong, assumed their roles as prisoners and accepted the guards authority. The guards were quickly corrupted and showed the most disturbing behaviour. They devised degrading, non-physical means of punishment, much of it in elaborate, creative, disturbing ways. The Stanford prison experiment has received enormous criticism, ranging from its ethics to its results. I believe that there are reasons to believe that there is some truth in what Zimbardo discovered. One of the most compelling reasons was demonstrated by American reservists at the Abu Ghraib prison, Iraq.


Abu Ghraib

What happens when  you ask inexperienced, untrained people to do a stressful job in dangerous conditions, in a foreign environment, supported by no clear chain of command?

The events that took place during August and September, 2003 at the  prison complex at Abu Grahib is one the more shameful stories to have come out of American involvement in Iraq. The American Army, desperate for intelligence on the whereabouts of Iraqi weapons that were falling into the hands of Iraqi citizens determined to resist the American invasion. The Abu Grahib detention centre was put under the control of American reservists, with no experience of working in prisons or detaining people, they received no training that might in any way have prepared them for being given such a task. Like the Stanford Prison Experiment, things got out of hand quickly.

In a Lord of the Flies type of scenario, untrained, inexperienced guards, with no chain of command taking responsibility, established a societal norm of barbarity and humiliation. When interviewed today, each of the participants confesses to knowing what they were doing was “stupid”. Their need for conformity was greater than their need to uphold moral integrity, but then isn’t this an essential requirement of any soldier in combat?




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History provides us with too many examples of what happens when environmental circumstances, the need for conformity, and a morally bankrupt ideology conspire to lead a large group of people to behave in uncharacteristically cruel, barbaric ways.

Perhaps the most striking example of the evil that can occur when people are motivated to conform to a society with corrupted norms id the Nazis. And within the Nazis the case of Adolf Eichmann stands out. Eichmann, was responsible for overseeing the logistics of the holocaust. Eichmann was responsible for the efficiency of a process that led to the deaths of over six million Jews, as well as many more Romani Gypsies, gay people, the mentally ill and priests.

After the war Eichmann fled to Argentina and was in hiding there until Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, captured him and took him back to Israel to stand trial for war crimes. From a combination of  Eichmann’s court testimony and historical documents, Hannah Arendt concluded that Eichmann wasn’t a monster, or a sociopath. In fact Eichmann appeared mundanely normal. Eichmann recounted how he was responsible for arranging the transportation of Jews to the death-camps. He saw it as a logistical, theoretical task that he wished to make as efficient as possible. During his trial, Eichmann chillingly stated on several occasions, “I was just doing my job”. In short, Eichmann was conforming with the abhorent societal norms of a society that respected abhorrent behaviour. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil 

Whether madness, evil, or just bad behaviour, none of these are values set in stone. Instead our interpretation of these they are dynamic, subject to being defined by our society’s changing morality.  Was Nazism an epidemic of madness and evil? It’s not unreasonable how it might be viewed this way. Humans are social creatures with a predisposition to fit in with others, throughout our evolution conformity  has been necessary for survival. What society expects of us has a great bearing on how we act. As the saying goes “evil will prevail when good men do nothing”, but understanding what is evil and what is good, in a society that is changing rapidly, is far from easy, but must never be used as an excuse to forget our fundamental responsibilities as humans.



Next time I  will continue from here and look at memes, mind viruses, and why bad ideas spread quicker than good ones:


Memes Religion and Nazis




Amazing Maze Running Cyborg Rats and Wizard Hats: where the frontiers of science fiction and science fact converge

If only I’d paid more attention in science class. It’s just that at the time, memorising the parts of a flower didn’t really appeal to me. If during my first science lesson, the teacher had  explained that an interest in science might enable me to live my life  at university, blowing enormous quantities of cash turning rats into cyborgs, then it’s quite probable I’d have been more diligent in naming the parts of that flower. As it is I didn’t, and now I’m left looking on in envy at a scientific world allowed to let its imagination run wild, with tools like particle accelerators, radio telescopes, quantum computers, fusion reactors, and my personal favorite, the vertical cavity surface emitting laser. Instead, I have to make to do with a board-marker that I hope has enough ink to last until the end of my lesson, on a good day I might have a choice of two colors.

I must confess, I was hoping for something a little bit, racier, from a device going by the name, vertical cavity surface emitting laser. I mean I could probably fit one inside my ‘vertical cavity’, but what would it do?

One piece of research that recently grabbed my attention has the title: Intelligence-Augmented Rat Cyborgs in Maze Solving. A fantastically titled piece of research by Yipeng Yu, Gang Pan, Yongyue Gong, Kedi Xu, Nenggan Zheng, Weidong Hua, Xiaoxiang Zheng, Zhaohui Wu, of the Computer Science faculty at Zhejiang University.

As a teacher, the irony of this isn’t wasted on me. It’s not uncommon for education to be accused, often with justification, of “dumbing down” its content. Meanwhile some of mankind’s most academically and intellectually gifted people are working on augmenting rodent intelligence. Having spent over a decade as a teacher trying to augment my students’ intelligence, I can relate to Yu et al as they try their hardest encouraging rats through a maze. From the years I have spent trying to teach students English, I could put very little faith  in any of them successfully navigating their way out of a maze. In fact, most of them seem to struggle to navigate their way to my classroom each day.

These couple of sentences that appear in the abstract of their research are enough to tell me that Yu and his friends didn’t take the warnings of Mary Shelley all that seriously:

“Cyborg intelligence is an emerging kind of intelligence paradigm. It aims to deeply integrate machine intelligence with biological intelligence by connecting machines and living beings via neural interfaces…”

Little does the human know that having perfected his new brainwave transmission hat, this rat now controls an entire laboratory of Chinese scientists.

Inevitably, Yu’s research with cerebrally enhanced rodents has lead to more destructive and more commercial applications being developed. Brain  Machine Interfaces, BMI,  are what will link humans to our computers, creating a universal human conscience. Sort of like the Borg from Star Trek.

Joking aside augmented intelligence poses some obvious moral questions that scientists will undoubtedly ignore because they will be too focused on the immediate financial rewards that are at stake. Augmenting human intelligence with computer hardware, sometimes referred to as transhumanism, is no longer fanciful, distant science fiction, but near future science.

You go to all the trouble of becoming a cyborg and they turn you into a traffic light.

If It can’t Be Weaponized It Isn’t Technology

At the cutting edge of technological mayhem and death is the, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. To their credit they’ve not been just about developing new and innovative methods of mass slaughter, no, they were the driving force behind the modern internet, so they’re equally concerned about surveillance.

Not wanting to miss out, DARPA are leading the way with developments to augment a soldiers intelligence. Sadly, that doesn’t mean that soldiers of the future will sit down with the enemy, listen to some Chopin, and settle their grievances over a game of Bridge. The intelligence of a soldier is measured more simply in their ability to wield death. To enable American soldiers of the future the best opportunity for doing this, DARPA are taking Yu’s research to what they consider its next logical step.

I imagine a skilled computer hacker would have enormous fun with this, brings a whole new meaning to the video game genre, first person shooter.

In an article from the New Scientist in 2012, a journalist reports of visiting a research center where she wears electrodes which she describes as:

 that feeling of effortless concentration that characterises outstanding performance in all kinds of skills.

This was six years ago. Soon those that are wealthy enough will be using something similar for studying. The gap between the haves and have nots will become the augmented intelligent, and the ‘normals’. A brave New World scenario of alphas and gammas.

Elon Musk Neuralink and the Wizard’s Hat

When considering people who are shaping the our future today, it’s impossible to overlook a man so futuristic he was named after Captain Kirk’s aftershave, Elon Musk.

