I'm nobody! who are you? Are you nobody too, then there's a pair of us. Don't tell! they'd advertise you know. How dreary-to be somebody. How public-like a frog. To tell one's name-the livelong June, to an admiring bog. Poem by Emily Dickinson.
Everything became a blur as I was grabbed by the collar and thrown against the wall to a laughing snort which I recognized all too well.
Piggy Reagan was on the warpath again and I was his chosen victim; Piggy was his nickname not for his appetite or girth but for his snorting laughter.
“You little Weasel” he snorted ” I’m going to hurt you so much that you will not be able to walk for a year, I’m going to break your arms and gouge your eyes out”.
Piggy was prone to exaggeration when he got excited but I wasn’t overly worried because I knew for a fact that a Weasel was more than a match for a Pig.
My hands were still free so I searched around in my pocket for the survival kit which I never forget to pack before venturing out.
Grasping a Snickers bar I threw it into the air and watched fascinated as Piggy released his grip and snatched clumsily at the offering: running off I chuckled to myself knowing that this Weasel was more than a match for a Pig anytime.
The death of God was announced briefly, to a large group of school children, on March 15, 2100, and a tombstone was placed in Bill Gates square as a monument to the death of superstition and the rise of science. Penelope Gates the supreme world leader presided over the opening ceremony watched by a few of her minions from the World Forum, in addition to the students. She gave a short speech extolling the advances in science over the last hundred years and how humans now controlled their own destiny and had no need for the Gods of old. “We are a fully enlightened species and have buried all the superstitious nonsense of the past”. The ceremony was duly recorded and screened in all residences to further indoctrinate the masses to the will of the ruling elite.
The teacher moved on with his students. pausing briefly to read aloud the inscription on the Frederick Nietzsche memorial, “God is dead, God remains dead, and we have killed him”.
Penelope Gates rushed from the brief Death of God propaganda ceremony wanting to be early for the scheduled meeting of the Executive Committee of the World Forum. She needed to review the agenda in detail and prepare her notes before the meeting began.
The first item on the agenda ‘population control’ would be the most contentious, as the motion was to decrease the planet’s population by a further billion, going from 5 billion to 4 billion. There would be a debate about whether 4 billion was a sufficient number to preserve the planet’s resources, and whether birth restrictions or euthanasia would be the more appropriate method of reducing the population.
The second item on the agenda ‘ software update for implants’, shouldn’t need much discussion as the technology was now thirty years old and the pain threshold was being tolerated by far too large a percentage of the population and could lead to reckless behavior. There would be general agreement that the pain impulses needed a higher frequency to control the masses.
The rest of the agenda was comprised of minor administrative details and she saw no problems in getting them passed quickly.
Sitting back, relaxing, Penelope Gates, allowed her mind to wander over the last hundred years thinking how easy it had all been once science had ascended to replace God. Humans were now just viewed as a biological construct with no soul, creativity, or moral compass. They now served the elite of the World Forum and lived out their drab lives in the service of science.
Voltaire was right when he wrote, ” if God did not exist he would have to be invented”.
Socrates observed that the unexamined life is not worth living, and so here I sit late at night examining my life, after consuming a large quantity of vodka, and concluding that it is a complete mess.
There was so much excitement in those early days as I graduated from university and threw myself into the wonders of microbiology at a small pharmaceutical company, working all hours for the sheer thrill of it.
That first excitement soon faded as the research became boring and repetitious in nature and I looked around for other opportunities in the field of microbiology to increase my span of knowledge.
Luckily my former university professor invited me for drinks and confessed he had been awarded a $5 million grant and was looking to hire some of his graduate students for gain of function research he was conducting into infectious diseases.
I was absolutely thrilled and spent the next five years at the university’s lab experimenting with introducing new virulent strains of microbes into mice and testing the results on their genetic patterns.
