Goon morning!

The Goons: Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe

Peter Sellers (top), Spike Milligan (left) and Harry Secombe (right)

In these bizarre days, I think we could all use a good laugh. The coronavirus brings to mind — because of the association in my head with an episode called ‘The Spon Plague‘ — the inimitable Goons, all of whom have, sadly, passed away:

  • Spike Milligan
  • Harry Secombe
  • Peter Sellers
  • Michael Bentine

… what do you mean, “I’ve never heard of The Goon Show“? You, my friend, haven’t lived! Well, not as long as me, anyway. It was my late father who introduced me to the zany radio antics of these men, and my brothers and I were subjected every week, on a Saturday, I think it was, to the various ludicrous goings-on of such characters as:

  • Neddie Seagoon (Secombe)
  • Eccles (Milligan)
  • Bluebottle (Sellers)
  • Henry Crun (Sellers)
  • Minnie Bannister (Milligan)
  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne (Sellers)
  • Count Jim Moriarty (Milligan)
  • Major Denis Bloodnok (Sellers)

Whether it’s morning or evening for you, I’ll wish you a very good one, and hope you never catch the Spon.

(I got the audio file from Stuart Burch — thanks, Stuart!)

Posted in ... wait, what?, Just for laughs, People, Phlyarology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Marcus Brigstocke on Religion: Part One of Two


I’d like to start this week with a request, and this one goes out to the followers of the three Abrahamic religions: to the Muslims, Christians and Jews. It’s just a little thing really, but do you think that when you’ve finished smashing up the world and blowing each other to bits and demanding special privileges while you do it, do you think that maybe the rest of us could, sort of, have our planet back?

I wouldn’t ask, but the thing is I’m starting to think there must be something written in the special books each of you so enjoy referring to that tells you it’s alright to behave like precious putulant pugnacious pricks. Forgive the alliteration, but your persistant power-mad punch-ups are pissing me off.

It’s mainly the extremists obviously, but not exclusively; it’s a lot of main-streamers as well. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about, ok?

Muslims: listen up, my bearded and veily friends: calm down, ok? Stop blowing stuff up. Not everything that’s said about you is an attack on the Prophet Mohammed and Allah that needs to end in the infidel being destroyed. Have a cup of tea, put on a Cat Stevens record, sit down and chill out! I mean, seriously, what’s wrong with a strongly worded letter to The Times?

Christians: you and your churches don’t get to be millionaires while other people have nothing at all; they’re your bloody rules: either stick to them or abandon the faith. And stop persecuting and killing people you judge to be immoral; oh and stop pretending you’re celibate as a cover-up for being a gay or a nonce.

Right, that’s two ticked off…

Jews: I know you’re God’s chosen people and the rest of us are just whatever, but when Israel behaves like a violent psychopathic bully and someone mentions it, that doesn’t make them anti-semitic. And, for the record, your troubled history is not a licence to act with impunity.

Now, when the letters come, and I’m guessing they will, I can guarantee that each one of those faiths will be utterly convinced that I’ve singled them out for special criticism.

“Why did it have to be us? Islam is a peaceful faith.”

“I don’t see what’s wrong with being Christian, we’re a peaceful loving faith.”

“How dare you, after all we’ve been through? We Jews know how terrible violence can be.”

You see: all of them will be convinced that they’re the ones being picked on. The Abrahamic faiths are like Scousers, they’re always convinced that ‘yeah, it’s harder than everyone else’.

Right? And why is it that all of these faiths claim to be peaceful, when even the most fleeting glance at a history of warfare will tell you otherwise? The relationship between religion and warfare is very similar to the relationship between Ant and Dec: you could have one without the other, but I’m not sure anyone would see the point.

I wouldn’t actually like it, but it would at least be refreshing to hear one of them come out and say:

“Oh, our faith’s vile as you like, we love a scrap us lot, we do: our special book says ‘fight fight kill maim fight smash destroy fight murder kill fight and fight. That’s why I signed up, to be honest, I’m a bit naughty; know what I mean?”

But no: all of them claim to be ‘peaceful religions’, yeah, peaceful right up to the point where someone takes something they think is theirs, or says the wrong thing, or looks at them funny — then it’s fighty smashy kicky punchy all the way.

