On Earth Day, please choose to NOT cremate yourself

Happy Earth Day 2021!

World ‘leaders’ are meeting today and tomorrow for US President Biden’s ‘Leaders Summit on Climate‘. And there are several other ‘summits’ taking place to discuss this topic throughout the coming months, including the UK-hosted COP26 in Glasgow in November, which was postponed from last year due to COVID-19.

I’m reasonably convinced that any ‘action’ proposed by these high-profile activities will be just as limp-wristed as all the other ‘initiatives’ implemented in recent decades (to me, the number ’26’ itself speaks volumes: leaders talk and talk, and absolutely nothing happens).

It’s down to each and every one of us.

When you’re typing, your computer is using electricity. When you press send it goes through the network and it takes electricity to run the network. And it’s going to end up being stored on the cloud somewhere, and those data centres use a lot of electricity.

We don’t think about it because we can’t see the smoke coming out of our computers, but the carbon footprint of IT is huge and growing.

[…] cutting the waste out of our lives is good for our wellbeing and good for the environment. Every time we take a small step towards changing our behaviour, be that sending fewer emails or carrying a reusable coffee cup, we need to treat it as a reminder to ourselves and others that we care even more about the really big carbon decisions.

Professor Mike Berners-Lee, author, researcher
— and brother of Tim, inventor of the World Wide Web

In a recent blog post (‘Think before you thank?‘), I mulled over the urgent need to change our behaviour to at least try to deal with the burgeoning problem of climate change. This is something that we simply must do, despite the many delusional morons who continue to claim there isn’t a problem and that it’s all a government conspiracy (to me, those people just sound like those nutcases who shout, “the Earth is flat!”, or, “the Moon landings were faked!”). That post was about the relatively trivial matter of carbon emissions due to sending emails. There are many other things we can each consider doing; for instance, even though I used to enjoy travelling abroad, some years ago I vowed never to fly again on the grounds that that was an effective way to reduce my own carbon footprint.

I recently entered my seventh decade in this mortal realm, and my mind has turned to making arrangements for when I leave it. When I’ve thought about this in the past, my vision has been of having a natural burial in some tranquil woodland, with the dwarf horse chestnut tree I grew from a conker and have tended for a third of a century planted on my resting place (after I’m gone, I wouldn’t want anyone else to feel obliged to look after it, and maybe have it die and then feel bad about that).

A short while ago I learned that some folks who are very dear to me have made arrangements to have their remains cremated after they shuffle off this mortal coil. I find that thought horrifying. Our way of life is killing us. And it’s even doing that after we’re dead.

Making arrangements to get cremated is like adding a road trip from Madrid to Moscowand back again — to your bucket list.

The Cremation Association of North America says 56 per cent of bodies in Canada are now cremated annually compared with only 2.75 per cent 50 years ago. Cremation is typically seen as cheaper than burial, but environmental costs usually are not factored in.

Since it takes two to four hours at temperatures ranging from 1,400 and 2,100 F, or 760 and 1,150 C, the estimated energy required to cremate one body is roughly equal to the amount of fuel required to drive 4,800 miles, or 7,725 kilometers.

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide are spewed in large volume, along with carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride, particulate matter, heavy metals, dioxins and furans.

There is also release of cadmium and lead from pacemakers and mercury from dental amalgams. Total mercury emissions from cremation in Canada for 2004 were between 240 and 907 pounds, or 109 and 411.6 kilograms.

Source: Desmog

Dying ain’t cheap. The Money Advice Service, to which the gov.uk website pointed me, says, “On average, the cost for a burial is £4,383, whilst the average cost for a cremation is £3,290“. Ow. It’s easy to see why cremations are on the rise. But when considering ‘cost’, one has to consider not just the out-of-pocket fees, which are considerable, but the externalities, too. Making arrangements to get cremated is like adding a road trip from Madrid to Moscowand back again — to your bucket list.

Madrid to Moscow: ~2500 miles according to the AA Route Planner

The good news, from my point of view at least, is that natural burials can cost less than being interred in a traditional cemetery. And, according to the Good Funeral Guide, I shouldn’t be put off by some thoughts that might otherwise deter me: “If you like to source your goods locally, and entertain intuitive misgivings about willow coffins from Poland or bamboo from China, you may be relieved to find that their carbon footprint is often no greater than that some of our home-grown ones.”

