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The Discordian Cult Of Nick Part 2 of The Peter J Carroll interview...

I've uploaded part two of the interview with Peter J Carroll; podcast #5.

My plans to delete my facebook page will come into effect tomorrow...

Just one in ten Facebook users supports 'timeline' feature

  • Fewer than one in 10 Facebook users support its plans to make its biographical “timeline” feature compulsory.
  • The majority of Facebook users do not want to use the timeline feature which is set to become compulsory

As part of a major overhaul of the site, all publicly viewable messages, comments and photographs will be grouped together by date.

The idea is to create an online scrap book telling the user’s virtual “life story” – at least back to 2004 when the site was founded.

It means that, unless they are deleted, any long forgotten musings, embarrassing photographs or even messages of affection for a past lover will be easily accessible.

At present other users can only find material from several years ago by trawling through past pages.

Critics claim that the change could erode users' privacy but Facebook insists that it will not make anything publicly available which is not already viewable.

A survey of 4,000 Facebook users by the security form Sophos found that only eight per cent of those polled said that they liked the change.

By contrast 51 per cent of those who took part said that they were “worried” by the new format while another eight per cent said that they would “get used to it”.

Users are to be notified in the next few weeks and then will be given seven days to go through their profiles deleting anything they do not want to be visible on their timeline.

Read more, Telegraph article.

I'm going to follow the advice given in this youtube video:

http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-commit-facebook-suicide?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=OutbrainTrial

NM

Tinker tailor soldier snooze

I knew I'd made a mistake at what felt like twenty minutes in and the credits were still running as atmospheric music lumbered about in the background. They may as well have put a few captions up saying:

"THIS IS A SERIOUS AND PROPER FILM".

Nowadays I have to have a reason to watch a film. Today's was that I had spare time on my hands before work. I'm under the impression this film was about spies. It's really about pretentious bores wandering about with 'serious' written on their face. The cast list says it all, you've got lots of old men who everyone has been told to like because they're such 'brilliant serious actiors': John Hurt, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth etc.

I really tried to enjoy it... then fell asleep after eating my popcorn.

NM

How to stop the rot (riots)

I wonder if, David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, has been listening to your old pal Nick Margerrison on LBC 97.3. The front page of The Daily Mail seems to suggest he has come round to the fact that corporal punishment was a central cause of the problem:

Labour MP: Smacking ban led to riots

Quote from the article:
"‘Many of my constituents came up to me after the riots and blamed the Labour Government, saying, “You guys stopped us being able to smack our children.”
‘When this was first raised with me I was pretty disparaging. But I started to listen."

That's right, you were "pretty disparaging" because you're an MP and that's what you lot are like but I'm impressed that you finally started to listen. Good boy! You should listen more, I'm on every Saturday and Sunday morning at 1am.

Here's an article I wrote in the wake of the 2011 riots, published at the time on the LBC website, it's a reflection of my broadcasts in that period...

Bring back capital punishment? Get hundreds of police out on the street? Bring in zero tolerance? Sod it, lets get the army out on the streets! Give 'em guns and do some good old fashioned "peace keeping" Iraq style!!

No. Get a time machine, go back to 1987, and stop them from banning corporal punishment.

I do not classify myself as right wing or left wing. The intent of this blog entry is to convince you that corporal punishment in schools was a good idea. It might sound like one which belongs in the history books alongside other forgotten 'loony fringe' ideas but the generation of kids who are rioting are the first one we’ve had who were denied it. That's a fact but perhaps "kids" is the wrong word here as I'm using it to denote anyone under the age of about 35 who walks with the swagger of a child.

Charlie Brooker (lefty columnist in The Guardian): "Every looter was effectively a child chanting: "Give me my toys, I want more toys. Look at the p---- captured on video mugging the injured Malaysian student. Watch his unearned swagger as he walks away; the size of a man, yet he overdoes that swagger like a performing toddler. That's an idiot who never grew up."

Couldn't agree more, shame Charlie can't work out why that's the case. Anyone who saw these characters who smashed up our cities could not escape the child like nature of these people. The only commonality I could spot was they all looked under 35 and they were all out of control. It's important to remind Londoners, this happened all over the UK. Whatever the problem is that has caused it must therefore be something which effects people on a nationwide level and is specific to people of a certain age. Now, only an idiot would think there's a single cause but equally you'd have to be a fool not to think some causes are more significant than others.

Firstly, a word about control. There are two methods of it in our society, punishment and reward or to coin a phrase, the carrot and the stick. From 1987 onwards I watched, from the perspective of a child, the consequences of the stick being put to one side as corporal punishment was outlawed in this country. My primary school life was drawing to a close back then and I was preparing to go to the local comprehensive which was located in quite a rough working class area. However, there was something of a minor controversy before I left.

The Primary School I was at was run by a lovely woman who at the time I feared and respected. She was quite old fashioned and also overtly religious. Her attitude was that discipline in school was incredibly important. We knew that if we behaved badly we would be punished. We also knew that if we behaved very badly that punishment might be the dreaded ruler on the back of our hand. It was there as a threat, not to be used unless really required. In my time there I only ever remember it being used once. Lots of well meaning hippy type parents were outraged by this. I remember overhearing conversations between them talking about how this barbaric practice was going to be banned soon and that this crazy old woman shouldn’t be allowed to use force like that because it teaches kids to use violence to solve problems.

The “victims” of this violence were kids who had been naughty and ignored the teachers by playing in a dangerously flooded and clearly sealed off adventure playground. I watched my fellow classmates being punished through a window in horror, that year a law was passed which outlawed the practice. Soon after the teacher in question retired, laying footprints which I suspect many like her followed. Leaving us, in the end, with a new generation of teachers, some of whom cannot even remember how corporal punishment works let alone being in favour of it.

The next year I started at Secondary School. It was a very working class comprehensive school in the North of England. In my time there I noticed a gradual change in the attitude of my peers and those children coming up behind us. They started back chatting in a way I'd not previously heard before. "You can't touch me sir, I'll report you for assault" one of them shouted in a teacher's face. How cool it looked to the other kids as this towering six foot yob humiliated the poor man who was quite obviously frightened of him. I was incredibly impressed; because I was fourteen.

There and then I learned that teachers were not to be feared and respected by everyone. In fact this clever lad who’d challenged one had done so using something called ‘the law’ which gave him certain ‘rights’ to tell a poor old art teacher to f- off. To my fourteen year old mind this was incredible. As an adult I see it as profoundly depressing yet unfortunately relevant to the events of this month.

Back to the carrot and stick analogy. The kid in question fell foul of the law in later life. He did community service and last time I spoke to him he was on sickness benefit. He missed out on the rise of The New Labour Order at school and as a result he has only been given carrots in his adult life. His children though, he has four, are about to enter a school system where carrots are on the menu to entice some kids to just turn up.