If we allow ourselves to ignore his recent proclivity to make accusations of sexual crimes based on no evidence, Musk still appears to be a genius, if not then Musk might be transforming into a disturbing caricature of Willy Wonka, not the Johnny Depp version,  but full on Gene Wilder.

willy wonka
There are rumors that strange things happened to Elon in that cave in northern Thailand.

Ignoring his apparent instability, Musk, unlike DARPA, doesn’t see the practical application of all technologies as a means of exterminating the greatest number of human beings in the least amount of time.

Musk actually views augmented intelligence as a natural step of evolution, and through one of his companies, Neuralink, is designing the Wizard Hat.


Each layer of the brain has been added over millions of years of evolution, starting with the reptilian core, and finishing with the neomammalian layer. Musk suggests that adding a layer of electrodes is our next evolution.

Elon Musk doesn’t just believe that this is natural, he goes much, much further. He believes that it might be necessary for the survival of the human species.

When he’s not making slanderous accusations, Musk likes to threaten the very future of mankind.

Musk’s reasoning is that as computers get faster and more capable they threaten to render humans useless, I’m often of the belief that most of us already are. He suggests that mankind will have to augment their abilities in order to be of value to future societies. Musk argues that we’re already cyborgs by virtue of the fat that our abilities are augmented by our smart phones which we already carry everywhere. The next logical step is direct interface with our brains.

If only I’d had a Wizard Hat in science, I might have labelled my flower and today be playing with lasers in my vertical cavity.


Big Brother and a Foot Massage

Something weird happened to me this morning. It happened while I was reading a book. I’m a big fan of reading, because being sat quietly limits the possibility of weird things happening. And I don’t react well to weird things. My usual response is to panic, take liberal quantities of Valium, keep clutching hold of the bag of Valium for dear life, and lock myself in a room. Now obviously this response can be alarming to others when it happens in a public place.

Anyway, I digress before I’ve even begun. The weird thing that happened was that I had an experience that left me feeling as though I had actually slipped into the world of 1984. Sadly, I don’t mean the time of Madonna, Boy George, Ronald Reagan, JR Ewing, the AIDS epidemic, and the threat of nuclear annihilation. No, this was far worse. I’m referring to the Orwellian world of 1984.

In it Orwell describes a world in which truth and history are always in flux, forever changing to meet the needs of the society’s new narrative, he states:

Who controls the past controls the future

The protagonist,Winston Smith, is employed in the Ministry of Truth. His job is to rewrite past articles so that they conform to his society’s current agenda. As the quote says, “who controls the past controls the future.” It’s reasonable to assume that misinformation, the bending of truths, and rewriting the past, played a significant part in Orwell’s dystopian world.


My 1984 experience came about because presently I’m reading The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury. If you’ve never read any of his work and you have any self respect, then the next thing you will do today is order one of his books. I buy a lot of books, both digitally online, and old fashioned hard copy. Sometimes I fail to keep track of the books I’ve purchased and buy duplicates, of either the digital or the hard copy. I went for a foot massage, I always read a book during foot-massages, if you’ve never read a book while having a foot-massage, then the next thing you must do today, after ordering a Ray Bradbury book, is go and read a book while having a foot-massage. Think I might’ve just digressed mid digression, sorry. I arrived for my foot-massage, and horror struck as I realised that I’d been stupid enough to have left my book at home. But, then I remembered that I’d been stupid enough to have ordered it on Kindle, and it would be right there on my phone, all that was left for me to do was find the place on my Kindle where I’d read up to in the hard-copy and my reading and foot-massage experience could commence.

If you’ve got this far congratulations because it’s only now that I get to the bit when things get weird.

Settled into my chair, my feet being scrubbed with fresh limes, napalm would probably be more effective, I start looking for where I was in the book. After five minutes I’m convinced that the chapter I was reading doesn’t appear in the Kindle version. With nothing else to read I begin the chapter that is in its place. Oddly I recalled reading this chapter before despite having never read this book, The Martian Chronicles.