Assessing the environmental impact of a funeral (CFR preferences, small image)
My preferences for disposing of my remains (click image to embiggen)
(original source: Ken West MBE)

The Natural Death Centre website features a list of natural burial grounds in the UK. I’ve made contact with a couple of the nearest with a view to reserving my final resting place. I hope you’ll consider doing likewise.

Don’t lay me in some gloomy churchyard shaded by a wall
Where the dust of ancient bones has spread a dryness over all,
Lay me in some leafy loam where, sheltered from the cold
Little seeds investigate and tender leaves unfold.
There kindly and affectionately, plant a native tree,
To grow resplendent before God and hold some part of me.
The roots will not disturb me as they wend their peaceful way,
To build the fine and bountiful, from closure and decay.
To seek their small requirements so that when their work is done,
I’ll be tall and standing strongly in the beauty of the sun.

Pam Ayres
Posted in ... wait, what?, Climate, Core thought, Education, Environment, GCD: Global climate disruption, Health, memetics, Phlyarology, Science, Strategy | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

UK government: please introduce charges on carbon emissions

tl;dr Air pollution kills 64,000 people in the UK every year, yet the Government provides annual fossil fuel subsidies of £10.5 billion, according to the European Commission. To meet UK climate targets, the Government must end this practice and introduce charges on producers of greenhouse gas emissions.

Link to petition:
Introduce charges on carbon emissions to tackle climate crisis and air pollution
Deadline: 17 August 2021 (all petitions run for 6 months)

Number of signatures:
20,801 @13Apr2021 (when there were 42 days till Towel Day)
10,000 required for the government to respond (it did on 30Mar2021; see below)
100,000 required for ‘consideration’ (whatever that means) for debate in Parliament


UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution‘ has two glaring omissions: it mentions nothing at all about reducing (let alone eliminating) fossil fuel subsidies, nor does it suggest any kind of financial penalty for polluters; both of which, to my mind, are no-brainer first steps to addressing climate change.

A ‘carbon charge’ would encourage industries and organisations to reduce their carbon emissions, and could raise billions for the UK economy. The Government can ensure the charge does not unfairly impact those who cannot afford to pay by using some of the money raised to support low income households through the low-carbon transition. The UK should also utilise its position as host of COP26 and the G7 summit to drive global progress on carbon pricing.

From the petition ‘Introduce charges on carbon emissions to tackle climate crisis and air pollution

The response to the petition, provided by HM Treasury on 30Mar2021, includes a paragraph of what appears to me to be total gobbledegook which tries to sidestep the OECD‘s findings that the UK subsidises the fossil fuel industry to the tune of £10.5 billion a year§, and follows that with the declaration, “To be clear, the UK does not give any subsidies to fossil fuels”. Someone here is telling pork pies; given the choice of conflicting analyses, it’s no surprise to me that the Sleaze Party would choose a set that can be interpreted to suit its agenda.

Working backwards from the six-month deadline (17Aug2021) indicates that this petition was initiated in February — why petition.parliament.uk doesn’t just show the start date up front is beyond me; I reckon there must be a hidden tax on joined-up thinking. The number of signatures to date is a pitiful 21k. Removing my socks to do the sums, I figure that’s just over 10k per month so far, and if it continues to build at that sluggish rate this petition has the proverbial snowball in hell’s chance of reaching the 100k signatures required for ‘consideration for Parliament debate’; something I feel is sorely needed so as to hold the government’s feet to the fire.

On the grounds that an ocean consists of a multitude of drops, I’ve signed this petition. If you’re a UK citizen, I hope you will consider doing so, too.

§ “The United Kingdom is the largest provider of subsidies to fossil fuels [in the European Union] with €11.6 bn accounting for 21% of the total amounts in 2016” — Study on Energy Prices, Costs and Subsidies and their Impact on Industry and Households Final report, November 2018, page 268


H/T to the Ovo Energy forum for pointing me to the Zero Carbon Campaign, which led me inexorably to this petition!

Posted in balance, Biodiversity, Climate, Communication, Environment, GCD: Global climate disruption, Health, News and politics, Strategy | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Towel Day 2021 kicks off in 101010* days

* There are 10 kinds of people: those who grok binary, and those who don’t.§

As of now, the number of days remaining until Towel Day 2021 is also The Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything: 42.

2021-05-25T09:10:00

  days

  hours  minutes  seconds

until

Towel Day 2021

(This countdown is calibrated according to 10:10:10 UTC
as that, to me, is the best time for this planetary event.)

