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Why Are You So Scared?

I am increasingly baffled by the hysterical fear levelled at the world by some religious folk. Really, if you’re living a righteous life, then be content with that. Trying to inflict your worldview on anyone who isn’t you is wrong. No, there is no ‘good’ reason, or any excuse. Just do not do it. Go and improve your worthiness in the eyes of whatever you revere, and let us who fall short make our own way, at our own speed, to our own ends. Your religious fears are not acceptable as a reason for you to dictate how I live. Outside of the practical stuff, of course – which we already have laws for… And that is where today’s entry really started. :)

Today, same-sex marriage was ruled as legal across the USA. There are celebrations in progress as I type. The “world’s policeman” has actualy done something positive to promote freedom.

‘Freedom’.

It’s a dangerous word. there are simply too many people on the planet for anarchy to be a valid way forward. Thus ‘freedom’ has to be restrained from it’s self-gratifying, might-is-right implementation. There have to be rules. Making large numbers of violent primates live in close proximity to each other demands them. However, the creation of law is more problematical, because it involves large numbers of the same violent primates that it is being created to constrain. Thus, bias is both anathema and inevitable. Impartiality is a rare thing, but it has to apply. Also, common sense is a preferred ingredient.

Now, with a plethora of laws having been set many years ago, there is a drastic lack of something we have come to expect: upgrades. Fixes. Clarification for ease-of-use and refinement for the changing world they are expected to apply to.

Wait a moment, I hear you say, what about the laws of God/Gods/Goddess/Being? (A shade under 3000 discrete entities at last count, and subdivisions multiply that hideously: in example, there are over 28,000 types of Christianity recognised in the USA alone.)

So, we now factor the demands of your respective divinity in to the mix and that’s where things get interesting, because some of the biggest religions are also very big at being unchanging. Which is a very, very bad thing. (IS are a modern application of medieval Muslim doctrine. Out of date and hideously inappropriate for the twenty-first century, but based in genuine Muslim teachings.)

People get ansty over politics, but history has shown that they tend to only get really ugly over religion. Combine the two and it has the potential to be a nightmare of epic scale.

Which brings us back to today’s landmark decision in the USA. It is, without doubt, a step forward. But the vitriol that those who oppose it have harboured is staggering. I would say that it is something that is going to take generations to recede, and is likely to colour many things – some you’d think completely unconnected – for many years to come.

Which is a damn shame, because there are so many things we primates should be angry about and seek to change. A decision in favour of love and stable relationships is not one of them.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Prevaricate Not

Remember that ‘save for a rainy day’ thing?

Once there was a man who worked hard and spent a lot of money on books, ensuring he had a fine library to read during his retirement.

He even took early retirement.

A few days later, he was killed in an accident. Not one of his books did he get to read.

True? Yes. I bought a dozen of his untouched paperbacks from the second hand bookshop that his brother sold them to.

You can’t take it with you. Have your ‘rainy day’ regularly. Enjoy and share what you have.

Blessed Be.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2015 in Life & Self

 

If I Could Have One Wish –

Just one. :)

I would wish for every person in the whole world to have a month of knowing when anyone is not telling the truth, whether directly or via any form of media; and including themselves.

That should sort many things out – messily but effectively – and clearing up the aftermath would provide a chance to rebuild this ruin we call civilisation.

 

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Reality

 

On Goodness

“Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to.”

– Terry Pratchett

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Quotes

 

Just Write!

I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while :D, but I thought I’d get a little back-in-a-day-job time before I put words to blog, as all of my main writing has occurred whilst out of work, and, as I suspected, it’s a big change of pace.

In my few years as a ‘serious’ writer, I’ve met people with grand ideas and people with little books ‘nearly’ ready to go and many more with a book they’ve been working on for years. It is surprising how many budding authors there are out there.

Given the number of ’em, I was, but now am not, surprised when I ask about their publication. There are two broad categories of answers: the ‘investigated (at length)/got all the supporting bits but haven’t written anything’ bucket, and the ‘working on the book’ bucket – the latter being a nebulous thing of scribbled notes, more-in-head-than-on-paper and a lot of talking about it. In both cases, a common lament is that it seems that life conspires to steal the ‘free’ time that they could spend writing.

Now, you know where I stand on a lot of this. But, for my new readers: just write. It’s all irrelevant until you have something for people to read. Start small, think big, justify it however you like to yourself and your family and friends, but FFS, just write the damn thing. No more excuses. No more using your nebulous writing as the only thing to differentiate you from the rest of the crowd or something to make you look ‘clever’ at work. Because more folk than you realise are doing just the same as you… Prevaricating.

Okay, so what I’ve just said doesn’t apply to you because you’ve written something? Marvellous. Read on.

