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Friday, 24 January 2020

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!



for FREE.

As a weekend extra I’d like to add that girls need to see themselves as leaders  now more than ever as privileged males continue to trash the world – and that can start with young readers…

For example - not all adventure books need to have boys as the central characters and not all girls in such books need be the sensible side-kicks.

So, just for a change, check out my Eleanor trilogy and try bk 1 FREE (in the kindle version – and no you don’t need an e-reader for this) Just download in the next 5 days. 



Tuesday, 21 January 2020

332. The Human Algorithm, Cosmic Irony or Divine Retribution?


Here is something to consider - if you really have nothing better to do with your brain space. Is the current inexplicable political self-destruct in countries that have plucked disasters off the didn’t-need-to-happen shelf, just part of what I think of as the Human Algorithm? Is it Cosmic Irony or is it Divine Retribution?

Here is something else to consider – as they’d often have the same result does it really matter?

I’ve mulled over this idea before in relation to Brexit. Struck as I was by the huge irony that the very attitude that spawned the empire and grew it literally on the backs of African slaves should bring Britain so very low in the form of the hideous pointless jingoism of Brexit – I did one of my doodles a while back…

And yes, I’m not lost on the fact that as a descendant of slaves I’m caught up in the mess but I’m not sure Cosmic Irony is – or would be if it existed -  particularly discriminating (pun intended).

The Human Algorithm is an idea I’m keen on. By it I mean that if you look widely enough and are prepared to take in huge swathes of history, certain things seem to balance out. And everything has its own self-destruct or balancing mechanism. Take disposable nappies for example (stay with me this won’t take long) If you are a lazy parent who doesn’t give a shit about the planet (another intended pun) and you keep your kids in disposable nappies/pull-ups til they are  nearly 4 (not something that happened when mums had to use Terry nappies) – the chances of a male child growing up infertile increase. Hence your lazy not-caring genes are limited. Get it? That is what I mean by The Human Algorithm. Equally, fail to deal with the jingoistic, we’re-better-than-johnny-foreigner attitude and you get – well – the self-destruct of Brexit.

In 1066 King Harold (Earl of Essex) was killed by William the Conqueror. Fail to deal with the nonsense of monarchy and hereditary privilege (and snobbery and racism) and in 2020 Harry (Duke of Sussex) ensures that by the time its bro Will’s turn to be king the monarchy will be an obviously big bad implausible joke. Tadaaaa - The Human Algorithm.

Last weekend The Independent published another letter of mine, this one concerning the concerning Scott Morrison – the ridiculous idiot running Australia and still in denial about the effects of the climate calamity even as his country literally burns The Independent (letter Jan 12th) This was the letter if you can’t access The Independent online.

‘Dear Editor,
When the evangelical Scott Morrison won a surprise election victory in Australia with his inhumane treatment of migrants and his mocking of the climate crisis – he joked that it was divine intervention.

I’d like to know what the ‘divine ScoMo’ now makes of the devastating apocalyptic fires.
Amanda Baker

And now of course Australia has floods – they just need plagues of locusts and frogs and there can be no argument.

Then we have America – being daily degraded by the orange idiot. Note; the US is not being dragged down in just any old way in any old mud. America is appearing more, under Trump, like the very countries he sneers at – the ones he referred to as ‘shitholes’. America looks like a third world, third rate mess, headed by an ignorant bullying thug, supported by yes men, the corrupt, the criminal, the cowardly and the fawning.  America’s credibility which you could literally take to the bank – will pass to China. If they don’t all get the new flu.

You can only stretch ‘coincidence’ so far before it snaps. If it’s not Divine Retribution – it is something remarkably almost darkly, comically similar.

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And ok – I admit that this is one of my crazier posts…

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

331. Last time the queen contacted me…



...I was about 8, Britain was unashamedly racist and sexist and was about to join the European Economic Community (having joined the EU in 1970).

I’m not expecting to hear from QE2 again any time soon as my interest in royalty waned shortly after it started. But just as its ok for a young girl to think she will be a concert pianist with no need to practice or to decide she won’t be an inventor because everything has already been invented (see newspaper cutting below)

it’s also fine for that same little girl to assume that kings, queens and princes and princesses are a good idea. It’s really not something an intelligent grownup should still adhere to and I don’t. This has obviously come to an interesting juncture as the nastier elements of the media, the establishment and the royals themselves get into much more of a lather over Meghan Markle wanting to get away from those who’ve shat on her pretty much from the moment she was associated with Pr H, than they ever did over paedo-Epstein-loving Andy.

Paying rich privileged people out of the tax system – people who have eye-watering private wealth – much of it from historically dodgy sources -  in a modern democracy where even people who actually do proper paid jobs are still having to go to food banks is mad.

And this is something the media and the establishment who first displayed their snobbishness and racism in MM’s direction should remember. Many people like me – sentient adults – are not royalists. Many of us softened just a little when a real human person appeared in their midst. Even if we had to justify it by looking at the whole cabal as over-paid celebrities and try and blank a little reality out.

I’ve written on this blog and in letters published in the press (god love ‘em they are still not sick of me after all these years across dozens of different publications home and abroad) about the abysmal way Meghan Markle has been treated. I would say the racism and abuse and snobbery is thinly veiled – but it wasn’t and isn't. It is blatant.

So the thing that is currently amazing and diverting me from all the real catastrophes around the world (see last post) is the utterly vitriolic way the press who mauled her are slating her for wanting out.

Since the last truly English and remarkable and even admirable (by the standards of the day) monarch got an arrow in his eye in 1066, there really have been no other English kings or queens of persistent merit. OR who have worked so hard to earn their place. And yet through the twists and turns of the nonsense of a 'hereditary' lineage thin at points and entirely swerved off that path at others, this idea of entitlement as persisted. I do not understand it any more than I understand why the very rich get out of paying taxes or the very stupid, inept and disordered get elected to high office. But the inbreds of Europe hanging on to titles and entitlement over centuries is something we all need to consider because while much has changed since 1066 I would argue that, in many ways, as much again has changed since I received my last missive from her maj in the very early 1970s.

The only thing that hasn’t changed is the bicycle referred to at the end of the piece. It was a very old, second hand bike back then and far too big for me even with the saddle right down. I still ride it today. Of the knackered old institution of the royal family and the rather wonderful, knackered old bike, only one thing was really worth keeping.

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FUNNY TREAT!
If you need some comedy to get you through January try my new comedy novel in its kindle version or treat someone you think may also need a laugh to the paperback.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

330. 100% cure for anxiety in 2020


Take a leaf out of our glorious leaders’ book – it’s just the one book titled ‘don’t give a shit’ even about a crisis - even if you caused the crisis.

Those who lead us a merry dance to Armageddon don’t experience it and anxiety has becomes an over-used euphemism for the self-pity of cosseted millennials. It’s also a fairly useless emotion. Let’s ditch the word for 2020.

Anxiety is a word now even being ascribed to concerns about the environment. Some of my favourite columnists began the year discussing ways to assuage our anxiety as if the biggest problem with global apocalypse is that it’s making middle class white people feel anxious rather than that its already wiping out poor defenceless coastal communities in places the UK doesn’t really care about as it happily disengages from the collective action of EU membership  and meanders towards the mirage of a perfect 1950s Britain where women wore pinafores, men did manual jobs until they died of emphysema and it was ok to be sexist and racist.

Permanently looking at the world all through the self-regard magnifying glass will just make you properly ill plus as I’ve said many times before– if you aint feeling anxious about the state of the world right now you’re not normal so then it becomes a case of my ‘got anxiety’ is bigger than yours. I bet it’s not.

In short – if you are lucky enough to have a doctor to go to who will confirm that you have ‘anxiety issues’ you are very, very lucky indeed and we really don’t need to worry about you. We actually need to worry about the people with Ebola / Malaria / Cholera who have no doctors or the people whose food sources are gone because of pollution or whose parents have died locked in a ‘factory’ in India making the jeans you wore to the doctor’s appointment where it was confirmed that you have ‘anxiety issues.’

BUT better still just don’t care. The US blob Trump doesn’t. He does do tantrums but that’s a whole different thing. He was quite happy to attempt – again – to start WWIII from his private golf course. The Australian blob Scott Morrison, who doesn’t accept that the climate and environment are in crisis, had to be dragged back from his Hawaiian holiday while Australia was literally burning. And our own blob Boris Johnson – having successfully steered the rotten Brexit tanker onto the rocks didn’t cut short his Caribbean holiday even though his brother blob across the pond had – as we established earlier – had another go at kicking off WWIII. 

So – join the blobs and don’t give a shit.

Friday, 20 December 2019

A "beautiful" story for Christmas...

...or any other time - about magic, truth, trust and saving the world.

"A wonderful find" Amazon
        
**** Goodreads

Relax and enjoy the audio via bandcamp
(just click on the link below)

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Tuesday, 3 December 2019

329. Extinction Reality


OK – I’m putting the blog into hibernation for December – and prior to the general election. Large swathes of the ordinary British working class public, voting for Boris Johnson, a man who openly despises them, is more than I can stomach.

So – turning to the subject which should be occupying our minds every minute of every day – the environment – I’ll leave you with this thought, something I’ve pushed many times in my writing –

As we trash our planet like a bunch of rabid, delinquent, spoiled brat teenagers whose parents have stupidly gone away and left them in charge of an exquisite home full of priceless possessions, we should remind ourselves that the significant species least likely to survive or recover is us. Humans.

This idea is the driver for my dystopian novella  Zero One Zero Two (see ref in last week's post) and the poem, below, is one which features in that story. (Yes I’ve chucked a bit of poetry in a dystopian novella – get over it.) In this piece, in the penultimate chapter, the main protagonist is considering what may be left of the earth.


Does the Sun Still Shine

by Amanda Baker

Does the sun still shine
Do rivers still dance
Do breezes caress the trees
Does an apple still blush on a branch somewhere
Do flowers still flirt with bees

Does a waterfall crash where nobody hears
Does the Okavango delta still
Wash with Africa’s tears

Do elephant bones lie bleached and broken
Are shorelines kissed by the sea
Are dead cities shadowed with ghosts and regret
The great whales just a memory
Is there a footprint left by me

Does a white moon glow where nobody sees
Could cathedral sunsets
Still bring me to my knees

Does the kestrel cruise with a predator’s grace
While a vole marks his shadow, beware
Are the turrets and towers toppled and gone
Are the Great Plains stripped and bare
Is there anything there

Does rippling heat flatten the desert dust
Where scorpions arch and cacti pose
And camels have wanderlust

Are mountains still dappled by giddy cloud
Is my memory only a dusty store
Pale pretty pictures of paradise
Images of things that are no more
An empty room without a door

Our plundering and ravaging bore malformed fruit
Are the oceans and skies forlorn
Are forests blind and mute

Or

Does the sun still shine
Do rivers still dance
Do breezes caress the trees
Does an apple still blush on a branch somewhere
Do flowers still flirt with bees

Does a waterfall crash where nobody hears
Does the Okavango delta still
Wash with Africa’s tears



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Happy Christmas with an old doodle from 2013


See you in January 2020

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

328. Black Fridays will wipe us out before climate change…


Consumerism will wipe us out before we've made the planet entirely uninhabitable for humans. We now live in a permanent state of Black Friday.


I've railed against this on a global level and on a local level (here in Edinburgh, like a lot of cities, cutting down trees and hedges seems to be an addiction). I have written about it on this blog as well as in my fiction Casey & the Surfmen and Zero One Zero Two

But there is a dark race going on as a background to the more obvious self-harm of Brexit and societal conflict. Consumerism – the very comfortable bed-fellow of rampant Capitalism.

Consumerism is killing us directly at a startling rate, exponentially, efficiently and globally far faster even than climate devastation.

Right on your very doorstep there are people killing themselves by consuming shit for the financial gain of other human beings and we don’t seem to be able to get enough of it.

Car use is one of our favourite cancers – the one we hug to our bosom while chanting and fist waving about beating bodily cancers. As recently as the 1970s it was not the norm for most families to own a car (or two). We know car usage contributes both to obesity and poisons the air we breathe in a very immediate way and that is if you exclude the carnage that happens on our roads daily. We even seem to have gone soft on the more recent scourge of phone use during driving which is – as I pointed out to one driver when I knocked on his car window yesterday ‘dangerous, selfish and illegal’ (Yes, I’m one of THOSE women…)

Yet car over-usage has ceased to be a regular topic of conversation because we’ve collectively given up on the idea of reducing it, falsely mollifying ourselves with the dummy idea that electric cars are going to solve the problems. We are obsessed with the idea that we can carry on as normal and science will dig us out of this mess. Presumably we also think there is no environmental impact to producing new cars? Will they magically not run people over or keep them from exercise... Ditto air travel. We know it is a significant polluter and the tourist traffic it dumps on now- tourist-dependent poorer countries is an abomination, disenfranchising and reducing the local populous to tourist slaves. But you only have to spout about the ‘opportunity’ for everyone to have cheaper holidays and any environmental or social argument evaporates. Ditto the vile and ocean-polluting cruises ships. Because it all makes money – for someone.

Drugs – legal or illegal are wiping out thousands of us every single year and the figure is growing. But drugs are making money for someone somewhere and the ones that aren’t cooked up in factories are grown on land that could be used to grow food.

The stress of non-essential spending-related debt is taking its toll on people’s health. The scourge of of gambling has eaten it’s away into the epicentre of many families like a new form of heart disease.

Try challenging rampant capitalism or destructive consumerism and the ready mantra of CHOICE is screamed in your face. Choice is party of the holy trinity of this death cult.

Fast/processed/unhealthy food! How many, many ways is that killing us? Directly of course as the exponential rise in obesity continues – heart attacks – cancers related to poor diet but also because land clearance to grow meat and grain to feed cattle is devastating huge swathes of land leading to more floods and soil erosion. It is routine to pump cattle with antibiotics and this is helping medicine resistant strains of truly devastating diseases develop at a rate we cannot possibly keep up with in our disjointed fractured world.

Plastic surgery has become ‘normal’ for ordinary people where it used to be the preserve of aging Hollywood actors. Every few days another story hits the media (I won’t say headlines as it’s too regular for that) of a young woman being butchered at her own expense to have larger breasts or a larger bottom or a smaller waste or a different shaped nose or mouth. It's body consumerism. No, plastic surgery is not killing humans at as significant rate as other things but its increase is another symptom of the unspoken acceptance of any harm if it is lucrative. We have completely lost the plot on this one.

Every moment of every day someone somewhere is making a decision that money is more important than human life (Grenfell Tower?) The two Western democracies that could and should be leading the way on these vital issues are in socio-political meltdown.

Environmentalists I applaud you. As a non-car owning, non-smartphone owning – non dishwasher/microwave (etc) owning, non-tourist wierdo, I consider myself one. However, another human self-destruct mechanism is beating a path to Armageddon and I think it will get there first.