Richard Dawkins on what Douglas Adams was really like

Unfortunately, the video above can’t be embedded here; the uploader has forbidden that. But they can’t stop me transcribing the words from it:

Interviewer:
Douglas Adams was a really close friend of yours, and you did something really nice in ‘The God Delusion’: you dedicate the book to him with the following statement, quote that Douglas Adams said, “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful, without having to believe that there are faeries at the bottom of it too?”

What was Douglas like — and where did you find that quote, since it’s just such a great quote?

Richard Dawkins:
‘What was he like?’ He was about seven feet tall, and he was a wonderful, wonderful man. I first met him because I wrote him a fan letter; I think it’s the only fan letter I’ve ever written. I read ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’ — which is not part of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,’ it’s another series that he wrote — I read the book, and then, it’s the only book I’ve ever turned right back to page one immediately on finishing it, and read it all through again straight away, because I felt there was so much in it that I had sort of only half got the first time through and I really wanted to get it properly.

I then wrote him a fan letter, and was delighted to get a fan letter in return! And he invited me to meet him in London, so I went to his house in London, knocked on the door, and it was opened by this enormous man, with an amused smile on his face, because he knew that I would be kind of amused and surprised to see how tall he was, and he was kind of joining in the joke and he — one of his endearing qualities was the way he would laugh at himself, laugh at his own jokes. Comedians aren’t supposed to laugh at their own jokes, but in Douglas’s case it was a most endearing quality.

He was immensely witty, immensely charming, curious, loved science — he’d actually studied English at the University of Cambridge, and I think he sort of wished he’d studied science; he once asked me whether I thought he ought to go back to university to take a science degree, and I told him “No.” He could, he could — he’s so bright, he could get all the science he needed from reading, he’d be bored if he went back to university. He read enormously in science; his knowledge of science and his playful amusement at science shows through The Hitchhiker’s series, and all his other books really. Things like ‘the infinite improbability drive’… read it, it’s so funny, I won’t try and expound it. There are science jokes, and you have to know quite a lot about science to get all the jokes in Douglas Adams’s book, they make you think; it’s not really, well, it’s kind of science fiction but it’s science comedy fiction. So he makes comedy out of science — but making profound points.

For example, in ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe,’ the heroes sit down to dinner, and a large bovine animal walks up to the table, and says, “I am your dish of the day!” And then it explains the moral philosophy behind it: for many years, people had been worried about the ethics of killing animals to eat them, and so the solution was found of breeding a species of animal which wanted to be eaten — and was capable of telling you so. And so it said things like, “May I tempt you with parts of my body? The rump is very good, and there’s plenty of good meat on the shoulder, I’ve been feeding myself grain for a long time.” And the hero, Arthur Dent, can’t bear this, it’s too much for him to bear; but actually of course it’s perfectly logical. If only the animals could tell you that they wanted to be eaten, it would be absolutely — I mean this is a beautiful piece of intellectual writing turned into high comedy. So all the other — Arthur himself orders a green salad, and everybody else orders large steaks, rare. And so the beast says, “A very wise choice. I’ll just go into the kitchen and shoot myself. Painlessly!”

Transcript of ‘Richard Dawkins on what Douglas Adams was really like

A terrific tribute to a marvellous man…

I just wish Richard had actually answered the interviewer’s second question, the one about where he found that quote:

Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful, without having to believe that there are faeries at the bottom of it, too?

Douglas Noel Adams (19522001)

§ The asterisk symbol ‘*’ is represented by ASCII code 42. It’s commonly used to represent ‘everything’.

Posted in ... wait, what?, Fantasy, Just for laughs, People, Phlyarology, Science Fiction, Tributes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Think before you thank?

Research in 2019 by expert survey consultants Censuswide, commissioned and publicised by OVO Energy, revealed that more than 64m ‘unnecessary’ emails are sent every day. One result of this is the emission of nearly 23,500 tonnes of additional carbon, in the UK alone, every year.

OVO Energy claims that ‘brief pleasantries top the list of the most regularly sent emails’, and that by sending one less ‘thank you’ email a day Brits would save 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year — which, they say, is equivalent to 81,152 flights to Madrid, or taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road.

Top 10 most ‘unnecessary’ emails sent:
1. Thank you6. Have a good evening
2. Thanks7. Did you get/see this?
3. Have a good weekend8. Cheers
4. Received9. You too
5. Appreciated10. LOL
A ranking of brief messages that are categorised as ‘unnecessary’ by… someone.

