Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

Total Pageviews

Monday, 15 January 2018

Alcohol consumption

Reducing Alcohol Consumption

On December 2nd 2016, my doctor told me I had to stop drinking. It was the second bit of bad news I’d had that day; the first was that I had to go to hospital A & E immediately; my ECG gave cause for alarm.
This is a brief account of my experience in reducing my alcohol consumption. It is written to encourage other males who like their beer and who also want to cut down or cut it out. It may also encourage lady drinkers that perhaps are not alcoholics but perhaps feel they should cut down.
It wasn’t that I was an alcoholic in the sense that I craved booze at all times of the day or frequently binge drank; no it was the fact that I drank, without fail, every day of my life and had been doing so since I took a pub in 1975. Now retired, my favourite time of day was beer o’clock, my 6pm beer, drank as I prepared the evening meal. Usually, I would take a pint, sometimes a bit more with a glass of wine to accompany the meal. Seldom did I drink after dinner, I’d had enough. However, the cumulative effect after forty years of imbibing alcohol, sometimes excessively, was taking its unsensed course. The fatty liver, diagnosed a few years ago was the first clue, general malaise and other symptoms, dismissed as creeping old age, followed.
At first, the thought of giving up alcohol seemed absurd; my consumption, after all, was low, certainly no more, or not much more than that recommended weekly allowance. Alcohol had been my prop all those years in the pub, when facing the public, my customers. Normally reserved, I would become the genial host after the first mouthful of lager in the session, ready to serve and entertain the varied clientele of comics, wits and bores to be found propping up every bar.
Now, without my prop, I feared I would struggle to maintain my already pitiful social persona especially as my family nickname was MOG, standing for ‘miserable old git’.
However, with my wife’s heartfelt support I resolved to have a go, but with the proviso that I wasn’t going to be totally TT. This latter, proved to be important.
The first challenge was the rapidly approaching Christmas and we had company for the festive period. I resolved that if it was to work, I had to want to do it.
The first joint event was the Christmas Eve party in the Emerald Isle, Mojacar, the second such event of what is rapidly becoming a tradition in that bar. My friend drank Guinness, pointedly and repeatedly emphasising his enjoyment, thereby poking fun at my non-alcoholic beers (n-a b) but I persisted. Christmas day we hosted a pre-lunch drink for friends with champagne cocktail for guests and n-a b for me. For Christmas lunch I had a glass of red wine with my Turkey. Somehow I survived the festivities having drunk very little alcohol, emerging at the other end with a quiet satisfaction that it hadn’t been so bad after all. Nevertheless, the feeling that my social life was over couldn’t be shaken. I became indifferent to social occasions, fearing that they wouldn’t be enjoyable without the comforting habit of drink.
I had already stopped the custom of beer o’clock, drinking n-a b when the urge welled and increasingly water. Quickly, I felt that days, weeks had passed without alcohol at home and before long it was the summer and fresh temptations.
We had visitors and I had the occasional pints of alcoholic beer but never to excess. Increasingly, I found that I was becoming less worried about the prospect of drinking alcohol free. The key to my success in curbing my alcohol intake was the promise I made to myself that I could always have a drink; it wasn’t banned. With that in place I always felt that I was in control. As I drive home after a social event I feel pleased with myself, not only that I can drive but also because next day my brain or my liver won’t suffer. Rarely but sometimes I’ve rewarded myself with a treat; a glass of port or a brandy after dinner. But only one; two would be failure.
It must be mentioned here that the improved quality of non-alcoholic beers has been instrumental to my success. Yes, when warm and flat they have a problem with taste and aftertaste, but drunk cold and fresh they are quite palatable and as the year progressed I became more familiar with them. Often available on draught, it’s not bad. It looks like a pint, smells like a pint and almost tastes like a pint. We need to encourage more bars to stock it. Another trick I discovered is to order a pint of regular shandy, periodically topping up with non-alcoholic beers.
By the end of the first year I had consumed in total 15 pints of lager, three glasses of red wine and some odds and sods. I kept a record.
I’m well into my second year now having enjoyed a second Christmas holiday almost alcohol free. The fight is ongoing; temptation is always there and changing circumstances may present other challenges but hopefully we can look forward to a healthier lifestyle.

To summarise:
For those who want to cut down on their alcohol consumption, really want to do it. It’s no good if deep down you don’t.
Drink non-alcoholic beer and learn to enjoy it as much as possible.
Promise yourself that you are not going TT. You’re in control. Allow yourself some ‘treats’ from time to time but only one glass. Discipline.
Remember to congratulate yourself for your abstinence; you’ve earned it.
It does become easier in time.

This programme cannot help those who have a more pronounced alcohol problem. For those who drink at all times of the day or drink spirits or other, stronger drinks, to excess, professional help or joining AA is more appropriate.

Jan 2018

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Gut feelings

A recent article in the Daily Mail.
How human brains are interconnected through a type of 'wi-fi' which explains why people have 'gut feelings'
Prof Digby Tatum of the University of Sheffield has been studying how the human brain can 'communicate'
He believes the brain is quietly and constantly absorbing information on people
His research suggests that this process is the concept behind 'gut feelings'
Prof Tatum warned that video calls could interrupt these complex routines 

Read more:

Gut feelings are, I suggest, the result of the brain's functioning in the three dimensions of time, a manifestation of human (and other animal's) consciousness, particularly to do with risk assessment..
'Unreal' time searches the data base of our memory, triggered by 'real' time observation or sensing of circumstances or environment. The results are fed to the parts of the brain operating in 'imaginary' time, responsible for dreaming, the ineffable traits such as love, appreciation of the arts and discernment of the abstract. Here decisions are made about response; balanced judgements that stimulate the mode of action or none. Gut feelings sense some recognition, either in the memory of the subject or that of their inherited ancestors without acute definition of the exact nature of the risk.
For more details i refer the reader to:  The Davies hypothesis

Friday, 5 January 2018

Expert witness

A multiple rapist, given only eight years imprisonment for abusing  at least twenty women, probably a hundred has been recommended for release. It has been argued that he is no longer a danger to the public. What a load of bollocks!
This man, a cab driver, systematically carried out his crimes, drugging his victims before raping up to four a night it is alleged. This was a calculated, premeditated crime carried out by an evil man and now, someone, presumably an expert, an expert psychologist, perhaps, has said that he is now safe for release. What does this so called expert know beyond his opinion? How can he tell that hundreds of innocent women are not in peril because of his expert judgement. I, and I dare say many more people would be happier with the arrangement if the man was castrated before release.

Egypt & blasphemy

It is thought that the next move by the Egyptian Government is to ban atheism, treating it as a form of blasphemy, punishable by death or worse, imprisonment.
In recent years there seems to have been a more tolerant attitude in the Islamic world, towards further secularisation. This however is being reversed, it seems to me, in Iran, Turkey and Egypt, in particular, as new leaders revert to a more stringent interpretation of what is or isn't acceptable in an Islamic republic.
A 33 year old British woman is being held in a notorious Egyptian jail on the charge of the illegal importation of the drug tramadol. The drug, an opiate, was for the use of her Egyptian partner who claims to suffer from back pain.
Putting aside, for the moment, the question of the adviseability of taking an Egyptian as a partner, why would anyone want to visit Egypt, a country ruled by a fervent Islamic militia. These leaders want to reverse a move by their countries to engage more with the Western, more Christian, nations, moves, they believe, calculated to weaken the influence of Islam. In fact, is it not the case, that these regimes are using religion, not to protect their faith but to control the population.
But what can we do about it? People, quite rightly, want to visit the treasures of Egypt but would it not make a statement to these oppressive regimes if the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (and maybe the EU), advised a boycott until a more tolerant attitude towards foreign nationals and their beliefs was adopted?

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Do trees possess consciousness?

Do trees possess consciousness? Do they have self awareness? You wouldn't think so; it certainly doesn't bother us as we cut them down, often demolishing whole communities of these majestic plants.
But I've been thinking. The Davies Hypothesis proposes that consciousness (in humans at least) is a consequence of the brain working with the three dimensions of time. These dimensions, roughly equating to the past the present and the future allow us to access memory and therefore knowledge, monitor the senses to establish environment and circumstances, giving rise to understanding and 'imaginary' time which processes the data to enable decision making leading to wisdom. 'Imaginary' time is also responsible for dreaming, man's ineffable traits, the appreciation of the arts, music and the discernment of the abstract.
But what's this got to do with trees? Do trees have access to memory? Yes they do because they feel the presence of predators such as aphids (real or present time sense) and recognise the cause. that's two of the dimensions of time in operation. What about the third? Well in response, the tree releases bitter tannin into the leaves making them  unpalateable to the aphids. Furthermore, it has been shown that some trees have the ability to exude vapours which attract ladybirds to the site of the infestation. How clever is that?
It is, surely, undeniable that trees do possess some level of consciousness but are there degrees. Research shows that trees do communicate by widespread fungi interacting with the tree roots, sharing information on nutrient and water sources. Trees are amazing. It's just as well we can't hear their screams when the chainsaw bites.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A Tale of Two Tribes

The new Labour Muslim Network, headed by an activist who allegedly said that 'Israel had no right to exist', seeks to reinforce the push by the socialists to secure the UK Muslim vote. They know that if they can gather the support of the Imams they will be able, by virtue of the tribal structure of Muslim communities, to influence the voting intentions of their community.
Another tribe that won't accept opinion other than  that espoused by the leader, no matter how wrong, are the followers of Manchester United. Their leader, the Manager, Mourinho, described the celebrating, victorious Manchester City players as 'educationally diverse', a euphemism no doubt for his pejorative response to defeat. (Result: United 1- 2 City). In both instances, the tribe will not accept that they are wrong in their belief that they are the chosen ones. In Mourinho's view, City cheated and had luck and the officials on their side. In the past, when Muslims won their battles, God was with them but when they lost, he was merely 'testing' them. No setback would deflect them from their belief.
Now the Labour Party under their 'messiah' Corbyn conveniently ignores that throughout the globe most conflicts involve Muslims. From Burma and Thailand in Asia, to Europe and today in the US it is the followers of Islam who are responsible, whereas as far as I know, Israel only protects its borders. But no, Corbyn and other supporters of terrorists such as the IRA and Hamas cannot see the carnage that Islam has inflicted on the Middle East, nor can Mourinho accept that he and his team were well beaten at the weekend. Different scales, I know, but the same problem due to entrenched views, a consequence of the natural 'Rule of Two. see:

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Interference in UK politics

Am I missing something here? One week, the House of Commons and the liberal elite are condemning Donald Trump for interfering in UK politics and the following week not a peep when the Irish Republic does the same with regards to the Country's Brexit terms.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Perfidy in the Commons

Yesterday saw a disgraceful betrayal of the British majority when Members of the House of Commons spoke out in unison against the sensible advice of the President of the United States. POTUS is said to have retweeted videos showing Moslem violence, claimed to be fake, whilst advising the UK to be wary of Islamic terrorism. Some on the Labour side wanted a State visit cancelled and a few wanted him arrested on landing on UK soil. When members on all sides collude together to see who can be the most obnoxious one has to sense something is up. On the Labour side it's easy to see that at a need for the Moslem vote to preserve their majority demands a pro Islam stance bordering on the anti-semitic. It is harder to guess why Tory members should follow suit given that the US is the UK's most powerful ally, but the Prime Minister is said to have voiced her unease at POTUS's intrusion into UK's domestic politics. Why? when he talks common sense. I have said before that the threat to global peace does not come from Scandinavians, South Sea Islanders or people from Malta, it comes from the followers of Islam as manifest in every corner of the globe apart from Antarctica and I bet somebody has plans to erect a mosque there soon. The followers of Islam hold grudges from Biblical times and are intent on making earth a grand Sultanate, exactly as seen in Turkey where a twentieth century country is gradually being turned into a parody of the Ottoman Empire by the megalomaniac leader, Erdogan.
As the Commons vented their outrage an Islamic terror group broadcast their desire to kill Western children over Christmas as a reprisal for all the kids killed by air raids in Syria and Iraq. You won't find condemnation of this amongst the Labour ranks whose leader prefers to dally with Hamas and Hezbollah and talk tactics with the IRA. What, I ask myself, has the most glorious nation on earth done to deserve this bunch of stupid idiots in the mother of all parliaments? These members are, with a few exceptions, looking after their own interests, not those of the nation and the majority of British people whose family's built the Country and Empire for the Glory of the world. Why didn't somebody ask the Minister, Amber Rudd, how many people have been killed in the UK by extreme right wing groups during the last two years and how many have been slaughtered by followers of Islam. You can guess the answer and guess, also, who the 'honourable' members wish to proscribe. Confusion to the lot of them.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Good & Evil

I have been given a book or rather a series of books to review. It is a serious work aimed at reconciling traditional Jewish theology with the problem of evil or more precisely the prickly problem of why does it exist in a universe created by a loving, compassionate God.
For theologians it is a tricky question and many theodicies have been suggested such as; finite man cannot possibly understand an infinite (inscrutible) God or for man to attain the highest virtues, to become more perfect, it is necessary for mankind to suffer. The latter does not explain why it is necessary that some should suffer more than others or why children should be harmed but all religions require a leap of faith with some of their beliefs.
Far easier to explain that evil manifest in mankind (moral evil as opposed to natural evil) is simply a product of natural selection and survival of the fittest.
Take the cuckoo as an example. To raise its young he must kill the issue of another species of bird and lay its egg in their place. By this means it not only murders its kids but defrauds the host bird of time and assets. From the host birds point of view it has been sinned against (without remedy). Nature has introduced sin to enable one species to take advantage of another by means of murder and fraud. What makes it different with humans is that we have developed a code of conduct in an effort to curtail natural instincts to take advantage of others to further their own interests. This is entirely arbitrary as the cuckoo would insist he hasn't sinned but humans in an attempt at civilised society have adopted a set of rules not dissimilar to those mentioned in the ten commandments.
But where does God fit in, if at all?
It is difficult to see how if we accept that good and evil are just two ends of a one dimensional continuum. see the diagram.

Everybody sits somewhere on the line; there is no mystery, no room for spirituality in the orthodoxy. If, however we think of good and evil as part of a three dimensional set up as shown, it can be shown that at any level of goodness we can identify extremes. Take the trinitarian equation which shows the relationship between our perception of goodness and its components.
Perceived goodness, G = ±√[ (+g)² + (-g)² + (ig)²]
where '+g' is the real goodness (good), '-g' is the unreal goodness, (evil) and 'ig' is the imaginary goodness ('i' is the square root of minus one).
Solving we have perceived goodness, G =  ± g. As with the one dimensional view we have the answer good and evil. Only now we have what we've referred to as 'imaginary' goodness. It is absolutely necessary but does not itself appear in the answer. Is this the goodness of God (or Satan) or is it merely the intrinsic goodness of mankind?

The trinitarian equation is a fundamental component of The Davies Hypothesis

Cognitive Bias

A recent Horizon program aired on the BBC dealt with the subject of Cognitive Bias or the conflict in our minds of intuition over logic. Kahneman & Tversky introduced the subject in the nineteen-seventies, identifying two types of rationale. System 1 reflects our swift, snap judgements that require little effort providing simple solutions to our daily needs. It gives almost instantaneous responses. System 2 on the other hand requires more judgemental time where we weigh more complex problems in our mind.
Unfotunately our snap decisions are prone to error because our minds are full of inherent biases, 150 of which have been identified.
At the risk of committing 'confirmation' bias, (  see wikipedia ) I wonder whether we can identify Systems 1 & 2 with the The Davies Hypothesis that posits that consciousness is defined by the three modes of time operating in the brain. 'Real' and 'unreal' time in the brain operate at a fixed rate set by the expansion of the universe but 'imaginary' time can vary giving rise to different perceptions. Could it be that System 1 decision making is related to 'imaginary' time working in the brain in the same way that it deals with shock and intuitive reaction, often needed in sports. System 2 thinking follows the process of information gathering (understanding), reference to memory (knowledge) and rational thought leading to wisdom.