Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Short Story: A Morning in Federation Land

[Foreword: If you imagine what a stereotypical Empire is like (loud, exuberant, expressive, laissez faire, clear, enterprising) and then imagine that Empire's complete polar opposite (quiet, cautious, repressed, interfering, bitty, meek) that is the character of the Federation.

This short story is about an outsider (a Randall McMurphy-esque character, from One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest) spending one morning in the Federation and how he reacts to it.

As with the other short stories on this blog, the setting is the science-fiction computer game world Frontier:Elite, but the details aren't important and the story can be read and understood without knowing anything about the game. It's just an environment to experiment with different ideas, like a proverbial 'sandbox world'. A sandbox world is one that anyone can express themselves in without any consequences.]

A Morning in Federation Land

Location: London, Earth, Sol (The Federation)
Date: August 3207

    The Adder merchant space-craft jostled a little as the landing gear made contact with the plascrete landing pad.
    The voice of the traffic controller for the London starport sounded through the cockpits speakers again.  "Sir, will you remain with your ship while we send a 'Starport Health Inspectorate and Protectorate' (SHIP) team board your ship for a routine stop and search?"
    Luther depressed a button on the intercom microphone and responded.  "Sure."
    "Thank you sir."
    Releasing the microphone button, he then flicked a couple of switches on the main control console powering down the ships thrusters and various auxiliary systems.
    The only other person in the cabin off the small trading ship was Lombard, nicknamed Bardza, a stocky bearded miner from the independent (though much fought over) system of Alioth.  Luther had offered to give the man a lift to the Sol system so that he could get spare parts for his mining equipment that he was having a hard time getting hold of in his home system.
    "What if you'd said no?" asked Bardza in his thick Australian accent.
    "What if you'd said no to his question?"
    "It's not so much a question, more of a demand.  They would've boarded regardless of what I said."
    "Then why did he put 'will you' at the beginning of the sentence, like he was politely asking you if you'll do something?"
    "It's one of the Fed ways of speaking.  Phrasing demands in the form of a question."
    "Sounds a bit odd to me."
    "That's the Fed mentality for you.  Doing what they ought to do rather than what they want.  Probably a custom that they inherited from the previous generation, and continue themselves, but don't really believe in."
    "So, what, they like, pretend to be polite 'cause they feel like their supposed to, 'cause that's the way they've been brought up.  But in truth, they aren't being genuinely polite, and they might actually hate your guts."
    "Yup, that's about the size of it."
    "Strange people."
    Luther turned to look at the man sat in the co-pilots seat.  He was looking out of the Adders front window shaking his head and frowning a little in disbelief.
    Luther turned back to the main control console, running through the post-flight protocols.  "Yup."

    After entering the ship via the main air lock the 'SHIP team' (a man and two women) went about checking the cargo hold, cargo and cockpit for contraband goods, unwanted bacteria, plant or animal life that the Feds classed as 'illegal'.
    One of the team came into the cockpit clasping a PDA to her chest and holding a probe that looked like an old fashioned foot-long map pointer in her other hand.  Following a quick survey of the cockpit, she began sticking the probe in different corners of the room, checking for bugs, bacteria and the like, and then checking the readings that came up on the PDA (where the results of the probe were sent to) to see if there were any unwanted bugs onboard.  The look on her face was of slight disgust, mixed with a high proportion of contempt; like she was some middle class urbanite who had been sent to inspect some countryside working class home and found it to be 'a truly awful little provincial hovel'.
    As Bardza was a non-Federation citizen, and hence classed as an alien, he was asked a couple of questions, supposedly to determine whether he lived a lifestyle that would class him as a potential bacteria breeder: a biohazard.  There were questions about what atmosphered planets he had recently visited, his dietary habits, drinking habits, drug consuming habits, and his, ahem, personal hygiene..
    "You think I might 'What'?!"  He blurted in response to one of the questions.
    "Sir, there's no need to get upset." the woman said belittlingly.  "It's only a precautionary measure designed to protect the citizens.  We need to know whether your 'beard' may contain any hostile organisms that are listed as 'dangerous' by the London Board of the Federation Health Organisation."
    "No my beard doesn't bloody well contain any hostile bleedin' organisms."
    "Very well sir." she continued in her patronising manner.  "We have to be sure of these things.  There are the children to think of you know." 
    "What bleedin' children?!"
    Luther just looked at him and shook his head a little, implying 'don't ask'.  Bardza just crossed his arms, rolled his eyes, shook his head and made a 'pfft' noise while the woman continued asking her questions and making her patronising remarks.
    Twenty minutes later all the checks were complete.  She ticked a few more boxes on the PDA, got Luther to sign the e-form, in triplicate, and spoke to one of her colleagues who had entered the cockpit.  They exchanged a few words and then began to make their way off the ship.  After finishing their report Luther escorted the SHIP team to the airlock and just as they exited Bardza quipped whether they should change their names to the SHIT-team.
    "'Cause that's all they seem to be interested in; goin' 'round sniffin' other peoples 'arseholes' and sticking their noses in other peoples.."
    The main airlock closed.
    Luther walked back into the cockpit.  "You finished?"
    "Yeah man.  Balls to it.  Let's knock off an' get a few drinks down the local boozer.  I could do with a coupla shots after bein' subjected to the Spanish Inquisition by Cardinal Arsehole and her two cronies.  That is, as long as they sell booze here."
    "They do.  But not at seven in the morning Bardza."
    "What?!  Ya kiddin right?  Why not?  Oh wait, let me guess, we've got to 'think of the children'.  Is that it?"
    "Nearly.  They phrased it more along the lines of early morning drinking damages social well being."
    "Really!" he said incredulously.  "So was it this bad for you back home in Ross 154?  Ross 154 is a Fed' system isn't it?"
    "Ross 154 is classed as a Federal Colony.  And no it's not quite this bad.  We get to pen most of our laws out there.  Only the galactic wide Federal laws are enforced.  Remember that the character of any empire is strongest at its core and weakest at its periphery, its colonies."
    "So you could get ratted at eight in the morning if you wanted?"
    "Yeah, quite often did.  It was the best way to get warmed up before getting on the ice breakers for a days work.  A couple of deep-fried penguin patties, and a shot or three of aquavit."
    "Right right.  So Nanny McFed says we can't drink first thing in the morning, how about the meat then?  Don't tell me they ration that stuff too?"
    "Not yet they don't.  But I've got a hunch they'll ration that one day."
    Bardza looked to the side and began gently shaking his head.  "Man, I'd hate to be a bloke livin' here when that day comes.  No red meat, no booze, down on beards, I bet they hate good lookin' Sheila's too.  Seems like Fed-land is just one giant man-hating matriarchy."
    "That's why the Federation are always bitching about the Achenarian Empire whenever they can.  It's more male than they are.  Like a woman bitching about the confident man down the street with a big swagger in his walk, and a big package in his pants.  They just can't stand to see him.  It's hardwired into their mind or something.  You know what women can be like."
    "You make it sound like the girly-Feddys want to 'get it on' with the big-dick Empire."
    "They do.  That's why you'll read reports in the Federation news about how the authorities are 'afraid of being invaded'.  But you'll never read any such thing in the Imperial news.  The Feds just love the thought of being 'invaded', like some women love the thought of being 'ravished' by a muscle-bound ex-convict.  It gets their blood flowing to all the right places.  If ya know what I mean."
    Bardza laughed out loud.  "Bwa ha ha ha.  Oh that's comic man.  I've never thought of it like that before.  It's like the on going war between the Fed' and Imp's is just one long courtship ritual.  With the Imp's playing 'grab-ass' whenever they can."
    "And those Fed' women absolutely love it."
    "Oh man, I can't wait to see how femmed-up the rest of this place is!"
    "Grab yur cap and coat and let's find out."

* * * * *

    "Sir, it's for your own good." the forty year old female customs officer said to Bardza.

    Luther and Bardza were standing in-front of the main customs desk for interstellar pilots.  After spending an hour filling out 24-hour visitor pass forms, the officer at the desk had informed Bardza that as he was a non-Federation person he would have to have a tracking-device attached to his ankle.  Needless to say, that Bardza didn't react positively to this news.  An argument ensued, after which the customs officer emphasised that it was to his benefit that he have it attached.

    "What d'ya mean me own good?  In case I get blind drunk on over-taxed over-priced under-strength liquor, and struggle to find my own way back to the ship.  Is that it?"
    The officer met this statement with much alarm.  "Sir, Federation health authorities recommend that you only consume 21 units of alcohol per week, and never more than 4 units within a 12 hour period."
    Bardza turned to Luther and asked quietly. "What's a unit of alcohol?"
    "About half a pint of bitter."
    "Strewth!  Two pints equals a knees up?!  You guys must have a barrel of laughs on a Friday night(!)"
    He turned back to the officer at the desk and continued.  "Lady, no matter how blind drunk I've gotten, I've always managed to find my own way home.  There ain't no drink that can stupefy my sense of direction.  No siree.  I've got a compass nigh on hardwired into my brain.  You can always escort me to and from the pub if ya like luv.  I don't see a wedding ring on yur finger, you're not married are ya?"
    "I, uh.." the woman flustered slightly.
    Another customs officer, an attractive young female, walked out of a backrooms door and down to the far end of the customs desk.  Bardza eyed her as she walked past and pushed the rim of his baseball cap up so he could get a good look at her.
    "Or maybe your colleague over there could escort me.  What's her name?"
    "That's Miss Fotherington, and she won't be able to.."  Realising she was getting sidetracked, the officer tried to get control of the conversation.  "Look, Mr Lombard.."
    Bardza laughed.  "Please, Miss, call me Bardza.  Lombard sounds so 'awfully' formal."
    She tried to stifle a laugh, which caused Bardza to laugh out loud.
    "That's better luv.  You look alot better with a smile on yur face."
    "Mr Bardza" she said still trying, and failing, to suppress the grin, "you really need to have a personal tracking device fitted.  It's a requirement for all non-federation residents who are visiting the system on a 24-hour visa."
    "Ah come on luv.  You must see a free spirited man like me can't have one of those things clamped to his legs.  How about you just activate the device and stick it in a dark room somewhere.  No one need be any the wiser eh."
    "Well I don't know if I can.." She started to say before he leant in and gently grabbed her hands that were placed on the counter.  She looked into his eyes with a semi-startled look, and he leaned in close to her and whispered something in her right ear, before leaning back and releasing her hands.
    "I suppose I could always find some dark corner to sneak it into." she said looking into his eyes.
    "Thatta girl." he replied with a wink and a smile.
    Bardza motioned Luther to head towards the exit, and the two of them walked away from the customs desk, without the tracking bracelet.
    When the two of them were out of earshot of the desk, Luther asked "What on Earth did you say to her to get out of that jam?"
    "You can't expect me to give away all of me trade secrets now can ya?"
    They exited the starport building through the main doorway.

* * * * *

    The two men walked down to a nearby shopping arcade to find a restaurant for breakfast.  After five minutes of walking past stores selling goods such as greetings cards, PDA accessories, hair care, cosmetics, women’s clothing and insurance outlets (all typical Fed-culture shops), they eventually found one.  A family run cafe that was open and thankfully selling breakfasts.
    They walked in the front door of the cafe and sat on a pair of bar stools at the main counter.  A thin looking waiter approached the two men and asked what they wanted to order, gesturing to a board on the wall behind him.  Bardza looked at the menu and ordered the continental breakfast and coffee.  Luther followed suit.  

    As they were waiting for the meals to arrive the two men surveyed the cafe.  There were a dozen or so customers.  All of them what you could call 'middle-class, second hand paper shufflers'.  You know the sort, educated yet under productive, informed yet ignorant, slightly lighter or darker shade of drab grey.  They had job titles like, 'Happiness Index Quantifier', 'Executive personal assistant', 'parking space efficiency appraising agent', 'Waste water sales agent'; anything to do with appraising, collating, reallocating, assisting or consulting.  Never actually doing anything.  Even the doctors were called consultants. That kind of mentality would probably not be appreciated by the patients who came to the hospital expecting treatment.  'Someone help me, please.  My left leg got severed and I'm bleeding heavily.  I need urgent medical attention'.  To which a consultant-doctor says 'Is that so?  Ms Gainsborough, would you contact my personal executive assistant so she can arrange a  meeting of the consultant-surgeons in the main lobby about how to proceed with this patient.'  After which the patient, now bleeding to death on the hallway floor says 'Why don't you help me?', to which the consultant replies 'Oh we're not authorised to do that old boy.  We just consult on the best course of action and make sure the correct protocol are adhered to.'

    A few minutes later the food arrived and they tucked in.
    Glancing upward at one end of the counter Luther saw an old 2D television unit sat on a shelf.  It was on the main FBC (Federation Broadcasting Corporation) channel, and broadcasting the typical breakfast news programme.  A middle aged man and woman sat on a red couch presenting an ostensibly 'balanced and impartial news and information programme'.  Which in truth meant that it was a typical Fed propaganda show spewing the latest pro-government spiel.
    "You're watching FBC Breakfast with Bill Turnbull and Sian Williams." said Sian.
    "Coming up on today’s show.  A government health spokesperson claims that adding Fluoride to public drinking water will help stop tooth decay in children." said the man.
    "New research reveals that pregnant women who have too much salt could be putting the health of their unborn babies at risk."
    "But first there's the weather with Carol.  Hello Carol."
    A fully body shot of a buxom middle aged woman standing in the middle of a verdant parkland appeared on the tv.  "Hi Bill.  Yes it's going to be rather chilly later on this morning, so remember to wrap up warm.  And keep a brolly hands this afternoon, as there could be a spot of rain just after three o clock.."  She continued with the report.
    Luther turned back to Bardza to gauge his response to programme, but found him fully engrossed in his breakfast.  Eating it in his rather barbarian manner, like the typical gold mining '49er would have done in mid-nineteenth century California: Head close to the plate, only using the minimal amount of cutlery, gulping down the coffee, and regularly releasing large amounts of gas via whatever orifice was convenient.
    His manner of eating had caught the attention of the co-owner of the cafe, a chunky woman with too much make-up on, and hair in a tight bun.  She walked up in-front of Bardza with her arms crossed over her chest wearing a disgusted look on her face.  Bardza noticed her and looked up, still chewing a mouthful of buttered toast smeared with egg yolk.  "What up Sheila?"  He then sucked some of the yolk off his fingers, before letting off a low-rumbling belch.  His actions weren't intended to rile the woman up, it was just how he was: unsophisticated.  He then reached passed Luther, nearly draping his coat sleeve in the mans breakfast, grabbed a bottle of brown sauce, popped the lid off and then poured it all over his rashers of bacon.  The woman shook her head in disgust at the mans actions and walked away to tend to the other customers.
    "What up Luth?  How's the grub?"
    "Not bad mate.  Better than that tv show."
    "Oh yeah?  Spewing out more garbage are they?"
    "Yeah, something like that."
    Bardza glanced up at the tv and watched it for a few moments.  "Hey, why is it that the women on those things always have to be middle aged?"
    Luther looked up at the screen.  "I've no idea.  Never noticed it before."
    "D'ya reckon it's related to the fact that the Fed's a matriarchy?"
    "Could be.  I s'pose the older women feel threatened by the good looking young girls and end up shutting them out of the limelight."

   It was some time later, and Bardza had ordered a second helping of the fry-up and coffee.  As he was about halfway through the meal, one of the female customers approached him and began chiding him about the amount of fat that he was consuming.  Telling him that he was consuming more calories than he should be 'for a man in his condition'.  His response: turned around to face her, looked her up and down, tipped the brim of his hat up slightly and say "If you're that worried about it luv, you could always come back to my place and help me burn 'em off.  If ya know what I mean?"  The look on her face was priceless.  Mouth agog, eyes wide open.  She didn't know what to say.  Bardza just slapped his leg and roared with laughter then turned back to his meal.  The woman’s friend led her by the arm out of the cafe before she could think of a response.  Bardza looked up to see the reaction of the customers and noticed the skinny waiter standing in the doorway to the kitchen grinning like he hadn't seen anything like it in years.  Bardza grinned back, gave him a nod and a wink and returned to his breakfast.  The skinny man caught sight of the chunky co-owner, who was probably his wife, standing at the other end of the counter looking stern faced, evidently none to pleased with the attitude of 'her' husband to this barbarian oaf who was dining in 'her' cafe.  So he cast his gaze down and scurried back into the kitchen, into safety.
   On the FBC Breakfast programme, the full weather report had finished and the hosts were interviewing two guests who were discussing the pro's and con of water fluoridation.  It was blatantly rigged pro government story: on the pro fluoridation side was a man with Doctor, Professor or some such title, wearing a smart suit, using a rich vocabulary and citing lots of 'academic studies' and 'research papers' to support his argument.  He was also extremely calm and composed in his delivery.  On the opposing side was a woman who was part of an 'action group' (neighbourhood leafleteers), dressed in informal clothing (a floral dress and gaudy over sized scarf), citing no studies or reports, who's basic argument consisted of repeating the line 'it's not fair', spoken while she was grinning inanely (probably because she was overcome by the fact that she was 'on the telly').  So much for the 'fair and balanced' claims of the FBC.  Though, to be honest, they probably believed that they genuinely were impartial.  It's not that they were deceitful, simply deluded.
    Unfortunately in the uncritical, feminised, Federation there were plenty of people who swallowed up the FBC drivel hook, line and sinker.  A couple of proles sat in one of the booths of the cafe who were repeating the arguments of the 'experts' verbatim; as though they themselves had come to the exact same conclusions on their own.  Totally unaware that the arguments had been seeded there only minutes before.  A few feet away sat a pair of Middle-Class paper-shufflers who were discussing it also.  They were not sceptical of the arguments of the 'Professor in the smart suit' in the slightest.  Quite the contrary, they were totally accepting of his arguments.  They were totally accepting of the fact that drinking water, a substance so vital to human life, to their life, could be filled with chemicals that they knew absolutely nothing about. 
    That was another aspect of the Federation mentality: total unquestioning obedience to authority.  They didn't even question their obedience as they weren't even aware of their indoctrination.  For all the evils of the Achenarian Empire, even if they enslaved your body they at least left you your own mind.  They left you to think your own thoughts so long as you did the work you were told to.  The Feds were the antipode of that.  They wanted to literally own your mind.  And that's what made them more insidious than the Imps.
    Bardza had been born and raised in Alioth, an independent system, which was an environment where physical and mental slavery were of little concern.  Hence why when he entered Federation society it was like dropping a bead of pure sodium into a beaker of water.  The two reacted, creating a lot of noise and a lot of energy, though little in the way of genuine danger.

    Luther and Bardza had finished their breakfasts and were gulping down the last drops of coffee.  Bardza finished, put the cup down, stuck two fingers in his mouth, and then let rip with an almighty whistle to get the attention of the waiter.  "Yo!  Gungadin!  Any chance of gettin' another refill down 'ere mate?!"
    The waiter, who was thoroughly enjoying the raucous scene that Bardza created shuffled down to them.  He carried a pot of fresh coffee to them, and refilled Bardzas cup.
    "Ah this is great coffee squire.  Great coffee.  Reminds of the time I was down in New Rio grinding the granules with a bunch of the local senoritas.  And boy, can those girls grind!  Bwahahaha!".  He laughed and slapped his thigh, nearly spilling the cup of coffee.
    Bardzas whistling and general antics had also caught the attention of Mrs co-owner who was now standing in-front of him, arms crossed, and eyebrows sat high on her head.  Clearly she was not pleased.  "Sir, will you please behave yourself?"
    Bardza turned to Luther and asked quietly "Is that another one of them demands phrased as a question?"
    Luther nodded an affirmation.
    "Bully to me!", he blurted out, "I'm starting to get the hang of this!"
    He turned back to face her, opened his mouth to begin speaking, then paused, looked up slightly, held out his finger in a 'just a moment' gesture, lent his body to one side, and then let rip an almighty great fart.
    "Caw, catch a whiff of that!  Must be egg and sausages from half an hour ago.  I'll tell you what, that grease don't 'alf make it shift quicker." he remarked.
    This was enough to provoke a response from the woman.  She grabbed a can of air freshener from under the counter and sprayed it in Bardza’s face.
    'Cough cough' "Steady on luv!  Ya know in the Veliaze solar system they class passing gas as a compliment to the chefs great cooking!"  Another burst from the air freshener. 'Cough cough'.
    "Methane is a greenhouse gas which needs to be counteracted to prevent global warming.  Secondly, as your emissions smell awful it means that they contain methane.  Therefore I am using air freshener to cover up the awful smell."  Spray.
    'Cough cough' "Just a minute..", 'cough cough', "..I think you'll find you're conclusion's a non-sequitor." 'Cough cough'.  "If the methane's already been released, and its bad for the environment, then trying to cover up the smell isn't gonna help the environment now is it?"
    "Ooh!"  She cried out in frustration.  And yet another spray with the air freshener in Bardzas face.
    'Cough cough'
    The cafe phone rang.
    'Cough cough' "What d'ya know, saved by the bell!" 'Cough cough'.
    The woman pulled a face like an angry shrew and stormed off to answer the phone.
    "I think now would be a good time to get out of here.  Before your lungs get filled with 'Lowland Meadow Fragrance'."  Luther remarked.
    'Cough cough'. "Yeah.." 'Cough cough' "..that's a.."
    "Good idea?"
    "Spot on!" 'Cough cough cough'.
    Bardza got up and continued coughing loudly as he exited the cafe.  Luther opened his wallet and dropped a handful of credit coins on the counter, then followed his friend out the door and onto the street.

    That was Bardzas first time in a Federation system.


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The Ever Changing Opinion of 'Experts'

Over the years we've come to hear many claims from so-called 'experts' (nutritionists, dating gurus, financial wizards etc), only to have these experts change their minds and do a total volte face a few years afterwards.  It's enough to make a guys head spin.  Which is why we should probably pay less attention to them than we do, and place less value/importance in their advice than we do at present; because at the end of the day it's Joe Public that has to live the advice that they dish out, not them.  It's Joe Public that has to hand his self-determination over to them, not the other way around.  And that, losing one's self-determination, is no good thing.  That's why in this short post, we'll cover a couple of the topics that so-called 'experts' have done a volte face on, and by doing so we'll highlight their inconsistency, and their fallibility.  Hopefully by doing so it'll become clear that 'trusting experts' should not be your default setting.
The following is a list of advice from 'experts' which contradicts itself.  For example eating lard was discouraged by many experts in the 1990s, but is promoted by many doctors in the 2010s, even though only 20 years has past.
Dating Advice:
Then (the 1990s): Be a nice guy.  Women like nice guys.
Eating Advice:
Then (1992): Make sure that 30-40% of your daily calorie intake is from carbohydrates, just like the government approved food pyramid says.
Now: Don't eat so much bread it's bad for you.  'Carbs rots the brain'.

Anger Management Advice:
Then (the 1970s): Let your anger out.  Try a primal scream!  It's bad to keep emotions bottled up.
Now (the 2010s): Keep your anger in.  Count to ten!  Go for a run!

Alcohol Drinking Advice:
Then: Don't drink any beer.  Drinking rots your brain.
Now (the 2000s): Drink beer.  Drinking is good for the heart.
Cigarette Advice:
Then (the 1940s): Smoking is good for you.  Doctors recommend it to stressed-out pregnant women.
Now (the 2010s): Smoking is bad for you. If you smoke your children will be unhappy.
Now: Believe it when I say - Lard is good for you!
(Credit to an anonymous commenter for this one)
Eating Advice:
Parenting Advice:
Then (ye olde tymes): Don't spoil your child.  Treat them harshly.  Doing so builds character.
Now (2010s):  Beating your children is wrong, don't do it.
Ai-ai ai-ai ai. That's a lot of fallibility for bunch of so-called 'experts'. And those are just the areas that I'm vaguely aware of.  There are almost certainly more topics that 'experts' have made big boo-boos in.  It makes you wonder why people continue to consider them infallible.
One observation is that these 'experts' quite often use psychological tactics to get you to follow their advice: implying that you'll die if you carry on your 'errant ways' is one method; and using 'big words' (basically an appeal to authority, because science = authority) is another methods.  For instance when an expert gives advice against eating fatty foods they say that those who don't follow their advice will be more likely die of a coronary heart attack than other people.  Pretty scary isn't it?  Implying that you're gonna keel over and have a heart attack simply because you ate one extra doughnut from the box.  That's just one of the psychological tactics that they use to try and get you to follow their advice.  You know, by either making you feel bad for doing your own thing and not doing what they say, or rewarding with praise you for following their advice.
Another tactic is using big scientific words which either sound impressive (and make you buy into them) or sound scary and make you run away from them.  Take the following television advertisement for Vitalite margarine from 1993 (in the UK); it includes the fancy scientific-technical sounding words 'poly-un-saturated fats' in their song:
And why did they use these terms?  Because science sells, especially as an authority figure.  Haircare products use it all the time.  'New with ceramide-R'.  Who knows what ceramide-r is, or what it does?  Not many of the viewers I'll wager.  It's completely irrelevant info but there you go, it does what it's supposed to and that's to infer authority in order to make the product sell.  It's like saying something in Latin it sounds more impressive, 'cause Latin is the liga franca of the academia don't ya know:
omnia dicta fortiora si dicta Latina   
Translation: "everything sounds more impressive when said in Latin"
To prove my point, here's an impressive sounding sentence in Latin, with it's English translation.
Ego similis comedere et burgers donuts caseus, dum vigilo mulieres colluctatio lutum. 
Translation: "I like eating cheese burgers and doughnuts, while watching women mud wrestling."
See what I mean?!  That's how the appearance of authority can make something common/mundane look impressive.
And that about wraps it up for this week folks.  It's hopefully enough to put the point across that 'experts' aren't always expert, and that you shouldn't take their advice as gospel (God's Spiel - God's Word), because it isn't.  They are fallible.  They are wrong.  And they quite often give you advice during one decade that they'll tell you is bad the following decade.  So do yourselves a favour and take their advice with a measure of salt.  After all, by following their advice like a Medieval parishioner listening to the Catholic Church you are just abdicating responsibility of yourself to them, and that certainly ain't masculine.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Men of Yore: Hugo Grotius

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity.

Hugo Grotius

Hugo Grotius; (1583-1645), Dutch jurist, who has been called the father of modern international law. The name Hugo Grotius is the Latinized form of Huig de Groot.

Grotius was born into a distinguished family in Delft on April 10, 1583. At the age of 8 he had already composed some Latin verses, and at 11 he entered the University of Leiden, graduating at 14. In 1598, when he was not yet 15, he accompanied the Dutch statesman Jan van Oldenbarneveldt on a diplomatic mission to the court of King Henry IV of France. The King was so impressed by the youth that he called him “the miracle of Holland.” Before leaving France a year later, Grotius obtained a doctorate in law at the University of Orléans.
On his return to the Netherlands in 1599, he began practicing law in The Hague. Two years later he was chosen official historian of the province of Holland by its assembly, the States of Holland. He became attorney general of Holland in 1607.
From 1613, as a representative of Rotterdam in the States of Holland and of Holland in the Netherlands States-General, Grotius was involved in a bitter religious and political struggle. A majority of the States of Holland supported Calvin-ist reformers against the orthodox Calvinist party, which was backed by a majority in the States-General and by the stadtholder and army commander, Maurice of Nassau. In 1618, Maurice suppressed the dissenters by force. Grotius was arrested and the following year was condemned for high treason to life imprisonment in the fortress of Loevestein. However, he escaped in 1621 with the help of his wife, who hid him in a chest that was being carried out of the prison.
Grotius fled to France, where he was warmly received, and in 1634 he entered the service of Sweden as minister to the French court. He was finally permitted to return to Holland in 1645, but died on Aug. 28, 1645, at Rostock, Germany, on his way home from Sweden.
The most influential work that Grotius wrote was De jure belli ac pads (On the Law of War and Peace), published in Paris in 1625 during his exile in France. Applying the doctrine of natural law to the conduct of nations, Grotius held that states, like individuals, are bound by a code of duties and prohibitions that are universal, reasonable, and unchangeable. One nation, for example, may not attack another. However, Grotius regarded certain wars or hostile actions as just if there is no tribunal authorized to settle a dispute. In that case, a state may use armed force in defense of its rights or property or to punish a criminal act.
Grotius’ first important work on international law had been De jure praedae commentarius (Commentary on the Law of Spoils). Although written in 1604, it was not printed until 1868 except for the 12th chapter, which appeared in 1609 as a short treatise called Mare liberum (Freedom of the Seas). In Mare liberum, Grotius asserted the Dutch right to unhindered commercial navigation to the East Indies on the principle that no state may claim sovereignty over the high seas.
Grotius was a prolific writer with many interests. Besides other legal books, his works include poetry, plays, and writings on history, theology, and philology.
If you want to know why the seas are full of many merchant vessels, few warships, and even fewer battles then you have this man to thank for it.  He contributed to the consensus that the Earth is a community of nations rather than a battle ground which Empires fight over.  The result of his work is that merchant vessels can carry goods and people safely over the seas with the risk of being attacked by an enemy ship or a privateer.  Goods and people that we almost certainly benefit from (putting aside the matter of outsourcing, product dumping and so forth).

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

On Theories About Andreas Lubitz's Murder-Suicide

So it's been two-three weeks since Andreas Lubitz crashed into the Alps killing 150 people and in those few weeks lots of people have tried to explain why Lubitz committed suicide/mass-murder, some of their theories are more crazy than others.  It's incidents in life like this that allows you to see people's philosophical/metaphysical views because ultimately many of them use it as a medium to express their own outlook of the world, somewhat like how a politician uses a crisis to his promote his political view (the politician does it wittingly these people do it un-wittingly).

The result is that you get a variety of theories all clamouring for your attention, all claiming to be 100% right.  Obviously they can't all be right, and so you have the arduous, laborious job of weeding out all the theories that are wrong.  You could do that by using logic and genuinely assessing each theory in turn; but this isn't really advisable because you'll just end up wasting your time on wacko theories (e.g. the Earth is hollow, or Jesus will return in October, again...) on the mere possibility that they might be right.  That way madness lays.  It's like debating with a cheating girlfriend who tries to convince you not to dump her on logical grounds by saying that she might not cheat again, even though she has a habit of it.  Logically she's 100% right - it's entirely possible that she might remain faithful, but she's so obsessed with sex that she probably would cheat again.

A quicker way of dismissing theories is by appraising the people whose mouths they come from, and then asking yourself: are they two cans short of a six pack?  Are the people spouting the theory simply fitting the event it into their pre-existing worldview; like David Icke who sees shape-shifting reptilians behind every event in the world, or Michael Moore who thinks that racist Corporations are responsible for every bad event in the USA.  These people are dominated by their weltanschauung, and it shows.

There comes a time when you have to put aside these foolish theories put forth by such people because they ultimately end up wasting your time, your effort, your life; and in the end you only get one of those.

Anyway, here are a few of the multitude of theories about why Andreas Lubitz crashed into the side of Alps that are knocking around on the net:
  • Heartiste is obsessed about sex, so he thinks that Lubitz committed suicide because he wasn't getting his end away. [LINK]
  • White Nationalists (from the lunatic fringe of the movement) are obsessed with Jews, so they think that Lubitz was an agent of Mossad (the Israeli secret service). [LINK]
  • Vox Day is obsessed with many things one is hating Islam and another is his 'socio-sexual hierarchy', so he simultaneously thinks that Lubitz killed himself because was a Muslim Jihadi (on his Vox Day blog) AND that he was homosexual Omega (on his Alpha Game blog). [LINK to Vox Day post] [LINK to Alpha Game post]


Friday, 10 April 2015

Men of Yore: Henri Nestle

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity.

Henri Nestle (Source: http://20thcenturyfamous.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/henri-nestle.html)

Henri Nestlé, born Heinrich Nestle (10 August 1814 – 7 July 1890), was a Swiss confectioner and the founder of Nestlé, the world's largest food and beverage company,[1] as well as one of the main creators of condensed milk.

Early Life
Heinrich Nestle was born on 10 August 1814, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.[2] He was the eleventh of fourteen children of Johann Ulrich Matthias Nestle and Anna-Maria Catharina Ehemann. Nestle's father, by tradition, inherited the business of his father, Johann Ulrich Nestle, and became a glazier in Töngesgasse. The later Lord Mayor of Frankfurt am Main, Gustav Edmund Nestle, was his brother.[citation needed]

The Nestle family has its origin in southern Swabia, predominantly in the boroughs of the Black Forest as Dornstetten, Freudenstadt, Mindersbach, Nagold and Sulz am Neckar. In the Swabian dialect, "Nestle" is a small bird's nest. The name Nestle also has different variations, including Nästlin, Nästlen, Nestlin, Nestlen, and Niestle.

The Nestle family tree began with three brothers (thus the three young birds in the nest being fed by their mother on the family coat of arms) from Mindersbach called Hans, Heinrich and Samuel Nestlin. The father of these three sons was born circa 1495. Hans, the eldest, was born in 1520 and had a son with the same name, who later became mayor of Nagold. His son Ulrich was a barber and his fifth son was the first glazier in the family. For over five generations, this profession was passed down from father to son. Additionally, the Nestles provided a number of mayors for the boroughs of Dornstetten, Freudenstadt, Nagold and Sulz on Neckar.

Before Nestlé turned 20 in 1836, he had completed a four-year apprenticeship with J. E. Stein, an owner of a pharmacy. At the end of 1839, he was officially authorized to perform chemical experiments, make up prescriptions, and sell medicines. During this time, he changed his name to Henri Nestlé in order to adapt better to the new social conditions in French-speaking Vevey, Switzerland.

In 1843, Henri Nestlé bought into one of the region's most progressive and versatile industries at that time, the production of rapeseeds. He also became involved in the production of nut oils (used to fuel oil lamps), liqueurs, rum, absinthe and vinegar. He also began manufacturing and selling carbonated mineral water and lemonade, although during the crisis years from 1845 to 1847 Nestlé gave up mineral water production. In 1857 he began concentrating on gas lighting and fertilizers.   
(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Nestle)
The Development of Baby FormulaUntil the end of the 19th century, if a mother could not breastfeed and the family could not afford a wet nurse, babies were often fed with porridge. This led to severe intestinal disorders and many babies did not survive. At that time, approximately one in five children in Europe died before their first birthday. Henri Nestlé experienced this first hand – five of his thirteen siblings died in childhood. This may explain why he was so interested in this field of research.