Intrigued by this ‘think before you thank’ argument, I looked for the research data. I couldn’t find it. I asked OVO Energy for access to it§; my request was refused on the grounds that they hadn’t yet finished with the data.

The Internet came on the scene relatively recently. It has brought with it substantial behavioural changes. Some of these changes are for the good: others (see ‘meanderthal‘ for instance! 🤪) are not so good. Those who have grown up with the Internet constantly in the background cannot fully appreciate the impact of its advent in the way that those of us who were born without it can, any more than I, born — in England — more than a dozen years after the end of World War II, can truly understand the horror of war.

More societal changes are in the pipeline due to the ever-worsening problem of climate change. To counter this — assuming that we even can — it will be necessary to modify our behaviour further.

“Whilst the carbon footprint of an email isn’t huge, it’s a great illustration of the broader principle that cutting the waste out of our lives is good for our wellbeing and good for the environment. Every time we take a small step towards changing our behaviour, be that sending fewer emails or carrying a reusable coffee cup, we need to treat it as a reminder to ourselves and others that we care even more about the really big carbon decisions.”

Mike Berners-Lee, author, researcher
— and brother of Tim, inventor of the World Wide Web

There are many differences between the written word and face-to-face communication. Smileys and word choice can go only so far in curbing misunderstandings. The question whether there is a need for digital communication to mirror the politeness we’re used to ‘IRL‘ is a good one.

However, almost all of the ‘thank you’ messages I send are tacked on to other content; I find it very hard to believe the claim that these ‘top the list’. (Maybe I’m just uncouth?) But, in any case, is it right to dismiss ‘thank you’ emails as ‘unnecessary’? In practise, they add to information overload and prompt no action other than selection of the ‘delete’ button. They do, however, reinforce relationships, which, arguably, is a useful benefit. It is, after all, why people send them. We humans evolved over aeons, and have developed an inherent tendency to socialise, co-operate, and be agreeable (at least to those with whom we come into direct contact: wars notwithstanding!). These traits almost certainly contributed to the development of our current level of civilization.

Before deciding that we should abandon ‘thank you’ missives, perhaps we should turn our attention to the other messages that fill our inboxes. For instance: I have an account with freecycle.org, and I was being sent several ‘digest’ emails each day. But since I rarely actually read them, I’ve just now logged in to my account and have disabled those messages, for the time being at least. Freecycle boasts more than nine million members around the world. I wonder how many emails they send each day?

Facebook alone boasts ~two billion active daily users. If a dozen emails are sent to each of those users every single day, that’s 24,000,000,000 unnecessary emails. Every. Single. Day. That’s 375 times the number of ‘thank you’ missives OVO Energy highlights.

A particularly nefarious participant in this is the ‘Facebook family’ of web applications. I deleted my Instagram account not long ago, and my faecesbook account just recently. Among the reasons for doing so was that I was fed up with being bombarded by emails from them; messages that bear almost no information content, and whose sole objective is to get the recipient to log in to their website. The settings on faecesbook in particular for when these messages are sent are, quite simply, absurd; every option is enabled by default. You have to act to change them.

As my inbox was getting swamped by these blessed things — I was getting a good dozen messages a day — I had redirected this garbage to my ‘Junk’ folder. When I next looked in there it was chock-a-block with the crap. When I noticed that, I logged in to my account to see what I could do to stem the flood… and it was after about an hour of click-click-clicking on the multitude of options-for-this-and-options-for-that that I finally thought “to hell with this, life’s too short” — and cancelled my account.

And that’s just Instagram and Facebook. How many hundreds of thousands of spammers are there out there who carpet-bomb us all with email shite?

Facebook alone boasts ~two billion active daily users. If a dozen emails are sent to each of those users every single day, that’s 24,000,000,000 unnecessary emails. Every. Single. Day. That’s 375 times the number of ‘thank you’ missives OVO Energy highlights. I’d like to commission Censuswide to see what impact the spam emails from organisations like Facebook have on carbon emissions; I strongly suspect that the answer that would come back could be summarised as, “a hell of a lot more than from occasional ‘thank you’ emails!”

From now on I’ll be turning a critical eye on the other emails I get from all the other sites I’m registered on, with a view to weaning out those that I can do without. So I think I’ll thank OVO Energy for drawing attention to this.

Carbon emissions from emails are certainly a concern, and it’s crucial that we change our behaviour. But perhaps the solution, rather than abandoning a long-standing and useful social tradition by suggesting we ‘think before we thank’, is to apply a disincentive. How about if everyone were to be charged a penny for every email sent? (And tuppence each for corporations.) That might go some way to address the problem. I feel pretty sure it would reduce the garbage that arrives in my inbox every day.

Makes you think, no?


§ The OVO Energy Forum Community Manager (nice chap, very helpful, you’d like him) asked me to extend an invitation to you to visit their forum if you should have any questions about their research.


Addendum

Coincidentally, this very morning I received two (identical) emails from The Co-operative Bank. My response to that is below. I thought it worth adding this note as it underscores the point I make in this post.

Hi! I hope you are well.

You sent me two emails this morning, at 01:38 and 01:40. They appear to be identical. Ironically, the emails contain the statement: “Working together to protect the environment.” With that in mind, could I ask you to investigate why your system is apparently sending multiple copies of emails, an activity that has an impact on carbon emissions, and thus the environment?

Thank you.

P.S. I had to resend this message (ironically, generating still MORE carbon emissions) because your original said it was ‘from’ <customerservices@co-operativebank.co.uk> — with no warning not to attempt to reply to it — and I made the mistake of assuming that my reply would go to that same address; yet it would seem that your email was configured to use a ‘reply-to’ address <no-reply@co-operativebank.co.uk>, and I didn’t spot that before hitting ‘send’. Perhaps you should rethink this, as I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only frustrated customer affected by this.

Thank you again.

Posted in ... wait, what?, balance, Communication, Core thought, Culture, Environment, GCD: Global climate disruption, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , | 19 Comments

Who wrote the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”?

There’s a famous song, written in 1988, that begins, “Here’s a little song I wrote”.

I believe in giving credit where credit is due; here’s a miniquiz….

What was the name of this song’s writer?

  • (a) Bobby McFerrin (1950)
  • (b) Bob Marley (19451981)

Here’s a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note:
Don’t worry… be happy.

In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double
Don’t worry… be happy.
Don’t worry, be happy now.
Don’t worry.
Be happy.
Don’t worry, be happy.

Don’t worry.
Be happy!
Don’t worry, be happy.

Ain’t got no place to lay your head?
Somebody came and took your bed.
Don’t worry… be happy.

The landlord say “your rent is late”
He may have to litigate
Don’t worry… be happy.
(Look at me, I’m happy.)

Don’t worry.
Be happy.

I’ll give you my phone number, when you’re worried, call me, I’ll make you happy.

Don’t worry.
Be happy.

Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style
Ain’t got no gal to make you smile
But don’t worry… be happy.

‘Cause when you worry your face will frown
And that will bring everybody down
So don’t worry… be happy.

Don’t worry — be happy now.

Don’t worry.
Be happy.

Don’t worry, be happy.

Don’t worry.
Be happy.

Don’t worry; be happy.

Don’t worry.
Don’t worry.
Don’t do it.
Be happy.

Put a smile on your face.

Don’t bring everybody down like this.

Don’t worry.
It will soon pass, whatever it is.

Don’t worry: Be happy.

I’m not worried.
I’m happy!

Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” by Robert Keith McFerrin Jr. (1950)

Contrary to popular belief, the famous reggae musician Bob Marley never recorded a version of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, as he died seven years before the song was written.

Source: Wikipedia (yes, yes, I know….)

Nice to see Robin Williams again (rest in peace, you funny, funny man). I don’t know the other fellow in the video; Wikipedia suggests it may be Bill Irwin.

Posted in ... wait, what?, art, balance, Communication, Education, Music, People, Phlyarology, Tributes | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Creating content collaboratively

I’ve been aware of the ‘Users’ option in the WordPress settings for many years. I looked into the facility when setting up the Multiphasic Phylarological University (a site that, unfortunately, I’ve never been able to find enough other interested parties to actually get off the ground). But, although I’ve added other users as ‘Contributors’ to Wibble in the past — and have even hosted a guest post by Patricia — I’ve never been given such access to another’s site so I could see it from that side.

Until recently, that is, when Bella of thoughtsnlifeblog invited me to be interviewed for her own blog. We discussed how to allow me to proofread the post prior to it being published (I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to eliminating typos; it’s the pendant in me, you see). And I realised that the ideal way to do this would be for her to add me, temporarily, as a ‘Contributor’ to her site so that I could check through the post. And so, that’s what we did. And it worked (almost) flawlessly. Bella added me (via Users > Add New > Contributor); I got an email inviting me to accept, and, once I did, I could then visit https://thoughtsnlifeblog.com/wp-admin/§ and create draft posts on her site.

