The End of Free Will?

winningI suppose I was kidding myself in thinking I could get away without writing about politics this year.

Last year’s referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union broke me.

I recovered relatively quickly by sticking to my personal philosophy and not dwelling on negativity; a part of doing that has happily led to me distancing myself from an emotional involvement in politics.

I’ve tried to force myself to be ignorant of the broken democracy that the rest of my world appears to be addicted to.

Thankfully this particular post is not loaded with personal politics; this post is more of a warning to the incurious.

TL:DR – There is evidence that big money is using NLP style techniques to control modern-day western politics.  I provide links to relevant stories and so forth.

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Swimming Against the Dark Currents

There is so much negativity on Facebook today … It’s got me quite wound up.

I love it when I see people try to bring positivity to their audience with kind words and gestures.

I call this Swimming Against the Dark Currents it’s something I try to do every day.

For example, a Facebook friend carried out her annual “Compliment Day”, whereby she compliments people she knows to promote positivity.  

Other people join in and spread the positivity further.

I love it when people try to engage in discourse about how their opinion differs but that that’s ok, even though their upset, they understand that people are trying to spread positivity.

For example, another Facebook friend pointed out that not being listed in the mass taggings of #ComplimentDay can have the opposite effect; those without compliments feeling left out.

This led to a micro flame war that descalated to a typhoon of negativity. 

Comments were made in support of either point of view and quickly became abusive.

And now, I see other people jumping in with passive aggressive snipes at the situation.

Hey, I get it! It’s the interwebs…

Never read the comments


I hate it when people start getting negative over perceived negativity… fighting fire with fire.

Don’t you see it? 

You’ve been pulled into that downward spiral and you’re perpetuating the negativity… 

Hell, in some cases you’re creating negativity where there was none before.

And here I am, the hypocrite… 
Diving in with a positive opener and a picture of a swan… blooming with a flourish of negativity like some kind of dark empathy grenade.

I was having a good morning until I read some of the responses to the responses to an attempt to spread positivity yesterday.  

I didn’t take part in #ComplimentsDay for exactly the same reason voiced by the Facebook friend I mentioned earlier.

I felt I would be neglecting worthy people by complimenting only a few – and I avoid meme-trends these days due to time constraints and other priorities – but I loved reading all the kind things that people had to say about each other.

Very positivity, much love – wow!

All that good feeling is now twisted and knotted inside my gut like an emotional ulcer as the negativity washes back in.

I’m not even involved and it has me wound this tightly.

Yes, I get that bigger, badder things are happening in the world today… 

That’s why we should embrace the positive in all things, even if it’s a stretch to push out the petty negative niggles scratching at us for attention.

I failed today… 

The needy kitten of negativity has scratched enough to claw my attention to its pitiful mewling and I’ve anguished over posting this but catharsis and a need to get back to bad Netflix originals (on my day off) led to this verbal enema being poured out here, rather than straight onto a medium that craves negativity.

Facebook promotes negativity, it thrives on it.  In no small part due to the fact that we thrive on it – it’s our natural state.

Well screw that.  

Screw negativity.  

There are so many positive things going on right now. Let’s concentrate on the good – that’s what Christmas is all about right?

A former colleague used to say this to me daily,

Keep on swimming

And it’s only recently I came to understand him.

Fight the tide, resist the urge to meet negativity with negativity.

Surround yourself with the positive and give it freely to those around you… Swim hard against the dark currents.

Be excellent to each other… And don’t be a dick.

Star Wars Theory – Sarlacc and the Backwards Krang

forcerageI recently became enraged by an article cribbed from The Guardian; an article speculating about future Star Wars movies that are outside the standard “trilogy”.

My rage begins when it says:


And then goes on to add

Pasted image at 2016_09_26 04_30 PM.png

The article is talking about your favourite bounty hunter and mine, rocket-loving Mandalorian clone, Boba Fett.

bobafettThe article angered me in the first because Boba Fett has been seen without his helmet… he’s a clone for Cliff’s sake!

As part payment for using his genetic make-up to create clone-troopers in the prequel movies, Jango Fett is gifted a clone of his own to raise as his own son.

Boba Fett is Jango Fett, genetically at least.

He may not get the benefit of being raised in Mandalorian society like his Father but genetically he is all but identical!

As for the comments of Boba Fett’s personality… upon what basis are they founded?

We’ve seen Boba as both a traumatised child, holding his father’s decapitated helmet, and ruthlessly effective bounty hunter of very few words… to liken him to the likes of Nute Gunray is insulting.

