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The world's longest suicide note: ONE MILLION words.

I write about life with bipolar disorder (a.k.a. manic depression).

All opinions are my own.

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Kids With iPhones

5 min read

This is a story about a lack of imagination...

Mr Squiz

There's global moral panic - hysteria - that screen time is rotting our children's minds. There's a widely-held belief that our kids are not getting enough wholesome 'playing in the dirt' outdoors growing up time as we nostalgically remember getting in our own childhoods. "All this used to be fields" we say, even though we grew up on a housing estate in a dismal suburb, and watched lots of TV, with our parents worrying that 4 or maybe even 5 whole channels of colour audiovisual entertainment would warp our fragile young minds and leave us as dribbling morons.

I was dragged around museums, art galleries, stately homes, ancient ruins, churches, cathedrals, mosques, cobbled streets and other sites of historical and cultural interest, in the hope that some of those educational experiences would rub off on me and undo some of the dumb. Never was there an opportunity missed for extreme panic that I was enjoying my childhood too much, and I should be forced to endure some interminable excruciating lecture from an insufferable bore about their particular academic fetish.

I suppose it's a parenting strategy, to provide your children as a captive audience for people who're so lacking in charisma and life skills that they're unable to cope in the real world - roundly ignored by people their own age - while meanwhile the parents can get drunk, smoke and take drugs, and otherwise leave the bothersome business of raising offspring to a state or charity funded organisation masquerading as an educational establishment.

Why the obsession with constant education and cultural experiences anyway?

Oh, you're taking little Hugo to the museum are you? How wonderful of you. How original. Slow clap.

[I stole that line from a poster on the London Underground, mocking sharp-elbowed ambitious middle-class mothers, eager to cram their children's heads full of stuff that'll make 'em sound smart at a university interview, in the hope of barging to the front of the queue; getting a so-called head start in life]

You should read about Asian tiger parenting if you want to get a chilling glimpse into the kind of future we're headed into. Instead of worrying that iPhones and iPads are rotting your children's minds, you should be more concerned that exam result league tables, homework, extracurricular activities and the obsession with your children's academic achievements, is psychologically destroying your precious little darlings. The anxious, withdrawn, introverted adults who prefer to communicate almost exclusively via memes shared via the internet, aren't a product of the internet and modern technology, but actually the very predictable and unfortunate result of placing an excessively heavy burden of expectation on little kids.

"They'll thank me for it later in life" /  "If I don't give them a head start in life they'll end up working in McDonalds"

Wrong.

I do empathise with the fears of parents, of course, but I must point out the consequences of the collective insanity of believing your precious little darling is special and different, and they need to be pushed to the limit during every waking hour in order to realise their full potential.

Both childhood and parenthood look to me - as an outside observer - like an unpleasant pressure cooker for all involved, producing a plethora of psychiatric problems. There's an obsession over school catchment areas, 11-plus examinations, grammar schools and a set of metrics, which measure children's academic abilities at an ever-earlier age.

Children are somewhat cursed with filial obedience - they naturally want to please their parents. What's a kid got to these days to get their parents off their back. Seemingly, they need to completely eschew iPhones, iPads, video game consoles, television, and bury their heads in scrolls of parchment (novels would rot their fragile brains, of course).

Culturally, we seem to celebrate abstinence at the moment. We loudly boast about how little sugar we're eating. Every month seems to have a catchy name - like Stoptober - related to giving something up like alcohol or tobacco. Low-fat, low-carb, low-fun, low-stimulation, low-enjoyment seems to be the name of the game. It's as if we're seeing the rebirth of the puritans. Should we all thrash ourselves with nettles too?

I feel guilty for spending a week at a Disney-esque resort, with rollercoaster rides, water slides and other low-brow entertainment, with no historical or cultural authenticity at all - everything's brand new and made of modern materials. I feel guilty for enjoying things which were created to entertain, not to educate. I feel guilty for having a good time instead of expanding my mind. That guilt has its origins in upbringing; in a childhood dominated by my parents' panic about my mind melting and me forgetting everything I'd learned, if I stopped being educated for a single second and just got to sit and watch cartoons with my bad influence friends.

I see no evidence that technology, entertainment, games and screen-time in general, is creating a generation who are less imaginative, less creative, less academically gifted, less talented, less well-informed and less knowledgeable. If anything, the evidence seems to point in the opposite direction. Give a child access to YouTube and Wikipedia and they will willingly and eagerly embark upon a self-directed learning journey, which will deliver far more valuable facts for your precious darling to regurgitate, into their brainbox, than an unlimited amount of nagging, arguments, tears, tantrums, private tutors, private schools and trips to sites of historical and cultural significance.

What do I know though? I'm an idiot who likes mindless entertainment.

 

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Debtor's Little Helpers

4 min read

This is a story about stasis...

Xanax bottles

When I was a child I used to wish my life away. My life seemed to be spent boxed into a car filled with thick plumes of cigarette smoke, while my selfish cunts of parents drove around scoring drugs and looking for people to get high and drunk with. My life was a waiting game, waiting for the moment when I was legally old enough to earn money and drive a car, to get the fuck away from that pair of selfish alcoholic druggie losers; to escape the misery of being dragged around and ignored; told to be seen and not heard, lest I spoil my parents' buzz.

I developed the ability to put myself into a trance. I developed the ability to patiently sit and wait. I developed the ability to retreat inwards into worlds of fantasy and imagination. I developed the ability to artifically suspend myself into a cryogenically-frozen state. I waited. I waited and waited and waited. I became the master of waiting.

If somebody offered you £1 million to be put to sleep for a year, would you take it? Of course you fucking would.

If somebody offered you £1 million to be put to sleep for three years, would you take it? You'd think a little harder about it, wouldn't you? You'd think about how much the lives of people around you would move on in those three years. Unmarried friends could be married and have a child by the time you regained consciousness. In your twenties you'd be giving up more than 10% of the life you'd lived so far. In your forties you'd be giving up over 10% of your remaining productive pre-retirement years. In your fifties, you'd be giving up more than 10% of the years you could expect to remain alive.

This is the crux of the matter: would you trade 1 out of the last 10 years of your life, so that you could have £1 million to spend in the remaining 9 years?

Most of the world's problems seem to stem from parents mortgaging their children's future. "Sure, I can't look after my child or or pay for my child's needs now but if the child can just put themselves into suspended animation for a few years, then everything will be just fucking perfect" seems to the all-too-common selfish decision by cunts. "Sure, I can't afford to look after myself, let alone any offspring I spawn, but if I have enough children then their organs can be harvested to pay for my selfish cuntish don't-give-a-fuck lifestyle" seems to be the prevailing philosophy amongst most parents.

Thus we arrive at Xanax.

Xanax is an imperfect solution to your parents' cuntishness.

Xanax is everything your parents ever hoped for: it allows a child to be able to pause its existence and needs for a while, because its parents traded years of its life in return for cold hard cash. The Xanax-addled generations are a result of parents' lifestyles of pure unadulterated selfishness; sheer wilful negligence.

Having been sold into slavery before I was even fucking born, what else am I going to do to salve my existential angst, except kill myself. Xanax offers a dreadful sort-of solution.