I know this will upset a lot of people but frankly I don’t care. I’m getting so sick of religious people screwing it up for the rest of us. Please don’t kill us. Seriously. As far as I’m concerned, this is the only chance we get; when we die, it’s all over. There’s no virgins and pearly gates waiting for us; no big beardy man saying:

“Right, so how do you think that went, then? Bit mixed? Ooh, killed a lot of people in my name, I see. Yeah, yeah: not really what I had in mind, actually. Tell you what: have another go, as a worm.”

While we’re at it, I’m sick of religious people forcing their children to define themselves by their parents’ faith. A four-year-old is no more a Christian than he is a member of the Postal Workers Union.

“We want a fair working wage, decent working conditions and time allotted to see the new Transformers film.”

… said a spokesman.

This week, Lydia Playfoot, who took Millais School in Horsham to the High Court so she could wear jewellery to prove she’s staying a virgin for Jesus, lost her case. Good. I’m glad. I don’t care how many times her parents claim it was her idea: rules is rules, and if you want to wear a ring that tells everyone you’re not having any sex you can get married, like the rest of us.

Now, the lawyer for the chaste Miss Playfoot said a question the judge would have to answer was:

“What are the religious rights of schoolchildren in the school context?”

Well, I’m no judge: not yet, anyway. But if you want my opinion: none. No rights. No religious rights whatsoever. School is for learning, ok? So if you want to have a little pray before Maths so that God will prevent Mr Figgis from setting too hard a test, or prevent the PE teacher from being a colossal pervert, then go ahead. Fill your boots. If you want to pop on a feathered head-dress and chant and mumble and sacrifice something you can do that in your own time, or take a drama course and pretend it’s art, get a Degree in it — that’s what I did.

The lawyer, Mr Diamond, argued:

“Secular authorities cannot rule on religious truth.”

Hmm. Well, Mr Diamond, I’m gonna assume you’re not related to the Neil Diamond, because he rocks. Yes, I like Neil Diamond and Prince — and I’m married. Go figure.

But my point is religious truth is a foxy one, because religion, by its very nature, doesn’t tend to concern itself with truth. There simply isn’t time for truth; by the time all the singing, and candle lighting, and toadying, condemning and hiding from science is done, Truth has given up and gone to the pub for a pint. Here’s the truth, right: faith is about as interested in truth as I am in hanging out with Anthony Warrel Thompson, ie not very.

Now, I know that most religious folk are moderate and nice and reasonable and wear tidy jumpers and eat cheese like real people. And on hearing this, they’ll mainly feel pity for me rather than issue a death sentence. But they have to accept that they are the power base for the nutters. Without their passive support, the loonies in charge of these faiths would just be loonies, safely locked away and medicated — somewhere nice, you know, with a view of some trees where they can claim they have a direct channel to God between sessions making tapestry drinks coasters, watching Teletubbies and talking about their days in the Hitler Youth.

The ordinary faithful make these vicious, tyrannical thugs what they are. See, I get very angry that shows like Big Brother and Celebrity [insert title of wretched show here] still fill our lives with vapid, pointless emptiness, and I wish the producers and development executives would crawl back under the rocks they emerged from: but the truth is, they sell stuff that people consume. Without the audience to prop it up, Heat Magazine and fundamentalist religious fanaticism goes away.

Imagine what humanity might be capable of if we had that much spare time. We could explore space properly, have a decent look in the sea, find a cure for James Blunt: anything.

Thank you very much: letters to the usual address.

Posted in ... wait, what?, Culture, Just for laughs, People, Phlyarology | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Teleporting newts

In my garden, there’s a pond.

The pond currently has lots of tadpoles in it. Now, back in February I heard the frogs doing their ‘ribbit’ thing, so I knew that they were having fun, and I expected to see tadpoles in the pond come this time of year. And I wasn’t surprised.

The thing is: newts don’t go ‘ribbit’.

Later on in the year, after a downpour, I’ll expect to see lots of tiny frogs on the lawn. They’ll be buggering off to whereeveritistheygo, and that’s normal. I won’t be surprised by that.

But I’ve never, ever seen a newt on the lawn, downpour or no.