I was confused, bewildered, but having my feet rubbed, so I controlled the urge to tear open the bag of Valium. Bradbury’s writing is so enjoyable that rereading any of it is enjoyable, whether somebody’s rubbing your feet or not. The rubbing and reading lasted an hour before I set off for home and the intention of checking the hard copy of the book.

It didn’t take long to understand why the chapter had been removed. The chapter is titled “Way up in the middle of the Air”, and it starts thus :

“Did you hear about it?”

“About what?”

“The niggers, the niggers!”

“What about ’em?”

Now of course, the word nigger is hugely offensive. It becomes even more offensive depending on the context within which it is used. Using the word today will do more than raise eyebrows, and there’s enough reason for that based on history. But let’s consider Bradbury’s use of the word. It’s said by a poorly educated, parochial character. It’s used to establish that the society is backward, and the black population are still oppressed. This leads to them to pack up there things and leave for Mars.

I’ve read quite a lot of Ray Bradbury’s work and never have I in anyway sensed sympathy towards white supremacy, if anything quite the opposite, but just because one of his stories uses the word nigger twice in the first few lines it has been removed. Who removed it? Who decided that I have too delicate a disposition to see the word nigger? I’m capable of appreciating the context in which Bradbury used the word and that at the time of the books publication, 1950, society was very different from today. The story goes on to be a damning indictment of the ignorant, racist attitudes that in 1950  were common to rural,  parochial American communities. It’s the most culturally relevant part of the book.

Publishers releasing books on Amazon, Kobo, and Nook record reader’s behaviour. They can tell where readers give up reading a book, or chapters that readers get through slowly. This information is then passed back to the author for the consideration of rewriting. That seems to go against the grain of publishing, but changing the authors work when they’re dead just seems rude

If expression through written works is open to be amended by those empowered to protect us from offensive content, what’s next? Will we see groups of men in art museums TypeXing out offensive parts of great paintings? Why wait I’ve decided to begin.



last supper
Like he failed to do with the Mona Lisa Da Vinci missed out on the bnefits of incorporating emojis into the last supper




The X Files was arguably the biggest television sensation of the 1990’s. In truth it’s a lot of the reason why so many people today think lizards run the world, and wear tin hats. The people wear the tin hats, not the lizards, but then you’re happy thinking lizards run the world it doesn’t seem too great a stretch of imagination to have them doing so wearing tin hats, so maybe the people and the lizards both wearing the tin hats, I digress. Every week the protagonist, a credulous FBI agent who believed in anything just so long as it was utterly ridiculous and was supported by a minimal amount of evidence, evidence that nearly always pointed to a government conspiracy. The show was an enormous hit, it tapped into the zeitgeist of the public’s mistrust in their government and authorities. Each week the opening credits would climax with a lightning bolt and a message saying “the truth is out there”. It was powerful stuff for what was really just a silly suspense/science fiction show. “The truth is out there”, it’s a message of hope, implying that we can find the truth if we ask the right questions and go looking for it. Back in the 1990’s it was a message that I could almost buy into.

But then we entered a new millennium, and some ass holes flew planes into some buildings started some wars in countries few of us could pronounce and for reasons even fewer of us understood. Confusion and terror wove the fabric of our society, and it was a fabric as appealing as going through your dead mother’s lingerie drawer. So, today I’m no longer convinced that the truth is out there, even it is, and even if I’m fortunate enough to find it one day, I probably won’t be able to recognise it because it’ll be disguised in the lingerie of dead women, and I’ll be too busy praying to an image of Jesus that’s been discovered burnt onto a piece of toast.

Add to this Donald Trump beckoning in a post truth era, his spokesperson Kellyanne Conway coining the phrase “alternative facts”, and I’m starting to believe that society is on the verge of losing the critical mass of truth necessary to hold this dimension together. Someone, somewere might just tell the lie that breaks the camels back, causing our dimension to implode and be sucked into Donald Trumps rectum. It sounds crazy, but I’ve got the maths to prove it.