Perhaps one day I will emerge from my cryogenic freezer to find that the debts which I did not incur - they were incurred by my parents - have been paid off and I'm a free man, but until that day I need to remain in suspended animation, because many years of my life were sold to pay for my parents alcoholic druggie selfish self-centred cuntish lifestyle choices. Cunts.

My daily choices always remain the same: kill myself or intoxicate myself until the day when the generation of cunts who sold us into slavery are dead and buried. My ethical decision always remains the same: don't have children until you have the time, energy, enthusiasm and money to invest in them.

As you can tell, I'm angry.

 

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The End

4 min read

This is a story about the writing on the wall...

Drawing

Life has become an agonisingly slow experience, like watching each individual frame of a movie film being shown with a slide projector, with a narrator who's intent on painstakingly explaining each frame in minute detail long after each new image has been well and truly absorbed and digested by the audience. It's like death by Powerpoint where the fucktard presenter insists on reading out every single bullet point of their pitiful presentation, long after the audience already read all the fucking words.

If you can't see death coming I don't know what's wrong with you. Death is one of the few certainties in life, so why would you hold out any hope of your childen becoming the next Einstein or Mozart, when it's far more likely that you'll all die in a road traffic accident, and you're certainly going to die anonymous and unwept by 99.9999% of humanity.

My own mortality is something quite palpable to me. I've spent enough times in my life where I've literally had to make life or death decisions regarding my own survival. Whether it was through a leisure pursuit gone wrong, such as finding myself in the mountains or the sea when shit's gone awry, or lying on the floor of my bedroom with lungs filled with fluid, arrhythmic heartbeat and failing organs as a result of drug overdose, I've had plenty of time to contemplate death and the decisions that led up to it.

With extreme sports, it was fucking awful at the time but I laugh about it now. With extreme drug abuse, it was fucking awful at the time but I laugh about it now.

The point is, we can all imagine the worst. It's easy to say "told you so" with the benefit of hindsight.

I've survived so many things which should have killed me that I've now developed some foresight. I can tell you with absolute certainty that I'm going to die.

None of this should be shocking. People die every day. We treat human life incredibly cheaply. We even train our doctors - the people who are supposed to treat life as sacrosanct - that we can't save anybody. Everybody's just going to fucking die so take the money and fuck those guys; screw those losers.

Nobody cares about zero suicides and zero deaths. Nobody cares about deaths at all. We're somewhat resigned to our fate.

Yes, here's me who has more years than I deserve. There are people out there with terminal illnesses who're dying (sic.) to have another day on this earth. Who the fuck am I to irreverantly dismiss my "gift" of life and good health?

It's not good health.

It's not happiness.

I reject it.

When a parent screams at their child that they should be grateful for the "gift" of life, they're just screaming because they're afraid that their genes aren't going to survive for long enough to be replicated. Life is not a gift. Life is a curse. Being trapped in a flesh prison on a journey to an inevitable painful death is not a gift, you fucking cunts. Passing on that curse to new generations is not a generous "gift" just the same as getting people addicted to crack or heroin is not the answer to your own addiction, although it might provide the income to allow you to keep getting high. Perpetuation of the cycle of misery is not a "gift"

Somebody's gotta be the last one. Somebody's gotta be the final one. Somebody's gotta say "enough".

 

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I'm Killing Myself

8 min read

This is a story about numbing the pain...

Wine bottles in the cupboard

I remember a time when I used to plan my weekends to make sure I was busy and socialising. I used to throw parties, take friends out on my boat, go out for dinner and otherwise ensure that I was engaged in the lives of the people around me. I put a great deal of thought and effort into bringing people together. When I had free time I'd scroll through my list of contacts and phone people who I hadn't spoken to, to maintain the bond of friendship.

I don't do any of that anymore.

My life became chaotic and collapsed, due to relationship breakdown, mental health problems and drug addiction. I was highly embarrassed that my picture-postcard perfect little life had become pockmarked and blemished. I was deeply ashamed that I was seemingly failing; fucking up. As addiction began to dominate my life I was no longer reliable. I bailed out on attending the stag do of one of my best friends, simply because I was too deep in addiction hell. I nearly bailed on my own stag do because I was struggling so much with addiction.

That was a transformative period of my life, from around 2006 to 2012 or thereabouts.

Friends travelled from all over the country for the combined birthday and engagement part of my [now] ex-wife and I. She threw a tantrum, because I had a huge number of great friends and perhaps she was feeling insecure, who knows? She said it was the worst night of her life, so I called a cab for us to go home. She wanted to stay. Why does anybody want to stay at the "worst night of [their] life"? It didn't make any sense to me.

My whole life no longer made any sense. Instead of being the guy who arranged for huge groups of people to come together and travel all over the world; instead of being a socialite who arranged gatherings and generally threw wild parties, I slowly allowed myself to be beaten - quite literally - into submission. I curtailed my gregarious and outgoing nature, in the face of the stroppy tyrant who I was trying to placate.

Of course, I should have walked away.

I was trying to change to please somebody. I was in love and I thought that it was the grown-up mature and sensible thing to work really hard to please the person you love. I thought that hard work would conquer the day. I was wrong.

I tried so hard, sacrificing so much that was important about myself, and becoming more and more isolated and depressed, because she took such objection to the fact that I was generally liked by a lot of people and seemingly able to inspire get-togethers. She threw tantrums about all the things I loved doing: organising group holidays all over the world; arranging to meet up; arranging parties and generally being a social butterfly. She worked hard to socially isolate me and break my spirit, and I let her do it. It was my mistake. I messed up.

I didn't realise that you could just break up with awful people.

I didn't realise that you should just give up on horrid people.

I didn't realise that walking away was an option.

I ignored my friends when they told me to dump the "poison dwarf".

Writing this now, I sound a little bitter and twisted about it. It happend. I can't change it. It's history and there's no point dwelling in the past. I need to move forwards and get on with my life.

There's a whole clusterfuck of stuff to do with my loser druggie parents and their selfish fucked-up selfish shit that they perpetrated agains me, ruining my childhood, that I'm very bitter about. I'm never gonna get to re-live my childhood. It fucking CUTS ME UP that I speak to so many people who fondly remember their childhoods and generally reminisce about things from their childhood that were completely denied to me because my parents are a couple of selfish bullying druggie alcoholic fucktard losers, completely devoid of any sense of responsibility towards their children or otherwise able to act with a shred of human decency. That shit FUCKS ME UP. But, whatever... it was a long time ago. I need to move on. I'll never forgive. I'll never forget. But it's no use clinging onto the bitterness and knowledge that my childhood was unnecessarily and brutally fucked up by that pair of selfish self-centred druggie cunts.

Don't talk to me about personal responsibility.

I take personal responsibility to a level you couldn't even comprehend.

You have no idea how much I lay awake at night thinking about my place in the world and how to make things right and do the right thing. You have no idea how much I deny myself my bestial instincts to rut and reproduce, like the rest of you filthy fucks, not giving a shit about the consequences. You have no idea how hard it is to live a life with as little hypocrisy as you can muster, and the guilt for the hypocrisy that you're fully aware of but is seemingly unavoidable.

The only way to live a life free from the original sin of being born a white man in wealthy western middle-class society, is to kill myself. The guilt I feel because I'm not a starving African paraplegic lesbian, is enough to drive me insane. I genuinely feel empathy for anybody I come into contact with, and I want to make a difference in the world, but I'm also cursed with a rational mind and a kind of brutal pragmatic realism, which means I cynically see every attempt to improve the human condition will be quickly thwarted by the ubiquitous greed and selfishness... but that doesn't mean I don't try really hard, through the avenues which are available to me.

Ultimately, I earn a lot of money which doesn't feel like a fair reward for my contribution to humanity. I'm cursed with cynicism and a realist's depression at the state of the world. I drink. I've drunk for as long as I can remember. My parents are alcoholics, so why the hell wouldn't I drink?

As I puffed and panted my way up the steep hill, walking home with a bag full of bottles of wine, I felt my chest tighten. I know that I'm killing myself.

I drink and it's killing me.

I drink A LOT.

My heart bleeds for the world. I'm a hand-wringing Guardian reader. I'm a lefty-libtard snowflake. I still believe that a better society is possible, and it upsets me that a tiny elite are stopping the will of the people from being realised.

I'm attempting to deal with my mountainous personal responsibilities, while also reconciling my heartfelt values in a world which economically incentivises me to screw everybody else over. Why not sell deadly drugs? Why not work for a bank which helps launder the proceeds of crime? Why not generally sell your soul to the highest bidder?

It. Fucks. Me. Up.

I've tried to be kind and generous, and all that's ended up doing is bankrolling some of the most selfish fucked-up awful people to perpetuate and perpetrate misery-making onto humanity.

It's a messed up situation.

I drink because otherwise I'd kill myself. I drink because it's a long drawn-out way of killing myself. I drink because maybe I don't have the guts to do the ethical thing, and immolate myself in protest at the shit I see all around me.

It seems foolish to injure myself in this way, by choosing to drink so much, but how else am I supposed to cope? How am I supposed to get through the day and suffer the bullshit which I'm all-too-able to perceive with a mind which has been developed into a hyper-rational thinking machine. I see the cognitive dissonances everywhere. The sickening stench of bullshit is overpoweringly strong.

I'm sorely tempted to make a grand gesture instead of allowing myself to be written off as another "natural causes" death, when in fact the truth is that my physical health has suffered dreadfully because of the awfulness of the world I see around me. My mental health is dictated by the bullshit of meaningless jobs and unfair wealth distribution, and the senesless selfishness; lack of anybody who wants to change the world for the better. The suffering directly correlates with the urge to reach for the bottle - why the hell not?

Why the hell not? I see no reason to be miserable, sober and fit. I'd rather be dead.

I can't imagine anything worse than having to face the bullshit of existence without intoxication, and without the hope that I might suddenly drop dead from a heart attack.

I honestly think that I'll feel relieved when I know I'm about to die. Finally some fucking peace.

 

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Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs)

6 min read

This is a story about quality of life...

QALY comparison

Two years ago, on this day, I was writing about how depressed I was. I was researching into how depressed people rated their quality of life - I found out that it was 70% lower than happy healthy normal people. At the time I was trapped in a job which I hated. I had serious doubts about my skills and experience, so I'd taken some work which I knew I could do with my eyes closed, but I was bored out of my mind.

I hypothesised that my quality of life wasn't going to improve until I retired, because I couldn't stand my job but I couldn't imagine being able to get another one that was any better. My job was the reason why I was so depressed, anxious, bored, demotivated and miserable, and the only alternative was to be a penniless writer, which would bring its own problems... not least how to save up enough money to be able to afford to retire.

This got me thinking about retirement.

I presume that the first few years of retirement are excellent, because old age and age-related health problems haven't started to have a major impact on quality of life. Modern medicine, safer working conditions, good diet, better air quality and a multitude of other things have improved massively for the baby-boomer generation, and those retirees will live much longer than their parents. For my generation and people younger than me, we've worked longer hours, commuted further, had far more financial insecurity, job insecurity and housing insecurity, and we have no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow - the retirement age keeps getting older and older and the prospect of an impoverished old age seems increasingly likely. Retirement looks like it's not something worth even daring to dream about.

I started thinking about how good retirement would be anyway - sour grapes perhaps - what with the inevitable demise of my health. It seems unlikely that I'm going to live beyond 85 years old, being a man.

With partial deafness, partial blindness, mild incontinence, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, liver disease, kidney problems, back problems, joint problems and a whole host of other things I might expect to affect me in old age, exacerbated by decades of miserable office work, it seems unlikely that I'd be lucky enough to enjoy even 50% of the quality of life in my eighties as I enjoy in my sixties.

These are very conservative estimates of course. I could drop dead at age 70.

With all those things considered, I then started to do the calculations to work out whether it was worth shackling myself to a miserable job or not. I started to calculate if it was worth being miserable and depressed today, in the hope of a better life if and when I retire. My conclusion was simple: NO.

As you can see from the graphic above, I can increase my quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) by a maximum of 30 points if I live for today, or a maximum of 30 points if I live for retirement. Obviously if I was to die at age 80, I'll only have benefitted by 24 points. If I was to die at 75, I'll only have benefitted by 17 points. If I was to die at 70, I'll only benefit by 9 points.

So, I might as well plan on the pessimistic assumption that I'll die early. In fact, I can at least guarantee when I'll die, because I always have the option of committing suicide. In fact, it seems sensible to plan for the day I commit suicide instead of the day I die, because old age, sickness and infirmity seems like an undesirable fate. Why would I be miserable today, so I can spend more years as a geriatric, waiting to die?

I'm hoping to get myself into a strong position by the time I'm 40 so that I can exploit the fact that I haven't rutted and spawned offspring like a mindless beast, and I'm therefore free from any responsibility for brats I brought into existence. Soon, I won't need to shackle myself to miserable boring bullshit office jobs which I hate, because I'll have recovered my financial security and stability, such that I'm free to do what I want without a guilty conscience - I won't owe anything to anybody, and I won't be running away from any responsibilities.

By the spring next year, I should be feeling quite wealthy again, and much more free to be able to dare to dream. Perhaps I'll travel. Perhaps I'll write. Perhaps I'll create art. I can pretty much do whatever I want, once I've finally dealt with all the consequences of divorce which caused my life to collapse. It's hard on a man, losing everything - it nearly cost me my life.

It's been so hard getting to where I am today, and I can't believe there are still so many months before I get back to a truly safe and secure position. I can't believe it's taken so long and it's been so difficult. Perhaps that's why so many men commit suicide. Perhaps that's why rip-off merchants have run off with so much of my money. It's hard to do things right. I've always tried to do things the right way.

I'm now at the point where I've worked too hard for too long to see the chance of breaking free get away from me. I really think I'll just kill myself right now if there are any major setbacks, because I've been trying so hard to overcome a heap of problems and I've got nothing left to give. I deserve a break. I deserve things to pan out for me.

It'll soon be my turn to start enjoying life and the fruits of my labour; the payoff for my struggle through adversity; the rewards for my ingenuity and sheer determination to fix problems. I've overcome terrible obstacles and put up with so much suffering and I've done the miserable work that nobody else would do, because it's awful. Now I deserve to be like those spoiled brats who've been allowed to do whatever the fuck they want - follow their dreams - because they have doting indulgent parents. Maybe I'll be a student. Maybe I'll have a gap year. Maybe I'll take a dead-end job with no career prospects, because it's rewarding. Whatever. I can do whatever I want... soon.