I doubt the author of that article has actually paid any attention to Star Wars outside of its existence as a franchise.

The article did act as food for thought however, with office discussions quickly moving to the subject of whether Boba Fett was alive or dead at the end of Return of the Jedi.

As any fool knows, our intrepid rocketeer was cruelly cast into the belly of the Sarlacc, where – so we are told – he will find a new definition of pain and suffering as he is slowly digested over a 1000 year period.

There has been much speculation as to what this actually means.

When Jabba tells us, via C3PO, that the Sarlacc digests its prey, causing them a 1000 years of torment we could easily surmise that Boba Fett – or any victim in fact – would be kept alive for that period of time.

Granted, internet sources accept that the Sarlacc’s prey would be immobilised through that period of time but Boba Fett is, pardon my French, fucking awesome and is highly likely to evade the Sarlaac’s juices and rocket his way out.

But why stop there?

The fate of our darling Fettling to one side for a moment, if the Sarlacc can keep people alive for such a long period of time, why are people not making use (or abuse) of that biological quirk?

Emperor Palpatine is a prime candidate for Sarlacc abuse.

He wants to gain power and to cheat death, well why not make use of the Sarlacc?

krangpatineAll he needs to do is force lightning his way in there, use the dark side to shield himself from the more debilitating elements of the Sarlacc’s juices and force control the Sarlacc into leaving its pit…

Palpers could then dominate the universe from within a massive, tentacular shell – safe from harm and rocking a bad-ass biological power armour like a cross between a cthonian Guyver unit and Shai-Hulud… like some kind of backwards Krang.

I Want to Break Free – A Posthumous Analysis

freddiewinkWhen I was a boy – and by that I mean a younger version of myself.

I don’t mean to imply that I’ve ever identified otherwise…

I was a massive Queen fan – and by that I mean I really enjoyed the music of Queen, I wasn’t the overweight monarchist I was in my early thirties…

In fact I was unhealthily underweight… but that’s not the point.

As a preteen Yorkshire-boy I enjoyed the works of Queen more than any other artist (except maybe Kate Bush or Adam Ant but nobody can really choose a single favourite can they?)

Too young to really understand the politics of sexuality that were breaking into popular culture and too young to appreciate some of the other wonders of my parents record collection, I would listen (much as I do now) to the same tracks over and over and over again.

Now that I’ve passed my 4th full decade on this plane, I realise I don’t listen to Queen nearly so much… hell, I don’t listen to them at all unless they pop up on the radio or a movie or television soundtrack.

But why?

I still enjoy their music; I still respect the lyrics and I still find relevance in their songs… I just don’t listen to them any more.

queen_news_of_the_worldI can cheer a dour or humourless day by singing along to King’s of the Wild Frontier or This Woman’s Work but hardly ever consider News of the World, with it’s thought provoking and melancholy murderous mecha-cover.

I don’t even own any of their albums (outside of A Kind of Magic – which I’m listening to as I type this – and their 3rd greatest hits album)… which is a crying shame considering the joy that Queen brought me in my youth.

With that as a backdrop and the scene set, I would like to narrate thoughts that arose following a brief workplace discussion regarding one of Queen’s actual “greatest” hits – “I Want to Break Free“…

A week ago, one of my web developers took it upon themselves to tidy our corner of the open plan office; the usual cleaner was off sick and this chap enjoys a tidy environment.

As my colleague set about looking for the office vacuum cleaner, another colleague remarked upon the how good the cleanliness-obsessed colleague would look dressed as Freddie Mercury in the music video of the song in question.

Our tidy-colleague (at the tender age of 21 and not being a fan of western music) had not heard the song… cue the whole team trying to explain the song, the video and their own interpretation of the song’s meaning.

It is well known that the video is influenced by the allegedly popular mancunian soap opera, Coronation Street, but the lyrics belie a potentially darker meaning.

The music video implies a need to break away from the tedium of domestic drudgery but the song itself appears to detail the death of a relationship and the potential rebirth of a new sexual adventure.

As colleagues argued that video was a possible allegory for domestic abuse, my own thoughts were drawn to the demonisation of Freddie’s sexuality in the press.

Granted, Freddie’s homosexuality was not the village-bell that it became more and more hammered in the months preceding his death but it was something of a stigma that he carried and it must have influenced his music, even then.

In the retrospective light of 2016, the song seems to me to be a heartfelt musing over the dichotomy faced by the lovers of the 1980s gay scene… Freddie, the protagonist of our song, falls in love with the love his life but at the same time feels trapped and yearns for the freedom offered by a promiscuous lifestyle or polyamorous relationship.

But then, having contemplated moving on and away from his love, our protagonist contemplates a reality without any love and so settles for what he has… still yearning for to break away to grass that appears greener and yet seems so barren at the same time.

Quite a sad song really.

Freddie died 25 years ago; in my memory his death became a media circus and a baton beaten in the war against AIDS; I often wonder what the world would be like had Freddie not died.

25 years on and the world is a very different place.

Wider societies opinions on sexuality and gender have progressed for the most part and the music industry has undergone numerous revolutions.

I’d like to think that Freddie would still be recording now, if not alone, in collaboration with his peers and the younger generation.

divinetrioCan you imagine the frenzy surrounding a boy-band collaboration between Freddie, Bowie and Jagger in the 21st century? Throw in Elton John and I think you would probably be able to call it a day – no need for any further pop music shenanigans…

Or maybe Freddie Mercury and Justin Timberlake?

Erm… I think I need the bathroom… Nurse?

The White Isle

ibizaoldtownfrommarinaI never thought I’d ever visit Ibiza, especially considering that I haven’t visited the Mediterranean since my late teens and my only overseas trip in the last decade was a stag party in Germany.

So you can imagine my surprise at being invited on the annual work’s incentive trip – a VIP affair that invites our key business partners to join us for a weekend in exotic or luxurious locations.

Initially, I was cautious – I’m not a clubber, I may enjoy a variety of trance, psychedelic and even some dance music but I’m not a fan of hot, sweaty claustrophobia that a vibrant club environment has to offer.

alternateviewofoldtownThat being said, I have missed travelling and love to explore new areas; the idea of exploring the diverse areas of Ibiza’s Old Town was exciting enough to set aside any fears I had around an unfit, overweight forty-something bouncing around Space during its dying days.

As an aside, it’s only as I type this that I realise, as many men do throughout their lives, that I am slowly becoming my Father, who has kept holiday logs for as long as I can remember and travels frequently.

I hereby set out, in a disjointed and succinct attempt at paternal emulation, my own travelogue.

Being a “VIP” work related trip, the expense wasn’t really an issue.

Actually, money is always an issue but in this context I had to pay for very little out of my own pocket.

Accommodation, travel and sustenance were all covered and the (seemingly) meager €100 I brought in hard currency was largely sold back on my return home.

My biggest worry prior to the trip was clothing; Ibizan fashion allegedly centers on Boho Shabby Chic.

My only exposure to Shabby Chic is through my Sister, who used to buy old tat at auctions and do them up to sell on eBay as “Shabby Chic”.

I’m not the best dressed person on the planet, to be honest I’m not that conscious of my appearance – vanity seems a waste of effort to me – but hippy linens and arty T-shirts are something I can work with; overall I don’t think I let the side down.

The flight out was uneventful, albeit I was subject to a “berenger” whatever that is – I must have looked dodgy to them, even as I stood – arms akimbo and jeans falling down – awaiting for the results of some kind of swabbing.

I was only on the isle for 3 nights, staying at the Destino Pacha Ibiza Resort in a lovely little room designed to feel like a villa-cum-bedsit.

The resort was luxurious and full of beautiful people with more money than sense.  I only paid for a single drink through the whole weekend, and that was a €9 20cl soda water!

On the first day we relaxed at the pool, soaking up the sun and mojitos.

sapuntoOn the evening we dined at a waterside restaurant, Sa Punta, where we were offered an amazing mix of seafood, olives and antipasti.

The selection of food may have seemed limited but the dishes we were presented with were well balanced, flavourful and filling.

Once we had consumed our fill and midnight closed in, we moved onto Club Il Lio in the marina itself.

Now, I’m not a fan of clubs at the best of times but the cabaret in life before us was inviting…

I lasted maybe an hour, if that; offensive and officious security guards constantly moving us out of the way – our “VIP” tickets meaningless in a world of regular big spenders and overly flamboyant dress.

That was my only nightclub experience of the weekend, thankfully; we visited Pacha on Sunday and some of my colleagues had the pleasure of experiencing Basement Jaxx in the dying days of Space but I only ate at Pacha (succulent and satisfying sushi with a minuscule offering of wasabi).

Prior to the visit to Pacha on Sunday, I spent the day exploring Dalt Villa itself.

cathedralI wandered the old town, making my way up to the Cathedral that overlooks the bay and back down through the various boutiques and bars.

I completed my first overseas Ingress mission and discovered that the Pokémon native to Spain are different to those we find in the United Kingdom (Growlithe and Ekans).