It was late evening and I had put in a fourteen-hour shift, I shook off my gloves and gown, and was halfway out the door when I had a sneaking feeling that I had forgotten to latch the mice cage shut, and so reentered to check the cage door when I felt a nip on my finger.
They say that time has meaning only to a particular observer and I tend to agree with that observation. In the sixties, I took a girl on a first date to the West End of London to see the stage musical ‘Desert Song’ (music by Romberg, lyrics by Hammerstein). In discussions after the musical, I was informed that it was the most boring, interminable, two hours of her life, whereas I was enthralled and thought it had flown by far too quickly.
Time and tide wait for no one as it grinds relentlessly on. We strive for independence at the age of three but have to bow to the constant aspirations of our parents and teachers as they try to mold us into beings of their own thought processes. We struggle with authority through our teenage years as we try to sort out some purpose for existence. We follow the biological urge to procreate, to marry and have children and then spend the next thirty years struggling for economic survival. Then it’s retirement and reverting back to our teenage years trying to find some purpose in life, and it all passes in the blink of an eye.
The earliest human life forms came into existence 300,000 years ago and the first human civilization was 6,000 years ago. This is against the backdrop of a universe that is 13.8 billion years old, the earth 4.5 billion years old, and microbes the earliest life form 3.7 billion years old. There have been at least three past cataclysmic episodes that have destroyed the majority of life on earth, but life has triumphed and gained momentum with each episode.
Humans have increased their average life span from 30 years to 80 years due to breakthroughs in science and technology. This is compared to 28 days for the life span of a house fly and 6 weeks for a worker bee. On the other end of the life spectrum, the Greenland Shark lives an average of 270 years, and a species of jellyfish is biologically immortal as the creature transitions backward from sexual maturity to sexual immaturity in a process called transdifferentiation where adult cells are converted to other types of tissue. Naturally, these creatures and this process is getting a lot of attention from scientists. Will the human life span increase to an average of 100 years by the end of this century? Are our genetics still evolving into something else? What effect will the passage of time have on the human species?
One of the flies in the ointment that the universe throws at us is the question of entropy, the amount of disorder and uncertainty within a system. Self-organizing systems engage in a continual dialogue with the environment and must adapt to changing circumstances, and the degree of disorder of an enclosed system always increases over time. This is true of the human body, the environment, and all organizational structures that humans create. We have transitioned from agriculture to the industrial revolution and currently to the technological revolution. We have evolved from different forms of governance, from kings and emperors to dictatorships and democracies. With all these structures there is a time when entropy sets in and new ways have to be discovered and this is where the human race is most resilient, adapting to change.
Now in my 75th year, all the foregoing points have shaped my thinking over time. It’s why I do not believe in man-made climate change, but understand that the universe is unfolding as it should to its own laws and rhythms and not man-made regulations. We should be aware that microbes have been around for 3.7 billion years and are part of all living creatures on this planet and we experiment with them at our own risk. They could just as well wipe the human species off the face of the planet and a new species will evolve more capable of survival.
I have faith in the human race to solve the entropy question by re-inventing new systems of survival. I believe that in a hundred years, the average age of human life will approach 100. To prolong the survival of the human race we should not denigrate freedom of speech but allow ample opportunity for all voices to be heard. I am one of 8 billion people on this planet, struggling to survive, and make sense of life. I do what I can for my family and community and hope to leave any place I touch a little better than before.
The old man tumbled out of bed, the screams of his grandson ringing in his ears, as he fumbled to light the candle and stagger down the corridor to his grandson’s room.
Hurrying through the open door, he enfolded his whimpering grandson in his arms. whispering words of comfort, soothing his brow, making the evils of the night gradually recede to the shadows.
He lay with his grandson throughout the night, keeping watch, ensuring the child slept soundly with no more night visitors disturbing his rest.
The grandfather arose before the sun and searched for his book of herbal remedies rifling through the pages till he came upon the correct recipe for the night terrors attacking his grandson.
