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.


Leave a comment

Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Reality


On Goodness

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

– Terry Pratchett

Leave a comment

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:


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.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Life & Self


You’re Not Going to Valhalla, So Knock It Off

(Nabbed from the very worthy Not For Nothing blog by Matti Frost – check the blogroll for the link.)

I don’t write very much about religion, especially mine.  Most people who know me know that I consider myself a Heathen but I don’t make a big deal over it.  I don’t blot with a kindred, I don’t observe many holidays, and I rarely pray or participate in rituals.  You know what I do?  I read.  I participate in several online forums where the information flies forth like limitless mead.  One discussion on one part of the Hávamál can easily wipe out three hours of time that could probably better be spent actually doing things around the house that needs to be done.  But, that’s what many Heathens do once we get past the Hail-storm.  You know, whenever someone even mentions Odin the hail starts flying.  Alright, we got it.  You really like Odin.

When I first started down this path I wasn’t much different.  It was all Viking metal, horns full of inebriating substances, lots of hails, calling on the gods as if they were neighbors in my trailer park.  Sign of the hammer, that was a good one.  How a person raised Roman Catholic didn’t put THAT one together is beyond me.  But- all newbies trip and stumble.  We walk in with our eyes wide open.  We all follow those who went before us and sometimes we walk right into a tree.  The trouble is, most people don’t ever get past that point, and they simply superimpose Norse mythology onto, in most cases, Christian premises.

One of the biggest examples of this is the concept of Valhalla.  Simply put, if a person dies honorably in battle, a Valkyrie may appear and carry them off to Asgard where they will spend the rest of time in Valhalla.  Each day they will train for Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods, by fighting, killing, and being slain, only to be resurrected at the day’s end to feast and celebrate with Odin in his great hall.  Sounds great, right?  Personally, I don’t think I would want to die over and over again… it’s a bit Promethean if you ask me.  But, my own opinion aside- ask yourself this:  Doesn’t this sound exactly like what most other religions say about martyrdom?  How many people who think they’re Valhalla-bound scoff at fundamentalist Muslims who believe that if they die in jihad, they will spend eternity in paradise with 72 virgins?  That doesn’t sound appealing either, virgins just won’t be good in bed, and 72?  Nevermind, I am off injecting logic into what is clearly a ridiculous concept.

As is the idea of dying and going to Valhalla. (Yes, I am using Wikipedia for basic definitions of things we can agree on, this is not meant to be a dissertation).

I hate to be the one to break this to a LOT of Brosatruars wearing hammers around their necks lifting weights to Amon Amarth, but you’re not going to Valhalla.  There are many reasons but let’s start with the first- why would you take that tale, or ANY tale from any ancient religion, in a literal context?  And, as a Heathen or Asatruar or even Odinist, how can you NOT see the parallels to the Abrahamic reward-based faiths?  That if you live this way or die that way, here is your eternal reward?  How can you not realize that  kings and lords and generals have always used religious fervor to inspire their warriors, especially when the odds were against them?  Maybe dying isn’t so bad if I can take as many of the enemy with me and earn a spot in Valhalla.  Believing in these things as a literal truth allowed those warriors to ease their fears of being hacked to pieces and left for the ravens.

There are other issues around the myth of Valhalla that need to be deconstructed too.  I’ve seen a lot of people lawyering about, saying things like, “well, in these days, overcoming ANY personal struggle can lead to Valhalla”.  “If I die defending someone I love, the gods will choose me”.  “If I live according to the Nine Noble Virtues, I can get in”.  Or, “Sorry, even if you were a great soldier, if you live to old age and die peacefully surrounded by your family, you won’t get into Valhalla”.  Before I tackle these, allow me a moment to smack my forehead against a stone wall.

There.  Now I feel a little better.

1.  Overcoming any significant challenge is the same as dying in battle.  No, it’s not.  It may be a significant victory, or, should you bravely fight cancer and succumb, how you fought the illness might be looked at with favor by your family, your ancestors, maybe even the gods.  But, nonetheless, it is NOT the same as being hacked to pieces while fighting tenaciously and honorably.

2.  If I die defending someone I love, the gods will choose me.  Not likely, unless you are already a skilled warrior who the gods want fighting at their side.  *I* could die defending my friends and family, maybe even take out one or two attackers in the process, but I’m not a trained fighter.  I am just okay with a sword.  I haven’t fired a gun since I was a teenager.  And, I hate fighting.  Valor alone does not make the cut.  Think about it, the number of Einhejrar in Valhalla is not limitless, and do you not agree that Odin would want the absolute best of the best riding alongside him into battle?  This goes double for the Facebookatru whose battles consist of arguing with other Heathens, hailing every image with a Mjolnir in it, and posting memes about honoring the gods while not really doing much to honor them.  Ask yourself honestly if you meet the criteria of being one of the best warriors in all of history, then you can talk about Valhalla.

3.  If I live according to the Nine Noble Virtues…  look, the Nine Noble Virtues are not the Ten Commandments.  They are not some sort of Heathen orthodoxy.  For those of your not familiar, the NNV are: Courage, Truth, Honor, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self-Reliance, Industriousness, and Perseverance.  They’re not bad things to strive for, but they are not unique to Heathenry.  You can find most of them tacked up on a wall in any Karate studio in almost every strip mall in the country.  Many religions and philosophies teach these things as good and desirable because they generally lead to self-improvement, but simply adopting this as some type of rigid code isn’t what gets you chosen for Valhalla.

4.  Even if you were a great soldier, if you live to old age and die peacefully surrounded by your family, you won’t get into Valhalla  There is a concept called the ‘straw death’ in which it’s seen as weak to go out of this life sick and bedridden, that it’s somehow more noble to die in a battle.  Back then, warriors who knew they were ill and dying would simply go into the first battle they could and take a sword through the heart.  Hey, it beats lingering around, puking and shitting all over the place until you expire in a pile of your own stench, right?  That’s why today, people are fighting for the right to assisted suicide, so they don’t have to spend their last days in agony, or worse.  However, let’s say you were once a great warrior who didn’t die in a battle.  You instead helped bring about a time of peace and prosperity to your land.  Your exploits were heralded and known throughout, but- by sheer luck, you get sick and die in your old age surrounded by your family.  No Valhalla?

So a guy with zero military training dies with valor defending someone he loves and gets in, but a seasoned veteran whose skill and knowledge of warfare eclipses that of many, nope, didn’t die in a battle.  That’s legit?

Do you really think Odin, who is also the god of wisdom, would see it that way?  Even with one eye?  C’mon.

But this all goes to the greater picture.  Too many of us are hung up on this idea of going to Valhalla when we die.  Why?  I asked myself one day if that was where I wanted to be and when I thought about it, I mean really, really thought about it- I said no.  If there is a life beyond this one, I don’t want to spend it fighting petty battles.  And yes, Ragnarok is petty, but that’s another topic.  According to the mythology there are many halls in Asgard, and there are eight other realms among the nine worlds.  If, like me, you don’t believe in this cosmology, there is infinite space, billions of galaxies, dimensions and other universes.  Is Valhalla really it?  Is there not something much, much bigger out there?  Dare to dream, folks.  Don’t stop seeking knowledge, and for the good of Heathenry in general, let’s drop the macho bullshit.

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 29, 2014 in Faith & Magic, Quotes


The Santa Calculations

There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world. However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist (except maybe in Japan) religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15% of the total, or 378 million (according to the population reference bureau). Assuming an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that computes to 108 million homes – presuming there is at least one good child in each.

Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 967.7 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with a good child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stocking, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh, and get onto
the next house. Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household. This amounts to a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks.

This means Santa’s sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second–3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a pokey 27.4miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per hour. The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element.

Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized LEGO set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying over 500 thousands tons, not counting Santa himself. On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that the “flying” reindeer can pull 10 times the normal amount, the job can’t be done with eight or even nine of them—Santa would need 360,000 of them. This increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth (the ship, not the monarch). 600,000 tons travelling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance – this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth’s atmosphere.

The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each. In short, they would burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip. Not that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of accelerating from a dead stop to 650 m.p.s. in .001 seconds, would be subjected to acceleration forces of 17,000 g’s. A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a dribbling mess of twitching sludge.

Therefore, if Santa ever did exist, he’s dead now.

Merry Christmas everybody. :D

My favourite piece of Christmas humbug. Originally created by an anonymous engineer with a mean streak, one presumes.

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 24, 2014 in Quotes


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: