The Good The Bad and The Ugly

What if the biggest computer ever designed was switched off, could it be rebooted? Earlier this year the human world was switched off for a short time and ever since, people have been trying to reboot it, while others think we should just leave it switched off.

Can we talk about Covid 19 or pandemics without mentioning countries or politics? Yes. Good things, bad things and ugly scenes have happened this year all over the world, but we might not all agree on what is good or bad, right or wrong.

Good things happened for Gaia and for a lot of people. With everything at a standstill the air was fresher, the skies bluer, people in cities could breathe and see mountains on the horizon for the first time. Wildlife thrived and found new playgrounds. If any proof was needed, this was what climate change protestors had been pleading for; why was it okay to switch everything off to save a few people, but not to save the whole planet? The harsh truth is that Covid 19 may be terrible, but it is not a threat to the human race or the planet, while accelerated climate change affects us all, including our unborn descendants. Those of us whose lives and homes remain unscathed by fire, flood and famine cannot be complacent. Covid 19 won’t destroy the human race, but it is another symptom of the way we treat the planet and other creatures and we have all been affected by it.

Can we halt rebooting and unplug our giant computer at the mains? The beginning of pandemic panic is already taking on a rosy hue in our memories. Silent roads and empty skies, no road carnage or plane crashes. Spending more time with your family, discovering you can work from home, no commuter traffic, empty office buildings with the potential to house the homeless and key workers. The Pope calls for ceasefires and peace all over the world, people are nice to each other and appreciate the forgotten workforce, the cleaners, delivers and carers. Volunteers make an unprecedented effort to help their local communities. Governments and councils, in days, bring all homeless people off the streets. There is a splurge of on line creativity, people across the globe connected.

There was also a catastrophic loss of jobs and businesses, the world of live arts and entertainment devastated. Hunger, loneliness, domestic violence and mental health problems for those isolated in cramped places. We weren’t all in it together, those who had the least had even less. Big cracks appeared to divide people over long standing issues, people started arguing over new issues such as facemasks and there were vitriolic on line comments by those certain they alone knew how to deal with a pandemic.  And nobody took any notice of the Pope’s plea.

Is there any chance our world leaders know what to do next, how to organise societies that must live with a virus that will not go away, create a new fair normal. Perhaps someone will come up with new software to change how the Big Computer runs everything. The newly unemployed will be trained to build solar powered airships and homes, grow environmentally friendly food for the whole world and boost the care sector into a respected well paid profession. Maybe this software will conveniently delete any powers that threaten the new compassionate, sustainable world norm…

The Game of Life Goes Global

The Game of Life is being played on the biggest scale ever with the worldwide virus scare. A game of chance with good odds for most of us, but with the rules being made up as we go along and every team making up their own rules, or so we might think… But it is viruses that make the rules, mutating at will; do they have an agenda? It is not hard to believe that Gaia has her hand in this, as travelling and normal life grind to a halt it must be good for the environment and non human creatures.

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Meanwhile, if we zoom in like Google Maps to my family, even without the virus there has been drama. Our daughter has clocked up five different hospitals visited, with her younger son and father in hospital at the same time. Luckily the little one is fine. After a year and more of being well, Cyberspouse’s condition went off at an unexpected tangent and he has been in three different hospitals. Now I am officially a carer, having persuaded the discharge nurse and social care team I would manage – not mentioning that once I was back on my computer writing I would probably forget all about him! Luckily our daughter is a physiotherapist and has been organising us, her brothers and the NHS. Our aim was to get him out of hospital before it went into virus lockdown!

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Blogging and writing was put on hold and once my scheduled blogs ran out it was quite liberating to know there was no chance of writing anything or catching up with fellow bloggers. But what a fund of material I have acquired in my head; a blog about the NHS and patients and visitors…

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Latest virus update… Cyberson 1 now back in the USA has to stay home as he has been to the UK within the last 14 days. Team H are now self quarantining as our son-in-law came home from work with a sore throat and cough. Cyberson 2 can’t come down as his boss’s wife has symptoms. We are lucky all the family got together before the virus kicked in. How have you and yours been affected by the virus?

Two Many

Among the fervent discussions on how to save the planet, inevitably it has been noticed that there are a lot of people in the world; apart from humans pushing aside other species who have just as much right to exist, we are using up the earth’s resources and increasing global warming.

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‘In 1798 Thomas Robert Malthus famously predicted that short-term gains in living standards would inevitably be undermined as human population growth outstripped food production, and thereby drive living standards back toward subsistence.’
But the population has grown to numbers which probably should have caused our mass extinction by now according to Malthus. Science and technology have increased food yields and provided the means to curb reproduction. ‘… the eightfold increase in population since 1798 has also raised the number of geniuses in similar proportion and it is genius above all that propels global human advance.’

https://www.intelligenteconomist.com/malthusian-theory/
Despite over two centuries of Gaia curbing us with natural disasters and mankind drastically reducing numbers with warfare, we are still growing. It has been suggested that Malthus’ predictions could still come true. If a couple have two children they have replaced themselves, TWO is a logical number to work on, so we can all reduce our carbon footprint by only having two children. When I was at school we assumed that is what we would be doing; considering the vast populations of China and India we naively thought a few years of communist government would help India. China has now discontinued its one child programme and is faced with 33.5 million more men than women, because sons were preferred. Now they are worried about their ageing population.
Meanwhile, Japan is currently the 11th most populous nation in the world, but its failure to boost birth rates in recent decades has left it with a significantly older population base and a dangerous shortage of young adults. No more crowded trains in their future? Some European countries have a similar problem. For Gaia it could be good news, she probably does not care much about individual societies working.

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History, with its various terrible regimes, means that no democratic government is going to tell people how to plan, or not plan their families and is certainly not going to put into place more sinister designs for reducing their country’s population.
But could having more than two children go the same way as drink driving and smoking indoors, become socially unacceptable? Hopefully not; it would be a dull world if we were all the same. Two is not a bad number, better than just one? Lots of couples choose or find themselves having one child and singletons might say they enjoyed their status or had a bunch of cousins to play with. In China the one child policy left a generation without siblings, then further down the line a generation without cousins or aunties and uncles. A lone child stifled by adoring parents and grandparents; the first time such a huge social experiment has been carried out.

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Having just one child is nothing new; in the 1920’s and 1930’s ordinary people in Britain found themselves able to buy into the suburban dream with mass building of terraced houses and they also had access to contraceptives. Coming from big families, the prospect of less children and less work must have seemed attractive and those houses may have had the delights of an inside bathroom, but they were too small for a big family. Many people did choose to have one child and my aunt said my grandfather used to be introduced with ‘He’s got THREE daughters.’
I don’t write about my family, but here I must confess that my father also had two siblings and they had three of us; we have three and it does work out mathematically or that’s my excuse. Take my siblings and cousins, they all have two, one or none, so the ten of us have more or less replaced ourselves with eleven children. A male cousin had twins at fifty, so there is twenty five years between my first born and his – do they even count as the same generation?
There is nothing simple about families. A couple have two children, then break up, meet new partners and in a rosy romantic glow decide to have more children. If you’re an ageing rock star you repeat this process quite often. But there seem to be enough people having one or none to offset this. Births in England and Wales in 2018 were 1.7 per woman so do we need to worry? Now it’s not how many children can you afford to raise, but what is their carbon footprint?
We all have a carbon footprint just by being born, though being born is not our fault. We hope our children will make a contribution to society, we expect them to be a combination of the best characteristics of both parents, with none of the negative qualities ( in my case our children actually are! ) and we certainly don’t want them to be in prison for serious crimes.

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So your daughter is a top surgeon, your son an astronaut, another child a famous musician, how proud you must be. But how much fossil fuel is the astronaut using to get up to the space station, what is the carbon footprint of the musician jet setting round the world to concerts? Your neighbour’s prisoner son is sitting in his little shared cell not going anywhere, a carbon footprint of practically zero, while your top surgeon daughter is living in a massive house full of every electrical device and a gas boiler pumping heat round a vast number of rooms. If you have produced a leading scientist who cycles to work and is busy inventing ways to save the earth, well done.

How do you see the future of the human race?

In Three Ages of Man the stranger comes from a society where births are strictly regulated and prospective parents are genetically tested first, a glimpse into one possible future…

Friday Flash Fiction- Paragraph Planet

Paragraph Planet is a creative writing website which has been publishing one 75-word paragraph every day since November 2008.

http://paragraphplanet.com/

Any writer can submit, but the word count must be exactly 75 words. The first paragraph is one I had accepted a while ago; we became addicted at writers’ group to thinking of new 75 word paragraphs.

As Long As

How cleansing to see your overlarge house blown to matchsticks in a cyclone. How purifying to see the detritus of modern life swept away in a tidal surge, to know Gaia has won, to face God naked. I put these thoughts on Facebook, take my meal out of the microwave, turn up the heating and settle in my reclining chair to watch the news and soaps on 3D television… As long as it’s not me.

Real Life

… real life experiences, being born, don’t remember. Make a list: rolling down a grassy slope, cycling with the wind in your face, ditto galloping on horseback. swimming in the ocean, standing on a high hill, making love, giving birth, sailing a yacht, flying, escaping mortal danger. And the ultimate, dying, not asleep in bed, that would be cheating… how much time there is to think in the seconds it takes a plane to plunge, engines ablaze…

Cold

A crystalline cold dawn; heavy snow had reached their valley for the first time. His master had just made it back. Usually Nicolai hated the long winter nights, but each breath that seared his lungs brought hope. In late afternoon the clear sky brought a violet shimmer to the virgin snow at the graveyard. Nicolai thrust his stick through crystal layers; it juddered on the iron cold ground. The master would not be arising tonight.

Ten Seconds

Years of training for ten seconds. In other events you can change tactics, put on a last minute spurt. Diet, training and mental attitude will help me reach my ultimate speed; my reflexes honed for the starting block. I lost my job, friends and family; but I’m racing for my country at the Olympics. Men’s one hundred metre final. The starting block feels unreal. I hear the pistol; for a second I hesitate.

You can read more flash fiction in Someone Somewhere

 

What is the shortest story you have written?

Silly Saturday – Height of Hypocrisy

To reach the heights of hypocrisy is harder than you think, there are so many hypocrites around it is hard to compete, but don’t give up yet, you can be hypocritical without even realising it, without even being able to spell it.

Did you sign that petition to save orangutans, without even knowing how to spell orangatangs? Good, but when you went shopping for your peanut butter you picked the one with palm oil in. At least you bought a compassionate mouse trap at the hardware shop, remembered to check it when you got up and tip toed into the garden in your dressing gown to release the dear little mouse through the fence into next door. Then you had a cooked breakfast; so a mouse’s life is worth more than a pig’s?

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You signed the petition against using fossil fuels, but had a lovely day out on a heritage steam railway. Pondering on trains made you decide to sell your car, but luckily your partner also owns a car as you were very grateful when they drove you to the emergency weekend dentist when you had that abscess.

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However, you are feeling extra virtuous because you were part of the Extinction Rebellion protest and your picture appeared on Facebook, with at least two friends recognising you. Of course you had not actually intended to sit on Waterloo Bridge with the protesters, but were trying to make your way home after visiting your grandmother in Saint Thomas’ Hospital; as the buses could not run across the bridge it was easier to walk across and catch a different bus. Then Isabella from work spotted you and enveloped you in flowers and kisses and introduced you to all her green friends and somehow you couldn’t get away…

If you haven’t already had a go at playing the Gaia game – Snakes and Stairs, why not try it?

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2018/10/20/silly-saturday-snakes-and-stairs/

sunshine-blogger

 

 

 

Silly Saturday – Snakes and Stairs

Play the Gaia Game; how are you scoring at saving the planet, will you climb up or slither down?

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Round One: Life

1.Have you been born?

Slide down the Adder for adding another carbon footprint.

2. Have you given birth to more than two children?

Slip down the Viper

3. You have assisted in the conception of four children, but they have become doctors and environmental scientists.

Climb the stairs, you have contributed to humanity.

4. Have you lived more than three score years and ten?

Descend the Python.

5. You have lived four score years, but ride your bicycle to the allotment where you teach the local school children to grow vegetables?

Take your nimble legs up two flights of stairs.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Round Two: Home

1.Do you live in a city penthouse forty floors up?

Take the lift down to the basement – wait, you don’t own a car because you can cycle and walk everywhere in the city? Take the lift back up again.

2.Has your remote jungle village been discovered yet?

No? You are not contributing to world pollution. Take the escalator to the top floor. Oh, you haven’t got an escalator…

3.Have you installed solar panels on the roof of your house?

Take a flight of stairs.

4.You have concreted over your garden to park three vehicles and a caravan.

Go down the Cobra.

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Round Three: Food

1.Would you describe yourself as a subsistence farmer?

Ascend the marble staircase… but you chop all the trees down for firewood?

Sorry, slide down the Anaconda.

2.Are you vegan?

Climb up to the moral high ground.

3.Are you vegetarian?

Stay where you are.

4.Do you eat meat?

Slip down the throat of the Boa Constrictor. No wait, there has been an appeal. You farm hill sheep and preserve the countryside and use some of your land for a wind farm.

5.Do you grow your own vegetables and keep chickens in your suburban garden?

Yes, but you’re so busy you use disposable nappies. Miss a go.

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Photo by Stephen Joel on Pexels.com

Round Four: Transport

1.Do you own a car?

No, climb two flights of stairs, easy for you as you are fit from walking everywhere…. but your partner has a car and chauffeurs you around? Topple down a flight.

2.You cycle everywhere and wear one of those vests that says one less car on the road.

Excellent, you earn enough points to eat meat.

3.You flew on holiday to Disneyland, return to Go.

4.You took your private jet to the other side of the world to help refugees?

Gaia says return to Go.

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Round Five: Power

1.Do you write about the environment in your blog and sign petitions? Does your computer work on solar power? No – miss a go.

2.You got arrested for protesting about fracking. Climb the ladder.

3.You live as a hermit on a remote island.

Excellent, but before taking your next go describe your contribution to society.

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Winner

The winner, Mr. Everly Green, has a small house just the right size for his wife and two children. His roof has solar panels, he has eight rain water butts, grows fruit, vegetables and bee friendly flowers among which roam chickens to fertilise the garden and provide eggs and roast dinners. He walks to work and does not go on holiday as he can’t leave the garden.

But hold on, his win is being contested; that bouquet of flowers he ordered from the florist for his mother’s birthday was composed of cut flowers flown in from Kenya and his prize winning front garden display used plants that came in plastic pots and trays on a pantechnicon from Holland.

Mr. Green must take the serpentine descent of shame.

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Photo by Ajayvir Pal on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction Fantasy

                                      Andromeda Advertiser                           

       The Hotel Inspector

 How long would you spend in suspended animation to reach a one planet solar system? How many holidaymakers would be prepared to trek across the universe to visit the only habitable planet in a third rate solar system? Planet Gaia has only one moon and an outdated space station; what it does have is water and this is the main selling point in their first venture into intergalactic tourism.

The second unusual feature is its tilted axis, which gives it a great variety of climates to choose from. The downside? The brochures omit to mention the unpredictable nature of the locals, or even to explain which is the prime species.

Our tour started when we woke up on the moon, quaintly called Lunar Base. From here we enjoyed wonderful views of the shining blue planet; this alone made the trip worthwhile. We had yet to meet our hosts.

Next stop was the antiquated space station which must be pre booked due to lack of space, but essential if you wish to orbit Gaia.

By the time we landed on the planet we were ready for a meal. We had chosen a tiny island with a mild climate which boasted large colonies of homosapiens. The hotel itself was on the edge and not for the faint hearted unused to water.

This was when the tour began to lose some of its starlight. How do the locals expect to attract tourists without making any effort to learn their language? Even the sign language was limited by their possession of only two arms. It can only be presumed that the more intelligent species live in the oceans, but we did not have time for the underwater trips, nor was our travel agent accredited for this risky expedition.

Our meal was surprisingly tasty and we were soon ready for our guided tour. Having come this far I was determined to put my foot in the water which is called by many names; here it was flat, thin, perfectly safe and called sea. The sensation was not unpleasant and we also enjoyed watching the homosapiens splashing around making their mating calls.

Our party of three and a half was booked in for five days, but the brochure skimmed over the fact that the days are very short, making the stay poor value for money. The ablution facilities consisted of more water, with no sign of any hot dust. Our first night was cramped and uncomfortable; we should have been advised to book more than one room.

The most fascinating aspect was the rapid change of atmospheric conditions. We had not been guaranteed rain, so we were delighted on the second day when the hotel was pounded by strong air currents full of water. From our viewing platform we could see the water had now turned to waves and we were glad to be in the shelter of the hotel.

How did I rate the experience? Mixed; frankly we were glad that the days were so short. I gave our accommodation five suns.