So, naturally, being a blogger and all, it occurred to me to create a blog post about my experience, in the hope that it might be of interest to those who aren’t familiar with the WordPress ‘Users’ facility. It’s my impression that there are a great many of folk in that situation. Although, of course, there are those who already use it to create content collaboratively, the vast majority of WordPress blogs I’ve visited over the years have each clearly been created by just one person.

There’s a wonderful community here, and the ‘Users’ feature enables us to work together. I suspect that the only thing stopping us may simply be an unfamiliarity with this useful feature.

More information

All WordPress bloggers already have experience of the ‘Administrator’ user role (that’s what we all have by default), and almost certainly the ‘Follower’ role, too. But the other three (‘Editor’, ‘Author’ and ‘Contributor’) are, I suspect, pretty much unknown territory for many of us.

  • Administrator:
    There Can Should Be Only One
  • Editor:
    Has access to all posts and pages
  • Author:
    Can write, edit, and publish their own posts, and can upload media
  • Contributor:
    Can create and edit their own posts but can’t publish them, nor upload media
  • Follower:
    Can read and comment on posts and pages

For more details on user roles, visit ‘Invite People to Your Site‘.


Would You Like to Play a Game?

If you would like to have a play with this feature yourself, just let me know using the form below, and I’ll set you up as a ‘Contributor’ here on Wibble. And who knows; maybe you’ll create a post that I’ll beg you to let me publish!



§ If you follow this link you’ll almost certainly see a page that tells you “User [your username] Cannot Access the Dashboard Requested” (unless of course you do happen to be a user on Bella’s site!) — I left that link in there to let you see what happens when you try to access the admin section of a site you don’t have permission to use, just in case you might be interested.

Posted in ... wait, what?, Communication, Computers and Internet, Education, Strategy | Tagged , , , | 38 Comments

Get my eBook for FREE, All Fools Day 2021

It’s no joke!

On 01Apr2021§ my eBook is available totally FREE!

Just click on this link right here to get it.

If you don’t have a Kindle,
don’t worry, you can use
the Kindle app
or
Kindle for PC

Enjoy!

If you feel that you owe me something (you don’t),
could I ask you please for a review on amazon and/or goodreads?

Reviews of ‘The Eclectic’

If your sense of humour is like mine, you will roar with laughter at some of these gems. The Eclectic is a collection of poems and short stories that take a gentle but firm poke at reality. For example, the trickle-down effect is examined in a goblet-shaped poem, which correctly identifies the main reason our world is in trouble. One hilarious story tells you exactly what had happened to the Titanic, and why. Or you might be interested in the REAL story of King Arthur. I can recommend the productions of a delightfully twisted mind.

Bob Rich on Goodreads 🌠🌠🌠🌠🌠

After you read this wonderful collection of stories, poems and dreams, you will be asking this incredibly original deep thinker to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) without delay! Fantastic stuff!

Rick on amazon 🌠🌠🌠🌠🌠

(If you should happen to land on this page on some other day,
leave a comment below or contact me
and I’ll schedule another free day, just for you!)


§ The small print: 00:00 to 23:59 Pacific Time — check here for your timezone!

Posted in ... wait, what?, Fantasy, Phlyarology, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

A belated ‘thank you!’ to my friend Dr Bob Rich

Dear Bob,

In March last year, I believed that nobody else was going to blow my trumpet, so I’d have to do it myself. Thank you for proving me wrong!

My tardiness in responding to the email you sent me three weeks ago advising me that you’d reviewed my book is thoroughly inexcusable. I awoke this morning with an “Eeek!” moment, suddenly realising that I hadn’t yet thanked you for your kindness. My excuse was that I noticed at the time that while the review you advised me of had appeared in your neck of the woods (on amazon.com.au), it was showing on neither amazon.com itself nor in my antipodal location (on amazon.co.uk), and I wanted to give it a little time to see if that was just a ‘delayed update’ issue.

Well, it’s been over three weeks, and I can still only see your review on the amazon.com.au site, and not the other two. I have no doubt that this is also reflected on other amazon sites across the world, too, but life’s too short and precious to investigate further. My estimation of Jeff Bezos and his global monstrosity has dropped a further couple of notches, to an all-time low, and this has hardened my resolution to maintain my own boycott of that megacorporation, even though I know that has a pitiful effect: I shall continue seeking what I need anywhere but there even if it costs me a little more or I have to wait a little longer.