I have a theory for this.

Whereas frogs use their legs (and those are some powerful legs!) to get from one place of safety to another, newts can only waddle. They have tiny legs. I can’t imagine them running away from predators with any great success. (Mind you, I have no clue what predates on newts. Pigeons?)

So, my theory is that newts have evolved a way to get around this. Yes, my friends: they don’t need to waddle from one pond to another — because they teleport!

That is my theory, and, much like the theory of Anne Elk (miss) about brontosauruses,  it is mine.

Posted in ... wait, what?, Just for laughs, Phlyarology | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

A warning from the future

We sleep during the day, because anywhere but under the second skin it’s too hot to do anything else. At night we rise, to continue construction of The Project. Some talk of redefining the words ‘night’ and ‘day’ to reduce confusion, but I think that, for me, it would increase it.

Tending the algal ponds falls to some. Others extrude sheets to extend coverage of the planet’s second skin.

The topside of the skin is solar cells for power generation. The underside has lights and rainmakers. Some progress has been made on adding soothing imagery such as cloudscapes for night-time and starfields for daytime. I’m glad of that, because the unrelenting gunmetal grey is soulless.

We finally have enough Coverage that we can begin to allocate some space to wilderness. Not enough, naturally. I sometimes wonder if there will ever be enough. But at least now some creatures are being released into this wild space. Of course they have to be resurrected first, using the germ plasma banks. I watch them sometimes on the videofeeds, and wonder if they, too, find their current sky miserable.

Bots record our progress, and present us with feedback on how we’re doing. The numbers say that Coverage is proceeding at just under 1% per year, which means that stage 1 of The Project will be completed in about fifty years. If we survive that long.

Then, we’ll have to learn how not to forget. Some folk talk of putting big, very visible doors in the skin as a constant reminder to us that there is a universe beyond. I suppose that might work.

Word count: 269
Prompt: Why Build Orbital Space Colonies?

Here’s Zager and Evans to play us out….

Posted in ... wait, what?, Climate, Core thought, Environment, Flash fiction, GCD: Global climate disruption, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Like, Mad?

Cover image from the book 'Like, MAD'.What message does a ‘like‘ send?

One of the things about blogging (and other aspects of Internet life) that puzzles me more than a little is ‘the like’.

How can one like this? Or this? Or this? There are, quite simply, some posts I hate to like (such as this one)…

… and yet, I still click ‘Like’, perhaps largely because I simply want the other person to know I dropped by, and want to show appreciation for the time and effort taken to share. Sometimes I’ll even do so on articles the content of which may not be of particular interest to me. Are you the same?

Some blogs don’t have ‘likes’ enabled on posts. I get to the end of the article and look for the button, but it’s not there. My visit feels incomplete, somehow. Sure, I could leave a comment (on those posts that allow them) but that requires thinking….

Sometimes I’ll skim-read a post, and then click ‘like’, feeling a little guilty in doing so. I may also ‘like’ posts that I don’t fully understand (especially poetry). Does this make me a bad person?

One promise I made myself a while back relates to ‘reblogs’. I see some reblogs where the ‘reblog’ post itself gets a lot of likes, but when following the link to the post that’s been reblogged, I may see fewer likes. I promised myself I wouldn’t behave like that… if I like the reblog, I’ll go and read (and like) the original, too. (Does this make me a good person?)

One thing I don’t get — and, please, don’t be offended if this applies to you — is where someone hits ‘like’ on their own blog post. Of course you like it: you wrote it! (Who publishes stuff they wrote that they don’t themselves like?)

… which leads me on to the other side of the coin; those who create the content that others ‘like’. (In the blogosphere, that hat’s worn by most if not all of us.) I admit that I like to see the ‘likes’ because they’re an indication that I’m not completely wasting my time; most words are written to be read. But as Non-Lackadaisical says, “We are letting people who we more than likely don’t even know control how we feel about ourselves.” I think she has a point.

In ‘Why Do You Blog?‘, Dr Perry says:

My first “like” was thrilling and my first “follow” validating. Someone else was actually up and either reading or writing on their own blog. To my surprise, they had read and connected with me. […] I believe in some way, we all write for connection. We seek to connect with ourselves or with our fellow man or woman. […] I try to like everything I read to encourage others.