This supplemented my morning walks across the bleak, desiccated clifftops surrounding the resort – where the odd lizard and dragonfly skittered away from concealed lovers enjoying the morning after the night before.

Overall my favourite day was Saturday.

bluemarlinWe visited Blue Marlin Beach Club and spent several hours being treated to a selection of edible and potable treats whilst dipping into the warm embrace of the Mediterranean.

I haven’t swum for around 11 years and its been longer since I enjoyed a dip in the sea.

It was during conversations with people on Saturday that I uncovered  a mysterious side to Ibiza.

I’d already reconciled Ibiza with the isle of the Lotus Eaters in my own mind…

I had no idea that Nostradamus had predicted Ibiza as being the only place to survive the coming Armageddon.

It’s hard to dispute the legends of Ibiza’s magic when I came away so relaxed and purified from what should have been a frantic and intoxicating visit – I wasn’t shy when it came to indulging in the food and drink on offer and yet felt no ill effects throughout the trip.

The meal that evening was a long drive away at a “hidden gem” named La Paloma; an illusive array of starters avoided my attention in the dark of the unlit outdoor dining whilst the darkness did little to prevent me from devouring a perfectly grilled steak.

destinopachaduskThe journey back on Monday was hard, not from any kind of lethargy or illness on my own part but the plane was full of casualties suffering from over-indulgence and weak constitutions.

The Ibizan border authorities had not made the same assumptions as their UK counterparts, and so I wasn’t stopped and swabbed for narcotics or incendiaries on the way back.

I was a little disappointed when passing through the depressingly bureaucratic passport control in Manchester – whatever happened to “Welcome back Mr. Sugden!”… miserable jobsworth.


Flicking the Switch

dodontswitchSince my recent birthday I’ve found my mind dwelling on more serious subjects than I’m used to discussing.

I’m not saying I’ve grown up and become all adult-like, I’m not sure that’s a realistic possibility at this late stage in development.

I do seem to find myself wallowing on subjects that are more suited to the kind of battlefields populated by Social Justice Warriors and Ley-Heroes.

These subjects are triggered by my proximity to toxic environments and escalated by an overactive care-gland.

Homophobia, Misogyny, Racism…


Ben Quixote – Equal of Heaven

None of these things affect me directly but they seem to spike a massive negative emotional response in my betazoid-center.


I encounter this kind of prejudice on a daily basis (to a greater or lesser degree), almost always it’s aimed at others but it riles me none-the-less.

Every time I face this kind of idiocy, the quixotic Hannuman inside of me rises and I face a primal choice:

Fight or Flight?

I’ve lost count of the number of battles I’ve lost but every now and then I win and the world within my reality tunnel gets that little bit lighter.

It’s not the losses that I’ve fought that weigh me down though; not every battle can be fought.

A friend recently posted that she had faced this kind of harassment in her workplace.

My friend’s boss had remarked upon his right to ogle the female form (ergo her own – specifically the breasticular area).

All my friend could do was rebuke the statement and attempt to put this man in his place.

The problem is, this man is in a position of power – he pays the wages, hires, fires and feels he can ogle away… and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.

I’ve seen it many times, a bigoted individual in a position of power lording over their underlings.

Whether it’s the lady manager who insists on forcing male staff members to watch as she injects insulin into her upper-inner thigh or the company Director who makes comments over the quality of an employee’s sister’s breasts over a team meal; this behaviour is wrong but unbeatable.

In all these cases the offended party is either under the minimum two year employment period that it takes to actually have employment rights in this country or they do not have the support structure in their lives to make fighting the battle worth the effort.

In the case of my friend and her tit-happy employer, I was pleased to see the support her friends and acquaintances gave to her.

Many folk offered suggestions of comedic or even violent responses – not helpful directly but sometimes you need this kind of feedback to help pull you out of the pit that this kind of encounter can knock you into.


And then somebody asked her a question, the answer to which made me stop and think, to paraphrase:

How do you work there without throwing someone from a window?

The answer my friend gave really struck home:

I have a little Give a Fuck switch in my brain which goes from “Do” to “Don’t”, and a proven response time in flicking it.

I know exactly what she means… I have the very same switch.

I’m fairly confident that without that switch I’d either be in prison, hospital or worse.

What strikes me me harder is that since reading that exchange I have encountered a number of other people, from different social circles, that have used the very same analogy.

We have that one switch in common that allows us to turn off, tune out and move on.

The difference lies in how quickly we flick the switch.

fucksgivenMany years ago I realised that my own problem is that I care too much.