Think it’s good enough for publication? Has anyone except you or family members ‘reviewed’ your work? If the answer is no, then it is not ready for publication.

I don’t care about Aunt Hilda’s previous career as an English teacher. Nor do I care about your brother’s degree in English Lit. With very few exceptions, they will go easy on you. And the moment you consider publishing, anyone who might choose being polite over being truthful is poisonous for you.

Watch the early rounds of any televised talent show. All those sad cases with no singing talent or ability? Every one of them has family and ‘friends’ who let them do that. Who supported them even though they were appalling, because it’s “what they dreamed of”. So instead of being schooled in the realities of lack-of-ability versus aspiration in a home environment, they get it in the face from strangers – and it may be so bad they make it on to national television or even go viral on the ‘net.

You need proof readers and editors – preferably folk who know your view on things. But they also have to be fussy to the point of OCD (and not scared of your tantrums in the least). They should question everything. It may drive you crazy, but one of those questions might make you think “just a moment, that’s something I hadn’t considered” and that is the thing that grammar checking software just cannot give you.

Make no mistake: a good proof reading review should upset you. It should offend you. It should make you question your reasons, your sanity and your ability. Then it should make you look back on the work you’ve just corrected and realise that what you had is inferior to what you have, and, most importantly, know that you couldn’t have got there yourself.

I am lucky enough to have half a dozen proof readers and two editors who are also friends, and, in the best possible way, utter bastards. I can rely on them to give my writing a proper going over, and to take me to task over general quality as well as the details.

Every book I publish is better as a direct result of their input. What I created was good. What they helped me make of it is better. I still have doubts about every book. I will worry more when I don’t have them.

But, back to the point.

Just write. Stop making excuses, especially to yourself. Here, let me ask the question many of your friends and family are too polite to ask:

ARE YOU GOING TO FINISH THAT OR ARE YOU JUST PRETENDING?

Speech and excuses don’t count from here on. To answer the question, I want to see your book. They deserve to see your book. People who are desperately looking for something to read that fits their outlook are quite possibly waiting for your work and they don’t even know it.

Yes, I know it’s scary. It should be.

But it’s fun. :)

Getting the damn thing out to the world is a different game, but here’s the thing: until you have a book, it’s irrelevant. So I’ll not be touching on that here.

I will mention a book called ‘Becoming a Writer‘ by Dorothea Brande. It’s not a book about writing or how to write. It’s a book about how to be a writer. It is very, very good, and is the only book on the writer’s craft I consider worthy of your time.

Now go and rearrange your schedule so you can spend a little while writing each day.

Just write. It really is that simple.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2015 in Life & Self

 

It’s Your Gun. Learn How to Use It.

Sitting here on a Sunday afternoon, taking a pause from the brute logistics of changing my mobile number after four years. Authentications to be redirected, security resets, the odd hundred websites or so that need amending. Nothing impossible; merely implausibly, laughably tedious. How did this complexity creep in? At what point did the rise of the miraculous devices that would free us from the tedium of repetitive labour make us slaves to the next sequence of ones and zeros that could ruin our lives accidentally because a single digit got transposed?

There is a malaise that accompanies computers. It is a combination of the ‘delegated power’ excuse and the ‘if many are at fault, no one person will be to blame’ defence. ‘Just doing my job’ evolves into ‘just doing what the machine says’ and lo, you have gone from clerk to priest, delivering the word of inviolable authority – whilst having none of your own.

Computers are only ever as good as the people who make and program them. They are not oracles, and while those who work upon them relish the awe in which they are regarded (revenge of the geek, etcetera), most of them would be horrified at being deified for something they wrote simply to pay their rent.

A computer is a tool. It is a complex tool, but we have granted it a strange, pseudo-autonomous status that places it as our superior and arbiter in many situations. Here we see man’s oldest enemies – ignorance and fear of the unknown – raising themselves again.

If the computer is to be regarded as an authority, then those that created it must be inviolable, not a pastiche of merchant interests. (Again, the vile epithet ‘profit’ taints a simple concept.) Therefore, it behooves you, the user of these marvellous tools, to understand them. For in that understanding, there comes a diffusing of the almost reverential apathy: the waving of hands and dismissive “oh, I don’t really do computers”.

NEWSFLASH! You do computers every day. More correctly, they ‘do’ you. Your life is entirely dependant upon devices that for some reason you choose to relegate to a quasi-religious state of blissful ignorance.

Now, I know that you could point out any piece of modern technology and say: “Well, do you know how to use/build/maintain that?” And I’d quite probably have to say “No.”

But I could then go to the strange altar in your home that your children worship at for hours every day, and with a few flourishes and strange imprecations, find out HOW that strange thing you pointed out works. I could tell you it’s limitations and potential issues. I could show you how much we rely on it. You’d be reluctantly impressed. I’d be embarrassed. You’d ask “How did you do that? Well, I did that by using the thing you refuse to understand to alleviate my ignorance on the subject. (I’d also add that I looked up multiple sources before settling on the opinion I gave.)

The greatest cure for ignorance is sitting in virtually every home or hand in the developed world. Yet you continue to spout your dogma and stupidity like it is holy writ, choosing to watch videos of people being stupider than you, watch soap operas about people worse off than you, and play colourful children’s games. Thus entitling yourself to think yourselves ‘better’ than some nebulous, media-created ‘them’.

Is that a better thing than my state of watching a nebulous ‘them’ lead the majority of humanity toward poverty and ruin? I cannot say. We all choose how we live, to a greater or lesser extent. I have no right to say that my way is better than anyone else’s.

But I can state that willful ignorance of what is happening about you, when the means to enlighten your ignorance shares your home, is inexcusable.

It’s your weapon. For pity’s sake, learn how to use it, at least to the point where you know where the ‘shots’ are coming from, if not who’s firing them. You may even discover ways to stop the ‘shooting’. Being informed and making informed decisions about this society we live in is now essential. Because if you’re not paying attention, others are. And they benefit from your blind, apathetic reliance on someone (anyone!) else to make decisions for you.

Yes, I know that as long as the utilities keep running and your favourite stuff is available, you don’t really care, despite clicking humanitarian ‘like’s and doing the right petitions.

When the lights go out, it will be too late. You will have no warning. No excuses. You failed.

Computers are not the answer.

Information is the answer.

Computers are a tool.

Use them.

Learn. Adapt. Survive.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2015 in Daybook

 

Well, Now. That Was Interesting

Hello 2015. Seems like I was only doing this new year thing a few days ago (and if you switched ‘days’ with ‘posts’, we’d be correct). I had a five-month gap on the blog in 2014, and for the life of me I cannot recall exactly why. It wasn’t like I was doing anything pressing. :)

Another year blows away and we find ourselves regathered and, by and large, unscathed. I didn’t lose anyone particularly close to me this year, for which I am grateful, especially as many friends and acquaintances did. It makes you realise that while we are essentially immortal, the recycling aspect of dying gives us a change of form and those who remember us grief and sorrow. That being said, I am still not philosophically resolved to the dissolution – or contraction, or reconfiguration – of self that will occur upon the demise of my physical form. For the nonce, I shall remain determined to not go quietly into that long night, and not to test its grasp for many decades to come.

I finished 2014 unexpectedly (and quite likely briefly) employed on a fixed-term contract. In addition, I have eleven books in print, and three of them in multiple editions. Another ten books are in progress and multiple fragments of stories and things that may become books continue to bedevil my preference for organisation. Oh, don’t ask about that love thing. :D You know it’s unchanged and unresolved with elements of unrequited if I look deep enough. Let’s move on. I’m a big boy now. Things not going exactly as I’d wish – in love and all other things – is something I have finally come to terms with. It’s taken me so damn long to realise it’s not them, it’s me. In some ways, I am so very like everyone. In others, I am too strange to bear. And as it’s the latter that allows me to write, makes me poor company for romance, and gives me the finest friends – although very few of them, I have no real reason to complain… But it would be nice, ya know. Hey ho, onward…

Mum’s still slipping gently into the long twilight of dementia, but well cared for and loved. I cannot bear it at times, but that’s par for the course. She’s my mother, she should be eternal, not reduced to this. The care is all that can be done to help. If a pet would linger with reduced quality of life, we can let it go on. That this is not available for our significantly incapacitated and lingering terminally ill is a thing I cannot countenance.

But that is something that has increased for me this year, the intolerable nature of certain aspects of this supposedly advanced civilisation in its twenty-first century. There is poverty, inequality, corruption and greed. There are heroes and heroines fighting for the dignity and honesty of all, but they are bitterly outnumbered by those who chose not to see. That is the reluctant conclusion I have come to. The sources of information and education are there, facts can be found. But people are so busy being themselves and accepting that it is fine to hate minorities upon demand, as dictated by government and media. I have never had an optimistic view of where we as a society are headed. When one of my most optimistic friends said to me “I am coming round to your view”, it made me unutterably sad. This civilisation we have built for ourselves from the industrial age has metastised into a cancer that will mutate mankind into something ugly, selfish and without compassion. The only question is when, and whether the global catastrophe – natural or man-made – that is needed to rebalance society will occur before the dystopia sets.

So we start another year with slim hopes for the big picture and a grim distrust of the establishments that should serve us. Fair enough. Let that be the landscape against which we set our good intentions and fine deeds.

Happy New Year. Let’s have more success and less ignorance, shall we? :D

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Life & Self

 
 
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