At the risk of riding this metaphor into the gutter, we’ve run out of carrots these days and now there’s a generation of looters who appear to have decided to simply take 3D TV shaped ones from the shops of hardworking local businesses. Is it so hard to believe that this loot has been taken by people who do not understand the concept of punishment and believe they are always entitled to be rewarded?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE TRAPPED INSIDE A NEED TO DEFINE THEMSELVES AS "LEFTIES" AND THEREFORE REQUIRE A LITTLE HELP AGREEING WITH A "RIGHT WING" IDEA:

Hello lefty! Listen, I know the above all seems really mean. It's never going to impress the fit hippy chick you're trying to make hay with or the well meaning guy with the beany hat who works in that new age shop you've been going to, so I think it's fair to add a little extra section here for you. Hope you don't mind. People who are comfortable going left or right as the situation requires can skip this...

Firstly, I know we were told that if they got rid of corporal punishment we'd have a less violent society. I know you still think that's true despite the obvious evidence to the contrary. However, there's a great book called Freakonomics which most of the chattering middle classes like you have read. In it the argument is made that that New York's crime problem was not solved by "zero tolerance," as people often suggest, but instead is down to the abortion and family planning policies which were implemented around 20 years earlier. The argument is that the generation of criminals who would have been getting into the peak of their 'careers' simply didn't exist to carry the baton on from the previous lot. Their would be parents had quite literally wished they'd never been born; a wish that those policies had granted. The root of this argument is that such policies take a while to show their impact upon society, that's all I'm saying about corporal punishment in schools.

The rioters two principle commonalities are youth and social class. I'll agree with you on the one hand, social decay and urban alienation are part of the problem. How about you accept that maybe the people who think that corporal punishment is part of it are right as well, then we can all get along?

But what about drugs?

Yep. We have a lot of common ground here. Legalise all recreational drugs. Pull the rug out from underneath criminal gangs by making the £8bn illegal drugs trade significantly less profitable by placing it in the hands of legitimate and therefore taxed businesses. However, the first step is restoring discipline in schools.

Hope that helps...

NM

The roots of "conspiracy theory" are deeply embedded in religious thinking

There's a lot in the conspiracy theory subculture which is incredibly worthwhile but there are some core principles and assumptions behind it that have always irritated me. Firstly there is the ever present spectre of anti-semitism and secondly is the often repeated mantra of "we're all doomed, can nothing can save us?".

The anti-semitism goes right back into the early history of the genre:

The oldest conspiracy of them all was that The Devil had the King's ear and he was pushing him to do evil. This figure of The Devil is then, over the years, replaced by Jews, communists, Catholics, Freemasons, the list stretches on to include extra terrestrials and ultimately Icke's shapeshifters.

Quote from previous entry on this topic

It always raises its ugly head whenever you start to seriously delve into the topic and like a drop of poison in a cup it rightly puts a lot of people, including me, off. Adolf Hitler used conspiracy theories to gain power. His like today would fit the subculture like a hand to a glove. It's for this reason, partly, that ideas such as holocaust denial are tolerated in conspiracy theory circles. Holocaust denial or, "the hollowhoax", as it is known, is nothing more than an attempt to revise the legacy of the Nazis by people on the far right. It's put forward by people who are ultimately sympathetic to the Hitlerian cause. It's also frankly rather silly and, as a symptom of the nasty anti-semitism that refuses to leave the scene, doesn't have mainstream appeal.

This in my opinion partly accounts for the fact that, David Icke, and Texas talkshow host, Alex Jones, are easily the most popular conspiracy theorists around. They both wholly reject the anti-semitic aspects of the genre and so are more digestable by reasonable people. However they do still carry this second "we're all doomed, can nothing can save us" bit. It is in my opinion equally tiresome but less obviously absurd. Furthermore it is absent from their personal worldviews but apparent in their words to those who are, for want of a better word, "uninitiated".

I've slipped into this pit myself, probably most people reading this have*. A profound pessimism that 'the world is run by poweful people and they've got the game sewn up in their favour' speaks to most of us at some point or other. You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to feel it of course and I think that's why the genre has such appeal. It confirms this intuition that you will never win the game of life.

The reason this feeling of helplessness is so integral to conspiracy theory is because of the fact that its roots are sunk so deeply into a bedrock of religious thinking. This is not so apparent when you give the likes of Icke and Jones a cursory glance but both of them are inspired by deep spiritual beliefs. Icke, although a little bashful on the topic these days, believes he is guided by a voice or 'spirit entity' and Jones is a committed Chrisitan. This aspect of their character is crucial to their worldview and it's the missing piece of the puzzle for a lot of their superficial 'fans'.

The cry of "we're all doomed; can nothing save us now?" has an answer in God. It speaks to the fact that this subculture is often used as a recruiting tool for cults (Jim Jones was a keen conspiracy theorist) and other religious faiths. It's the pretext to that old refrain "let us prey" but it deliberately leaves the Godless feeling helpless.

However, it's worth looking at the intuition behind the thought. This feeling that 'you cannot win the game of life'. Without wanting to push my own 'spiritual beliefs' I refer to the ideas of a Discordian High Priest and Zen Buddhist, Alan Watts. He spoke of the fact that this truth is more about emphasis than anything else. Yes, you will never "win" the game of life. You can express this as a sigh if you like, "oh, I can't win". Or you can express this as in excitement as if realising a revelation "ah, I can't win!". As in, "I can't lose!". There's no such thing as a winner or a loser. The universe and life do not judge you. The game of life is fun because you can't win. No one can. Those at the top of the pyramid are no better placed to win than you. The point of the game is to have fun and enjoy it, not to win and lose. You play the game of life in the same way you might dance from one end of a room to another. A dance is not about getting from A to B, it's about enjoying the motion, movement and music.

Further Alan Watts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29atSZKbmS4

NM

Going to delete my facebook page ... again ... in a week.

I've blogged about facebook before. It's not a website I've ever had a lot of love for. Time for me to knock it on the head again methinks:

DAILY MAIL ARTICLE

Facebook's Timeline - a new look for people's Profile pages which exposes their entire history on the site - will become mandatory for all users.

The 'new look' has been voluntary up until now.

From now, users will simply be notified that they are being 'updated' via an announcement at the top of their home page, which users click on to activate Timeline.

As with voluntary switches to Timeline, those who are 'updated' will have just seven days to select which photos, posts and life events they want to advertise to the world.

Daily Mail's full article here.

The first time I deleted my account, two years ago, I felt a huge sense of relief:

OLD BLOG ENTRY:
I finally deleted my account. I just don't get it. Being a member of Facebook was like being at a party. I felt I should be having fun but was constantly confused by the fact I wasn't. The end result was, I started to wonder if there was just something wrong with me. Everyone else seemed to be having a great time, why was I the exception?

What's so great about looking at pictures of people? I find pictures of people depressing. They either don't look as good as you remember them or like more of a poser than you thought they were. The occasional picture looks good but so what? Furthermore why do I want to be 'poked'? More importantly why do I want to add to a giant database of information that gathers together all of my associates names, their thoughts, my thoughts, tittle tattle etc? Orwell would be spinning in his grave.

I'm also pretty sure I managed to offend or upset a few people by not accepting their friend requests or replying to their 'pokes'.

[...]

