How to be unpopular on WordPress.

Too many followers? You want to reduce them? Here is the simple Opher Goodwin guide to weeding out your followers.

Start by reviewing what most people want.

Here’s a list I prepared earlier:

  • short articles
  • colourful
  • photos
  • food
  • fashion
  • humour
  • Nature poetry
  • everyday life
  • inspiring quotes
  • travel
  • pleasant tone
  • friendly

I do a fair bit of that.

Here’s a list I prepared earlier of things they do not want:

  • Long articles
  • Discussions
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • Brexit
  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Trump
  • Political poetry
  • Environment
  • Terrorism
  • Extremism

I do a lot of that. It doesn’t make me popular.

Most people do not want to think about issues. They prefer their news in short bites and would rather be distracted by trivia and entertainment.

If you believe that people are basically good but are being led astray by false news and propaganda in the media, that politics is messing up the planet and it does have to be like that. If you believe that the environment is in danger, that wars are unnecessary, that religious extremism is terrible. That politicians lie and seek power at all costs. If you have faith that things can change for the better. Then you have a moral duty to speak your mind and try to improve things, to make people think and question.

I could have an extremely popular blog just focussing on travel, photos, food, tittle-tattle and humour. That is easy to see from the stats.

I choose not to.

I prefer to at least try to make a difference.

 

The Serious Issues we have to address.

There are a large number of issues that we as a species need to deal with. These issues are not possible for countries to tackle on their own. There needs to be a unified approach. Some of these are so big that politicians do not want to tackle them. Many of them affect some regions more than others so it is easy for some politicians to ignore them – or even refute that they exist.

If we do not tackle these issues then, further down the line, I believe they are going to become huge issues.

All of these issues are solvable – though they would require quite a unified effort. How do we reduce population without imposing draconian policies on fertility? There are many solutions involving welfare and female education.

Here are the issues I think we should focus our minds on:

  1. Overpopulation

I think this is the biggest issue and one that underpins most of the others. The amount of pollution and use of resources is in proportion to the number of people. This leads to deforestations, overfishing, habitat loss etc.

2. Global Warming and Climate Change

The climate we have now is ideal for us. If it was to get colder or warmer that would be a disaster for us. Sea level rises would be devastating. Major weather events, desertification, droughts, floods, forest fires, melting ice, bleaching coral…….. It would lead to areas becoming uninhabitable and mass migration. It could lead to wars.

Whatever is causing global warming (and I do not think that is open to debate) if it is in our power to prevent it then we should put our energies into doing that.

3. Species extinctions and population crashes

All across the globe, we have major crashes in populations of insects, fish and mammals.

As insects form the basic diet of many food webs the decimation of insects leads to the crashes in populations of other animals. As we are part of these food webs we have a direct interest. If we value nature (as has been a feature of this lockdown) and want to see the swallows, hedgehogs and wild birds, we have to protect our insects. Insects are pollinators. For our crops and wildflowers, we need insects.

The loss of fish is due to overfishing and pollution.

The loss of mammals is due to habitat destruction, deforestation, desertification, loss of insects, hunting, poaching and fires.

4. Gross inequality and poverty

Increasingly, wealth is being accumulated into a small elite. With the advent of A/I this is likely to become a lot worse. There is more than enough to go around, yet we see millions still starving and living in abject poverty.

This poverty leads to the type of mass migrations we have been seeing in recent times.

The good news is that poverty levels have come down. We could eradicate poverty completely if we wanted to.

5. Pollution

We have seen the terrible impact of plastics in our environment. They are one of many pollutants. Our air is unbreathable in many cities. Our soil and water is full of chemicals. Habitats are destroyed. Animals are killed and we are poisoning ourselves.

We need stringent controls on industry to prevent this pollution.

6. War

As resources become rare, populations increase and tensions rise there is an increased risk of war. We have seen the repercussions of this with the wars in Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq. While some people have literally made a killing, the rest of us have shouldered the economic burden and loss of life. We have seen uprising of religious fundamentalism, terrorism and political extremism. We have seen more refugees, populism, nationalism and isolationism and extreme political thinking.

Nobody ever wins a war. It costs us all. This vying for power between nations is plain stupid.

7. Pandemics

We are in the midst of a global pandemic which has devastated the world economy and caused immense disruption. This is just one of many we have had in recent times. We’ve dodged many a bullet – MERS, SARS, Ebola, Bird Flu, Swine Flu……..

These are not a new phenomenon but the numbers of pandemics are increasing and we know why. Our numbers and practices – such as hunting and logging – are opening up remote areas and bringing us into contact with animals that have viruses we have never encountered before. This is not a good idea. We should conserve those wild areas.

Catching and butchering wild animals in ‘wet’ markets is creating this problem.

We need to ban wet markets and the importation of wild animals. We need to control hunting, mining and logging.

8. Tax evasion and the Multinationals

The multinationals and wealthy elite have found numerous loopholes to avoid paying taxes. Trump won’t reveal his taxes because he knows he has been cheating and will be caught out. Multinationals are so powerful they simply play one country off against another and use powerful lobbying, bribes and corruption to weigh the rules in their favour. They buy off governments, pollute and do not pay their share.

The end result is that the rest of us have to pay more, that more people live in poverty, education and healthcare is worse, infrastructure is worse and local services are worse.

We need a global power capable of curbing the activities of the multinationals and wealthy elite. We need a fairer world and more accountability.

These people control the media, buy off political parties and dictate policy in their favour. They are getting away with murder. They ravage the planet and pollute for profit. They need stopping.

9. Asteroids

We know the earth regular gets hit by large asteroids which cause mass devastation (as wiped out the dinosaurs). A big one could wipe out all life on this planet. It could happen tomorrow or in a million years time. We have no way of knowing.

A sensible, intelligent people would use their science to provide early detection and a means of dealing with such an event.

10. Education and Science

The world is a complex place. Far too many people live in ignorance and superstition which holds us back. Science does not have all the answers (yet) but it can provide us with a lot of the solutions. Having a good education and understanding science and the world can dispel a lot of our problems. We could have functioning democracies, wise decision-making and better choices. We could have less suspicion and fear, less racism and xenophobia, less tyranny and a smaller population.

11. Racism, Sexism and Xenophobia

Black Lives Matter has illustrated the kind of world we live in. It is based on patriarchal institutionalised racism. That has to stop. We are one species. All cultures, races and people need valuing equally. There should not be a valuing of one gender over another or one race over another.  This artificial division is primitive, cultural, tribal and is holding us back.

Enough.

I believe that human nature is good. Most people are compassionate and caring. It is the minority who are a problem – and that minority includes many of our political and religious leaders.

We could live on a planet in harmony with one another and nature, without extremes and with everyone have a good life with freedoms, work, creativity, pleasure and comfort. There could be plenty of adventure.

If we wanted.

I’m open to a debate!

Religion – is there a God??

Religion is a hot potato. Trying to look objectively at it is extremely difficult. We are born into cultures steeped in religious dogma. It is a process of brainwashing that is impossible to escape.
Freud said religion was a mass psychosis. I agree with him.
Is there any evidence of a supernatural being? None that I have seen or heard.
We live in an amazing universe. It is mind-boggling. But does that necessary infer an intelligence behind it? I say no.
We have an amazing brain that provides us with consciousness. Does that infer a god? I say no.
Religions came out of the Stone-Age with their costumes, rituals and customs – often racist, intolerant and misogynistic. I believe they are all creations of man.
We love ritual and pageant. We find it fulfilling. We love answers to problems. There are none bigger than life and the universe. We fear death. We are eager to clutch at straws that say this life isn’t all there is. But is there evidence for anything – a future life, a god creator? No, not really. Yet we manufacture ghosts, angels and heaven. We like to think of our loved ones and ourselves living forever, reunited. It is reassuring.
Looking, as a biologist at our bodies, they are not miracles. They are riddled with flaws and ‘design’ faults. We could easily design something far superior.
We believe tales from individuals up mountains, in caves and in the wilderness from people who claim to have spoken to god. But really, if someone made those claims today they would be ridiculed. Why does god choose not to speak to us all? Why only to solitary individuals?
Perhaps, because there is no god? Perhaps many people ‘hear voices’?
Has religion done much good? The history of religion has been the tale of a struggle for power with much persecution, intolerance, hatred, war and violence.
On the positive side, it has produced much succour and comfort for the bereaved and reduced anxiety over death. It has provided help and comfort for those in need. Many religious people have done a lot of good. But is it a false hope, based on a false premise?
Does the bad outweigh the good? I think it does.
As religions developed in the age of science, they have changed. For example, the Catholic Church believed that Heaven was above and hell below. That the earth was the centre of the universe and that the stars were pinpricks through which the light of heaven showed through. They tortured and burnt people who disagreed.
As science demonstrated that the earth was not the centre, that stars were suns, that there was no heaven in the sky or hell below, they changed their dogma. It clearly demonstrates to me that they do not know what they are talking about.
Is this blasphemous? Or is it possible to have an intelligent discussion about religion?
Now spirituality – that’s something else altogether!!

Death – An extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

The crux of the matter, the root of the problem, if I can be allowed to mix clichés, is that we have a problem with death.

Death is something we don’t like talking about. We don’t even like thinking about. The fact that we are going to die, that our loved ones are going to die, is an anathema to everything we think and feel. It destroys the egocentric way we view the universe and makes it all pointless. How could the universe exist without us? Surely all this is here for a reason?

We see order in the universe and mistake it for a planned design. Death upsets that plan.

Death is disturbing. It seems contrary to order and negates purpose.

Our own death indicates that the universe really doesn’t care about us or need us. It carries on regardless. That seems illogical to us so we have invented an afterlife. Our deceased loved-ones are now with the angels or are now stars in the heavens.

That seems absurd and stupid to me. I prefer death. But many people find these ideas of an afterlife comforting.

We don’t even want to acknowledge death! It is too frightening a concept. Our whole lives are based around routine. Each day is much the same as the last. Life goes on. Nothing drastic is going to happen. We don’t doubt that we will wake up tomorrow.

Then – BAAAANG!!  We are knocked out of kilter by some religious madmen flying planes into skyscrapers. We watch in horror as the buildings collapse. This cannot be happening! Those buildings are permanent! Like mountains! It is not possible that anything that permanent can disappear so quickly and unexpectedly! That shows how impermanent we are! That shows us that death is real. We are going to die.

Buddhists meditate in graveyards to think about impermanence. They don’t avoid death. They try to accept it and come to terms with it. That seems healthy to me. They also don’t believe in gods.

If I had to choose a religion I’d be a Buddhist.

The answer is to pretend that there is no death, When we die we go to a better place. Problem solved. Death is a rebirth. Life is an interlude. No need to worry. We can go on thinking about all those everyday important matters. Life and death will take care of itself.

The next step is to get there quicker. If it is such a good place to go, after you are dead, let’s get there quicker!

‘Hey, injun, meet yer maker!’  Bang. Just like in the Westerns.

We are doing them all a favour by bumping them off.

Put your faith in Jesus!

But inexplicably, in the real world, these guys are flying planes into buildings because they are buying in to eternal paradise. That’s real commitment!

People actually believe these things.

Maybe I should start a new cult – ‘Nutters for death – the gateway to eternal life!’

I could have a series of decals made up with catchy mottos:

‘Put an end to all worries – kill yourself!’

‘In debt? Can’t solve your problems? Put a bullet through your head and wake up in heaven!’

‘Unhappy? Lost a loved one? Be reunited forever in paradise!’

‘Don’t like other religions? Think yours is the best brand? Show God you really care by blowing a whole bunch of them to fuck and fly an airbus into them!’ ‘God’ll love you for it!’

It’ll catch on!

We could sell the merchandise and turn a nifty profit.

Green plastic luminous exploding heads with ‘death for life’ on them.

Car stickers – ‘Make someone happy – kill a friend today!’

‘One God – kill anyone who says different. Save them from hell!’

‘Jesus loves you to death!’

There’s a big commercial franchise to be established. Surely we can’t allow the religions to corner the market?

But in reality, death is real. Death is the end of everything. All we have is the time between birth and death. We really have to make the most of it.

31.10.01

How they made us doubt everything.

How they made us doubt everything is a scary BBC series.

The problem is that lies, propaganda and corruption in politics has been exploited by certain politicians. People distrust politicians but ironically the most corrupt, the biggest liars, the greatest purveyors of fake news have exploited this cynicism. Somehow, people like Trump, Johnson and Bolsonaro have made people believe that they alone have the real information and are fighting the establishment. The reality is that they are the privileged establishment. By stirring up conspiracy theories and working on peoples’ fears and dislike they have successfully undermined all experts and scientists.

The scary part of this is that we start to believe these daft conspiracy theories and fake news and start disbelieving the real things.

So there is no global warming, no species diversity problems, no overpopulation, and that scientists cannot be trusted. That we didn’t land on the moon, the earth is flat, the CIA blew up the twin towers and the UN is a corrupt body. We are being controlled by ‘The Deep State’.

This is scary because it opens the door to superstition. If all our media, scientists and government are considered corrupt then we are heading for a new Dark Age.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08lxv3n?xtor=CS8-1000-%5BPromo_Box%5D-%5BNews_Promo%5D-%5BNews_Promo%5D-%5BPS_SOUNDS~C~p08lxv3n~P_HowTheyMadeUsDoubtEverything_WelcomeEp%5D

Now I am cynical. I believe that the wealthy establishment has far too much power, that too many politicians are corrupt, the media is biased and democracy is being subverted – but there are limits.

This new trend has enabled the most corrupt bunch of populists to gain power. I believe they are by far the worst bunch we’ve had since the rise of the 1930s fascists!

This BBC series makes for interesting listening.

Certainty is our biggest enemy.

These are a couple of short extracts from the book – Farther from the Sun’ that I wrote twenty years ago and am presently editing:

Just leave footprints. The world is in our care. We are just passing through.

15.9.01

 

Muslims do not allow living things to be represented in their art. They have a thing about idolatry. No face can be depicted. Their art is largely abstract design. I have no problem with that. Their art is beautiful but their certainty and intolerance is the ugliest side of humanity. Their blind interpretations and adherence to every word of a text written more than a thousand five hundred years ago are abhorrent.

Religion is a personal view. I have no problem with what a person believes.

There are no facts. Certainty is ignorance.

I do have a problem with what they do in the name of belief.

When they ousted the Hindus in India and took over their temples they knocked the heads of all the statues and gouged the tiles.

One has to ask why? They were not theirs. They were merely passing through. They defaced the seventh-century Jain sandstone carving outside of Agra. The Afghanistan Taliban demolished the even older and more beautiful Jain statues carved in sandstone on their steppes – the Buddhas of Bamyan.

These are crimes against the whole history and culture of the world carried out by brainwashed fanatics. Such intolerance and disregard is at best ignorant. It displays egotistic arrogance.

I tell you – certainty is our biggest enemy.

15.9.01

More Thoughts on the Statue of Liberty.

So who are those huddled masses that the USA took in? The refugees from Europe. The ones who were at the bottom of the heap, who could barely survive in the overcrowded cities of Europe; who were looking for space and opportunities.

Perhaps the ancestors of many of those now living in places like New Mexico and Texas? The intrepid pioneers who set off across America in wagon trains; who suffered hardship; who fought off the Native Americans and fought wars against the Mexicans; who took the land off those who lived there; who settled it and farmed, mined and hunted. Those are the ones.

Who are the huddled masses now?

The hard-pressed from Central America and South America, the Mexicans and Muslims from war-torn Middle East.

The dispossessed, frightened, hungry and oppressed looking for space, freedom and opportunities.

Who are the ones most stringently opposing their entry?

Perhaps it is time to take the Statue of Liberty down??

The Future is upon us

The Future is upon us!

Some laugh at Jeremy Corbyn when he promotes the 4 day week. It will not be a four day week we will be grappling with. It will be the three or even two day week. For the majority of us it may well be the no day week.

The future is here. The world is changing. We are in the winter of the old ways. Artificial Intelligence is coming fast. We have to prepare.

Corbyn is right. We need rapid change. We have to ensure that this tsunami of change will carry all of us along, not just the few.

Automation will displace people from factories as it is more efficient. A machine does not need pay, sleep, holidays, meals and rest periods. It can work 24/7. Productivity will go through the roof. Wage bills will go down. Profits will soar – but will they be flowing into the pockets of workers or into the pockets of bosses and profiteers?

Do we really want a society of billionaires and paupers?

The age of driverless cars is coming. Car ownership is hugely expensive – purchase cost, insurance, tax, fuel, and repairs. The days of owning a car are limited. Driving will soon be a minority leisure pursuit.

It is also inefficient. For much of the day cars sit in traffic jams or are parked in drives, streets and massive car parks.

The future is here. We will summon up an Uber. A driverless electric cab will pick us up, drop us off and drive away to collect someone else. It will be cheap and efficient. There will be no driver to pay, no cars clogging up our streets, no need for carparks, garages, traffic lights, traffic cops, or traffic jams. No-one will break the speed limit or make dangerous manoeuvres. The roads will be safe and efficient. Travel will be cheap. Traffic pollution will be a thing of the past. Already some cars and trucks are driverless. The industry is getting us used to automation. Some cars can park themselves in tight gaps and have automatic lights and windscreen washers. We are gradually becoming accustomed.

Instead of an army of drivers delivering goods there will be an efficient fleet of driverless trucks taking cargo from ports to warehouses where machines will unload. Convoys of lorries will take merchandise to stores where machines will unload and stack shelves. No more drivers, shelf stackers or loaders.

You might head to a fast food joint where, after you have placed your order in an automated machine, a machine will flip your burger. Your meal will be delivered quickly and efficiently, perfectly cooked, with no sight of an unhygienic human hand.

You ring up the doctor and find Alexa at the other end. She will ask a series of questions, consult her ever increasing data base and dispense drugs to treat your ailment. I doubt you will get an appointment. In most cases there will be no need.

The days of receptionists are already almost over. Alexa will have many names, genders and personalities and her voice will always be comprehensible.

You are insulted by Kim Jong Un and decide to go to war. You deploy your drones, launch missiles, and have a new batch of fearless automatons armed with the latest weapons, who never miss, do not duck or run away, and are programmed to take out all enemy combatants efficiently, quickly and cheaply. They are backed up by automated tanks while a fleet of automated ships and drones deliver the new robosoldiers to the battle front without a real flesh and blood soldier in sight.

When there is another Grenfell it will be a robofireman who will tirelessly bound up the stairwells at great speed, impervious to heat, not having to breathe the smoke. He will gather you up, encase you in a heat resistant envelop and bound back down to safety. And you know what? You will be grateful. You will be grateful because you will know that no human, no flesh and blood fireman, no matter how strong and brave, could have rescued you from those flames.

Brain surgery is already being carried out by robots. Planes are being flown by computers. In Japan the elderly are companioned by robots. We will have robotic nursing in hospitals. No patient will be left unattended, without food or drink – or a soothing voice. Their biometrics will be automatically assessed – continuously.

So what is going to happen to these tens of millions of factory workers, drivers, receptionists, carers, shelf stackers, burger flippers, brain surgeons, police officers, nurses and all manner of other workers who are surplus to requirements?

Do a small number of people continue working 60 hour weeks while the rest of us twiddle our thumbs? Or do we organise a shorter working week and apportion the new jobs created, more fairly?

Do we share the fruit of this increased productivity? Do we find a way of limiting the pay of the bosses, create a fair taxation system and increased pay for the workforce, or do we end up with gross inequality – a country of billionaires and homeless?

We may not like it but Artificial Intelligence is surely coming and it will sweep the past away.

We are in the winter of our discontent. Where is the sun coming from? Jeremy Corbyn is shedding light on a bold new future – a time of plenty for all, of leisure and freedom, fun and frolics – a more equal society with a shorter working week and better pay. Corbyn is surely the glorious sun.