Improvements in the hygiene of living conditions and the reduction of infectious diseases increased the survival chances of children, but significant improvements in child mortality were only achieved once research paid attention to the importance of baby nutrition, such as the work carried out by the Medical Academy in France. 
Henri Nestlé, who was now a qualified pharmacist, also contributed to this progress. Mothers who could not breastfeed were faced with a dilemma: the baby needed feeding but the digestibility of animal milk was poor. So Henri had the idea of producing a nutrient enriched cereal that could be used for feeding in situations when no mother's milk was available.
After several tests, in 1867 Henri Nestlé created the first baby formula; his research had finally succeeded. His baby formula managed to save a little baby just a few months old, who had been on the brink of death – « Little Wanner ». From that time onwards, his baby formula was tested and approved by numerous doctors and midwives and became famous as a complete product, easy to digest and with a good taste – the first in Europe and then throughout the world.

Henri Nestlé continued his research and ensured that his products were regularly tested by recognised authorities. At the world exhibition in 1871, Nestlé's baby formula was awarded a gold medal for its merits in reducing infant mortality. He had helped to achieve a major goal: feeding non-breastfed babies was now safer.

However, in spite of his ongoing scientific achievements and new developments in baby food, Henri Nestle always recognised the superiority of breast milk and breastfeeding. In 1869 he recorded his thoughts on this issue, stating "During the first few months, mother's milk will always remain the most natural form of infant nutrition and each mother who is able to do it, should breast-feed her child."
Henri Nestlé in PrivateHenri Nestlé remained a bachelor for a long time. It was only in 1860, when he was 46 years old, that he married Clementine Therese Ehemant, a lady from Frankfurt, during a stay in his birth town. After their arrival in Vevey, she also changed her name and called herself Ehmant. Unfortunately the marriage remained childless, but the couple later adopted an orphan: Emma Seiler, later called Emma Nestlé.
(Source: http://www.nestlebaby.co.uk/about-us/henri-nestle)

Retirement and Later Years
Henri Nestlé sold his company in 1875 to his business associates and then lived with his family alternately in Montreux and Glion, where they helped people with small loans and publicly contributed towards improving the local infrastructure. In Glion he moved into a house later known as Villa Nestlé.

Nestlé died of a heart attack in Glion on 7 July 1890. he was buried at Territet Cemetery in Montreux.[1]

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Nestle)

Corporations need not be bad, despite what the political left might say.  Henri Nestle is proof of this.  He founded a company that manufactured baby feed for children that would have otherwise suffered from malnutrition and potential death (remember that malnutrition and infant death is something we in the West associate with impoverished third world countries), and he did it with good sound scientific reasoning and study.  He put his years of study as a pharmacist to good use and devised a foodstuff (no mean feat - scratch-building a foodstuff) suitable for infants.  The results speak for themselves: reduced infant malnutrition, reduced infant death, reduced suffering.  No one, no one in their right mind anyway, could argue with positives like that.  That's what corporations do, and do on a daily basis, regardless of what the left-wing harpies might say about it.


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Ross Kemp Held at Gunpoint in Papua New Guinea

How would you hold up if a gun was pointed at you?  What if you were out in the back of beyond and a gang of known killers were armed and pointing guns at you threatening to kill you?  How would you act?  Me, how would I act?  I honestly don't know.  Badly/wrongly probably.  Ross Kemp on the other hand did have a gun pointed at him while investigating social issues in Papua New Guinea (Ross Kemp: Extreme World), and acted with enough composure to defuse the situation without anyone getting injured.  He even managed to have an interview with the armed men afterwards.

At a time when people are quite often overcome by their fears when confronted by a man with a gun (as we occasionally read about in the media), here's a man who managed to keep his composure and came out of the situation un-harmed.

In addition to his composure, he also showed humility rather than faux-bravado by admitting a few times during an interview that what he said during the encounter "was a bit wimpy" (3:21).  This is the kind of honesty and humility that the fakers in the PUA community could do with instead of bragging about how 'manly' they are because they managed to talk to some women and get their phone numbers.  Whoopy doo!

This is one example of a confrontational situation and how to deal with it in a manly way: by 'taking control' of it rather than 'reacting' to it (i.e. in a fight or flight response).  Men think and take control of situations no matter how timid or terrifying they may be, and this is just one example of that.

The Youtube clip can be found HERE or viewed below.  The following is the introduction to the video taken from the website:
Published on 30 Jan 2014 
Actor and journalist Ross Kemp is not only an award-winning performer and investigative reporter, he's also a badass.

During a recent journey to Papua New Guinea, Kemp stumbled across a group of militia while searching for a local general. While the gunmen he finds are initially friendly and offer him food and some form of cigarette, they quickly turn confrontational and demand that Kemp get on his knees.

"They're going, 'get down on your hands and knees, get down on your hands and knees.' Now, you know at that point, you're going to become a victim," Kemp says.

Rather than submit to victimhood, Kemp proceeds to grab the barrels of whatever gun is pointed at him and insist repeatedly that he is not going to be killed that day by them or anyone else.

"Are you going to kill me?" he asks. "No one's going to f***ing kill me."

Out of respect for this ballsy move, Kemp suggest, his would be killers were moved to back down.