It's been a slog. I can't take much more slog.

 

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Paradoxical Rage

9 min read

This is a story about losing my temper...

Ruined shoe

I'm blessed with the ability to observe reality and analyse it using pure reason and logic; in fact it's a prerequisite of my chosen career - to be able to decompose the world into systems which can be modelled mathematically inside a computer. Computer science is good science, because in its very essence it's repeatable. If an experiment is not repeatable it's not science. So many experiments in psychology, biology and fringe pseudosciences are not repeatable at all - when those experiments are re-run, the supposedly statistically significant findings cannot be reproduced. Even many so-called scientists are prone to being led by their gut instincts and preconceived ideas - they draw completely incorrect conclusions from their data, and publish findings which are simply bad science because they're based on small sample sets and incorrect assumptions.

A lot of scientists invent a hypothesis and devise an experiment to prove or disprove the theory, then when they find that their experimental findings do not support their theory, they look at all the data and attempt to reverse-engineer a theory from the results. For example, let's say that it's my theory that people with red hair have anger issues, and so I go out onto the streets and ask anyone with red hair to complete a survey for me, as well as a number of control subjects. When I crunch the data, I find that there's no evidence that the redheads are more angry than the control group. Instead of abandoning the research as fruitless, I look again at the data and I find out that a lot of 18 to 24 year olds have scored highly on the "anger scale" based on the surveys they filled in. Thus, I conclude that this age group has anger issues, and publish my findings as if that was the original theory being tested. This is flawed science, because there was no underlying theory or hypothesis which existed before I did my experiment, and my experiment was not designed to prove or disprove the theory which I'm publishing. I'm pretending I've discovered something profound and important, when I haven't. If the experiment is repeated the results vary wildly - at prestigious universities, the 18 to 24 year olds are not angry at all, and in former industrial towns with high unemployment the 40 to 50 year olds are even more angry than the original group. Thus, the experiment is not at all repeatable and the published conclusions are worthless.

We are often so eager to reach a profound conclusion that we believe we have discovered a universal truth, when in fact we've discovered nothing. We are keen to talk in absolute terms and declare things to be fixed and immutable, when in fact the world around us is constantly shapeshifting, making it virtually impossible to tease out cause and effect - feedback loops obfuscate the fundamental laws which govern reality, so it's ludicrous to talk about macroscopic matters as if they can be examined in isolation and behaviour will be consistent no matter what the surrounding circumstances are.

Human mood, perceptions and behaviour are particularly fickle, and to believe that a person can be simplified to the point where they behave in a predictable manner according to a convenient model or label, is laughable. To say a person is "an angry man" or to damn somebody's character with a label like Borderline Personality Disorder, is not only useless but also leads to completely incorrect beliefs, in much the same way that the 12 signs of the zodiac tell you absolutely nothing about a person's character and temperament. Not only is each individual unique, but their character and behaviour will be different dependent on their ever-changing circumstances. It might be possible to corner a person and bludgeon them to death, but it really doesn't tell you very much if you limited their options and inflicted atrocities upon them. So desperate are a group of powerful elites to believe that their theories are correct, that they'll physically restrain and force vulnerable people to comply with their flawed belief system, learning only that the more artificial constraints a person suffers the more frustrated and dysfunctional they become.

Rage can be paradoxical, but so can positive reactions and behaviours. We might believe that if somebody draws a knife or a gun, our only response should be to draw a weapon of our own in defence, which will then neutralise the situation. It seems fairly obvious that in fact there are a range of available options, some of which will have much more positive outcomes than "comply or die" diktat. Of course, somebody can pull rank or badge and say that they are acting with authority in imposing their tyranny on another human being - claiming it to be in the best interests of an individual or society - but in fact we can surely see from the available evidence that this is not successful at all.

I've suffered bouts of paradoxical rage. I've become obsessively and disproportionately angry about things, and my anger has been completely misplaced. The crap on the side of my leather shoe - pictured above - was from a walk through a garden in winter time, so far as I could remember, but I suddenly became angry about it the following summer. I apportioned blame, becoming more and more entrenched in my belief that some compensation was owed to me. I got increasingly angry and frustrated about the issue, and I was soon completely consumed by an obsession that the matter had to be settled immediately. It felt at the time as if I'd suffered the most terrible injustice imaginable.

That the matter of the ruined shoe was resolved was somehow the very last thing I wanted. My rage was nonsensical and my demands were unreasonable; my blame was misplaced. I was completely in the wrong and I suppose I knew it all along, but my world had inverted and rational thought eluded me. I suppose I've lived most of my life with the burden of being the rational person who's been forced to suffer other people's illogical bulls**t, so very occasionally I flip out and cross over into the world which most people inhabit, where fuzzy-headed dunces perpetrate unspeakable acts of violence against anybody who doesn't do what they want.

I received a pair of replacement shoes, which immediately caused me to return to my senses. I was flooded with disbelief, shame, embarrassment, guilt and regret. Not only could I not believe that - for once - the world had bent to my nonsensical will, instead of vice-versa, but I was gobsmacked that I'd been so obsessed and insanely angry; my anger was completely ridiculous and misplaced. My logic and reasoning had evaporated and I'd behaved just like an average ordinary person; I perpetrated a terrible tyranny until the result complied with what I stubbornly believed; until I got what I wanted. As soon as I got the result I thought with horror "what have I done?". As soon as my point was seemingly proven, I knew with certainty that the very opposite was true - I had acted abominably and my thinking was plain wrong all along; my behaviour was outrageously unjustified.

If we step back and consider the bigger picture, we might consider that I was involved in an abusive relationship for many years, where rage and violence trumped logic and reason, and I was viciously tyrannised. I had never known known love, as my parents sought to impose their iron will over me and thought of me as an animal to be made obedient, compliant and robotic in its behaviour, through abuse. I spent about 8 years in a relationship with an aggressive psychopath who completely tormented, dominated and subdued me. Considering this, the shoe incident can be understood thusly: the most important relationships in my life had never contained any love or care for me or my feelings. The shoe incident caused me to completely reverse my stance when the reaction to my unreasonable behaviour was clearly an act of love and care; an act of kindness, the likes of which I had always hoped to receive but had never gotten from my parents or ex-wife. I had demanded proof that there are decent people in the world, and I had not been disappointed - at last - despite all the years when I had the very great misfortune of being tortured, trapped and tyrannised by abusive bullies.

My eternally optimistic hope that my strategy of being unguarded, open, trusting and loving, despite the very great risk of getting hurt, has been very successful since I cut my parents and ex-wife out of my life. I suppose I carry more baggage than I'm aware of, and it's certainly alarming that my behaviour has on a couple of occasions, mirrored that of the horrible tyrants who I suffered at the hands of. However, I on the other hand, respond immediately and positively to love and kindness, unlike my parents and ex-wife who's only objective was to subdue, control and abuse me... they never felt guilt or regret for dominating me and crushing me under their heel; they never saw their own behaviour as abhorrent, even though it was undoubtedly so.

My life's had maybe just three incredibly uncharacteristic fits of seemingly inexplicable rage, under the most extreme circumstances imaginable. Logic and reason eluded me and I fleetingly believed crazy things and acted in the most extreme and unreasonable way. My misbehaviour became quickly apparent to me - with sudden realisation - and has left me with nothing but sorrow, regret and guilt. I have no entrenched stubborn belief that my thoughts and actions could be explained or justified, unlike the total assholes who abused, traumatised, tyrannised, bullied and dominated me for far too many years of my life. If it sounds like I'm excusing my behaviour, I'm not. I live with my guilt, unlike those assholes.

I would say that alcohol and benzodiazepines play a very important role in disinhibiting thoughts, feelings and behaviours, which potentiates paradoxical rage. I don't think I would have meandered so far from the path of logic and reason, and been so stubbon and unreasonable - closed minded - if my brain chemistry hadn't been substantially destabilised by psychoactive substances.

I firmly believe that if you want to defend yourself you should lower your guard. If you want to de-escalate a situation you should be kind, not aggressive. If you want love, love.

 

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How to Become Irreverent

14 min read

This is a story about the values you raise your children with...

Church window

It seems like I have had the sentimental attachment most of us feel towards everything we revere in society systematically thrashed out of me. If you pick one thing that summons feelings of safety, security, comfort, respect for authority and faith in the divine/spiritual, then I will tell you how exactly how I came to question everything: every institution, everything sacred, every tradition, every profession, people who are normally considered beyond reproach and ultimately even existence and its purpose.

Starting with my birth, I'm literally a bastard. I was born outside of wedlock. My parents never married and always planned to remain unmarried, such that I took my mother's surname instead of my father's. Ironically, my mother had once been married, and I have the surname of her ex-husband instead of her maiden name. Confused? Imagine trying to explain that to your fellow pre-schoolers when you're 3 years old. I didn't really understand it at the time, but I understood that I was different; unusual.

My schools would often address letters intended for my parents to Mr & Mrs Grant, and my father would always tell me that I was the only Mr Grant in the house and therefore the letter was addressed to me. My mother would tell me that she was no longer Mrs Grant and she was Ms Grant. "Why not Miss?" I would ask, and she would explain that she had been married, and Miss was only used by women who hadn't been married. If anybody telephoned the house and asked to speak to Mr Grant, my father would hand the receiver to me and say "it's for you", which it never was, of course.

I understood that there was divorce and some of my school-friends were raised by a single parent, or a step-parent. My peers would often ask if my father was my step-father, to which I would reply "no". Nobody could understand how I came to have a different surname from my biological father, or entertain the notion that I could have been given my mother's surname, not my father's.

At some point, a fairly clear question formed in my mind: "why aren't my parents married?". 

The reasons why people get married had become quite clear in my mind, for the very simple reason that I had endured years and years of people's reactions that suggested that not getting married was very atypical behaviour. Nobody wants to feel unusual; freakish. Nobody likes to feel odd.

When I posed my question - "why aren't you married?" - to my parents, they replied with their own question: "why should we get married?". I had a pretty easy answer for them, as I've explained: because that's what everybody else does. "Do you want to be like everybody else?" my parents asked. "Yes" I replied.

[I just burst into uncontrollable sobbing. If it wasn't what you experienced, I don't think you can begin to understand what it's like to spend your entire childhood as the freakish weirdo; the odd one out... the one who's different from everybody else]

Having covered marriage there is a natural segue into the topic of religion, and the origins of my atheism.

For a number of formative and important childhood years I lived in an attractive terraced house in an area called Jericho, on one of the most desirable roads in central Oxford. These houses are the most expensive in the world, far exceeding real estate prices in London, San Francisco and Hong Kong, in terms of their affordability. However, these £1.5 million houses were bought by the first wave of gentrifiers, when academics and young professionals with families started to move into slummy areas because they couldn't afford family homes in the more desirable parts of the city.

When your immediate neighbours include an MP, a barrister, a heart surgeon, a City banker and a number of promenant Oxford dons and professors, their children were raised in an environment which was knowledge-rich and encouraged the exploration afforded by a curious rational mind; critical thinking. Nobody went to church. My friends, whose father was a consultant at Oxford John Radcliffe Hospital, went to Quaker "friends meetings" occasionally, but my peer group - the sons and daughters of the intellectual elite - had little place for God and church in their lives.

We should rewind a little bit, back to the village our family lived in before we moved to central Oxford. If one were to imagine the most quintessentially English picturesque Cotswolds village, with the manor house, the village green, the workers' cottages, the post office and village shop, the village pub, the village school, one should not forget the church and its graveyard. The church's presence and influence is not to be underestimated. My religious indoctrination began as soon as I started school, with the vicar regularly present. Village social events are very often church-linked, like harvest festival, and of course everybody who grew up in such an idyllic village wants to get married in that particular church, have their children baptised there and be buried in that graveyard.

Essentially, the church's opportunity to exploit a child's vulnerable immature mind were scuppered by my father. For everything that the church had a comforting but incorrect explanation for, my dad cited a lack of evidence and instilled in me the skepticism which gradually became integral to my developing personality: "show me the evidence".

When we moved to the centre of a city whose university is globally recognised for its academic excellence, I never encountered another simple-minded fool who had been persuaded to believe in Gods and other aspects of religion, which are so obviously irreconcilable with the pursuit of knowledge. Religion encourages ignorance but I had been raised to question everything and remain skeptical until I had seen convincing proof. "What are atoms made of?" I remember asking one of my friends who lived on my street. "Quarks" he replied. We were perhaps only 5 or 6 years old - the product of a childhood immersed in academic culture, as opposed to the sentimental and traditional.

The disturbing and unpleasant consequences of an irreverent life can impose themselves on a child at a worryingly young age. I've already been uncontrollably sobbing about just one thing - the tradition and sanctity of the institution of marriage - and I haven't even mentioned how a child deals with the concept of mortality and threat of death without the comfort of religion.

A US Air Force pilot who drank at the village pub which my parents later bought and now live in, drunkenly boasted about the ability of the United States to wipe humanity off the face of the earth. I was definitely no older than 4 years old. With my friend with whom I had discussed subatomic particles, we talked about the temperatures which could be reached near ground zero of a fission or fusion nuclear bomb, and how the radiated 'heat' (electromagnetic radiation) had instantly vaporised human beings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with only their shadows left behind, permanently etched into the walls of buildings.

If you believe you live in a Godless world with no afterlife you naturally want to know what everything's made of if God didn't make it; you want to know why it's here. How did it get here? Why is it here? You start to pick everything to pieces by iteratively asking what each thing is made of: humans are made of cells, and cells are made of molecules, and molecules are made of atoms, and atoms are made of quarks and leptons... and you can in fact keep asking the question. There's good proof that the electron is not a fundamental particle, as had originally been thought.

When your schoolmates are smart-arse little shits, because their parents are brilliant academics, teachers and school loses its awe and authority. If you're being taught science that's almost 100 years old, and sometimes even 200+ years old, the whole exercise is nothing more than a box-ticking exercise to be endured.

The other thing to consider is that my parents used illegal drugs on a daily basis, and had strong views about the legitimacy and usefulness of the law, certainly in the instances that suited their own addictions. As with many drug users, they were very paranoid. They viewed the police as corrupt and not to be trusted - the enemy. My father's criminal conviction for drugs not only poisoned his views on the police, but also made him very anti-American, as he believed he would never be allowed to enter the country due to his criminal record.

[I'm crying again]

It was only because of first-hand dealings with the police that my viewpoint changed from skepticism due to lack of evidence: the police had never caused me any harm, and in fact I had never had any dealings with the police at all for most of my adult life. You might be surprised to learn I adore and respect the police. My accumulated experience of police encounters has consistently shown that they are some of the most kind, patient, empathetic, forgiving, reasonable people, who have always gone out of their way to bend the rules and simply help as opposed to ever enforcing the letter of the law.

One shouldn't mistake my respect for the men and women of the police force for reverence. I would never for a minute expect that a 999 call is somehow going to be the answer to my prayers. I don't feel safer or more secure, knowing that I can call for police assistance. I wouldn't feel any more comfortable in a stressful situation if there was a police officer present. Of the very many police men and women who I have had first-hand dealings with, they have always treated me very fairly and kindly, and it's quite clear that they deal on a daily basis with a huge number of very vulnerable and damaged people, which they do so with incredible compassion - they are the living embodiment of humanity not deities who should be worshipped and revered.

[More crying]

So if I don't revere priests, vicars, teachers, headmistresses, marriage, religion, military superpowers, soldiers, the police, the law and my own parents, what else is there left for me to lack reverence for?

Cumulatively, I've spent almost 6 months having my life saved in hospital - often in high dependency and intensive treatment unit (ITU) wards. Shouldn't I revere doctors; surgeons?

I think that if there was one thing that would make almost anybody feel more secure and happy in a stressful situation, it would be knowing that there's a doctor present. It's such a clichéd question: "is there a doctor here?".

To explain my irreverence for doctors, we merely need to explore the reasons why I have ever had to deal with one, and the outcomes of those interactions.

Having been lucky enough to escape congenital abnormality, it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out what I want from a doctor and why. You don't need to spend 5 or 6 years at medical school to know that the human body has been dealing with pathogens since the species first came into existence. You hardly have to be brain of Britain to figure out whether you're dealing with a viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection, and furthermore, which is likely to be treatable. In actual fact, I've never been to my doctor for antibiotics: every infection has always cleared up on its own. Fungal and parasitic infections can be dealt with without a doctor obviously: head lice shampoo is available in every pharmacy, without a prescription, for example.

At the age of 28 I went to my doctor wanting treatment for depression, but I knew which specific medications I was prepared to try and which medications I didn't want because the side effects were not acceptable. Having my choices limited only to SSRIs provided firm evidence that doctors were an obstacle to be overcome, not a panacea.

When we think about the first time I was hospitalised, do you think I didn't know that I was going to end up there and what the problems were going to be? Do you think it was an accident that I ended up in hospital?

Again, you don't need to spend 5 or 6 years at medical school to know that the human body needs water, salt, glucose, proteins, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and myriad trace elements, or else the bodily functions haven't got the fuel, carrier fluid and raw materiels they need. You don't need to be a doctor to know that human body temperature needs to be homeostatic as much as possible - much like every other measurable thing in the human body - and any extreme variation too high or too low is going to have dire consequences.

When you are making choices in full knowledge of the likely consequences, medicine ceases to be lifesaving magic, and instead it becomes another simple case of what do you want and why?

One must consider the very last time I was hospitalised to truly understand my irreverence.

Not only had I quite carefully pre-planned my suicide attempt, when I arrived at hospital against my will, I gave very clear instructions: do not put activated charcoal into my stomach, do not perform gastric lavage, do not intubate, do not provide life support and most importantly of all, do not resuscitate. "Do you know what's going to happen?" the A&E doctor asked. "Yes. I'm going to die of a combination of organ failure and serotonin syndrome, with a lot of seizures" I replied. "Do you think you'll be unconscious? Do you think it'll be painless?" the doctor asked. "No. I expect that it will take a long time to die and I'll be conscious and in a lot of pain for most of it" I replied. Then I started having seizures.

Doctors see a lot of people who are scared and they don't understand what's happening to them. They're desperate for somebody who seems to know what they're doing and what they're talking about; doctors are an authority figure. I have no doubt that for feckless simpletons and those who lack access to medicine, the arrival of a doctor or a priest/shamen/witch-doctor is incredibly soothing and comforting. If you don't know what you want and why, your reverence is misplaced, but it may still ease your passage from life to death.

When shit goes bad, who are you going to turn to? If you have to pick your team of people to survive on a remote island, who are you going to pick and why?

Why revere anyone? Why kiss anyone's arse and tell them they're great because they did the study and training that you could've done if you wanted to. You could have passed those exams. You could have gained those qualifications. You could have followed that path if you wanted to. If you wanted it bad enough, you could put on that uniform; you could get that job title; you could prefix or suffix your name with the bit that tells the world just exactly why everyone should drop to their knees and worship you.

Nothing's sacred to me. I could do your job if I wanted to.

I'm not smarter than anybody. I'm not better than anybody. That's the whole point: I'm lucky enough to not have anything that's holding me back; limiting my potential.

I really don't recommend telling your kids they can follow their dreams and be anything they want to be. I really don't recommend telling your kids to question everything, and understand everything about how the universe works, to the point where they reach the very bleeding edge of scientific research. I really don't recommend raising your kids to challenge the status quo and resist the urge to fit in with wider society and their peers.

Take it from me: there's a mind-destroying kind of cold uncaring "nothing matters" bad feeling that comes from being too rational; too much of a free-thinker. Take my word for it: understanding the absurdity of existence will destroy your mental health.

You should probably experiment with hard drugs. That's probably way less likely to fuck up your life than going down the rabbit-hole of picking everything to pieces and trying to reason from first principles and pure logic.

 

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Reliving Trauma

5 min read

This is a story about having one foot in the past...

Bournemouth Pier

I don't want to go back to Bournemouth. I have lots of friends there and many happy memories, but there's too much trauma. Bournemouth's a beautiful place and it's possible to have a wonderful seaside lifestyle there, but my ex-wife lives there... it's hers now. Too much bad stuff happened in Bournemouth. That relationship was too abusive - it's caused me so much trauma.

I don't want to go back to the North Oxford village where I briefly lived as a little boy. It was traumatic when we left, because my parents were constantly moving - I went to 8 different schools. The drug addiction, the alcoholism, the general disregard for settled, secure, nice, normal family life... it was all too disruptive and traumatic. I don't want to be anywhere near those toxic abusive people - my parents. It's a massive insult that they eventually moved back to the village where I first went to primary school. It's a massive insult. Why did I have to go through the trauma of losing so many friends, moving around so much and having my childhood destroyed? I guess that's what drug addicts and alcoholics do to their children. F**king selfish c**ts.

I don't want to go back to London, because I've tried for too long to make it work and the capital city has chewed me up and spat me out. It's hard damn work trying to make it in London, because so many wide-eyed dreamers head to the capital city thinking that they're going to make their fortune. London's a good place to go to get away from trauma, because it's full of runaways, waifs and strays. London's a good place to heal.

It might look like I'm unnecessarily re-living painful memories on the pages of this blog, but this is therapy. This blog is a good listener. This blog is nonjudgemental. Here's where I'm finally able to tell my side of the story, without the lies and bullshit from the perpetrators of abuse, violence, neglect and all the other awful things. Yes, bitterness drives me to tell the story in a way that's somewhat lopsided occasionally - nobody is completely evil - but we've heard quite enough from the bullies. Those who are strong are quick to stomp on the weak; to silence the defenceless and vulnerable. Here's where the bullied kid finally gets to speak up and condemn those whose hands he suffered at. Here's where justice is done. This is my day in court.

It would be good if I could forgive and forget, but part of forgiveness is about acceptance. I can't accept things and just forget about all the trauma until the tale is told. There are some who'd like me dead, to shut me up. There are some who'd like it if I took my secrets to the grave - that'd be mighty convenient for them. Hence, that's why I write so much. Here it all is in black and white - the ugly truth. If I die tomorrow, it doesn't matter because at least I finally got to tell my side of the story. If I die tomorrow, at least the truth is out there.

There's always a danger I could ruminate on the injustices of the past and get stuck in a rut. Certainly, when things aren't going well and there's no hope of any improvement in my life, I'm prone to bouts of bitterness about my suffering at the hands of some key people in my life: my parents, my ex-wife.

It's quite a cliché for a man my age to be filled with bitterness. It's quite a cliché to complain about my lot in life. I'm the living embodiment of a cliché.

I should be embarrassed and that embarrassment should cow me into silence. I should be silenced by social pressures: "your parents did the best they could". No. No they did not. My parents tried their best to obtain and take drugs. They tried their best to get drunk. Fuck them. I don't hold sway with the "their heart was in the right place" bullshit. I'm sorry, but there's no excuses for ruining childhoods because you were too off your head on drink and drugs to notice what the fuck you were doing to your kids. No excuses.

I don't know quite where this is coming from. I think it's probably a result of the exhausting journey I've been on, and the fact that I'm still not safe and secure... I'm still having to work as hard as I can to try and get myself into a decent position, where I'm safe from homelessness; destitution; death. I'm still in a deep hole, digging my way out.

While my life still has considerable present-day struggles, I think I'll always be reminded of the reasons why I ended up here - I'm forced to re-live past trauma.

 

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Mother's Day

5 min read

This is a story about thankless tasks...

White rose

If you wanted a companion animal, you should've gotten a dog. If you wanted unconditional love from your dependent, you should've gotten a dog. If you expected to get more out than you put in, you should've gotten a dog.

Children are not dogs. Children can't be trained to be obedient creatures that adore their owners. Children don't owe their parents anything. Respect is earned. Trust is earned. If you want to be loved, love. The arrow of responsibility is clear - parents are responsible for their children, but not vice-versa. Parents make a selfish decision to bring children into existence, without their permission. Existence is agonising. Unless you can give your children the opportunity to do anything they want and fulfil their potential, what the fuck are you doing creating more mouths to feed on this overcrowded planet? To inflict the agony of existence onto an innocent child is a sin. To bring kids into the world when you care more about your studies, your career, your sex life, your drugs, your alcohol, your cigarettes.... what the actual fuck?

I'm an antinatalist. "There's never a right time to have children" - you're damn straight there isn't. Take a look around. Poverty and suffering is rife and living standards are declining. The reason why you were in two minds about getting an abortion is because you know that you should have done. You should have used birth control. Children aren't accidents. We're not primative beasts. We know where babies come from and how to prevent pregnancy. We know how to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Children know when they're unwanted. Children are receptive little sponges, who pick up on all those subtle hints that they've somehow made life more stressful and unpleasant. Children didn't ask to be born.

"What if my child becomes the next Mozart or Einstein?" some mothers might ask. There's a presumption that by choosing not to have children, we might be depriving society of potential geniuses. The truth is that 99.99999% of children will be useless fucktards, tormented by the agony of existence and a total waste of oxygen. The truth is that it's a very flimsy excuse for inflicting existence onto an innocent child, to argue that it's a contribution to society.

There are very good data to suggest that abortions have been hugely beneficial for society. When birth control and abortions became more commonplace in the 1960s and 1970s we saw a huge fall in crime rates 15 or 20 years later. We know that lower birth rates lead to more advanced civilisations. If you consider yourself to be educated and intelligent, you should make the smart choice and not have children, because it's immoral to eject these unfortunate creatures from your vagina into the present harsh reality. The world is a shitty place and it's getting shittier by the day. It would be better not to exist.

If you want a companion animal, get a dog.

Even getting a dog is pretty cruel. Dogs are hungry all the time, bored, and we cut their balls off and cut out their ovaries. Dogs are enslaved for our enjoyment, sitting at home all day in their crates (i.e. cages) waiting for us to return home, patiently waiting for a bit of attention. The life of a child is worse, because a human has greater intellect. A human can better perceive their own suffering. Existence is agony.

If you've got kids, fine, whatever. You did your thing. Whatever. Don't expect me to fucking congratulate on doing what every ancestor of yours did, back to the time when life first sprung into existence. Don't expect a fucking medal for acting just like every other stupid beast that ever existed. There are no medals for acting like slime mould or an amoeba. There are no medals for procreation - it was inevitable that you were going to spread, like bacteria or a parasite; it was inevitable that you were going to act like lichen or moss, or any other kind of fucking brainless organism. No medal.

Being a mother is a thankless task because no thanks are owed. There's no debt. There's nothing to be thankful for. You didn't do anything, except that which every ancestor of yours did back to the first replicating organism that ever existed. No thanks for simply being are owed.

It's harsh, but it's true. I have no reverence for mothers, fathers, parents or any other replicating individual. There's nothing special. There's nothing to be celebrated. There's nothing, except what is demonstrably inevitable given the universal laws of physics and evolutionary biology. I'm sure dads are pretty chuffed that they managed to get somebody pregnant and they've passed on their genes to some unfortunate offspring, but don't ask the children to be grateful. Existence is agony. Existence is a curse.

This is super bitter and aggressive, but this is the fact of the matter. Existence is a curse. No thanks are due. If you had a shred of morality, you wouldn't inflict existence on the innocent. If you had a shred of moral decency, you wouldn't perpetuate the suffering.

Yes, children bring joy. Yes, children have moments of happiness. The point is though, do they owe you any thanks? Are children inheriting a world they're going to be able to have a nice life in? Perhaps there would be thanks due if living standards were improving, but they aren't. All that awaits is a life of indentured servitude. All that awaits is climate change, economic collapse, housing crises, pensions crises, debt crises and all the other problems that have been stored up for the younger generations; the childless.

It's immoral to just hope for the best, when the evidence is quite clear - the world's a fucked up miserable place. Thanks for nothing.

 

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Rigged Game

10 min read

This is a story about value...

Cash

You think this is money, don't you? You think this paper with numbers written on it has some value, don't you? You want more of it. You think that you can earn it by working, don't you? You hoard it. You protect it. You think it's money.

This is not money.

It's a rounding error.

Did you hear about that programmer who worked for a bank, who took all the little bits of money that just disappeared and collected them all? When a bank pays 1% interest on your savings and you've got £1.50 in your account, what happens to the half a penny that you're owed? It just disappears, of course. It's a rounding error.

Banks deal with quadrillions of dollars every year. A quadrillion is a thousand trillion, which is a million billion, or a thousand million million. You can write a quadrillion like this: 1,000,000,000,000,000. It doesn't mean very much, but put it this way... a quadrillion dollars divided up between every man, woman and child on the planet, works out to be about $143,000. Do you have $143,000?

All of the cash in existence - the banknotes and coins - adds up to about $7 trillion. $7 trillion is 0.7% of a quadrillion dollars. Imagine that. While banks are dealing with quadrillions, all of the banknotes and coins in circulation in the whole world add up to less than 1% of all the 'money'. Can you see now how worthless and ridiculous those banknotes in your purse or wallet are?

I imagine you played some board games when you were a kid, and one of the ways that you could see who was 'winning' was to see who had the most fake banknotes. The board game Monopoly famously has brightly coloured banknotes of different denominations. Perhaps you played Monopoly as a child, and this introduced you to the idea that the better players of a game would accrue more banknotes, and therefore win the game. Life's a bit different.

Unlike Monopoly, when we start life, we all start with different amounts of money. Whether you start life in a desperately poor family, in a desperately poor part of the world, or whether you're born into a fabulously wealthy family in a super rich country, is not something which we can influence ourselves. However, we have a reasonable idea what kind of life any prospective offspring might be born into, before we choose to get pregnant and deliver any babies into the world.

"I haven't got any money but I really want to inflict misery on unborn infants" I hear you cry. Have you thought about just saying "fuck it" and having children anyway? Have you thought about pursuing your own selfish wants in the face of overwhelming evidence that you're a fucking idiot?

"But I want children because it'll make me feel good. It's mainly about me, you see. Fuck the fact the child's going to be miserable"

Yes, yes. You and slime mold both want to reproduce. Very good. Anyway, moving swiftly onwards.

"No. Wait. What about the fact that I could give birth to the next Einstein or Mozart?"

You really are a prize idiot, aren't you? Let's examine the Monopoly game again.

In Monopoly, all the players are given the same amount of money at the start of the game, and all the players are subject to the same rules throughout the game.

"Yes, so a player with more skill will beat a less skilful player. I'm going to give birth to a genius whose brilliance will conquer the day and they'll be elevated from poverty because they're so amazing"

Oh dear.

See what you've failed to understand is that life is not like Monopoly. The players in life sit down with different amounts of money, and those who have vast amounts of money use it to bribe and bully their way through the game. Speeding fine? No worries, just bribe somebody off. Sent to jail? No worries, just bribe your way out. Run out of money and can't afford to buy that property you just landed on? Never going to happen. In fact, some people have so much money that they can sit down at the playing table with weighted dice that roll sixes every time, and exemption from any rule that's not in their favour. Are the rich really playing the same game at all? Let's look at education, as an example.

We might imagine that with standardised testing, the rich and the poor are playing the same game, and the 'brightest' children are achieving their grades on merit. You'd be wrong.

If you think that preparatory schools, private tutoring and private schools are merely unlocking the hidden talent of a child, you're delusional. If exam grades are an intelligence quotient to measure the intellectual ability of a person, then why would vast sums of money be spent on education by the wealthy? Why is there a perfect correlation between the amount of money poured into a child's education, and their highest academic achievement? If you really believed you were having your kid because you thought they could be the next Einstein, you wouldn't have tried to queer the pitch, would you? You wouldn't have tried to rig the game.

The cash in your pocket bears as much relation to the hard work you've done, as your exam grades relate to your intellect. Those who are richer and have superior qualifications are simply better at cheating.

They tell us: don't have a childhood, because it's important to get good grades and don't have an adulthood, because it's important to work hard and save money. These are two of the most ridiculous follies of our modern times. The problem started when your parents selfishly decided to launch you into a life with no prospects.

"But my little darlings can be anything they want to be. They can follow their dreams"

No they fucking can't. Unless, of course, their dream is to work in a shitty office punching made-up numbers into a spreadsheet, in order to give all their wages to an unscrupulous landlord and sink deeper into debt, having already stressed themselves out to the point of nervous breakdown and run up huge amounts of debt just to obtain the worthless diploma that allowed your little darling to get their bullshit job in the first place. Unless your little darlings dream of having no financial or housing security, living on a polluted dying planet, contemplating their own mortality, the absurdity of existence and the immorality of perpetuating the cycle of misery, then no... no they can't follow their fucking dreams.

We might say that we could re-adjust our values so that money isn't important, but I'm pretty sure that most of us still want a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. You have to pay to play, and I'm afraid that art, poetry, music, acting and suchlike just won't allow for any following of dreams, while being able to pay rent and buy food.

The only ones amongst us who stand a chance of winning the game, are those who start with an unfair advantage. For anybody who cares to examine the mythology of the "man who started with nothing" and built themselves a business empire, or whatever trite bullshit you care to trot out as some kind of response to the bleak prospects, you'll find that those stories are utter horse-shit. Nobody gets anywhere without somebody underwriting their risk. Nobody gets anywhere without investment.

We only need to look at the lottery to understand that people's psychology is flawed. It might be you. It could be you. But, in all probability it's not going to be. Yes, people have won the lottery. What the fuck does that prove? Yes, somebody, somewhere at some time or other won the lottery. SO FUCKING WHAT? THAT'S NO FUCKING REASON TO HAVE KIDS. Just because a handful of people win the lottery every year, that doesn't mean that the system of wealth distribution isn't broken.

So, what about all this wealth distribution malarkey then?

Well, I imagine you think that hard work pays off, don't you? If you work hard, then you'll get money. No. No not at all.

If ever there was a case of inverse correlation, then it would be with wealth distribution versus hard work in a capitalist society. Those who already have wealth will accrue more, without a single day's work. Vastly more. Think about all the ways to earn money without labour: money lending, loan sharking, gambling, investment, interest, capital gain, rent, extortion, receipt of bribes, pimping, human trafficking, war, robbery, fraud and slavery. If you think you don't profit from those things, ask yourself what part you played in the building of your house and the growing of your food. Even if you built your house, the chances are that the slates on your roof were quarried in China. Where did the bricks come from? The cement? The plasterboard?

As you sit at home counting your money and thinking of yourself as virtuous for saving a few pennies here and there, one should be mindful that this is insanity. The money bears no relation to any supposed talent, intellect or hard work that you've put into life. Those banknotes are not a useful way of keeping 'score' to see if you're 'winning' because the game is rigged. How can you usefully use your pocket change as any kind of measure of wealth that's stored away, when it's quite meaningless. Is there any scarcity? No. The mint can simply print more money, and they do.

It might be easy to scoff at this essay, given your irrational attachment to received wisdom. There's also a certain smugness when you feel like you're winning the game, but you're not - get things in perspective. It might seem like I have little respect for money, and the difficulty with which people obtain and keep it, but in fact the opposite is true. I feel very sorry for those who toil and stress over money, when the very largest sums are obtained without effort for a tranche of society who have never known poverty. To criticise me for being disrespectful towards money is ridiculous, when wealth bears so little relation to anybody's efforts or the wisdom of their choices.

This is, perhaps, one of the most provocative topics that I could write upon, dealing both with the sad truth that wealth does not flow to those who deserve it, and the unpleasant but patently obvious fact that it's immoral to have children when unable to provide a good future for them; prospects. It's immoral to have children when we live on an overcrowded planet; it's immoral to have children when we can't look after the ones we've got. Are you no different from slime mold?

For the avoidance of any doubt, my tirade is directed at no one in particular. My attack is on existence and its absurdity, capitalism, banking and the unfairness of life. If you've felt something, then that might be your conscience, not a personal attack, I promise.

 

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