Friday, 23 September 2016

Sci Fi Fiction on a par with Arhur C Clarke. HELL YEAH!

Gravity fell from the sky, crystalline shards of light orbited. Somewhere under the main deck a sickening groan was heard, like the death throe of some colossus, a dying whale. First officer Aastrand Grimnes scanned her instrument panel, the gyroscopes and internal stability indicators dancing madly before her eyes. Grimnes was a veteran of wormhole transit but the process never failed to unnerve her. Too many times had she heard tales of vessels straying too close to the event horizon, of poorly maintained vessels developing fatal stress fractures in their hulls, of crews found madly tearing at one another after perfect transits, their ships hanging aimlessly in space, drifting. Too many times had she seen near misses first hand.

A single warning indicator began flashing a sickly sodium alert to her right accompanied by the tinny, electronic hazard indication clacson. The aging computer mainframe was overloading. Judging the situation with usual alacrity Grimnes quickly shut off power to the now none essential triaxial stability system. There would be no planes of x, y or z soon and the wormhole would be doing the work in any case.

As she had done countless time before, Grimnes swore that this would be her last transit. To hell with the fact that she would never be able to return, she would find a new life and make of it what she could. Transiting specialists and colonists, wool and wood to these outposts reaped billions for her employers but all she saw was risk and time wasted. This work had a shelf life and she felt that she had been pushing her luck for some time. When she noticed the overhead diagnostic displays folding in on themselves she knew that she had overstayed her welcome.

The UMC-TD ‘Lucky’ was three generations old and had made thirty eight previous transits. As it alerted its three man crew of its imminent structural compromise it took about it a radiant hue of amber and gold. Within 640 milliseconds the superstructure of the 154 meter long craft had folded in on itself countless times. Grimnes would never dream again.

Twenty years earlier she found survival easier to come by. Darting about the slums of New Manchester Aatrand found friends a plenty and delighted in unfound places. Father stood angrily eating his meal at midday. Mother worked bitterly in an administration role, somewhere in the hospital. School was general procession of tedium and fear. Aastrand hid as best she could during her education but failed to conceal her talents from Mr Dunn, her elementary mathematics teacher. Dunn pegged her immediately for a career in the United Mars Corporation. Talent was rare since the grand exposure.

She might have thought that her future was hers. Grimnes was always shocked at the good fortune and opportunity that life had dealt her. She thought this way almost until the moment she died.

Richard shook sleep away like a dead man chasing ants. Auditory and visual alarms blazed around his inert form. He hit the alarm reset button. Seventeen times. Arising he took the most cursory of ablutions and dressed as arrogantly as he could manage. Ship loss was quite usual, factored in even. The name of the ship was remote, the cargo more so. Richard was anxious about the poor understanding he had of the lost ship. “Wool, wood, people”. Staring at the underground tunnel which he hoped to deliver him from his uncomfortable reverie.

Grimnes lifted her left arm to hit the hat switch to her left isolating the Forced Guidance Control System…

Richard’s very stupid and very handsome cat chose this moment to stand on his head.

Amber warning, disable all non essential flight systems, all non essential life support.

Cat kisses!

Richard wishes that he will be a small part of the space programme.

Arriving late to work he keeps his head down. Mars work.

Why so Paranoid?

So, first up Schizophrenia is a syndrome of psychosis. Psychosis is a very broad term which covers a range of phenomenon which result as a problem with ‘reality testing’. As said previously the symptoms of this disorder are broadly lumped into ‘positive’ (things that are added in; perceptual abnormalities, delusions) and ‘negative’ (things that are taken away; poor motivation, blunting of affect). When people are ‘unwell’ they tend to be experiencing predominantly positive symptoms. These can be highly distressing and disruptive for the individual and may lead to hospitalisation. When people are ‘well’ they experience less positive symptoms but may be very disabled by negative symptoms. They may require a great deal of support as, for example, they may not take care their food, finances or personal care.

The term paranoia in the psychiatric sense is used to describe interpreting things around you as being related to yourself, i.e. having delusions of self-reference. It may include thoughts of persecution but it does not refer to them exclusively. So delusional thoughts of being monitored and tracked by a shady government organisation which is bent on ruining you by framing you for some heinous crime is a ‘paranoid’, but so too is holding the delusional belief that you are on a special mission to stop terrorism and the strangers on the bus are really fellow agents sending you subtle secret messages by holding their telephones a certain way or glancing at you from time to time.

Delusions in general can either be primary or secondary. Secondary delusions follow on from abnormal experiences. If you hear people muttering through the walls, have an uncanny sense of being watched all the time and feel threatened you may conclude that you are being spied on by people who mean you harm. In these cases I find it striking how delusions are really just a rational mind trying to make sense of highly abnormal experiences. These delusions can become highly detailed and complex. They also tend to be very representative of people’s social context. I’m lucky enough to own a copy of a book called ‘Presumed Curable’ which is a set of case studies, accompanied by photographic portraits, of patients admitted to Bethlem Hospital in the late 19th century. Spies of the Kaiser, nobles and religious miracles abound. During the latter half of the 20th century aliens and spacemen hounded our psychotic patients. Now they are increasingly tormented on social media. It’s fascinating how the content of delusional thought shifts over time and across cultures whilst the underlying cognitive errors remain static. Primary delusions are those which appear to just appear de novo without any other apparent psychotic phenomenon driving them.

As to why. I’ve got no choice but to be even more reductionist here that I already have been. First up: chemicals. Brain chemicals, neurotransmitters. The neurochemical theories of Schizophrenia are essentially exercises in reverse engineering. This has important implications for proclamations about the aetiology of psychiatric illnesses but also should not led us, in my view, to dismiss the utility of such drugs. The drugs used to treat the positive symptoms of Schizophrenia are essentially dopamine blocking agents. Dopamine is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in mammals. The first ‘antipsychotic’ developed was Chlorpromazine. This was synthesised in the first half of the 20th century on the back of another drug, Promethazine, which had been developed as an antihistamine (I used to love to take this drug for sedation and its antihistamine properties, doubling or even tripleing the recommended dose unitl it gave me akathsia prompting me to be kicked out of bed - not good for morale) The sedative effects quickly became apparent and these drugs were initially utilised for surgical procedures. Soon they were given to psychotic patients and the effects appeared dramatic to those using them. Remember that up until this point patients were commonly treated (or rather ‘brought under proper control’) with ECT (a safe and effective treatment to this day!), psychosurgery (neither safe nor effective, barbarism), insulin coma therapy (utter madness), seclusion and physical restraint. The dopamine hypothesis was born. Too much Dopamine made you psychotic, blocking dopamine made Schizophrenics better, right? 

The evidence for this hypothesis is really shaky. People really do get better when given antipsychotics (in terms of psychosis anyway) and we know these drugs primarily block dopamine. We know that if you pump someone full of cocaine their dopamine levels increase and they can become psychotic. We know that if we treat Parkinson’s patients with Levodopa (a dopamine precursor which is able to cross the blood-brain barrier) they can become psychotic. Cerebro-spinal fluid examination of psychotic patients shows homovanillic acid (a dopamine metabolite) levels correlate with the severity of psychosis but not with the psychosis itself.

Ropey stuff indeed. Is it likely that the most complex know object in the universe can malfunction? Yes. Is it likely that this is due to one single chemical imbalance? I very much doubt it. Do antipsychotic drugs have utility in the treatment of psychosis? Absolutely, but let us not kid ourselves that we know why that might be. Other neurotransmitters, such as Glutamate, have been the target of antipsychotic drug development but these avenues have not born fruit. How might all this help us unlock paranoia?  I personally don’t know enough to join the dots other than to say that positive symptoms in Schizophrenia have been related in functional MRI studies to disorders of the medial prefrontal cortex (executive functioning, attention and theory of mind), amygdala (fear) and hippocampus/para-hippocampal region (memory and spatial awareness) and that signalling problems in these areas probably leads to changes in cognitive processes which end up looking, phenotypically, like psychosis. I’m not trying to be a smart arse, throwing around neuroanatomical jargon here, as my view is that this sort of stuff lends us precious little understanding of what is happening and why.

The second way to approach this issue is to look at psychological or cognitive errors. Liddle (1987) proposed three clinical syndromes of Schizophrenia, one of which was that of ‘reality disturbance’. Liddle et al found regional cerebral blood-flow correlates in the left medial temporal lobe and cingulate cortex which led to impairments in an individual’s ability to ‘self-monitor’ and experience delusions and hallucinations. Think of it as the system which ‘tells you’ that your internal monologue is just that, breaks. Random intrusive thoughts become critical ‘third person’ auditory hallucinations (he’s so stupid), thoughts about what you are doing become a ‘running commentary’ (he’s buttering his toast again), intrusive thoughts or thoughts about genuine desires may become ‘command hallucinations’. This may seem more related to the first point about chemicals at first but it is a really important concept. The ability to appropriately self-monitor one’s own thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations is vital if one is to properly make sense of this information. The concepts of ‘self’ and ‘other’ break down in psychosis. Some people speak of their minds becoming porous during psychotic episodes. Humans are already seriously prone to magical thinking, attribution errors and biases. If the areas of the brain which regulate an individual’s ability to monitor their own internal experiences malfunctions and the ability to accurately determine other people’s thoughts, emotions and intent go awry, it seems logical to me that correlates are increasingly perceived as causatives.

People tend to be a bit mad in any case,,

In the House of the Rising Sun

In my life I have listened to many people who really have nothing to say at all. You probably have too. Having nothing to say is, I will argue, something of a virtue. Having nothing to say tells the world that you have nothing to say. Having nothing to say de facto means that you have nothing to say.

This is very powerful for two reasons. Firstly, you have nothing to say. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, you have nothing to say. This behaviour should not be mistaken for saying nothing however, people tend to say things all the time. They might say that "giving players a jammed gun in DayZ is a social experiment" or "how to plan an active vacation". People say things all the time.

I have nothing to say.

Also I did not argue my point as I had nothing to say on the matter.

1. Premise
2. Bollocks
3. ????

Friday, 6 December 2013

Eventually Ian Stewart Brady

In 1963, Dallas, Texas, a bullet smashed through the skull of the then president of the united states of America. Two other potentially fatal wounds were also inflicted, to his thorax and neck. He died. That description might seems too passive in a way – rather he was killed, murdered or assassinated. This is not insignificant. Here is a man who has reached the highest office in the so called free world, which one would imagine on it's own would make him an excellent target for killing, and is killed. A man who lied and adulterated throughout his term and presumably before hand also. Yet he is heralded as an Icon. He was unquestionably extremely charismatic. He orated well and made proclamations of peace, a better understanding between people and of hope. But he died. Perhaps he meant well. I very much doubt it though. I see a privileged, randy, cold war politician who made no significant changes to the society his administration governed. He gave the 'okay' to the Bay of Pigs invasion, recovered admirably, and repented by escalating the war in Vietnam. He also committed a great deal of thought and money to putting people on the Moon, which though inspirational at the time might be judged contrived and wasteful by our standards. Then he caught a bullet in the brain and became an immortal. JFK was taken from us only for the evil Nixon to fill the void. So the narrative goes. Narrative history appears to describe a really unhelpful account of events to my mind. It misses the truth. It is primarily disseminated by mass media and consumed by a mass audience and as such there should be a sufficient degree of responsibility and integrity to the truth. There generally is not, rather there appears to be a desire to craft some crude dichotomy or other. I find this lazy and insulting.

How to Take a 'Selfie'

It's done like this. Y'll can stand the fuck down.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Things that shit bloggers write about.

Being a shit blogger I thought I'd up my game by researching some of the shit things that shit bloggers write about and try to get some tips. My research methodology was p tested and forest plotted extensively so I knew I was onto a winner before I even started. Lacking any real statistical software I simply autohypnotically clicked into my calculator.exe whilst thinking really hard about robots (to avoid publication bias) and got a result that was not a 'minus number'. This is how science works, don't ask me how, it just is.

Food blogging

As a borderline anorexic this threw me a bit I must say. I mainly try to avoid eating food let alone write about it. Eating disordered bloggers on the other hand often spend vast amounts of time thinking, writing about and preparing food in addition to avoiding it. This all seems to be a colossal waste of energy compared to my method. Apparently it's all about control.

Cake: shit

The methodologically robust literature search ('I feel lucky' google hit) here led me to a post about posts about how blogging is hard. As this post is pretty much about that then that's incredibly ironic. A bit like anorexics being obsessed by food. Like food bloggers are. Maybe they could start a joint support group and cancel each other out. Literally.


There seems to be a lot of talk about traffic in blogging posts. Blogging posts about traffic. Traffic. Firstly it's a stupid word. Traffic. Secondly I listen to Radio 2 whilst I commute and hear a thirty minute bulletin about traffic that doesn't concern me because I live in fucking rural Wales and another convoy of oil tankers backed up because of a convoy of tractors dragging sheep to their deaths doesn't merit a mention. Fuck traffic.

Sheep: Dicks

Fashion Blogging

I don't exactly have my finger on the pulse when it comes to fashion but I do wear a shirt and tweed jacket when I don't even have to leave the house so I reckon I'll fuck you all and laugh at you on the internet in ten years from now from the safety of my shirt and tweed jacket.


Well, I wouldn't want to end up tumbling off my high horse here (a sturdy Falabella) eyes first into the luxurious thick pile carpet that I can afford due to my lucrative writing career, but I've been writing since I was three years old. Where does a man on the internet get off on telling me how to write down words? Many authors mature into their work later in life, with others their best work is crammed early into their careers before they descend into a fugue of alcoholism and obscurity, literary achievements a hubristic and bitter memory. I wrote my best story at seven. Men fought a dragon for no reason and everybody died, including the dragon. I drew a picture. My favourite writer is George Orwell and he just wrote down lists of different types of cotton that were exploiting the working classes then died of AIDS in a shed.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Psychopath Much?

The incorrigible fire topped news papers and supposedly more thoughtful broadsheets appear to have united in an interesting way this week. Pisses me off and I thought for a full 90 seconds about how I thought about and wanted to put this, which hurt my brain , but it goes something like this:

“That weird pervert murdered his children because he was on too many benefits”

The Telegraph, the fat twats that they are, constructed a better sentence and put it more subtly:

“The UK now has seven social classes, according to a BBC survey. At the bottom is what they call the “precariat” – the poor, precarious proletariat. Well, they need to come up with an eighth category for Mick Philpott”

The loveable Daily Mail put it more succinctly, less afraid of being seen as the fascist bastards that they are:

“Something has gone awry when skivers like Mick Philpott feel all-powerful and society cannot summon the moral will to say 'No. Enough.'”

Mick Philpott seems to me to have become the poster boy of what is wrong with the welfare state in the context of Osbourne's recent budget review. I'm not going to continue fucking newspaper quotes on here to back up my argument, you have the internet, or are alive and have seen the news, so have a look yourself. I'm going for more drink. It's meant to be a present and I shouldn't drink it or something but fuck it. Someone will back me up if it comes to it. Maybe we could set the house on fire and blame it on somebody else? No?

There are about 300,000 people on waiting lists for social housing. The BBC and ONS are telling me something stupid like 7.7% of the population is unemployed. My calculator tells me that that's about 5 million people. Probably can't be right. I've met many people who claim benefits, a lot of them skivers. Lazy, entitled mother fuckers who refuse to accept any responsibility for what they do or what happens to them. They tend to stand out because they piss you off the most. They've usually come from economically poor backgrounds, have been abused in one way or another well before the age of ten, use drugs and alcohol to excess in their early teens, 'come into contact with services' by their mid teens and end up being a 'problem' to services and society by the time they are reaching twenty. If this behaviour continues the boys are more likely to go to prison and the girls are more likely to end up in 'psychiatric care'. Lots of angry people. Not one of them has set their house on fire and 'accidentally' killed six children though.

I don't really give a flying fuck about the BBC's new class system or anything else. The three stratum model seems to works fine. Apparently I'm ' established middle class', which is really nice. Apparently I'm the second richest person in Britain and should invest in Fabergé Dildos.

I know sweet fuck all about economics and sociology but I know a psychopath when I see one. Your man Philpott is one. Any they don't need to be on benefits to be heinous. But to Philcott.

Glibness/ superficial charm
Grandiose sense of self worth
Parasitic lifestyle 
Promiscuous sexual behavior
Many short-term (marital) relationships
Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom

Poor behavioral control
Early behavior problems
Criminal versatility

Psychopathy is hardly scientific whatever Hare and his qaucks tell you. This man is a psychopath, not a product of some sort of coruppt society.  I prefer to call them cunts. Whatever classification system you use, mine or his, this is one though.

This man is a psychopath, not a product of some sort of 'too soft' society. He walks amongst you and you probably respect him. There are no good figures, but it might be as high as 1%, which is a lot. He's the one that seems to win and lords it over you and you're too afraid to challenge him, not because he's going to hurt you necessarily, but because he frightens you in some way. Most of them have found positions of power, be it some your boss, MP or doctor. They don't like to be uncomfortable, just like you, but often look for advantages you wouldn't. Stop being a coward. Get yourself some Machiavellian egocentricity going. It's very unlikely that he will set your house on fire.

No. Enough.