Yes, yes; I recall we discussed my internal struggle and misgivings over my hypocrisy in publishing my book on their Kindle platform while at the same time ‘boycotting’ the business. And I thank you again for your kind words in that regard — although, unfortunately, I’m unable to locate your actual words of wisdom about this. I think it was in a comment on Wibble somewhere (I consulted a WordPress Happiness Engineer about that, thinking that there ought to be some way to filter a site’s comments by author and find your words that way: but I’ve been informed that this is not possible. Computer technology! /eyeroll I know I read somewhere that ‘computers would make our lives easier’… me, I’m still waiting). But, as is my wont, I digress….

The good news is that goodreads.com isn’t so provincial; your — five star! — review was there when I checked just now (I don’t know how long it took to get there).

I’ve learnt quite a bit from this exercise. Not the least of which is that I should have chosen a better title. The one it has competes with too many others whose creators clearly thought as I did that the word ‘eclectic’ would be sufficiently unusual. In retrospect, I should probably have gone with something like ‘The Phlyarological Obscurity’.

I should also have chosen a better author name; the moniker my parents chose for me is as common as muck, as I discovered some years ago when I went egosurfing on faecesbook and, believe it or not, discovered a group called ‘We Love Colin Reynolds’ (I kid you not. I sent messages to as many of my namesakes on there as I could find, suggesting that we should all join this group and say ‘Thank you!’… but not one of them took my hint. I guess we don’t share the same sense of humour).

I see that on goodreads.com my own book — The Eclectic — is associated with another title: ‘Whilst Others Sleep‘, with the suggestion that that’s by ‘the same author’; but it’s not me. Sigh. That’s my next job, I guess: try to find out if I can break that linkage….

So… far, far too long story short: thank you ever so much for your review, Bob, I sincerely appreciate the time you took to read my humble words and comment on them.

Incidentally, I’m doing another one-day free promotion of ‘The Eclectic’ in just under three days’ time (on, appropriately, All Fools Day) — Yep, that link is currently ‘404’, as it’s scheduled for 01Apr2021. Think of it as time travel! (which we all do, albeit slowly 😄).

With very best wishes,

Colin Reynolds (the real one).

P.S. How are you getting on with your ‘modifying links homework’? I know I’ve mentioned before that I think booklinker.net is a very useful tool; it allows you to create custom links that automagically redirect to the amazon website in the clicker’s neck of the planet; it’s an all-in-one, and saves you having to list separate links for all the amazon sites. You’ll just need one (easily remembered) ‘mybook.to’ link for each of them. For my money, that’s a no-brainer. You might want to investigate… in the meantime, I’ve crafted a link on my own booklinker.net account, just for you: http://mybook.to/SleeperAwake. By the way, I have my copy of that book already; it’s next on my reading list, and I’ll review it when I find a spare round tuit. :D

Posted in ... wait, what?, art, Computers and Internet, Fantasy, Phlyarology, Poetry, Science Fiction | Tagged , , | 27 Comments

“Believe only half of what you see and none of what you hear”

The Internet tells me that the idiom “question everything, especially rumors [sic]” can be traced back to ‘The Proverbs of Alfred‘ (mid-twelfth century), which are ascribed to King Alfred the Great (c.848-899). Clearly, the concept has been around for a while.

The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether is a short story by Edgar Allen Poe, published in the November 1845 issue of Graham’s Magazine (Vol XXVIII, No. 5, pp 193-200). It contains the sentence “Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.” While being attributed to Poe, it’s now commonly misquoted as “believe only half of what you see and none of what you hear.” Ironic.

When applied to itself, the quote becomes an ouroboros; a snake eating its own tail. Reading is (usually) a process of sight: so, since one sees the words, which ‘half’ of them should be believed? And if someone were to speak those same words (or if one should listen to them within one’s own head) then they become sound — are being heard… and so none of it should be believed. It’s a perfect phlyarologism: it disappears up its own backside.

Scepticism is always wise; but you have to choose to whom you listen wisely.

