Today’s Music to keep me SANE in Isolation – The White Stripes

I thought I needed a bit of energy today. The White Stripes are quite a strange duo. Drums and raw electric guitar. There was something raw and earthy that I liked about them. They had energy. I saw them live in Bridlington and they really rocked.

So today I will play some White Stripes.

Some more photos and thoughts from Java.

These shots were mainly taken through the window of a moving coach So I apologise for the quality but they do seem to me to give an impression of various aspects of the country.

Paddy fields were evident throughout the country. The volcanic soil was very rich.

The country is quite poor with a large agricultural population. It was common to see families on scooters, sometimes with as many as three kids perched among the adults. This seems very dangerous and precarious to us but is just part of the way of life in many eastern countries.

The natural world is in retreat but it is still there.

There is evidence of past civilisations who have fallen into decay.

Poverty is prevalent. Whenever they see foreigners, with our huge wealth, they are desperate to sell us their tourist trivia and trinkets. You can see the desperation on their faces.

The locals are friendly.

Islam has largely replaced Buddhism.

Is there anything we can learn from the rise and fall of civilisations and religions??

The Corona Diaries – Day 108

I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll get to a thousand days? I cannot see an end in sight. They have been looking for a vaccine for SARS for twelve years now. We might have to learn to live with this.

Today there is a second shutdown in Leicester. People are predicting a surge elsewhere.

The virus is already surging again in the USA where it has killed 128,857 (more than the 1st World War, Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq combined!). Because it mainly seems to kill old people it seems more acceptable.

Here in the UK, there were another 153 deaths and 814 new cases.  There is still no sign of an app or an effective test, track and isolate programme.

Cheerleader Johnson is doing his jolly jolly talking up. Schools will all be back in September, air corridors will open so you can go abroad on holiday, he’s going to boost jobs and the economy with a massive building programme. The trouble is that he’s a world-beating windbag who never delivers – all mouth and no trousers!

Seems wishful thinking to me. The more likely scenario is that we’ll have a big second wake and lose thousands of more lives and have to shut everything down again. World-beating??? If only we could be like Japan, Germany, Vietnam, Taiwan, New Zealand or all those minor third world countries that seem to be on top of the virus.  This is a real inept performance all round. I hope they bloody answer for it!

So today I put on my Blind Willie Johnson and cheered myself up. I went for a long walk up on my hill and then went around for an SD visit with my son Barny. It was his birthday today!! It is so strange having birthday’s in lockdown. He’s a teacher, so is in with kids and at risk. Not an easy time.

Never mind, there’s footie on tonight!!

Stay safe!!

Today’s Music to keep me SANE in Isolation – Blind Willie Johnson

Today I thought I would delve back to the 1920s for a bit of great Blues. So I dug out my Blind Willie Johnson. He was a preacher and sang religious songs. I do not usually go for that but I make an exception for Willie.

I’m a sucker for the slide guitar. Couple that with Willie’s incredible voice and you get a startling combination. This is a man who lived the Blues. His mother died and father remarried but his stepmother abused him and treated him badly. When his father was caught with another woman she deliberately threw lye in Willie’s eyes blinding him for life.

There was no welfare back then. Disabled people had to earn a living. Many went into the church and many into music. Willie did both.

For me, this is (despite the religious lyrics) real music.


Why I write Sci-Fi.

Why I write Sci-Fi.

A lot of people think of Sci-Fi as space opera, adventures of supermen with aliens thrown in for good measure. That is not my scene.

As a young man, I was an avid reader of the genre and consumed novels by the ton. It is a habit that has lasted up until the present time, though I tend to dilute my Sci-Fi with a wide range of other fiction. My favourite Sci-Fi writers are people like Iain M Banks, Margaret Atwood, Philip Dick, Robert Sheckley, Kurt Vonnegutt Jnr and Arthur C Clarke; writers who wrote about social issues or human situations. 1984 and Brave New World are classic examples of brilliant Sci-Fi novels for me.

As a scientist (I am a biologist) I like my science to be based in reality. Looking into the future is always difficult. I think it was Arthur C Clarke who once said that superior technology is indistinguishable from magic. At present, there are barriers that make visiting other regions of the galaxy impossible. Light speed is too slow. The distances are too great. But perhaps with the advent of quantum physics, and theories such as the folding of linear space, future humans may be able to circumvent these problems.

Sci-Fi gives me a blank canvas of possibility. I am able to write about human beings, and the world we create for ourselves, in different settings and context. I can extrapolate and predict. I can investigate human nature and explore how we interact in different circumstances. I can travel back and forth in time, and space is no obstacle. So my novels usually have social, environmental and political elements and themes. I can also expound on science and philosophy in interesting ways and tackle some of the ultimate questions of life – purpose, reality and our place in the ecology of life. It is a world of possibility. There are very few limitations.

But at the heart of my writing is the human condition with all its emotions, thoughts and diverse behaviours.

Sci-Fi is a vehicle that presents me with a multihued palette to paint stories about people. Some of my people just happen to be aliens.

I write about the ideas that excite me.

The Corona Diaries – Day 107

What is quite apparent (and disturbing) is that despite their obvious ineptitude the Tories are maintaining a lead (if a little reduced) over Labour. Johnson appears to have been able to ride out the Cummings fiasco and diverted attention away from his incompetence. He is also hiding the gravity of the Brexit situation from public view.

You have to give him credit; he’s a first-class conman.

Whether, once this mess is over, the proper scrutiny of government actions will take place, is anybody’s guess. They have the media in their pocket. But surely questions about the Cygnus report, the lack of PPE, the state of the NHS which has been run down under the Tories, the lack of beds and ventilators, the way the elderly were treated, the fiasco of the Test and Trace app, the inept Test and Trace system and the timing of lockdown, must all come into play? We don’t get to have the worst record in Europe for nothing!

For all his jolly cheer leading real leadership has been sadly lacking. I think they have shown up Johnson for what he is – an empty puppet, lazy and incompetent, operated by Cummings. The sooner the electorate wakes up to that, the better. We’ll see what happens when the job losses kick in and are compounded by job losses from Brexit. Maybe reality will hit home.

Meanwhile in the USA Corona is getting out of control. A combination of opening too soon coupled with a lot of denial and stupid behaviour has created the highest rise in new cases yet. Trump is trying to pass it off as a result of more testing but that isn’t the case. It’s bad management and poor leadership.

The number of new cases is still over 900. It appears to have plateaued. Time will tell if it will come down or go into a second surge. My money’s on a surge.  Until the government get their track and trace going properly I don’t think we’ll be in control.

Sadly it seems that now we are coming out of lockdown no lessons have been learnt. The roads are back to normal. Nature is on the retreat. I was hoping for more working from home and less traffic.

Today is a miserable day. It’s cold and wet. The T-shirt, shorts and sandals are back in the cupboard. I’m back in trousers, shoes, jacket and rainproof. I even wore gloves for my walk! Did not see any nature at all. The animals were all sheltering.

So I went back home, put on my Tom Robinson Band and started sorting photos!

Stay safe everyone!

New Eden – some of the ideas in this Sci-fi novel.

New Eden – some of the ideas

At the time I wrote this novel, back in the 1980’s, Ebola was first hitting the news. Thankfully the outbreaks of Ebola have all been contained and we have never had to deal with a global pandemic. Ebola would have been a worse challenge than Covid 19.

Back then I was seeing two things occurring in the world. The overpopulation problem was creating a huge environmental impact, a lot of pollution, overcrowded cities and deforestation. At the same time automation and technology was replacing the need for a large workforce.

As far as politicians were concerned we were creating a surplus population who were unemployable. The solution was to remove that surplus.

A tyrannical government decided on a plan of action. They would develop a virus, based on Ebola, that was 100% fatal, develop a vaccine and, as part of their annual vaccination programme, vaccinate all the people they wanted to survive. It was eugenics in full operation. Not only would they rid themselves of surplus population, but they could remove all opposition and anyone they did not deem fit.

As with most plans, things do not work out as intended.

With the passing of time, the burgeoning population and the advent of A/I, the tenets of the novel were even more pertinent. I originally had released the book as Ebola in the Garden of Eden. I re-edited it and reissued it as New Eden.

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