After breakfast the grandfather showed his grandson how to select and mix the ingredients until a thick paste was formed, nodding with satisfaction at the results, he proceeded to apply the paste to his grandson’s face and body covering the bites and scratches incurred the previous night.
That night the grandfather slathered more of the thick paste on his grandson’s body, knowing the boy would have to endure one more night of agony, for the paste was not only a cure but deadly to the faerie creatures from the bottom of the garden, who tormented the boy at night.
I find myself at loose ends today, the weather is absolutely miserable, so I thought I might try, these coffee-time questions that I have seen posted on blogs I follow. My wife and I will be traveling doing the family rounds and Christmas open houses so I will not be blogging till after the new year. A Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukah to all who may read this.
1 What actions do you take if you can’t sleep naturally?
I usually lay on my back, relax and recite a mantra. It seems to do the trick. I find the older you get the harder it is to get a full night’s sleep.
2 Can you easily recognize if you are suffering from stress, and if so, what do you do to reduce it? Are you able to see signs of stress in your friends or your family more than you?
I don’t usually suffer from stress. I used to have severe stress when younger when I had to get up in front of people to speak. Luckily I don’t have to do that anymore. I can usually see signs of stress in others because of their body language. If that is the case I try to speak as calmly as possible on some topics and get them distracted.
3 The West holds firm concerning the war in Ukraine. However, how do you feel about it all now? Do you believe we are providing too much or too little support?
We should do all we can to support Ukraine. I know this is a very divisive issue, but, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was unjustifiable, and we should do everything we can to support Ukraine. I know it is costing Western democracies billions which presumably could be better spent on health, infrastructure, etc. But this is one of those cases in history like the Second World War where it is important to draw a line in the sand. My heart goes out to both the citizens of Ukraine and Russia and I hope for a quick resolution.
I go for honesty over appeasement all the time. Brutal honesty has a harsh ring to it, so I would just go with honest dialogue in a constructive affirming manner.
5 Do you think you have an addictive personality?
I definitely have an addictive personality. My first addiction was cigarettes, when I gave them up some forty years ago I had bought my third pack for the day. When I emigrated to Canada from England I switched from tea to coffee. My coffee consumption then increased from three cups a day to a cup every hour. When I gave up cigarettes I also gave up coffee and drank nothing but water for three months. My poor wife had to suffer with me for those three months, and I’ve always admired her for that because I wasn’t fun to live with. I now drink green tea. If I sat down with a box of chocolates I wouldn’t get up till they were all gone. I now have two squares of 90% dark chocolate a day. How times change.
6 Why are so many of today’s online/television advertisements so cringy? Are you ever influenced by the comedy or corniness of them?
I don’t watch cable TV but Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Paramount, though when I go on YouTube to do research I have to put up with ads from 5-15 seconds long, but my mind switches off and I don’t really absorb them. I refuse to pay YouTube $30 monthly for ad-free viewing. Though I do pay the WordPress fee for ad-free writing.
7 Do you ever need help responding to some comments left by readers on your blog posts, as in not knowing how or what to respond with? Why is this, and what usually throws you off?
I have absolutely no trouble with comments on my blog posts they are nearly always respectful, the only exception being if I add some current controversial topic in my blog, then I may get a comment expressing the reader’s vehement disagreement with my views. But I don’t mind and reply regardless, got to keep the conversation going.
8 What five vegetables do you use the most each week or month?
I am a carnivore and hate vegetables with a passion. I don’t know if I can name five. My only vegetable consumption is onions, mushrooms, asparagus, and occasionally red pepper.
9 What is the most outrageous thing you have ever done?
I went to a new years eve party and dressed as Miss Universe 1971.
10 Have your blog reading habits changed since you first started to blog? Have you ever felt frustrated from reading blog posts because they are perhaps not piquing your interest? What have you done to prevent the boredom from biting deep if this is the case?
Inspired by bloggers
I like short stories and usually follow people who write short stories. I have not been disappointed so far.
11 Do you find it easy to make difficult decisions, and do you have a process of elimination for making those tough decisions?
I have never had trouble making difficult decisions, I usually jumped right in with, whatever will be, will be. I have made a few wrong choices and as I grew older I learned to pray and discern, then decide.
12 What’s the longest you have gone without a shower?
Back in the day, I used to go camping, so I would say about a week.
13 Between the choice of a deep fried insect sandwich or a raw earthworm hamburger with no option of declining either, which would you choose?
Inspired by a conversation at the Nature Reserve
Deep fried insect all the way.
14 How would your family and friends react if you started to talk to another person one day that no one else could see but you? Do you speak to yourself regularly?
I speak with myself sometimes to motivate myself and give myself a kick up the backside. I am getting too comfortable sitting around in old age and need to get moving more.
15 How far can you be pushed before annoyance becomes full-blown anger and what is your anger style?
I have to be pushed very, very far before I give way to anger. Though my wife wouldn’t necessarily agree with me because of my driving habits, and my running commentary in the car. (I guess that answers question 14 as well.) I have been told that I have what is called a servant personality, and used to be always obliging to avoid confrontation. But I have learned to stand my ground over the years.
In the early nineties, I worked in accounting with a very tech-savvy guy. Even though it wasn’t his responsibility, the company had a separate department to troubleshoot software problems, and he gladly assisted any who asked for his help. The LAN department manager who managed computer operations was grateful for his help, except for the day when he inadvertently screwed something up, and the manager went running to the VP to complain that he should not be involved in fixing computer problems because it was not his job. As the tech-savvy guy reported to me, the VP called me into his office to explain what was going on. I relayed his history of helping other staff because of his tech knowledge and concluded with ” he does fifty things right and is crucified for the one thing he gets wrong”. Where is the balance in this?
Fast forward thirty years and this isolated issue has reached its apex in cancel culture. One mistake in a lifetime of creativity, inventiveness, and doing good and you are condemned to the cross. You have to walk alone, persecuted, abused, scorned, and humiliated by the social media mob crying out for blood. Where is the balance in this?
We fixate on certain high-profile individuals in this game of life as if they were the devil incarnate, or the messiah come to earth. In reality, they are just human beings with triumphs and failures, and yet we spend so much energy defending or berating them. Where is the balance in this?
And now we come to my favorite topic, Free Speech. Where the bubble of censorship and restricted speech through legacy and social media is about to burst. Take Canada for example where the legacy media has been subsidized by the government to the tune of $600 million, and they are still asking for more. They are paid to dance to the government’s tune. This is not free speech. Media should not be subsidized by the government. They defend the government and hold the opposition to account. Where is the balance in this?
There is some hope on the social media front. I know it’s early days, but Elon Musk wants to transform Twitter from a despised and distrusted social media platform to one widely trusted. To be a digital town square where all ideas can be heard and the best win out. The old Twitter was akin to a non-profit organization, not pursuing earnings but an activist agenda. It was quick to cancel views it didn’t like and mute people who did not share its ideology. Where was the balance in this?
We are presently living in a culture that’s been suffering from a lack of open, transparent, informed public debate. Everyone has battened down in their own ideological bubble. This bubble needs to burst so we can speak freely and respectfully to each other, without fear of intimidation. Express your viewpoint in a civilized and respectful manner, forget the ad hominem, stick to the subject at hand, and we can all learn a great deal from each other. Let’s achieve some balance in our thinking and actions, the world will be a better place for this.
The Fauci family had kept their promise for eighteen hundred years and soon they would be relieved of their burden and the secret hidden beneath the catacombs for nearly two millennia would be revealed to the world.
Antonio Fauci, a prominent Roman physician, had been approached eighteen hundred years ago by a man who entrusted him with a key to the vault of the unknown saint, buried deep beneath the Roman catacombs, enclosed within was a relic that would change the course of history, but it was not to be opened until December 14, 2022.
The man asked Dr. Antonio Fauci to hire workers to ensure the vault was sealed securely and to also place a protective seal around it so the Fauci family and its ancestors could visit once a month to ensure the seal was still intact and the vault had not been violated, this was to be a sacred trust for which they were paid handsomely.
The moment had arrived, December 14, 2022, and the Fauci family was gathered excitedly around the vault, seal still unbroken, Dr.Fauci, patriarch of the family, slipped the key into the door guarding the vault and they all entered anxious for its secrets to be revealed.
The vault was bare except for a stone block upon which laid an object covered with dust and cobwebs, Dr.Fauci, reverently laying his hands upon the object and gently brushing the dust away stared in amazement as he realized it was a metal photo frame with the image of Elon Musk grinning mischievously at him.
Later that day Elon Musk posted the following message on Twitter: Dear friends I have some exciting news to share, I am thrilled to announce that I have started a new company xyTimeTravel, hoping to make time travel a reality in my lifetime.
He had been in a gloomy, despondent, unpredictable mood all-day and he knew his wife and children had tiptoed warily around him. He busied himself in the garage sorting the shelves, rearranging items, taking them down, and putting them back, in exactly the same place. His wife had been busy inside making cookies and cupcakes with her two young helpers. It was Christmas Eve, 2023, a time for peace on earth and goodwill to all.
It had been quite the year, a new variant of Covid had emerged and the country was in lockdown restrictions once again, inflation was running at 15% annually, his five-year mortgage at 1.6% had matured and he had renewed for one year at 10.5% and as if it couldn’t get any worse Russia had launched a tactical nuclear strike on Ukraine in anger as it withdrew troops from its last foothold in Crimea. The world was now waiting for NATO’s response to this extreme provocation. No wonder his mood was foul.
The kids were finally in bed, milk and cookies left for Santa, it was midnight, his wife was wrapping presents, and he had retreated once again to the garage, Cuban cigar in hand, a selfish Christmas present in his hour of need. It was a cold, crisp star-filled night as he reflectively stared at the heavens’, puffing on his cigar and sipping from his glass of spiced rum. Was there really a God looking down on him, did God even exist, if not who was responsible for creating this chaos of existence. He continued to puff and to sip and to gaze at the stars and to drink in the majesty of the universe.
He began to relax, his soul finding a semblance of peace, “I am a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars” words from Desiderata came flooding into his consciousness. He continued to gaze at the stars and visualized that night in Bethlehem where that bright shining star shone on the babe in the manger. It was then that the tears came, a trickle, then a flood, and he wept, even though he didn’t know why he wept. Christmas comes, a time of hope, of peace, of expectation for a better tomorrow. Peace on earth and goodwill to all.
The old man settled in his chair on the porch marveling at the beauty of the sunset and listened to the cicadas trill their strident mating call, he closed his eyes and recalled his youth.
His childhood heroes, Kit Carson, Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autrey, Roy Rogers, the cowboys of the old west flooded his imagination as they tried to outshoot the bad guys, and he could see Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier with his musket and his coonskin hat.
He remembered emulating his heroes running through the bushes his cap gun ready to shoot those mean, ugly, skulking outlaws, or raising his wooden knife ‘old faithful’ ready to take down any grizzly that dared step in his path.
He was happy that the cowboys were now making a comeback with the screenwriting of Taylor Sheridan and his shows Yellowstone and 1883, though sadly these shows were strictly for adult viewing and not for children.
As the sun started to set below the horizon he imagined he saw Roy Rogers astride his horse Trigger galloping into the sunset and he began humming softly to himself ” happy trails to you until we meet again, happy trails to you keep smilen’ until then”.
His wife came out on the porch noticing the old man was sleeping, “come inside you old coot, it’s getting cold out here”, and she shook his shoulder, but he never heard her voice or felt her touch because he was riding the range with his heroes in Heaven.