Me, just now.
Posted in ... wait, what?, balance, Communication, Core thought, illusion, memetics, Music, Phlyarology | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Petition for a UK national citizens’ assembly (PR2028)

Update 28Mar2021 (current signatories: 20,317): I’ve just had an email from Open Britain requesting donations to the PR2028 campaign. I’m chipping in a few quid a month; I think this matter is too important not to. Whether you agree is of course up to you!


tl;dr

Deadline February 2022; petition link; signatories @23Mar2021: 15,460

We the undersigned, call on the [UK] government to establish a national citizens’ assembly to consider how different forms of proportional representation might improve public confidence in, and engagement with, the democratic system, and to make recommendations to Parliament.

In view of the likely timing of the next General Election, and the need for each political party to consider whether and how the assembly’s report will feed into their election manifesto, we call on the Government to confirm its intentions by February 2022.

Please consider adding your name to the petition

My tuppence

A decade ago, we in the UK had the chance to amend our electoral system to give more people a voice; the Alternative Vote referendum. Unfortunately, this attempt to improve things failed — I believe that this was due to the misinformation disseminated by both the Conservative and Labour parties. They are incentivised to keep the ‘First Past the Post’ (FPTP) system as it benefits both of them; it gives more direct power to whichever of them wins each election, and under FPTP, only one of them can — but one of them will.

I also believed at the time that the failure of that referendum would put an effective halt to any further moves to change our electoral system, for years, on the grounds that ‘the people have decided’. And I was right about that. But, hopefully, times they are a-changing….

Open Britain announces the launch of ‘PR2028’

This is the text of the email (dated 20Mar2021) that was forwarded to me by my brother:

Today, I’m excited to announce the launch of PR2028, our new campaign to bring about Proportional Representation for UK General Elections by 2028, at the latest.

In recent years it has become increasingly clear that our First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system no longer meets the needs and expectations of 21st Century electors. The ‘winner takes all’ nature of FPTP breeds destructive ‘win at all costs’ behaviours that undermine efforts to find common ground and build consensus. FPTP leaves millions of voters disillusioned and disengaged. As we enter a period of significant change for our country, it is essential that our democratic system drives open debate about the future we want to build, and involves the widest possible range of people. The outdated electoral system at the heart of our democracy is getting in the way of that and it needs to change.

Since embarking on our current mission of ‘Making Democracy Work…For Everyone’ last year, many of our supporters have urged us to add our energy to the work already under way to make PR a reality. With the launch of PR2028, I am glad that we will be able to work alongside organisations such as Make Votes Matter and the Electoral Reform Society to push this important cause. In the coming weeks, I look forward to discussing our plans with other campaigns to ensure we add value where it is most needed.

You may be wondering why we have focussed our campaign on the year 2028. Well, 2028 will be the centenary of the Equal Franchise Act of 1928, the legislation that finally gave women in the UK equal voting rights. (Some rights had been won in 1918 but it was not until 1928 that true equality was achieved.) We think that centenary provides a fitting deadline for the achievement of a reform that will ensure millions of voices currently excluded from the democratic process can finally be heard. For the avoidance of doubt, we see 2028 as an absolute deadline…if we can help make PR a reality before then, so much the better!

Our two immediate priorities are to raise public awareness of the benefits of proportional representation and to challenge the government to call a national citizens’ assembly to consider which form of PR best suits the needs of our country as it navigates its post-Brexit, post-Covid future. We believe citizens’ assemblies have an important role to play in our future democracy and that they are a particularly good way of answering questions like this. We are so convinced of this that, if by February of next year the government has not accepted our call for a national citizens’ assembly, we will ask fellow campaigners to work with us to establish an independent one.

For that reason, we are today launching a petition designed to gauge public appetite for a citizens’ assembly on PR. We hope that petition will demonstrate significant support for the idea and help make the case to government. So please, sign the petition, share it with your friends and family, and forward it to all your contacts on social media. The bigger that petition, the more chance we will have of replacing our unfair ‘winner takes all’ electoral system.

Let me finish with a huge ‘thanks’ to you and the hundreds of thousands of others who support makes all our work possible. We know that you are as passionate as we are about making the UK the best possible version of itself. We know from the battles of the past that you are fearless and resolute when standing up for the values we all share. And we know that, like us, you will not be bullied by this cowardly government’s attempt to stifle legitimate peaceful protest. As we grow this campaign, we look forward to using the strength of our movement to ensure the UK is a place where democracy truly works for everyone.

Best wishes,

Mark Kieran, CEO, Open Britain

I’ve signed. Will you?


Posted in balance, Communication, Core thought, crowdsourcing, News and politics, Strategy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment