Thursday, February 19, 2004

This post might be a little controversial, but I had a thought and it’s been nagging at me for some time. This site is the arena for my thoughts and I therefore have a responsibility to deliver them. That’s my excuse anyway.

My thought is that the United States is a bit like a Third World country. In fact, the more I have thought about it, the more convinced I have become. Don’t get me wrong; I like much about what Bill Hicks called the United States of Advertising – for a start there is, or sadly was, Bill Hicks. The good part of their culture is very good indeed: fabulous film, music and comedy. Most Americans I have met have been lovely, friendly and sincere.

Albeit these are the ones who have been bothered to leave their country. And many of those are fat tourists yielding fat wallets. And others regaled me with tales of the idiots they have to counter at home. One American I met told me he was browsing through a shop when asked by the store attendant where he got his sneakers from – for that is what they are called over there. When he replied “Europe”, he was asked if that was a place in Nebraska… You have to wonder. But nevertheless, nice enough people on the whole.

Like in fact all people absolutely everywhere in the world regardless of creed, religion, climate and skin pigmentation. Everyone’s friendly – some people seem to be shocked by this when they venture into the wider world and discover it for themselves. Venture outside of Britain and people will smile!

Yet the US is a third-world country in many things apart from their businesses - which are ran by people spawned from the black worm jism of Beelzebub himself - and the nice big fat fucking economy produced as a result.

Now it may occur to you that these are the two main factors necessary to attain the status that comes with the word “Western”. Well perhaps But there’s a cultural and social side to it that separates the US from virtually every other advanced Western country but which it also has in common with classical third-world nations. Which is a shame really because historically speaking, the United States has been the foremost modern force in the development of progressive liberalising politics and international unification. It seems to have gone a long way backwards very quickly in this respect under the present White House incumbent – the utter twat that he is, but the trends I speak of are more fundamental and long-term within the US psyche.

The first and perhaps most immediate reason is capital punishment. Hardly any Western democracy in the world still executes its worst criminals. Third World countries are mostly the only states that still do this. Since the late seventies, the US has executed over 700 people. I’m not going to write an argument about the rights and wrongs of the death penalty here – I just want to point out the trends.

Hardly any countries in the world put juveniles to death – even amongst the Third World. The mighty old US of A do though. The only other countries in this happy little club are Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Only two countries have not signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The US shares this dubious honour with the great state that is Somalia.

As it stands, the US has two million people in prison. The US has the highest percentage of its population behind bars - more than any other country in the world, Russia is second followed by Belarus, Dominica, Montserrat, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, and then Botswana! The first industrialised nation on the list is Portugal at no. 34 with 1.28 per 1000 people in prison. The UK has 1.09 per 1000 people and is no. 40 in the list. In the US the statistic is 6.41 per 1000!

The other obvious example is Defence spending. Per capita the US spends more than anyone else on defence except for Israel and Singapore. Next come Brunei, Kuwait, New Caledonia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and then Saudi Arabia. But look at this stat regarding spending statistics! Jesus H. Christ!

What I find so terrible is that one day of global arms spending would be enough to provide a year’s education to every uneducated child in the world. Hmm, now I’m neither a rocket scientist nor a brain surgeon but it seems obvious to me that perhaps if we could provide even a bit of that education it will go a damn sight further to reducing international terrorism than all the recent wars put together. But such a thing is a long-term solution – no government will benefit in the ballot box from an effect that might be felt only in a generation’s time. And it would probably be very difficult to gather the money, distribute it and set up the education programmes. I bet not nearly as difficult as putting a man on the moon though.

I would love it if the UN could suggest that just the 0.274 per cent of global defence spending suggested above could somehow be collected and used for teaching the world’s uneducated children. Not exactly a massive tax is it? Ignorant young people are a fanatical recruiter’s dream.

Religion – religion is a fundamental part of the US’ makeup. Okay fair enough, each to their own. Personally I think it’s a little cuckoo, but that’s just me. Nearly half of American’s polled believed that the USA was actually blessed by God! HA HA HA HA HA!!! Like God would give a toss about a country. Listen to the President’s speeches - or any other US leader for that matter - and see how many references to God you get. “God bless the United States” and all that entirely utter wank.

Now listen to the speeches made by any other modern state’s Premier.

Now listen to a speech made by an African or Asian leader of a poor Third World country.

Compare and contrast.

I bristle with smugness.

For that matter, how many Western nations have a Presidential system?

Perhaps it is all a result of the rampant nationalism that the US experiences amongst its citizens. I cannot blame the American population for this - I’ve always believed that people are essentially the same everywhere. Such nationalism is the result of their peculiar style of education and the terribly commercial and self-interested media pandering to popularist notions about country. To find similar levels of nationalism, travel to the Middle East, Africa, South America, or nineteenth century Britain. Nationalism is a negative force in my opinion although those who espouse it regard it as a very positive one. Self-deluded fools to a man.

The other obvious example is the gun culture. If you want to carry a handgun around, live in the Middle East or move to the dodgy parts of Africa. Don’t live anywhere in Europe – except for some eastern European states where you can go to a shooting range. Don’t settle down in the Far East either, or in fact Australasian region. But you can try the US. I believe you can still go to Vietnam and shoot a cow with a grenade launcher for $300 though.

Give the rednecks their guns. It’s all about freedom. That little word that is used like it’s a weapon or a thing itself rather than a concept pertaining to an idea.

“Why are we arming our citizens daddy?”

“Because of freedom.”

“Why are we bombing that town?”

“Do not ask questions son, that explosion is the sound of freedom. Here, watch American Gladiators. You are free.”

The US is a relative baby of a country with a very short history. I think this goes a long way to explaining the apparent innocent of the American system of life. Perhaps I’ve no right to pass judgement, but the US impacts my life and many others around the world because of its power, so such intimate scrutiny is an inevitability. Regardless, the US is a curiosity and such is its cultural and political influence, I cannot help but reflect on its way of life. Besides, I get the impression that American’s are so insulated from any objective view of their own country that I feel that they should see others views on their country. All of the points above boil down to politics in the end. America’s politics is so far right of anywhere else in the Western world it’s untrue. A lot of this is due to the influence of capitalism insider the very system of government and the morality that comes with deep religious beliefs.

Perhaps a change of government will change the outside world’s view of all this. In which case perhaps we are being reacting to short-term trends rather than long-term.

Basing a major part of one’s political philosophy around a religious one is a bloody ridiculous idea to anyone outside of that religion of course.

Also using statistics to prove stupid points is also a bloody ridiculous idea, as you can make a good argument for anything using stats. But this exercise did lead to me finding the wonderful site I have been referencing today:

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I've recently been taking more notice of the SPAM coming into my mailbox recently. Mainly because I ocassionally get one that nips at my humour gland - although at this point it may be worth pointing out that I have an extremely obscure sense of humour. The Nigerian scam emails have also been particularly frequent recently. Usually these come in the form of written pleas apparently from an individual who has a great deal of money and wants a foreign bank account to house it in. You are supposed to send back your phone or fax numbers and other details. Anybody idiotic enough to furnish them with such information will then presumably be pressured into providing their bank details before then deservedly having all their money taken from them.

So in a blatant attempt to bunk off from actually writing anything I am reproducing one I got from a Nigerian scamster (or someone posing as a Nigerian? - surely not) who believes I am a devotee of God. BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA !!!

Clearly they don't think this, they simply got my email address from a list on a CD being sold be some cunt somewhere making profits from annoying people and clogging up a technology that might be liberating and essentially without cost for years to come if not for these bastard types who threaten such a hope with their self-serving avarice.

Dear Beloved,

It is a privileged to hear from God and it gives me joy to relate my testimony to you haven received instruction from God through divine revelation. And I have the pleasure to share my testimony with you, having seen your contact from the Internet. I am barristar john hall the legal adviser to late Mr. David Duke couple that lived in my Country Nigeria for 32 years before they both died in the plane crash late last year. These couples were good Christians, they so dedicated to God but they had no child till they died. Throughout their stay in my country, they acquired a lot of properties like lands, house properties, etc.

As their legal adviser, before their death, the husband Mr. David Duke instructed me to write his WILL. Because they had no child, they dedicated their wealth to God. According to the WILL, the properties have to be sold and the money be given out to a ministry for the work of God. As their legal adviser, all the documents for the properties were in my care. He gave me the authority to sell the properties and give out the fund to the Ministries for the work of God.

In short, after their death, I sold all the properties as instructed and I was able to realized $16million US dollars). Instead of giving the fund out for the work of God as instructed by the owner before his death, I converted the fund to myself with the intention of investing the fund abroad for my personal use. I was afraid of putting the fund in the Bank, because I have to give account to the bank on how I got the money. I then packaged the fund in a trunk boxes and deposited the trunk boxes with a security company. I did not want the management of the Security Company to know the content of the trunk boxes, therefore I registered the content of the trunk boxes as Gold Bars. Now, the security company believes that what I deposited with them was Gold Bars.

I had encounter with Christ when Pastor Paul was preaching the word of God on television. After hearing the word of God, I gave my life to Christ and became a born again Christian. As a born again Christian, I started reading my bible and one day, the Lord opened my eyes and I discovered that the only way I could have peace in my life is to do what is lawful and right by giving out the fund as instructed for the work of God by the owner before his death. I have asked God for forgiveness and I know that God have forgiven me. But I have to do what is lawful and right in the sight of God by giving out the fund to the chosen ministry for the purpose of God's work as instructed by the owner before his death.
After my fasting and prayers, I asked God to make his choice and direct me to a honest Christian or the chosen ministry that deserves this fund by his Grace. I then came across your address on the Internet as I was browsing through a Christian site, so this is how I got your contact information, and I then decided to contact you for the fund to be used wisely for things that will glorify the name of God.

I have notified the Security Company where I deposited the trunk boxes that contained the fund, that I am moving the boxes abroad and the security company has since been waiting for my authority for the boxes to leave my country and move to abroad. So if you know that you will use this fund honestly for things that will glorify God's name, then do urgently contact me back first through this my private email address only and the details will be given to you on how you will be able to receive the fund in your country through the security company.

You should also forward to me your telephone and fax number for easy communication and to fax you the documents concerning the trunk boxes. Your prompt response will be highly appreciated.

Yours in Christ.

Barrister john hall

It is particlarly terrible for a person to be attempting to make money on the back of people religious convictions, but obviously these fraudsters think that religious types are particularly gullible! Clever...

I was tempted for a long time to send back the words "Fuck off!" only I didn't want to confirm that my email address was an active one - I might have ended up receiving stupid amounts of SPAM otherwise. Anyway, this sort of scam is reported to be Nigeria's third to fifth largest industry!

Anyway, I thought I would provide some links regarding this subject:

The 419 Coalition.

Snopes deconstructs the Nigerian scam email.

Nigerian Scam letter gallery.

Dumb NIgerian Con-Artists

Ebola Monkey Man gets revenge on Nigerian Scamsters!

Saturday, February 14, 2004

It's the evening of Valentine's Day, it's a Saturday, and I'm updating my internet site.

To compound matters further, my last entry was about aliens during which I used a mathematical formula to estimate the number of intelligent civilisations in the galaxy.

You might therefore conclude that I am a geek of the highest proportions.

And in many ways you'd be right.

But I like to think in many other, very much more important ways you'd be sorely mistaken.

So tonight I am attempting the impossible. I am sitting here on Valentine's night, updating my Weblog, and I am attempting to convince you that I am far from sad.

And I begin with a defeat. I must immediately concede the point that I am writing this defence because I know that many will see the time and date of this posting and draw, paint, and scribble their own conclusions. Essentially this post is a blatantly transparent attempt to justify the worthiness of its own existence. Yet I still believe I can pull it off.

And I will go further. While I'm outlining the negative, I may as well lay it all on the line. I'm 27 years old and I live with my Mum. I work with computers. I wear glasses. I'm not particularly good at sports. I have an interest in science. I enjoyed reading The Lord of the Rings. I watch the Discovery channel. I own a book called The Dictionary of Difficult Words. I possess several 6 hour videos of Simpson episodes I taped off the TV (with the commercials carefully edited out). My favourite author is a Science-fiction writer who nobody has heard of called Vernor Vinge. I'm seriously considering casting my vote for the LIberal Democrats at the next election. I keep wishing I owned a telescope and lived under clear skies. I own an Ozric Tentacles record.

Yet I remain as confident as ever.

Okay, I admit to a certain amount of geekiness. I even worked in a bookshop once. But traditionally geeky things are not purely the persuit of geeks. I cannot dodge the cultural things: Lord of the Rings, science fiction novels, Ozric Tentacles - this is cleary the list of a man with sandels and pasty skin. And whilst I admit to the odd bout of skin whiteyness (I'm sure this isn't a word) after a bout of night shifts, I have never owned a pair of sandels and I like to eat all the meats of our cultural stew. My favourite label is the mega-trendy Warp Records, I consider Stevie Wonder to be a musical God, and I write music which is influenced by Boards of Canada, Orbital, Plaid, Mr Bungle and many other cool artsists who you may never have heard of but neverthless should be assured are ridiculously cool and happening oh yes.

Never mind that somewhere in that previous paragraph is an incredibly obscure Simpsons reference.

And I'll have you know that I am only living at home with my Ma because I am saving to go travelling around South East Asia and I do not intend to come back until the vast sums of money I have saved as a result are nearly spent. Before I moved home I had found it very difficult to save on account of my fantastically active social life. You see I lived in zone one in central London and things are a mite more expensive - especially when you live with friends. We did have a swimming pool, a steam room and a gym in our block of flats. We used to get lots of visitors and then they'd expect us to have a drink with them after we took them swimming. Selfish bastards. We had a lovely view of the London skyline and everything, so we felt it a waste not to entertain friends at dinner. You can see why I needed to move out. Although I work with computers folks, it's actually a cool sounding television job. We just need computers to run our automation. My job title is Transmission Controller. Or at least it will be until I set off on my travels where at leats four independently-sourced friends (two of which are female; not that it should matter - but it does seem to help my cause considering that the stereotype I am attepting to argue myself away from is a right scaredy-cat when it come to girlies) are hoping to meet me midway through their tours.

Not so fucking sad now eh?

Not convinced?

I wear cool looking clothes. Honest. Remember during the indie years when every young fucker in the country was wearing blue suede Adidas trainers? Shit, I was wearing those years before everyone else. I'm not trying to claim I started it, that would of course be ridiculous. But I remember climbing Ben Nevis in my Adidas Sambas and I was still wearing them three years later. One day I was in Our Price (not such a cool record shop to be in admittedly but it was my local store at the time), I happened to looked down and I actually remember thinking to myself: "Fuck me! Everyone's wearing the same bastard shoes!" That's when I shod my shoes. Those were the days when we used to get into indie night clubs around central London on the guest list because my mate's girlfriend and her friends knew all the DJ's. How could anyone used to waltzing past long queues outside Camden Palace or the London Astoria be a geek I ask you? It was a while ago mind. I did it more recently though, when I did some A&R scouting for a couple of record labels. Those are the people who go to gigs and find new talent. Godly cool types one and all. Too many arseholes though. Having said that some friends of mine who were on Top of the Tops recently are lovely chaps.

Sad now?

Yes? No?

You may have noticed that many of my claims to cool are justifyed by my knowing of other cool people. Firstly I would defend to the death my right to bask in reflected glory. But mainly I would point out that cool cannot be judged in any other way. Like guilt under the British system of justice, it is a thing to be handed out by a jury of one's peers. If my peers are cool, and they accept me as their friend, than so I am also cool. Cool people do not fraternise with geeks.

Except in Happy Days.

I would also like the following to be taken into consideration: I do not watch soaps. I do not like Pop Idol or I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here or any other shallow crap. In fact I don't generally like ITV at all. I use swear words a lot (that's got to be good right?), although I have been increasing my use of parenthises recently. I have yet to use three consecutive exclamation marks (like thus: !!!) expect when I am being ironic. I use irony very often. I am extraordinarily sarcastic. I like football - the sport of the gods. I have a healthy stubble, but I want never to sport a beard. Even though I claim to be bad at sports, it is only because I set myself a very high standard. I have a liberal attitude towards drugs. I don't get stressed. At all. About anything. No honestly, I consider it one of my greatest talents. My work love me because of this. Or suffer panic attacks. Of my five closest friends, I stress again: two of them are female. Indeed a boast for a supposed geek. Neither of these females are the two I hope to meet up with in South East Asia later this year. I have no allergies. I have no phobias. My favourite Beano character after Gnasher was Dennis the Menace. I wear one of those cool belts that is essentially a strap that goes round your waist with the end bit hanging down over a pocket - only cool people realise these are trendy.

I leave my fate in your undoubtedly callous hands.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

And now… the astronomy post:

Today I am going to estimate how many extra terrestrial civilisations there are in The Milky Way.

During the penultimate entry I pondered upon the interesting notion that one can imagine a bookmaker taking odds on every aspects of my life. For instance, the odds of my death due to my friend Rob encouraging me to ride a motorbike over a cliff this year are probably fairly high and so on. Whilst writing this undoubtedly brilliant piece, I had wanted to compare the difficulty of calculating said probabilities with an equation set up by a scientist which referred to the likelihood of there being intelligent civilisations in our local galaxy The Milky Way (I always thought this name was more reminiscent of a drainage pipe leading out of a toilet in a Dutch brothel, but that is besides the point).

Alas, I had neither the information to hand nor the time required to investigate this equation at the time of writing. But now I have all the info in front of me via a lovely book I picked up at a second hand bookshop called “Making Contact: A Serious Handbook for Locating and Communicating with Extraterrestrials”. It’s a collection of articles ranging from guidelines and advice in case one should encounter an alien, to US Air force guidelines and how to administer alien first aid. In the main, the book takes a properly responsible view and understands that virtually all we know is conjecture and that the majority of all the alien stories we hear are certainly inventions. It does have lots of bollocks as well, but one must take the rough with the smooth when reading a tomb engaged in such a misunderstood and culturally curious subject.

Anyway, via this book I have found the relevant information and it all floods back to me from wherever I had heard it from before. It is called The Drake Equation. It is a formula that states that the number of Extra Terrestrial Civilisations in the Milky Way can be worked out by:

the rate of Sun-like star births per year, times *

the fraction of Suns with planets, times

the number of Earth-like planets per Sun, times

the fractions of Earths that form life, times

the fraction of ecologies that form intelligence and civilisation, times

the average duration of civilisations.

Now obviously, the figures for each part of this equation are in the main unknown – which is why it is not as famed in mainstream culture as it would otherwise be – but as we learn more our estimates grow more accurate and its importance will spread. Some of the figures are more easily worked out than others.

Way of the Milky

The rate of Sun-like star births is a relative cinch. There are two ways to estimate star birth rate, and both results are the same: the Milky Way has produced an average of 25 stars per year – currently it contains about 250 billion stars. Most of these are not Sun-like however; most are shitty brown stars or bulbous red ones. Others are binary systems** or are too close to the galactic core to give any real hope of providing a nice peaceful region like our nice rural star on the outskirts. If The Milky Way were represented as the whole of Europe, our Sun would be in the corner of the Shetland Islands down a disused gravel pathway and hiding in a ditch somewhere. Of course we would be the ones with the shotguns in one hand and the obscure cult symbols in the other nervously waiting in fear of nasty city types invading our precious space with their destitute morality and fancy technology. Meanwhile, next to our caravan homes, our land would be all dug up and bare of plant life excepting for countless weeds and the odd pot plant.

And once I again on these pages I find myself bringing you back from a digression with some more relevant words: subtracting all the unsuitable stars from 250 billion leaves us with a mere six to fifteen billion Sun-like stars in our Milky Way. A halfway figure is ten billion, which happens to be the number of years the Milky Way has existed. So the figure then is one Sun-like star birth per year. Lots.

Now the fraction of suns with planets is one of the things we are rapidly learning more about. A few years ago the mere existence of planets outside our solar system was merely a postulation, although a pretty obvious one. But soon enough, our technology became sophisticated and powerful enough to find evidence and more recently direct evidence. In fact this very week, the Hubble Space Telescope found a distant planet, analysed its light and found it’s atmosphere to be composed of oxygen and carbon! This, my friends, is how we will find the first evidence of extra terrestrial life. An array of several space telescopes, combining their images to massively increase magnification beyond that of a single telescope, will be able to directly see Earth-sized planets. The light will be analysed and such things as water and carbon dioxide can be detected using GCSE-standard light analysis. This is mere decades away – although actually finding the planet might take a bit longer.

Planets are being found at an increasingly speedy rate - it is not unreasonable to say that every Sun-like star has a planetary system, especially if you agree with the current star-creation theory. To be conservative (which I hate being, but it keeps my sums believable) we will state 0.75 – even though my book here claims it to be an entire 1.

We might reasonably think that an Earth-like planet is the most likely to produce life so we need to know how many Earth-like planets there are in every planetary system. It has been claimed that virtually every computer model of the evolution of a Solar System produces an Earth-like planet with a quarter producing two Earth-like planets. Basically certain elements naturally seem to set themselves at appropriate distances around their star, so gas planets would always be around where our gas planets like Jupiter are now. Gravity then divides up the material so the planets are fairly evenly spaced out leaving at least one planet within the perfect range of its star allowing water to exist in liquid form and stay on the planet. But I personally think these models reflect our anthropic view point which bias’ the analysis and therefore the results.

To clarify what I mean: speak to a man and ask him about his childhood. Will every man share his answers? Of course not, each person is different. If it is the only man there is to ask then one must extrapolate the view of all men from him, but it’s an extremely inexact method, and all conclusions must be treated with the realisation that you could be dealing with a distinctive case or an uncommon one. So with the theory of planets, we know almost all there is about Solar Systems from only the one example we have.

With some planets being mostly too big or occasionally too small, our guide tells us the figure is one in two – a number agreed with elsewhere. I remain dubious and will make it one in four since I want to account for my anthropic argument and stay conservative with my figures.

The next figure asks us the fractions of the Earth’s that evolve life. Probably the most debatable of the statistic required. My book ambitiously says the figure is one to one! It says that, given the understood process of planet building, all the ingredients for life would be there. Hmm, okay I can agree to that. It says that organic molecules occur naturally and are to be found on comets and meteors that would also fall onto planetary surfaces regularly. That is true. Subjecting these to planetary conditions would, they say, produce the necessary bio chemicals. Also very true. But do all these go on to form life? The book quotes a NASA researcher who says that life would almost certainly develop. It’s a strong argument but I don’t agree with their figure of one. I’m going for a quarter.

Next is also controversial. The ratio of planets with life that goes on to become intelligent and form civilisation is one to one according to my book!


As usual the Americans have misunderstood evolution. I witnessed one American ask on an Internet forum once “If evolution exists, how come animals aren’t changing into other animals?” Fuck me what a dumb arse! Evolution, basically put, is survival of the fittest. The fittest being the species that is most likely to survive. Intelligence isn’t necessarily the best survival tool. I see no reason why an entire lifetime of a planet should not be populated with various species no more intelligent than a humble housefly. I don’t know where the author of this article gets the idea that all life will eventually evolve into a civilisation. Actually I do, it is from a twentieth-century philosopher called Ilya Prigogine. Other evidence is sited, all directly from Earth. As I argued above, it is hardly conclusive scientific stuff to use evidence from one thing and use it to judge a billion others. Still, one Earth is all we can study. The author may be right and I may be wrong. But still I’m downgrading his one to 0.1.

The best picture of Alien Evolution I could find

Finally we ask what is the average duration of a civilisation? The mind boggles. We cannot even look to our one example. We might have been lucky to get this far. Else, perhaps we only need to wait another couple of centuries before we are advanced enough to virtually guarantee our existence for millennia. We have only just started ours, so even a species that lived dramatically short lives would hang around for a few years. My book says between two years and the lifetime of the Universe. Using their sums, if a civilisation lasts two years than one of them still remains. If they can last until the end of the universe than they reckon there are a billion of them in the Milky Way alone! So I’m going to say 100,000 years just for the fuck of it. Seems a good figure that might average out backward idiots like us who are one political misunderstanding away from Armageddon with more advanced civilisations that may have branched out and have flourished for a million years.

So (is anyone still reading this?):

1 (Sun-like star births per year)

times by 0.75 (the fraction of Suns with planets)

times by 0.25 (the number of Earth-like planets per Sun)

times by 0.25 (the fractions of Earths that form life)

times by 0.1 (the fraction of ecologies that form intelligence and civilisation)

times by 100,000 (the average duration of civilisations).

And my total:

I estimate that there are 88 civilisations currently in our Milky Way. If civilisations can muster a million years than we’re talking 46,875 of them. If they last a pathetic 2004 years than there are between nine and ten.

Remember folks, that the Milky Way is but one of many Galaxies in the Universe (if you are a regular reader you will realise that the term is simply Universe without the ‘the’), so to get the total number of civilisations in existence you will need to multiply the result by something to the order of another 200 billion or so.

There are far more stars in the Universe than there are grains of sand on the Earth.

A lot. ***


* = Three quarters of all women will have given up reading here.

** = Half of all men will have given up here.

*** = Those that remain will agree with my analysis of women readers.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Sometimes you can tell when something’s not going to last long. And I can tell that this blog entry is going to be a fairly short one. I don’t think my heart’s in it today. Not that my enthusiasm for doing this site is waning, oh no.

But it is slightly worrying to me as I have been recently germinating the seed of a novel which I one day aspire to write. Hopefully such a project would have me creating a bit more literary staidness and profundity than I often expose here, but regardless I intend it to be a means to catharsis rather than a shot at a publishing deal. I have been serenely researching said book and penning tit bits of short stories.

Yet all the catharses I need have been provided to me via the website you witness before you now. So to find myself struggling with a lack of enthusiasm to write a simple and short blog entry now doesn’t bode well for the endeavour I hope to undertake. I must therefore ask myself the difficult questions.

Like most author-hopefuls, will I only succeed in creating an unfinished oeuvre (fucking good word that)? Will I pass through my 30th birthday and onwards through my 40th and 50th occasions saying to myself “I really must get round to writing that book”?

Anyway as I quickly realise that this isn’t in the remotest bit interesting to read, I sign off.

But not before I mention that it worked!

My theory that if you wear ridiculous looking clothes around the streets of Soho for long enough you will start a new fashion is true!

Eighteen months ago I got fed up with my jeans that had folded up bits at the bottom of the legs. Basically I kept getting this feeling that I was wearing wellington boots. So I cut the back bit off the fold up bit and just left a bit of a flap at the front.

And today on the way back from work I walked past a shop on Carnaby Street not 30 yards from my place of work and lo and behold their shop window were displaying my very distinctive style of trousers.

So I’ll have to stop wearing ‘em now; as I’ll soon look like every other sad fashion-victim with stupid eighties hair and an inability to find some style away from the herd.

These eighties hairstyles by the way – and this is my last thought on these sorts of matters – are just a way for hairdressers to give their customers really bad and uneven cuts and actually receive a bigger tip for it.

Unbelievable! The perfect industry stitch-up job. I suppose they should be congratulated for stealing from the pockets of the gullible.

Style: yes. Fashion: no. Looking cool without needing to be shown first is clearly a superior state of being.

I thank you.

Create your own South Park character.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

What my life-booky looks like.

What if you had a bookmaker following your every move? Every aspect of your life could have odds attributed to it. I recently told a close female friend of mine that, although I had no designs on her, if a bookmaker was taking bets on which girl I would marry she would be a strong favourite. This of course is only because the girl I end up marrying (if I ever do – don’t want to jinx anything here; and besides, maybe I’ll meet a girl who also realises the pointlessness of a legal union) is almost certainly going to be a person who I have yet to meet and whose current odds no doubt stand at several million to one. So inevitably, the front-runners are those close to me – and maybe also an ex. I wouldn’t be placing any bets in this category if I were you.

And this has got me thinking. The bookmaker would constantly run odds related to my death within an immediate period of two seconds – as well as other periods of time. Currently I am sitting in front of a computer striking my fingers upon a keyboard. It is a difficult job to calculate odds for someone such as me when we are simply discussing in abstract terms. I expect to have any idea one would need to construct complicated mathematical formulae using all sorts of algebraic notation with x’s and z’s and all that sort of thing. But let’s face it the odds would be pretty damned long. However, as you might imagine the odds would shorten somewhat as I leave my house or plug in an electrical appliance. When I switch on my television the numbers would plummet in response to the possibility of the vacuumed tube exploding outwards and embedding shrapnel into my brain. Of course when I participate in an adventure sport and the like the odds on my death would tumble to a fraction of their present value perhaps to the thousands or even the hundreds to one. The mind truly boggles. It really does.

Mine does anyway.

What are the odds that I will utter the word “acerbic” on 25th October 2028? Clearly you will have to factor in the likelihood of my being alive or, indeed, able to use the function of speech. I reckon it’s about 150-1. The chances of me ironing my clothes in the next seven days stand nearer 200-1 however.

The reason I am going through all this because life. It’s bigger. It’s bigger than you and you are not me. The lengths that I will go to.

Sorry, went off on one there.

Er yes, I say all this to make the point that... Actually I’m not making any point at all. I just had this bookmaker thought and it seemed like a fairly interesting thing to say. And then I tried to justify it afterwards and sought to put it into some sort of thought-provoking and fascinating argument. But really there was nothing.

I was going to say that this viewpoint illustrates that attempting to rationalise one’s future in terms of chance is ridiculous and that one must take a more karmic view of the future rather than experiencing angst at the lack of control we have over our paths through the various fields of experience. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to steer, but that we should enjoy the view even if it wasn’t the one we had intended to take in. As the late great Bill Hicks once said about life: it’s just a ride.

And it’s not a bad point. But I had not intended to tackle this issue when I began to write – rather it came about as a result of my bookmaker thingy. Which is a theme I could have developed far far more with undoubtedly hilarious consequences. But you get the point.

If you do fancy having any punts on any aspect of my life, drop me a line or post a comment and I will give you the odds. Should these be agreeable I will be happy to accept your money.

Single of the week: Britain Is Shit by Selfish Cunt. You can even download the mp3. A mixture of Sex Pistols and White Stripes . But not as good as either. And with a disappointingly serious tone. I was hoping for a few more schizophrenic tendencies.

Speaking of mp3's you may be noticing the growing list of my compositions for you to download and keep! Each is a nicely compressed package of only a few Mb or so. I'm sure full quality CD's can be dispatched should you be able to provide a mightily good reason.