I too, try to like everything I read to encourage others. I think it enhances community.

There’s also, in blogs that are configured that way, ‘likes’ on comments. For a blog owner, that’s a quick way to indicate to a commenter that you’ve seen their comment. These days I do try to respond to all comments, but sometimes no matter how much I rack my brain I just can’t come up with something that doesn’t sound trite, so I’ll just hit ‘like’ instead.

One thing I really don’t understand is this: a blog is a four-dimensional beast; it exists through time. Old posts don’t necessarily lose their validity just because they’re old. My own blog’s stats show that some people visit old posts of mine, such as this one, and this one. But the odd thing is: even though they get visits, those old posts rarely get ‘likes’. And they’re even more unlikely to get comments. Now, I grant you, a lot of my posts are total garbage. But some of them aren’t that bad. More recent ones tend to get likes and comments no matter how rubbish they are: but the old ones? The old ones mostly get visitors who pass like ghosts in the night. I wonder why that is?

Thanks for listening to my rambling. Please leave a comment, so that I can like it ;)

Posted in ... wait, what?, balance, Communication, Computers and Internet, memetics, Phlyarology | Tagged , | 9 Comments


There's no room to be complacent;
we must not resort to pretext,
it's all up to us what comes next.
Though our plans may still be nascent
and our aims may be adjacent
to those already in progress:
constantly targets reassess.
Thoughts led by the feelings inside,
our conscience is our willing guide.
That is the path to success.
Ronovan Writes Decima/Espinela Poetry Challenge

Prompt: Ronovan Writes Décima poetry prompt #9, Next, B

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | 1 Comment


White light
Viewed through prism
Reveals colour array
Generational injustice
A systemic ostracism
Reviled by us today
We need just this
Right sight

Prompt: Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Photo Challenge #319

Posted in balance, Poetry | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The wolves within: a Cherokee legend

Two wolves facing each other with a moon in the background
An old grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, “Let me tell you a story.

“I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do.

“But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.” He continued, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.

“But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.

“Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”

The boy looked intently into his grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, grandfather?”

The grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”

With thanks to White Wolf Pack.

Posted in Communication, Core thought, Culture, Drama, Education, History, People | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Click to embiggen revisited (classic editor)

Sam “Goldie” Kirk posed some questions in response to my recent ‘How to’ post about images. Here, I aim to explain more clearly how to link a small image in a post to a larger one, using the classic editor.

First, insert the small image (via the ‘Add Media’ button). Then, click on it and click on the ‘Edit‘ icon (note, mainly to self — this icon doesn’t work within a classic block in the block editor):An image showing the 'Edit' icon in the classic editorThis presents the ‘Image Details‘ dialog:

Where it says ‘Link To‘, click the drop-down (which originally says ‘None’) and select ‘Custom URL‘. In the field below that appears (labelled ‘URL‘), you paste the address of the large copy of the image (an address which you saved earlier — see my previous post).

Et voilà:

An image taken by Hubble of galaxy cluster RXC J0142.9+4438

Click to embiggen

Any questions? Please use the comments….

Posted in Education | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

I Can’t Breathe: Solve Racism to Solve Climate

You can’t have climate change without sacrifice zones, and you can’t have sacrifice zones without disposable people, and you can’t have disposable people without racism.

Climate Denial Crock of the Week

Sierra Club:

During the street protests and marches of the past two weeks, many people carried signs that read “Racism Is Killing Us.” It’s no exaggeration to say that racism and white supremacy harm all of us, because in addition to robbing us of our humanity, racism is also killing the planet we all share.

An idea—a long-overdue realization—is growing in the environmental movement. It goes something like this: “We’ll never stop climate change without ending white supremacy.” This argument has entered the outdoor recreation and conservation space thanks to the leadership of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color in the climate justice movement. The idea has taken on new force as folks in the mainstream environmental movement do our best to show up for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and all the Black people still living and subject to police violence.

I know that a lot of…

View original post 1,322 more words

Posted in Communication, Core thought, GCD: Global climate disruption, Reblogs | Tagged , , | 6 Comments