Ultimately I left the party pleased I was no longer part of it. You never regret going home early. If people want to contact me they can use twitter. It's much less hassle. No pictures, no odd bits to the site where you're not sure how private they are. Just a much better site. Although I hear they're adding those sort of apps as we speak...

Original post here.

Then, like an idiot I wandered back in half way through last year:

ANOTHER OLD BLOG ENTRY

I've been drawn into its sticky web. I have two accounts, one for people I know in real life and another for my radio show stuff. There's a very blurred line that sepearates the two. I'm not sure how long I'm going to keep either of them going. I don't think it's a website that's good for me.

My life's pretty medicore in terms of socialising and travel. In fact I do very little that could be described as 'cool'. I watch daytime telly, play on my 'puter, read a lot of books and every Thursday I go to a pub quiz. That's it. All my life I've had a weird nagging suspicion that I wasn't normal in this respect and that everyone else is having an amazing time, all the time. Facebook seems to give me photographic proof that this suspicion is not just typical insecure paranoia but is in fact true. Judging by a flick through Facebook it seems most of the people I know spend all their time at parties or on holiday doing amazing things.

I'm not much of a pictures person. Amature photographs generally depress me. They make the world look so ordinary. Furthermore I'm of the opinion that you can't go right with a picture of yourself. It's either going to look good and therefore depress you with the passage of time or it'll look bad and depress you in the here and now. Despite this I got drawn into looking at people's pictures this morning. I had a bit of time to kill in the office. I had no idea what an overall downer the experience would be.

It left me feeling boring, ordinary and nosy. Is that the sort of thing other people feel when they log onto Facebook? Am I doing something wrong? I'm puzzled by the appeal of it. Someone once told me it was "all about the pictures". Maybe that's why I'm just not really "getting it".

I've tried commenting on things as well. I like that a bit more but the site seems to lack the depth of twitter. Most of it seems to be incredibly inconsequential and inane. Pages and pages of "polite chatter". The sort of conversations I loathe in real life.

I must be doing something wrong.

Why do people like that website?

I've reposted these thoughts just to make the oncoming deletion of my account more final.


I don't like the website. I'm pulling out Thursday next week.

NM

Bad analogy - way beneath the Telegraph

In my opinion smoking a spliff and murdering someone cannot be sensibly compared. They just don't really seem to be on the same scale. I'm amazed that Telegraph journalist Michael Deacon disagrees:
Mike - The Telegraph's culture critic

Today’s leaders must find the courage to speak out. The current approach does not work. Since time immemorial, human beings have murdered each other. Trillions have been spent by governments to prevent people committing murder, and to imprison those who do, but to no avail. All we have to show for it is overflowing jails, tax-payers’ money wasted, and thriving criminal gangs.

We need to face facts: there will always be people attracted to killing. The threat of arrest and punishment has had no significant deterrent effect. Prohibition is no good. We must seriously consider decriminalisation, and start treating murder not as a criminal issue, but as a health issue.

It’s time to end the failed “War on Murder”.

Granted the poor lad is only trying to earn a coin and he's trying to do it with humour. However, this casual disregard for logic when applied to the debate on drug prohibition has frequently tragic consequences. For example, the UK cannabis market was estimated to be worth around £5 billion, per year, in 2002. (Source BBC) This figure will have risen in the past decade of course, given inflation and the increase in users. The lion's share of that money is currently being pumped directly into organised crime! Think of that next time you read about some moron with a gun, where'd he get the money to buy that? He works in an industry with a minimum budget of £5 billion a year.

Even sticking to the confines of this journalist's argument, taking the idea that murder and smoking a spill are similar can reveal a level of callous indifference that I suspect was unintended. I doubt there is anyone in the UK who wouldn't rather that the Moors' murderers hadn't decided to stay in and smoke a spliff instead of killing children. Or the killer of Martin Luther King. Or the man who shot John Lennon. Or any other example that pops into mind...

I spoke to a woman whose child was murdered once, it was one of the most intense experiences of my life. I'd never have had the gall to compare the actions of the evil thugs who did that to some student smoking a bong.

He continues and for, I presume legal reasons, tries to clarify:

The above is not, as far as I know, Sir Richard Branson’s position on killing. But it is more or less identical to his position on illegal drug use. Sir Richard’s logic is that, because governments have failed to prevent people committing a particular crime, it should no longer be classified as a crime at all.

I didn't watch Richard Branson's testimony. I know the arguments for the decriminalisation of cannabis inside out. If indeed that was his central logic, "because governments have failed to prevent people committing a particular crime, it should no longer be classified as a crime at all," then it's a perfectly defensible position.

The law should be practical and enforcable. If not it is dragged into the realm of impracticate and unenforcable. Why an opinion writer for the Telegraph would want the law to become impractical and unenforcable I do not know. I suspect it's because he hasn't thought it through. He is after all mainly used by The Telegraph as a culture critic.

Why politicians persist in this folly is quite another matter. If I were a journalist I'd be asking the following questions:

Why allow cannabis to fund organised crime to the tune of £5 billion?

Who in the UK benefits from well funded organised crime?

Why is the debate on cannabis always trivialised?

If you read the full article, you will notice our hero, Michael Deacon, even slags off Branson for daring to be "serious" about the issue:


NM

Jeremy Kyle and the fact some things aren't funny even if they seem it

The following article from the national newspapers is not funny:

"Adventurer who wanted to live like Bear Grylls in Scottish wilderness for a year found dead in less than a month"

A man found dead in a remote mountain hut was an adventurer who had planned a year-long Bear Grylls-style survival challenge in the Scottish wilderness.

[He], was found dead in a 'bothy' by a track worker near Corrour, a remote railway station in Highland Perthshire, on December 31 at 9.50am.

His body is believed to have been lying there for several weeks when it was discovered.

A post-mortem found there were no suspicious circumstances behind his death, which is understood to have been as a result of hypothermia.

Daily Mail - read full story here.

The above news story is without doubt not funny. It's tragic that this dashing young alpha male met with such an unforseeable demise. Without doubt he deserves our sympathy, how could anyone have possibly expected it would end this way?

Mr Erwin - who could have predicted his fate?
He's like, Steve Erwin, another unfortunate victim of lady luck. Who would have thought that the "crocodile hunter" famous for his cavalier attitude to dangerous animals would ever have ended up being killed by one? Even now it seems unthinkable, right?

Or, the subject of the film "Grizzly Man", Timothy Treadwell, who knew in his heart of hearts that man eating grizzly bears were in fact just misunderstood. He was an animal rights activist who decided to live among the grizzly bears, as one of them, in Alaska. Amazingly, and by another weird quirk of fate, they ate him and his girlfriend alive!

None of these situations are funny.

My brain just, you know, in its unguarded moments, forgets that fact and lets out a little laugh.

I mentioned this to a producer at work and she looked right into my eyes and said "that's not nice". I tried to explain that I knew it wasn't funny. I just sort of have a brain that won't listen to the facts when it comes to laughing at things. The more annoyed she became the more confused my brain became about what is and is not funny. This set up a sort of negative feedback loop where she got angrier and angrier and I felt like a kid in a classroom who has been told to stop laughing.

Today I surprised a number of my twitter followers by tweeting along with the TV show Jeremy Kyle. It's a masterpiece of not funny incidents. One of which today featured two men who had been having a gay relationship with each other after meeting on the internets. They'd realised they might actually be related and so had a DNA test to find out that, yes in fact they were! Once their story was finished (with the show title 'Am I having sex with my brother?' and the answer now being a firm 'yes') Kyle, with a straight face, actually turned to his audience and said: "give them a round of applause guys".

Again, I know that's not funny. My brain really thought it was but I've explained to it now...

... it still seems to think these things are funny but over time it will learn.

NM

QUICK NOTE//

Robert Anton Wilson did not invent my religion, Discordianism, that was the job of others, but he did more to promote it than anyone else. I've not read everything he's ever written but I've certainly ploughed through more than is healthy.

There are a number of key ideas of his that I frequently apply.

Boing Boing did a special week on him, the link is here: RAW WEEK - BOING BOING

New Cult Of Nick podcast is up...

The link is here, you can subscribe to it on iTunes: http://audioboo.fm/boos/635127-the-cult-of-nick-podcast-2012-week-4

The download figues for this thing are tiny, we're talking under 100 people at the moment but I'm really enjoying sifting through my back catalogue. This week's pod is the first in a three part interview with occultist Peter J Carroll. Originally I was a bit embarrassed by this interview as I got more into his work after I spoke to him. There's a lot of things I'd ask him now which go unmentioned here. However with the benefit of hindsight it is what it says it is, an introduction to modern occultism, not an advanced (and therefore less accessable) discussion about the subject.

Occultism is a subject which gets some people very riled up. The reason I give it the time of day is thanks to the work of Alan Moore. My thoughts on it are pretty concisely laid out here: Blame Alan Moore.

And then there's this entry which consistently comes up in my hit counter as one of the most popular entries on this blog: Aleister Crowley & The Call Of The Second Aethyr.

Please just sell the sausage

Family time: reduced to a marketing gimmick

There's an old saying in marketing which goes: "sell the sizzle, not the sausage". In other words focus upon the additional subjective aspects the product offers you. They used to tell us it in pop music radio. For example, the big prize you're offering is to meet Westlife. When you sell it to the audience on air, focus on telling the story of what it might be like to ACTUALLY MEET Westlife! What they might be wearing, what you might say to them, how you'll get there in a limo etc. What will your friends think when you tell them you're off to meet the fab five? And so on, you know, flesh out the experience with subjective detail.

Presumably this is the thinking behind this apparently innocuous poster, which has kind of wound me up. Rather than selling the fact they're knocking a little bit of money off advance tickets, or whatever, they say they're 'reducing the price of hugs'. It's exactly the same sort of nonsense as the "Yummy" biscuits label which M&S used to have. However, in this instance there's a sort of sinister edge. The notion, that this company can reduce the price of hugs, does in fact suggest they have comodified and are selling affectionate gestures. You know, like a whore does.

A lot of people think moments like the one being faked by this poster are priceless. The people who made this poster clearly do not, or at least have been paid to say as such.

I think I'd rather live in a world where we sold the sausages a bit more. This superficial sales technique does more harm than good. For example, when selling the Westlife meet, I didn't actually know the detail. Would they really get to talk to them or would they just have a quick ten second handshake, or what? The "sizzle" therefore needed to be as subjective as possible.

More importantly, this principle of stretching out what you know into the more subjective areas of experience has had terrible consequences in the "real world" of politics. Blair's "faith" in MI6 intelligence reports about weapons of mass destruction are the most obvious example but his heirs Cameron and Milliband, as they debate 'turbo' capitalism vs 'popular' or 'responsible' capitalism show equally dangerous levels of idiocy. The subjective "sizzle" of the 45 minute claim turned out to be exactly that and nothing more.

It's style over substance and it hasn't left us in 2012.

NM

Garfunkles in Leicester Square: what was I thinking?

The truth of the matter is that I wasn't thinking. I was wandering about in a bit of a daze. I'd just bought a copy of the brilliant occultist Peter J Carroll's latest tome, I'd decided I wanted to have a protein day and I thought, "ooo, I can get a nice 'Big Breakfast' at this place just outside work".

Menu: written by lawyers.
It's menus like this one which work well on the semi-conscious mind state I describe. Notice it says that you get "two rashers of bacon, two juicy pork and leek sausages, two hash browns, a large flat mushroom, fried egg, half a grilled tomato and a generous helping of baked beans".

Object next to the bacon is a rock hard sausage
Now notice that there is in fact only one rasher of bacon and a gnarly old sausage. No hash brown and a table spoon splat of baked beans. You will of course have noticed that there's a little footnote on the menu which explains that this option is only available before 11.30am.

The "other" menu
What I had in fact ordered is described slightly more accurately above on a second menu, aside from the Orwellian title given to it: The "Great Big" British Breakfast. 

It'd be fairer to describe it thus:

A plate of chips with an egg and a rock hard sausage, bit of bacon, tomato, and a shitty mushroom that seems to be composed mostly of cooking oil and dreams. Also comes with bread.
What's annoying about this whole sorry affair is I blame myself for it entirely. Places like this have always been tourist traps. Furthermore, the last time I went in there I sat for half an hour or so without service only to give up and leave for work. This was a few months ago and I remember thinking then;"well, what did you expect?".

I blame this book "The Octavo"
I was genuinely not thinking. I'd just been in Watkins on Cecil Court and had made an exciting purchase, I sat down to read it and only glanced at the menu. Peter J Caroll is by far my favourite living occult author. I'm thinking of uploading part one of an interview I did with him next week for the podcast associated with this blog. His stuff's always good. This is his latest work, published last year. What an idiot I was to think I'd get anything worth eating in "Garfunkles". Meh- how annoying.


Left all the carbs ... two thirds of the meal
With only myself to blame I stumbled out of the tourist trap, like a punter snared by a clip joint, and on to work... a little early today. Things to do. Lets hope it's a good show, I'm in a bad mood.

NM

Why is it "good" to get young people involved in politics?

There are some ideas which are allowed to float about in people's mind unchallenged and backed only by unquestioning lip service. This is one of them. It's implicit in this article on the BBC's website:

The Occupy protest movement is turning its attentions to schools through a new educational outreach programme.

The idea developed after members of the St Paul's camp were invited into a number of schools and universities.

The camp's "Tent City University" has won support from numerous high-profile speakers and academics.

Former citizenship teacher Jamie Kelsey Fry says that with protesters due to be evicted within weeks, an outreach programme is the natural next step.

Protesters from the Occupy movement - which campaigns against inequality, social injustice and corporate greed - have been camped outside St Paul's Cathedral next to the London Stock Exchange since 15 October.

But they are expected to be removed on 27 January, after the City of London won a High Court case over their eviction.

Before I quote the rest of the article it's worth remembering that many people believe the human mind doesn't really process negative thoughts.

Mr Kelsey Fry, who has been at the camp every day since it started, said it had become a focal point for young people interested in political activism, with teenagers travelling from all over the country to visit.

Many had joined in its people's assemblies, where issues are discussed openly and everybody taking part is given an equal voice.

He said: "So many of the camps, not just at St Paul's but around the country, will be cleared away in the next few weeks so outreach is a really good way to move things on.

"Young people are a very large part of society and they are voiceless. They will be the people who inherit a troubled future."

He added: "We are not trying to indoctrinate them or recruit them, we are trying to use the citizenship curriculum to give young people the tools to take up the issues that are important to them."

I think this final point here (obviously I'm not quoting the full article) is the reason some people think there's a need for 'young people' to be involved in politics. If you saw me outside your house and asked me what I was doing and I replied that I was not about to steal your car what would you think? If you caught me outside a school with a load of leaflets and I told you I was not trying to indoctrinate the children...

Look to the arguments people put forward if you push them on this subject:

"Ah, well, old people are more set in their ways". Translation: "Old people have their own opinions and won't be pushed around as much".

"Err, no, I mean, young people are more optimistic". Translation: "Young people are more gullible and easily led by hare brained schemes".

"No, it's not like that, they're just more err, caring and compassionate and likely to be left wing and ... oh". Translation: "Show me a young Conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains". They're left wing reqruits waiting to be indoctrinated by seductive ideas that ultimately lead to communist dictatorships. That's the truth of the matter isn't it? Use the comments section to argue the contrary...

Rise of the planet of the apes


The idea that animals are incapable of cruelty annoys me. It's ill informed, coming as it does from some mad Disney influenced world view which adults really should know better than to take seriously.

I recently watched that film, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. It was quite good overall but it had this logic in there at points. The apes, who in this film live in our time and are just developing consciousness, seemed to be in possesion of an innate sense of morality. They were 'good' in comparison to a number of the deeply unsympathetic human characters.

I guess the reason this annoys me is because I believe we ARE animals. There are no traits found within us that are unique to humans.

This is grit in the shoe of those who would like to worship the perfect world of mother nature where everything has been poisoned by people. Despite what the extreme animal rights activists might think their worldview requires people to be special. Especially cruel, bad, wicked and evil.

I don't think they are.

Previous entry is similar vein.

Don't sleep on it.

If you experience a horrific or upsetting event and then decide to "sleep on it," you're making a bad situation worse, according to a new study from The University of Massachusetts.

They've discovered:

"a person's emotional response after witnessing an unsettling picture or traumatic event is greatly reduced if the person stays awake afterward, and that sleep strongly "protects" the negative emotional response. Further, if the unsettling picture is viewed again or a flashback memory occurs, it will be just as upsetting as the first time for those who have slept after viewing compared to those who have not."

Kind of explains the old question, 'how do you sleep at night'? The body doesn't want to let you go to sleep if you've witnessed things that you knew were wrong:

"It's interesting to note that it is common to be sleep-deprived after witnessing a traumatic scene, almost as if your brain doesn't want to sleep on it."


My brain is terrible for this, if I've got a worry stuck in my head I can't sleep on it. I'll be up all night trying to fathom an answer. I remember my first ever experience of this like it was yesterday. I'd lost my little Boba Fett toy and was frankly traumatised. It'd been misplaced at school and my 8 year old brain was devastated. I was awake until four in the morning worrying about it. I remember the sun coming up and thinking bad things would happen now I'd not got to sleep.

Also, maybe that's why a lot of my generation remember quite rubbish Dr Who monsters as being scarier than they actually are. It was on just before bedtime, it'd be the last thing you watched before your young brain went to sleep. Meh, I'm just thinking out loud but, you know some of that stuff was very silly.

On a not entirely unrelated topic, I wonder how this memory study relates to the weird phenomena of banging your head on a pillow once for every hour of sleep you want to have just before you drift off? That does sort of seem to work, not as accurate as an alarm clock I'll grant you but in need of scientific investigation at some point.

NM

FURTHER READING

Quotes taken from FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Boba Fett's Wookieepedia entry is HERE.

FURTHER VIEWING:

JOHN LENNON - How do you sleep at night?

An unpleasant song from his Imagine album directed at Paul McCartney. Those two got nice and nasty with each other in public during the 70's.

MATT BAKER ASKS DAVID CAMERON - How do you sleep at night?

An odd moment in daytime television. I'm sure, Baker, enjoyed a lot of backslapping behind the scenes for this one as he bought a round of drinks with his licence fee funded pay cheque.

Nescafe Mocha...

I've bought some new Mocha sachets. Unfortunately they're not as nice as the significantly cheaper ones I've been having from Aldi. These new ones are a bit flat, maybe they need more Coffee or something in them.
I've tried to hide my dissapointment from myself twice and failed both times. Now I've decided to blog about it to the hundred or so people that read this corner of the internets. And of course Nescafe PR department who will inevitably at some point read this little ramble.

Actually, if you do work in Nescafe PR why are they called Mochas? Why not call them Chofee? That'd make more sense wouldn't it? A Mocha combines the best of both hot chocolate and coffee right? A good one is a bit like the Rose of hot drinks (which should itself be called Whed wine). What does Mocha mean? I'll tell you, it means you're making a mochary of the whole naming process. Yeah, that's what it means.

Of course fact fans will know that it's this process which was used to invent Toffee. A mad scientist back in the 20's wondered what would happen when you combined Tea and Coffee and, as everyone knows, it produces a most disgusting drink. No matter how many spoons of sugar he put in there it still tasted of putrid brown stink. He did of course famously leave that sugar filled drink out overnight and when it cooled an solidified - hey presto, a new form of sweetie! The rest, as they say is history.

And to think, all the other scientists in those days thought he was nothing more than a useless little twunt.

NM

The Discordian Cult Of Nick enters its third week...

I've put a new five minute podcast up. It's quite fun to listen back to some of the lighter stuff in my back catalogue. This time it's just me and my mate Alex Baker larking about on air. The phone call is something we used to start the shows with, often recording them as an afterthought. The main bit of the audio is Baker's "dog in a suitcase story" which he firmly maintains is true. I suspect it's an urban legend and when I retold it on LBC a few listeners claimed to have heard it before. The annoying thing about that is there's always the slight chance they'd heard it before because we'd already broadcast it on a national radio show a few years back. These things spread.

People seem to be liking the podcast so thanks to everyone who has re-tweeted it etc.


http://audioboo.fm/boos/625652-the-cult-of-nick-podcast-2012-week-3

Philosophical mumblings..,

I love this quote but I'm having difficulty sourcing it:

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

It's pretty in line with occult thinking or "magick". The idea is that there's a constant friction between two different world views. One is the materialistic world view where your mind is a by product of your physical existence. The other is the idealistic world where everything is running in accordance with some sort of plan. The latter idea is often used by occultists/religious believers/new age hippies, etc. The most famous example of it in action is in The Bible:

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

The point is that before anything could start you needed "the word" or, more accurately, the concept. This is pretty logical on a practical level. Want to do something in life; get yourself a plan of action. It's also interesting that it places "God" in the same area that words and ideas live. He's a construct of the mind.

As I said, there's the opposing materialistic point of view nowadays and it's more widely accepted. You know, that words came from us, physical beings generate thoughts and not the other way round. I think that's the view I side with more often than not. Words and ideas often come afterwards. I existed physically before I started thinking. I suspect that's true of humanity in general if you trace us back far enough. I'm just wary of certainty around concepts like this and suspect the truth is a combination of the two, if that's possible.

It's just a blog entry

I hate the phrase "it's just". It annoys me because usually it is not "just..." anything at all. Most words are simplifications of whatever it is they are attemptingto describe. This means whatever you're talking about is unlikely to be reasonably limited to being a case of "it's just...". The same reasoning leads me to be annoyed whenever anyone points out "ah, but it's more complicated than that". Such an observation usually goes without saying.

Specifically I think if you reduce an experience to a case of "ah, it's just" it's usually you that loses out.

Love - "ah, it's just chemicals in your brain".

God - "ah, it's just another mode of control".

Art - "ah, it's just pretty pictures".

Everything, every second, every moment, every word is unique. Nothing is ever "just" anything at all.

With this thought in mind I've decided to use today's blog post to link to this website which sells garbage from the streets of New York at a premium price, gift wrapped: http://nycgarbage.com/

The Ironing Lady

I went to see The Iron Lady at the cinema. It was mildly annoying. This is quite good going for a film with such an overtly political subject, given that I couldn't enjoy Avatar or the last Batman film because of their irritating ideological content. Fortunately though this was not a lefty wet dream of Thatcher, crying into her hands full of regret at how evil she was but nor was it some deluded triumphant right wing fantasy.

There was a scene right at the start that annoyed me when she had no milk - I felt the director leaning out of the screen saying "aah, she was a milk snatcher you know"*. There was a weird bit where she ranted about the EU. I think they were trying to show what an uncompromising monster she'd become. I actually wanted to cheer and shout "here, here". I didn't though as I wouldn't have wanted to interrupt everyone's conversations.

What's with that? Oooh - lets go to the cinema and have a nice chat. Best part of £20 and you get idiots who don't comprehend that I'm not at the cinema to hear some halfwit gibbering away or even answering a call after letting their ringtone burble away for a few minutes.

The Cult of Nick is doing well. Actual people have downloded it. For the moment it's just old Kerrang clips and will remain so for the forseeable. The link is here: http://audioboo.fm/NickMargerrison


NM

*"Thatcher Thatcher the milk snatcher" - Education secretary who took away free milk: WIKI.

The Discordian Cult Of Nick lauches amid little to no ceremony ... join us!

I've always quite fancied being the leader of a cult. Unfortunately for me I lack the appropriate level of charisma, determination and moral bankruptcy required for such an undertaking. Instead I'm going to start doing a podcast again and call it "The Cult Of Nick". Without question this will one day be an incredibly successful enterprise but like all such high jinx it needs a small beginning. This is it.

Despite my clear belief in this enterprise I am not intending to part with any actual money* to invest in this future world class product nor do I have the time to muck about looking for a way to host this podcast properly so I've gone with a nice free "Audioboo" account for the moment.

Listening to this audio instantly makes you a member of The Discordian Cult of Nick. Once 'in' there is no escape. Unfortunately for me there are no obligations required of members. In fact the only obligation required of anyone following this inauspicious blog entry is that I post one five minute bit of audio from my back catalogue every week for the rest of 2012, at the end of which the world will have course ended. Or, I'll have moved away from posting old stuff from the past and start doing new stuff unique to the podcast. One of the two.

I'm under the impression you can subscribe to this thing on iTunes, here's the link:

http://audioboo.fm/NickMargerrison

We're in week two of 2012 so I'm going to post up two bits to get the ball rolling, from then on it's one five minute bit a week. If you're like me that means they'll build up in your iTunes and you'll listen to four or five every now and then when you can't find anything better.

Kicking off with an interview I did on Kerrang Radio with comedian, Mark Thomas, who I saw doing his live show recently. Brilliant! Go and see him if he comes up your area, so to speak.


NM

*I'm confused as to why it seems to cost money to do a podcast but is free to upload video to YouTube? Can anyone explain that to me?

Does David Cameron really play Angry Birds?

This weekend just gone the current Prime Minister, David Cameron, gave an interview to The Telegraph. It was one of the more interesting interviews I've read from him in terms of the EU, Scottish independence, and the deficit, because it really seemed to get into some of the nitty gritty. However it is littered with trivial detail:

"but Mr Cameron also still finds time to relax, watching television and listening to music. To the envy of many, the iPad addict has also, he reveals, completed Angry Birds, the massive-selling “app” in which players catapult animated birds at pigs."

At first I liked this little insight. "Oh, he plays Angry Birds like me, that's nice," went my initial uncynical response.

Ironically the interview was overshadowed in terms of reaction by a trivial comment he made comparing, Ed Balls, to someone with tourettes. Furious moralisers queued up to decry the apparent slip of the tongue and it swiftly became the main issue as Cameron apologised for "any offence caused". In the real world the phone lines of my radio show were not rammed with people angry about it, most defended him along the lines I did. It's a turn of phrase, not unlike saying "are you deaf/blind/dyslexic?" to someone in the event of them not hearing/seeing/spelling something. I'm dyslexic, I don't find that offensive, furthermore we had callers who were blind who agreed. Like I said, it's trivia.

Now the interview has been largely forgotten about, except for by me, as I sit playing Angry Birds and wonder about Cameron doing the same. I've started to doubt he does. It strikes me as just the sort of thing an advisor might have told him to say in order to humanise him a bit more. Firstly, he's got form, his "cast iron guarantee" of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty was a much more important claim and it turned out to be a lie. Secondly, and unfortunately for him this will always be the kiss of death, he looks a bit like Tony Blair.

However, that I'm cynical about his harmless claim speaks to the fact that I can't bring myself to trust any of these politicians about anything at all ever. I don't think I'm alone in this lack of trust. My generation has had no reason to ever trust these people and it's certainly not something which they've ever earned from us.

If it was a lie then the aim was to associate David Cameron with something "normal" people like. Blair did it with music by meeting Noel Gallagher. The idea is that the association makes you think of Cameron when you think of something you like. It hasn't worked with me, instead it's made me think of the fact I do not trust politicians every time I play Angry Birds, which is quite often, would you believe?

Twitter feed improves dramatically

I've locked my twitter feed. This has enhanced twitter enormously. It means that I get less annoying tweets from people who are wound up because I didn't happen to share their opinion on something.

At work I see taking personal abuse as being all part of the job. Twitter though is for my own amusement. I often read it at home or on my mobile phone. Having my tweets locked means only people who have chosen to "Follow" me can see what I've written and so consequently only they can reply. It gives the thing a feeling of being a little exclusive club of just under 2,000 people, theoretically all on a similar wavelength.

My colleague Duncan Barkes was the first to do it and to be honest I've only really copied him.

If you'd like to follow me my twitter feed is @NickMargerrison. So far I haven't refused anyone, apart from some woman who wanted to me to go and look at her webcam.