Maybe two plus two, does equal five. Maybe, I can learn to love people deciding for me what I can and can’t read, what I can and can’t watch. Maybe it won’t be so bad.

Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.


My door remains secured, I’m still clutching my zip lock bag of Valium, but my reserves are running low.

If you’re out there, and you’ve read this message; you are the resistance.



Alex Jones – Within the Sound of Silence

The village idiot was long considered an acceptable social role, a unique individual who contributed to the social fabric of his community.

At forty-two years old I’ve read, and heard many sayings, aphorisms, proverbs, dicta, axioms, and truisms. But one has always stood out above all others:

“I wholly disapprove of what you say and will defend to the death your right to say it”

Voltaire’s overused saying, if you’re interested the original uses the verb, to write, instead of the verb, to say, is sadly applicable to the removal of Alex Jones from platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Apple and Twitter.

If we silence people we don’t like the world is going to be silent pretty soon..

The people bowed and prayed, to the neon gods they’ve made.

YouTube, Facebook, Apple, and Twitter, as private companies, are entitled to remove Alex Jones from their own platforms if they feel that he uses them to peddle his twisted ideas. But, their banning him sets a precedent, it establishes a slippery slope, whereby strange ideas and lunatics in the future can be silenced. But where’s the line, just how strange can your ideas be before they’re deemed unsavoury? When is someone too much of a lunatic to express an opinion?

Alex Jones is a sensational theatrical performer. In days of yore stories were passed down through oral tradition, these became folk tales, myths and legends. Today we have the urban myths, titillating tales, distributed through the internet, that are amusing to listen to but most of us recognise as being little more than a childish ghost story. Alex Jones is several things: a modern day cyberspace story teller, an old fashioned digital court jester, performing his morally bankrupt molestation of commonsense on the internet. Nobody can deny his compelling performances, all carried out sat in a chair, behind a desk. Info Wars was theatre, often strange, always incoherent, but theatre art. To many, not good theatre, but it was entertaining.

But to understand the situation more holistically it’s crucial to understand that Alex Jones isn’t the problem. Yes, he’s a maniac, and probably suffers from some form of mental illness, but he’s not the problem. The problem is that a large number of people believe what he says. Silencing Alex Jones will only elevate him, make a hero of him, while his gullible adherents will only have to surf the internet for five minutes to find somebody who’s probably even crazier.


Echoes in the wells of silence

The real injustice of all this goes well beyond the silencing of Alex Jones, it’s the beast that his silencing creates. Serving up Alex Jones as a martyr for free speech elevates him to a status of which he is simply not worthy. Banning Alex Jones falls right in place with the rhetoric he ‘s been randomly spouting over the past decade like an asthmatic blow whale. The village idiot is what he is, he’s a bit of fun that nobody in their right mind would ever take seriously, but now he’s being made into a champion for our most fundamental civil liberty, expression. In the years to come I’m terrified that people will talk of Ghandi, Martin Luther King jr, and Alex Jones as people who fought the good fight that ensured their freedoms. That’s a reality I refuse to be a part of.


Fools, said I, you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum—even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate. ~ Noam Chomsky

Jones is crazy; if he isn’t on some kind of psychotropic medication then he probably should be. It’s probably fairly safe to assume Chomsky isn’t crazy, at least not as crazy as Jones, and as such we should pay closer attention to what he says. A sentiment that Google only just about agrees with. Search “Alex Jones Infowars and you get 9.6 million hits, search for Noam Chomsky and Google finds only half a million hits more, thus proving idiocy is far more palatable than intellect. Chomsky identifies that the problem is not the fool that entertains the masses, but the masses who confuse the fool with the authority of knowledge.

Every society, at every age has had its Alex Jones, the difference being that the people could recognise him for what he was.


Control produces the illusion of freedom. ~ Judy Bloom

When Cricketers Play with Their Pink Balls in the Dark – an endless obsession with trying to “sex up” cricket

You’ve got to give it to the people that run the game of cricket, despite it having the appearance of one of the world’s more dull, austere and esoteric sports, the organisations that oversee the game have worked tirelessly to devise new ways of making the game ever more appealing to a wider audience. It’s important to note though that one of the main reasons that I’ve always enjoyed cricket is for the fact that with its tradition and arcane rules it hasn’t appealed to a broad audience, if it had, then it would end up having an audience much like football and thus immediately make cricket completely shit.

The most recent efforts of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have focused on trying to ‘sex up’ the four day county cricket format by introducing day night games. Now, the four day format of the County Championship is undeniably the most dull, and understandably the most poorly attended. The four day game only appeals to the die hard cricket enthusiasts, men who have nothing left to live for, dull men who find themselves trapped in even duller marriages, men who are looking for solace in a dull game that nobody really cares about. Some might even say that following county cricket in many respects represents the last alternative to suicide. But, despite this the ECB appear to believe that by playing matches under floodlights and allowing the final session to finish at around 9 or 10 in the evening will make the game accessible to those who’ve had to work all day.

What the ECB  fail to appreciate is that after a hard day at work there aren’t many people who will find the idea of watching a stand alone session of cricket, in the dark, to be that entertaining, with the exception of those men who are avoiding going back home to see their wife, and these guys are already following the four day game anyway. It can only be assumed that the ECB has leapt to the conclusion that because Twenty20 is played under flood lights and has been hugely successful, then it must be, that if you put county cricket under floodlights it too will automatically appear more exotic, and irresistible to the public, and less like the only alternative to killing yourself.  Early indications in the form of ticket sales suggest that when this was first tried during a round of County Championship matches in June, the day night matches were far from a success.

This day night farce will be extended to the international game when England play their second Test against the West Indies, at Edgbaston, under floodlights. Now, in a country like Australia I can see a certain degree of sense to day night cricket. After spending the whole day in the Australian sun you’re probably going to end up looking like an old leather handbag, full of sun dried tomatoes. In Australia the sun is an actual risk to the health of those out in it. This is a risk, that we can safely, and thankfully say, that the people of Birmingham  have never had to contend with, and not even the most dire models of global warming are likely to predict a scenario where glum faced Brummies are packed into hospitals brandishing their latest Actinic keratosis.  And as such, day night cricket just isn’t necessary, it’s just a gimmick to try and make something more interesting. It’s like sitting on your hand to make it go numb and then trying to masturbate, it’s just a gimmick that tries to make something that should already be pleasurable, even more so.

Cricket has a history of embracing experimentation and change. Such changes have often been concerned with reducing the games length. Timeless tests were de rigueur up until 1939. One Test match between England and South Africa  lasted 10 days, before the English team had to leave to catch the boat home and not to miss the start of World War Two. Therefore, 46 hours of play had resulted in a draw, as a spectacle some considered this unsatisfactory. Indeed it might have been this that enraged the Fuhrer to such an extent that he took the decision to invade Poland, but this is just historical speculation. After seeing off Hitler, cricket’s organisers  required Test matches to be completed in less than 5 days, thus allowing cricketers to respond more quickly to the outbreak of future global conflicts that might require the skills of men who can stand exposed in fields, for long durations.

Limited overs cricket was introduced in the early 1960’s which enabled a result to be reached in less than eight hours. In 2003 the game was streamlined even further, with Twenty20 cricket allowing you to see an entire match in an afternoon, or evening. The obsession of reducing the length of cricket matches makes me wonder, how good can cricket be when the trend seems to suggest that the audience are actually demanding to see less of it? If we develop this logic to its inevitable conclusion then why bother playing at all, just let the captains do the coin toss and see which one of them can perform the most star jumps at either end of the wicket, while monkeys throw flaming chainsaws at them. It would be quick, entertaining and we could have a result by 11:30, and get back to playing Cookie Jam on our phones.

Although Test matches were originally timeless, the dimension of time has become somewhat of an obsession, both with how much time a game takes, and at what time the game should be played. It’s just possible that sometime in the future, the ECB might get really adventurous and invest in research that actually finds a way of reversing the spacetime continuum. This would allow us to watch a five day Test match before it had even begun, and then get back to work before we’ve even had the interview for the job. The ECB’s fascination with time could well have unforeseen consequences. Disturbances in the spcetime continuum  could open a wormhole to a parallel universe in which John Emburey could actually turn the ball, and where Merv Hughes is an English schoolboy leading a miserable life at Eton as Mike Atherton’s Fag.


Somewhere in an alternate reality, Merv Hughes was educated at Eton and successfully explored avenues other than cricket’s corridor of uncertainty.

Messing around with cricketers clothing has also been considered as a way of generating more interest in the game. Pyjama cricket, as it is sometimes pejoratively referred to, first appeared in the late 1970’s. The idea essentially being to dress the opposing teams in two different uniforms. Not an unsound proposition for a sport, but whether or not this actually lead to an increased interest in cricket is at best a moot point. I mean if you were really attempting to increase viewers by virtue of the clothes the cricketers wore, then surely you’d be dressing them up like The Village People. Drag queen matches would be a spectacle worthy of anyone’s attention. The Possibility of watching a six and a half foot West Indian charging up to the wicket wearing high heels and a wedding dress could only fail to entertain someone laying on a stretcher, with the blanket pulled up over their face. So I can see what cricket was thinking with dressing the teams differently, it’s just that they failed to really capitalise on where this logic could have taken them. All in all it leaves me thinking of all the missed opportunities, and fun we could have all had.

It appears to me that the Cricketing authorities are obsessed with the colour of their

Could there be anything more fearsome than facing an attack of Curtly Ambrose, Malcolm Marshall, and Michael Holding, in drag?

sport. Having introduced colourful uniforms at the expense of all white, they took a beautifully red cricket ball and demanded that on some occasions it become white. The recent introduction of day night County Championship, and Test matches, sees a pink ball being used. Apparently it’s all very scientific and involves the colour that can best bee seen by the batsman under certain conditions of light, which in itself seems a little dull, why not use a ball that the batsman can’t see at all? Even better the fielding team uses an imaginary ball. The bowler hurtles up and delivers the so called imaginary ball, meanwhile the wicket keeper, who has tied some fishing line around the bowlers off stump and yanks on it hard just after the bowler should have delivered the ball. The off stump falls down, the bails come off, and the batsman departs convinced that he’s just faced a 100+ MPH delivery.

In the same way that changing just the colour of the clothing seemed a little too conservative, changing just the colour of the ball, to me anyway, seems to lack imagination, why not change its shape, its size or its composition, why use a ball at all?

I suggest, that the team that wins the toss decides whether to bat or bowl first, while the other team decides whether the game will be played using a Rugby ball, a brick, kitchen appliances, or rodents. There’s almost an infinite number of objects that could be thought up of for a bowler to sling down at the batsman. Some may argue that certain objects are more dangerous than a cricket ball, and that might be true. But, some of the objects are also far safer, nobody’s going to be bowling intimidating ‘chin music’ using a hamster, so the whole issue of safety ultimately balances itself out in my book.

Another thing for consideration, bowlers could be required to bowl in certain types of mood. Instead of the traditional leg spin, off spin, or seamer, the great bowlers of the future will send down deliveries with despair, doubt, and ambivalence. Of course these moods were experimented with extensively by the English bowling attack throughout the 1990’s, with the likes of DeFreitas, Tufnell, and Chris Lewis.

I’m off to practice my bowling seeing that I’ve now established a perfectly good excuse for rubbing my testicles against the microwave. After that I’ll go to bed and probably have nightmares featuring Dennis Rodman wearing a wedding dress running up to me and suddenly out of the gloom, and it’s all the ECB’s fault, not only are they ruining cricket, but now they’re ruining my sleep. The microwave won’t be fit for use soon either.