I’ve had a couple of psychological evaluations over the years that have highlighted a deeply ingrained need to help others and an over reliance on stressful and often negative or toxic environments.

I think I recently developed some kind of “Givafuk Switch” to help me handle those aspects of my personality and I just haven’t noticed until reading the horrors of my friend’s working environment earlier this week.

The switch helps us survive.

It keeps us in a position where we can continue to accrue survival tokens whilst we regroup and plan a strategy to win the war.

The switch helps us choose the battles we fight, so we can pick the fights we know we can win and not waste energy on those battles that are clearly unwinnable.

I discussed this at length today, with friends and colleagues and the only sensible counterpoint made was regarding those that come after us.

The switch is great for those of us on the front line now but what about those that face the same foe later on.

We’ve avoided a fight by flipping the switch and retreating but the foe is under the misapprehension that they have won a battle that never happened.

The deluded foe could go onto the next victim and there is nothing to stop the situation escalating to a greater degree of harassment – we could even be that next victim.

So the switch can be a double edged sword – a sword that my inner Monkey King is willing to wield and one that I am glad to see in the hands of other people of worth.

As it is I’m going to continue to pick my battles and rely on a newfound switch-based psychopathy to avoid the problems that giving a damn brings with it and fight another day.

Character Building – Courage through Adversity

4141 years ago my Mother brought me into a world of tropical music, a Huddersfield born Prime Minster Prime Minster and Rocky Horror.

I’m assured that it is normal to have no memory of these early years.

I have a few vague memories of my early life…

The bedroom at Birkby, a toy Starship Enterprise that fired little disks and the weird open staircase at Golcar; these could well be dream memories for all I know.

Some of the memories that stand out are those that involve the bullies.

Whether it was my early nemesis, a chap called Davinder, pushing me around and convincing me that Dracula was going to visit me from Bunny Woods and drink my Caucasian blood (Davinder assured me that Dracula wasn’t interested in his Asian blood – apparently vampires only ate white folk’s children in the early eighties)… Or a group of 5 “friends” trying to pin me down and strip my clothing from me in the playing fields at high school (they didn’t try again – I have anger management issues)…

My life has been plagued with bullies and recently I have been reflecting on this fact.

Five years ago to this very day, I had a nervous breakdown due to bullying.

I doubt anyone noticed (except Mrs. Armaitus… she noticed and struggled in her own way to handle it). I tend to keep myself to myself when it comes to that kind of thing.

I didn’t seek professional help.  I just did what I normally do… I picked myself up and lay rage-fueled curses at the feet of the bullies before carrying on with my life.

I have an odd relationship with “stress”, psych evaluations have shown that I focus better when in a squeeze… a colleague of mine once labelled this as Stargate syndrome… as long as I have 45 minutes to come up with a solution before the world is eaten by Goa’uld then I’ll be fine.

apophisBut five years ago Apophis decided to stick his oar into one of the most stressful situations I’ve had to deal with and it was more than I could handle…

The bully won and I cracked.

Why write about this now?

Well, that particular Apophis has reared his head a few times since that day, August 10th 2011, and it has taken the last 5 years to realise that everything he has thrown at me… every angry word and every attempted dominance… it has all led to one single conclusion…

The bullies have no hold over me.

boogiemanIt’s taken decades for me to realise but these creatures have no hold over me.

Apophis is trying – even now – to break down my walls and crack me again. He just can’t do it – I may weaken at times but I seem to be able to laugh him off.

I see him trying with others and I see them facing the same barriers that I did 5 years ago; but he can’t touch me.

That’s small consolation.  I have an in built urge to help… I genuinely care and that is one hell of burden to carry… especially when I see the bullies targeting others.

Thankfully, it turns out that facing down bullies really is character building.

I wish I’d realised that sooner, I really do.

So what should you do when the bullies are hounding you and you feel like your very soul is being kicked in by malicious, vindictive little cunts?

Fight back.

Fight back with tooth and claw.

Don’t turn the other cheek.  Don’t ignore them.

Take them on and face them down Jack Burton style.

jburtonDon’t get angry, stay calm.

Arm yourself with the relevant weaponry and fight.

Keep a log of actions that are used to bully you and don’t let those actions weigh you down.

Find allies and stand tall against the bullies.

Nobody is more important in your life than you and yours.

Bullies are irrelevant douche-bags who don’t have anyone important in their lives so they have to impose themselves into yours.

Screw them and screw their irrelevant little lives… you’re awesome and they aren’t.