NM

I've hit my target weight JAN 9th 2012

I'm now exactly 14 and a half stone. However, due to some sort of clerical error this does not in fact make me "normal" according to the BMI index. I spent all of last year thinking it would, only to check the facts while bragging about my apparently "normal" weight to my Mum on the phone. At just over 6 foot in height it leaves me still in the category "overweight" as opposed to "obese". Turns out I need to lose another stone.

Oddly that's sort of a relief because my physique still sports a Little Plum style belly. To put this in perspective, previously I looked more like his Dad:

My analysis of this BMI index chart thingy today shows me that I will still be allowed to continue dieting in an attempt to kill that little belly off without worrying that I've turned into some sort of metrosexual anorexic. That's where this kind of thing can all lead. I mean, for Christmas I got some perfume! And I was pleased about it! It's called "Joop". I think people prefer to call it aftershave but everyone knows it's perfume right?

NM

FURTHER READING:

Little Plum off of The Beano http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Plum

As close to a political philosophy as you'll get from me ...

I ain't left-wing, I ain't right wing.
I got two wings baby
An' I can fly outta any box
You lot try and put me in.

If I were to try to label my political philosophy the closest set of ideas I can find that appeal would be described as "Libertarianism". There's a reason you've not heard that word too much when it comes to mainstream debate in this country. It's a philosophy which involves the politicians of this country saying things like: "We need less power, less of your taxes and frankly we're going to let you make more of your own decsisions". The career politicians of today are as likely to subscribe to that as turkeys would vote for Christmas.

I'm not a fully paid up card carrying libertarian, I just think there's a lot to be said for the idea that Governments need less, as opposed to more, power and money. As a result of this sympathy for these ideas I occasionally attract callers who ARE deeply into it. They don't hesitate to drop names such as, Ayn Rand, into conversation and I've even had one caller explain "The Nolan Chart" once.

This means I get fantastic emails like the one printed below that I feel deserve a wider audience:

--

Joan of Potters Bar

Good evening Nick. I can't phone because I have a very bad cold but I want to say that we had a 'libertarian' government in this country when Charles Dickens was alive and it was the result of that system of economics, then known as laissez faire ('let it be'), which brought about the horrific conditions which he describes in his novels and which we frequently see enacted upon our screens.

It was these conditions, arising from the successful Victorian economy, which caused reformers like him to campaign for more fairness towards the poor and disadvantaged by a more equitable redistribution of our national wealth through taxation and other government means. Personal charity abounded during the Victorian era, business people were extremely philanthropic but that did not prevent libertarian economics creating extreme poverty amongst the many for the benefit of the few. It was this situation which made reformers call for government intervention and regulation.

We have only to look to countries like India to see what life can still be like for the many in a largely unregulated society. People like yourself and your 23 year old caller, are ignoring the past and are in danger of propelling the people of our country into a neo-Victorian era with no protection for the poor and weak. We cannot look after every old and sick person ourselves, we cannot all be self-employed entrepeneurs, we need government help to stop the extreme exploitation which has previously happened without it. That is not 'socialism', it is a cry for the 'liberte, egalite, fraternite' of the French Revolution and the Enlightenment which curbed the excesses of the Industrial Revolution and brought us the freer, more equal (fairer), more caring society of today.

When preaching neo-libertarianism, as you so frequently do, beware of throwing these babies out with your bathwater!

--

I don't usually reply to emails as we get too many but this one was so good here is my response:

Hi Joan,

I'm undecided about Libertarianism (laissez faire Government) and think perhaps its appeal for me stems from the fact I've grown up in an era when state power has frequently appeared to be out of the control of normal people such as you and I.

The war against Iraq was a real catalyst for some huge shifts in my opinions. It became apparent to me back then that no matter how many people opposed the Government, if the issue was part of their agenda, there was nothing you could do about it. Since then a number of things appear to be unchangeable when it comes to the world of politics. The EU is a good example. No matter who you turn to in the world of serious politics there appears to be no one who opposes it. Another is the distressing rise of the authoritarian "big brother" state during New Labour. None of that power over people will ever be given back.

The appeal of Libertarianism is it seems to be a political philosophy which argues that politicians should have less power instead of more. It puts focus upon these people who say they rule us and asks them to justify each power they claim over us.

FURTHER READING:

The Nolan Chart
Libertarianism
Ayn Rand

THIS ARTICLE ALSO APPEARS ON THE LBC WEBSITE UNDER THE HEADING NEO LIBERTARIANISM.

Diane Abbott and her anti-racism problem

The human mind has great difficulty processing a negative thought. For example, try to NOT think of the last thing you ate. I need you to try NOT to remember what it was, your last bit of food. Once you've managed NOT to remember it I want you to keep it out of your mind and keep NOT thinking about it. If you're a normal human being you'll be thinking of it now despite trying not to ... mmm, chicken!

Many people believe that this is where those who campaign against something go wrong. Do you remember the "anti-war" marches of the previous decade? They didn't seem to do so well. Perhaps part of that was a branding issue. Keep telling everyone you're against something and in the end you start to become associated with it.

This partly ties into another idea which is neatly summed up in the following quotation:

"Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one."
Friedrich Nietzsche
German philosopher (1844 - 1900)

There's a sketch I saw on, I think, a DVD extra of Little Britain. It was brilliant but as far as I can work out never broadcast. In it you had a load of people all working for a Cancer Charity. They were busy organising various activities, TV interviews and fun-runs. In the midst of it all one of them took a call. His words suggested good news but his face said otherwise:

"Oh, really? All forms of it? And it works in every instance? Oh, err, great, that's great news. I'll tell everyone."

He finished his conversation and relayed to everyone there the "great news" that cancer had been cured. In the sketch everyone then realises that their jobs are now no longer necessary. The fun run is cancelled and plans are made to wind everything down. Then, just as the news is setting in for everyone that they have nothing to do, the phone rings. It was all a mistake. The cure doesn't work. They can't help but look happy.

You can see why it was never broadcast but it makes an interesting point. People like Diane Abbott require racism to still exist. It's part of their identity, power base and, for want of a better word, their act. Her tweets about "white people" who she thinks "love to divide and rule" along with these other comments about her being "dubious of black people" who don't claim to experience racism make perfect sense in this context. I feel sorry for her because she will have to make some major changes to her world view if such mistakes are not to happen again, and again, and again.

FURTHER READING: Diane Abbott will not face police action over 'racist' tweet. - Ironic that it was her Government that made such an absurd idea as 'prosecution for an opinion' possible eh?

Suffering a massive case of CBA re: my new phone.

I'm suffering a massive case of CBA in regards to my new phone. I feel a bit like I've had my arm twisted up my back by the phone company (Orange) who didn't seem to offer massively favourable rates for someone like me who didn't want to upgrade. I also felt a lot of personal pressure from friends and family who couldn't understand why I stuck so doggedly to my "old" (only got it a few years ago) phone. In the end I accepted that not upgrading my phone was silly. So, I requested my upgrade and signed on for a 1 1/2 year contract with my new touch screen phone.

It arrived in the post.

I've got my new payment plan in place. They've sent me a new phone, I just CBA* to actually use it for anything other than a game of "Angry Birds" now and then. My "old" phone is still the one I'm using to make and take calls. The new one is currently just a glorified modern version of my old Gameboy handset I had in the 90's.

Firstly, I just can't quite get behind touch screen. It's too clumsy. I liked having a keyboard.

Secondly, all these stories about these new phones having viruses are upsetting. My phone is more private than my computer. I SERIOUSLY CBA with viruses on it.

Finally in the event of getting it stolen I'd like to know that the theif in question would be dissapointed with an "old" piece of technology.

Time will tell how long I hold out on this one...

*CBA - Can't be arsed. I don't know why this acronymn appeals to me so much. It's forum speak really isn't it? Meh, I'm blogging every day at the moment, might as well indulge.

Atkins (ish)


Over the last year I have lost a total of about 3 stone in excess blubber. It's a bit of an understatement to say I'm pleased about this.

Being overweight is awful. I found I'd kid myself that I was alright with it or pretend that it was worth it because you can eat food and drink beer whenever you fancy but the truth is that if you could press a magick button to rid yourself of it you would. EVERYONE who is overweight would press that button I think.

I started dieting around this time of year and carried it through all 2011. The weight loss was gradual and not done in the usual dramatic fashion I've managed in the past with the atkins diet. Instead of that I went (on the advice of my mate from Kerrang, Kate Lawler,) to 'Slimming World'.

When I first went to Slimming World I was expecting something like it's more famous rival Weight Watchers. Instead I felt like I'd stumbled into some sort of cult. They had their own, almost impenetrable, language with terms like "Red Days" and "Green Days" and "Extra Easy" and "Syns" and so forth. I didn't really understand what I was supposed to be doing so I asked one of the other people, she gave me my diet template:

HAVE CARB DAYS where you eat only cabohydrates and a little (if any) protien.

HAVE PROTEIN DAYS where you eat only protein and a little (if any) carbohydrate.

NO BREAD, ever.

I thought perhaps she was being a bit overzealous with the bread rule. However a series of weird coincidences made me think twice. Firstly I was listening to The Collings and Herrin podcast a while back and they were talking about how eating bread during the Ed Festival had piled the pounds on them a bit. Then secondly I went to see Toby Hadoke performing in Manchester. He did a little routine he was working on about bread, the slut of all foods, because "it goes with anything". He was trying to cut it out also. That was enough for me, I didn't need to be told more than three times.

What all of the above has led to is a sort of compromise version of the atkins diet where I'm giving myself occasional days off where I'm allowed pasta and vegetables. Over the last 12 months I've had only a couple of slices of bread, usually in error.

However, as any dieter knows, half of the battle is psychological and it's here that the "Slimming World" group came into its own. It's a bit like I suspect alcoholics anonymous meetings are in that you sit round with a load of people who are determined to stop being who they've become. You sit there and really consider the fact that you must stay the course and lose weight. This comes after you've been ceremonially weighed. Most people don't hang around after being weighed for the meeting but I find it the most useful part of the process.

The leader of the group I went to was likeable but she had a picture that helped me enormously during 2011. It was of a bunch of 7 flowers. One of them was damaged, she would always make the point that if you had a vase with 7 flowers and one was damaged would you throw them all away? Nope, you'd just forget about the one that was wrong and keep the other 6. These flowers were like the days of the week. Failing on one day to keep to your diet did not mean you had to throw away the whole week. For some reason that really made sense to me and helped when I dropped the ball here and there.

Good luck if you're starting on a diet right now. Hope the above entry is of use.

NM

PICTURE: My protein breakfast today inspired this entry. It's a sharing platter from Asda! Cool eh? Olives, meat and dried tomatoes.

The fur trade and international terrorism

The argument against the fur trade runs like this ... "I hate people who wear fur because they are paying money into an industry that is cruel to animals".

The argument in favour of international terrorism runs like this ... "I hate people who are British because they are paying money into a nation that is cruel to people".

In essence the argument stated as series of propositions is:

1/ I hate X

2 / BECAUSE they pay money into Y

3/ AND Y is cruel to animals/people.

It is this argument that allows animal rights activists to chuck paint over people who wear fur. It's the same one a terrorist uses when justifying attacks upon civilians.

From my point of view it might be better to cut out X from the equation. If you are inclined to hate I'd direct such inclinations at Y, that way you're hating someone who is actually doing something cruel.

This point of view is not popular because society has deliberately overstated the power of market forces. People have been led to believe that their money has an almost supernatural power to persuade someone to action. Faith in its value makes it possible to easily order huge numbers of citizens. It also gives them a convinient excuse for compromising their own morality: "I was just doing my job".

If your job involves torturing animals for their fur or murdering people perhaps those coins aren't worth it and it's time for you to wake up.

NM

REFERENCES:

Now PETA slam under-siege Kim Kardashian with billboard condemning her for wearing fur (and her sister Khloe agrees too).

In a trivial pursuit of Trivial Pursuit

Arrgh!

So, why is it the case that Trivial Pursuit is nowhere to be found? There's only some rubbish version where you bet on people knowing or not knowing the answers to a question. I started off by going to the toyshop in London called Hamleys. The shop assistant rolled her eyes and said "ooh, everyone has been asking for that this month" as she pointed me in the direction of the crap orange box with the new version in. I asked her if she had the original. They didn't. As I walked out some dozy 'fun loving' sales assistant chucked a plastic boomerang around and missed the back of my head by an inch or so.

I wandered off to John Lewis. Nope.

Tesco. Nope.

Argos. Nope.

Harrods. Nope.

WHSmith. Nope.

I even bumped into a young couple who were also searching for it. They wanted it for a dinner party (I was shopping for a Xmas present) on New Year's Eve. We compared notes and both marvelled at the following weird response we'd had in a number of shops ... "why don't you get it on the internet".

They wonder why the high street is doomed!

Still not found it.

NM

Previous entry regarding "ooh, why don't you get it on the internet.

EMAIL TO THE UNIVERSE

I've decided I should get better at "small talk". Over the Xmas period I've been amazed at how much people can manage without apparently getting bored. For me it's a real chore. I kind of dry up and want to say things like:

"So ... what do you think about The EU then eh?"

or

"Hmm ... anyway, Iran is looking quite likely to go nuclear soon isn't it?"

Those kinds of things though generally tend to kill off the vibe a bit at social occasions. See I've noticed that "small talk" seems to involve not actually saying much at all, if it's done well. In terms of conversation I'm a bit "bull in a china shop" sometimes. Need to master talking about less 'weighty' issues I think. I'll record my progress here in future entries.

For Xmas I got Robert Anton Wilson's "Email To The Universe" and have been giving it a good thumbing on the tube on my way to work. If you have never read any of his stuff I can't recommend it enough. I suggest you start with "Prometheus Rising", then move on from there. He's a philosopher of supreme clarity. Useless in relation to my mission regarding "small talk" skills though...

New Year's Resolutions

Mine are simple:

1, Be more organised.

2, Use my time more wisely.

3, Lose the last 7lbs I need to shift before I hit my target weight of 14 1/2 stone.

4, Blog - once a day, every day, for all of 2012.

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