Monday, 28 August 2017


Well, international readers. Have you been wondering who Sheriff Joe Arpaio is, that US President Donald Trump pardoned last week? I was, so I set out to do research, as usual. Enjoy the results here.

America still has a wild side. This has fostered outspoken maverick sheriffs who have allegedly been a law unto themselves. Some organisations say that's terrible and must be stopped. However, I notice by the length of their tenure, that the people who elected them seemed to want them back each time. Sheriff Arpaio stayed in his job well into his eighties. 

So , last week's President Donald Trump controversial news of the day, featured him pardoning Joe Arpaio, a long time supporter of Trump, who was convicted of contempt of court. I don't think anyone should have been surprised at that. Trump rewards his supporters. That he allegedly interfered in the judicial process to do it, before sentencing, was a bad thing. Trump seems to be conducting a war of sorts with the courts. I don't see that happening in Australia, where the courts seem to be respected by parliamentarians, maybe because so many of them studied law, and may want to go back to that line of work. Trump, of course, didn't work in that field. Note, many Australians don't respect the courts, citing too short sentences. 

Sheriff David Clarke is another controversial character, very outspoken, with a social media presence like Joe Arpaio. Although African American, and supposedly a Democrat supporter in a mostly Democrat county, his views are Republican and he supports Trump also. His department have been sued multiple times under his watch, like Joe Arpaio's. There are many parallels. 

Both of them have gimmicks. Arpaio's included putting jail inmates in pink underwear, which after it became notorious, he cashed in on by selling pink underwear merchandise. Clarke is noted, among other things, for wearing lots of medals on his uniform. Some say many of them have not been earned by him. 

I advise you all to read the links at bottom of this page, and make up your own minds about these maverick sheriffs. Were they doing just what they had  to do, in difficult circumstances? In so doing, were they acting for the voting majority of their constituents? Or were they violating human rights, wasting taxpayer monies, ignoring aspects of the laws, etc? 
In making your opinions, try to put yourselves in the shoes of people who lived under their policies, who didn't have a voice, due to poverty etc.

For those who don't know, Arizona has a long border with Mexico. 

safe link to short biography of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

another satire link  note this site as a whole is not suitable for under 18 s.

Friday, 25 August 2017


The text of this post was written by Lyn, over a series of emails and forum comments. 

Seems as though everyone is offended by everything all of a sudden! 

Just the sight of a long dead general on a horse in a park is enough to send dozens of people into a complete meltdown! Of course these things were never even noticed until recently! I'm waiting now for the next shoe to drop! These whining people will want the crosses and Jewish stars removed from national cemeteries next!  

Just wait.... but first they will take down Washington, Jefferson and anyone else that pissed them off! It's gonna be a mighty dull landscape... let's just blacktop everything!

Im not sure anyone worships statues. I have never been to keen on religious statues myself! On the other hand they do serve a purpose in that they visually make history come alive! 

One can visualize what it must have looked like, felt like to be a common foot soldier and see the presence of one of these men ride by! 

Most of the men that died in our civil war were just poor common farmers and laborers. These crazy people are missing the point entirely. 

They should go to a battlefield like Gettysburg and try to understand what happened there. So many young lives lost on both sides! 

You soon forget about the right and wrong and are overwhelmed by the the enormity of the sacrifice on both sides. The statues honor the sacrifice of all the dead, not the institution of slavery. There were many reasons for the civil war but most of the men who died never owned a slave let alone much of anything! My fathers great-grandfather fought at Gettysburg for the north. He was a 16 year old boy and was shot in the face. Miraculously he lived and shook the hand of Lincoln!

This ignorance overwhelms me! 

I thought we were better than Isis destroying ancient religious temples because they are offended! Can you imagine destroying the terra-cotta soldiers found in China if someone found them offensive. One can choose to be offended or not! Or one can choose to learn about history and try to not repeat it. A statue will not give you a job nor give you self worth .

History is unfortunately full of stories of man's inhumanity to man. When this country was being founded many wished to address that original sin of slavery then! They knew it would eventually tear this new nation apart! That so many suffered and died for this is something that is part of our history and should be learned and studied. 

Judging nations and a people through the lens of history serves no purpose. If so, we would still be punishing Germany and Japan. The atrocities that have been wrought upon human beings through out history are unimaginable! And yet we only need to look at Syria today! Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have died. And we squabble about statues of long dead generals.

In the words of Scarlet O'Hara.. fiddle deedee! Much ado about nothing! All of a sudden people are being hurt by them. Really, just now; just recently? It didn't occur to them to be "hurt " or " bothered" by them before? This is a very new phenomenon. Goodness, will crosses and Jewish symbols in national cemeteries be next. I'm sure someone's delicate sensibilities will always be bothered by something!

What most of these people are missing is that many of these statues were erected by a mourning , beaten people who had lost their loved ones and their way of life not to say their whole economy and infrastructure! These were akin to putting a headstone in a graveyard; they were the headstones to their past. One needs to think like they would have; not through 21st century eyes. 

 I think we should remove absolutely every single thing that could potentially tick someone off; blacktop the landscape and call it a day. Now as a warning, don't visit Russia because there are statues of Stalin everywhere and he killed millions!

On a serious note, I think each community should decide what public art it wishes to display. I have no idea when or how this craziness started but if a community finds it offensive then fine. I'm guessing most people have walked by these statues their whole lives and never gave them a second glance! I have lived in the North-East and the south.
I think people are looking at these through the lens of today's sensibility. The south took a devastating blow after the war. One fourth of its fighting age men died, its economy was in total ruin and would remain so for many years. 

It had to rebuild it's towns and cities as most of the battles were fought in the south and it was thrown into a state of extreme poverty that lasted in many parts into the the twentieth century.

 I don't think these statues represent what some think they do. I think they are a yearning for a time when they felt pride in their prosperity. Yes it was built on a terrible practice! But I'm not sure that racism has anything to do with it. I think it is nostalgia , no matter how flawed that may be!


My parents brought us to Gettysburg many years ago. His great grandfather fought there for the north ! He was a sixteen year old boy who got shot through the face and miraculously lived and shook the hand of Lincoln. It is an overwhelming place of beauty and sadness. That so many fought and died , the sacrifice!!! This is not something we should be arguing about. Our nation was young and it was hard fought. We have made many terrible mistakes to be sure but we have risen above many also. It seems this last fight is petty .I guess it's hard for some to time travel.

 I don't object to a municipality moving their publicly owned artwork if they do choose! I do mind anyone from outside that municipality coming in and telling them to do it! I would not go to France and tell them I object to statues of Napoleon because he caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people!  Anarchy is never acceptable and this rehashing of the civil war is pointless!!!

 Judging the actions of people 152 years ago by today's standards is an act of futility. Nobody's mind will be changed in this, that's obvious! But disagreeing on this subject is not right or wrong either. So if some little town wants to keep their statue and they vote to keep it it's nobody's flaming business!

It seem that most of the " silent sentinel " statues which are the soldiers holding the rifle are the very same statues used up north. These models are all alike and were ordered as such! They are everywhere. So in the interest of fairness let's just get rid of all of them , North and South of the Mason/ Dixon line.

Monday, 21 August 2017


I know a little bit about comedy, I've been tinkering around its edges all my life. It's not as easy as it looks, like writing. When someone has been dubbed a "comedy great" , I have an inkling of what it took for that person to have achieved that honour. So now we are mourning Jerry Lewis, one of the funniest performers of all time, and he did it without the swear words that pass for cheap laughs these days on the comedy circuit. I'm very sorry that his immense talent has gone out of this world. 

Jerry Lewis was proficient at the art of slapstick humour, where eggagerated physical gestures are used for comic effect. This transcends language. As they say "a picture tells a thousand words", so does a chase scene with legs flying, or a pie to the face. 

Pieing, however as it's called, is not always comedic, though it does make a visual point effectively. Sometimes it is political. In May this year, Alan Joyce, the CEO of an Australian airline Qantas, was pied in the face by a man while delivering a lecture. 

Alan Joyce is a vocal supporter of legalising gay marriage in Australia. That's not surprising, as gay people have worked in the airline industry for decades when some other industries were homophobic. We are about to have a plebiscite, postal vote, and all Australians over 18 registered to vote, will have their say on the issue. Alan Joyce, and executives of other companies petitioned the government to legalise same sex marriage (SSM), before the postal vote was announced.

Here's what The Australian newspaper reported on the pie thrower.

"The 67-year-old former farmer who struck Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce in the face with a lemon meringue pie at a business breakfast yesterday has revealed he was not challenged as he walked into the invitation only event and sat on stage “for a couple of hours” waiting for his moment.

Tony Overheu has confirmed his motive for the extraordinary attack on Mr Joyce; the devout Christian says he is appalled by corporations that engage in “social engineering”.

Mr Overheu is understood to object to Qantas’ support for same sex marriage and on talkback radio this morning he read a letter he had sent to The Australian newspaper and The West Australian newspaper on Monday criticising Airbnb's billboard campaign , lobbying MPs to back gay marriage.

“CEO’s need to respect Australia is a democracy where backdoor attempts to subvert the clear wishes of the overwhelming majority will cost companies bottom lines,” Mr Overheu wrote.

“Alan Joyce is paid $13 million to run airlines not bulldoze Australia socially against its will.”

Mr Overheu told 6pr he believed middle Australia shared his views.

“The individual has become overridden in our society by major special interest groups,” he said.

“Why did Trump get elected? Why did Brexit go through?”

Mr Overheu said he chose a lemon meringue pie for his attack at the event, run by The West Australian newspaper, because it was least likely to cause damage to Mr Joyce.

He paid $25.95 for it on Monday night and wrapped it like a birthday present. He said he left his home in Perth’s southern suburbs at 6am yesterday in his ute with the pie and drove to the CBD, parking in a street near the Hyatt hotel where he knew Mr Joyce would speak."

The Australian.

I have a very strong opinion on this matter. He paid way too much for that pie.

RIP , JERRY LEWIS and Thankyou for all the laughs.

Saturday, 19 August 2017


So, some are saying General Robert Lee in the US Civil War wasn't a good guy, that he allegedly authorised the rounding up of slaves and other African Americans, and had them forcibly moved away from their homes back to be slaves. If they resisted, they were allegedly tortured. Currently there is a movement in USA to remove statues of General Lee and others like him, and put them in museums, not leaving them in town squares.

Cville dog creative commons

I like figurative sculpture very much, but generally prefer anonymous sitters. I like Henry Moore, his less abstract works. Jesus wasn't keen on people aggrandising themselves with huge likenesses in public, or having honours heaped on them, was he. 

There are some people that deserve it, but they were human too, with faults like the rest of us, they just pressed on with something and achieved more. 

On the other hand, for historians, sculptures of individuals have shown us what public figures looked like. I just don't think we should worship them. It's God's little joke that pigeons poop on them ;)

I would suggest that if you were only to put up statues of faultless people, you'd only have ones of Jesus, and possibly his mother left. Some saints did terrible things. Paul persecuted the first Christians. People can change, though, and do more good than the evil they wrought.

Statues of soldiers are almost always going to be problematic. There is a certain pragmatism and ruthlessness that comes with the job of general, (or indeed senator). Yet so many statues are of those people, despite the choices they make in their work often causing people to die. If you choose one path, you must reject the other, don't you, usually at someone else's expense.

Then there is the issue of people holding the cultural values of their times. Is that an excuse ? Well, I would say that on the issue of slavery, southern America lagged behind some other governments , which they were aware of, but they weren't the last to use them. In fact slavery still goes on around the world today, wherever unscrupulous people can get away with it. That is why we should all support non-profit groups that try to free people being held in slavery, and assist their reintroduction into regular society.
Should we aggrandise people who fought to retain slavery specifically? I'd say no. If they did something for the good of others that heavily outweighed that, then maybe. 

The fact is, a nearly perfect person does not want a memorial in their shape. Part of being perfect is being humble.

Angus Mc Millan

Quietly, there is similar talk in Gippsland, Australia, where I live, to rename an electoral division, currently honouring a controversial character called Angus McMillan. Even a family member of his wants to make amends to the indigenous peoples that he allegedly harmed. Some would also like to take down memorials to him. Here's the one in our town, photographed by me. It says "Angus McMillan passed near this place on 14 th February 1841." The plaque is mounted on a cairn, in a town memorial park. It's one of a string of cairns of different designs along the route that Angus McMillan explored, opening up the very rugged virgin bush of Gippsland to pastoralists, mostly squatters like himself. Towns and villages followed. 

People in our town are too apathetic on the whole to insist on the destruction of this, though they are not repairing it either.

What is a cairn , and what is the origin of the tradition? Mc Millan was from the isle of Skye in Scotland. In ancient Celtic wars, and even later, when celts went into battle, they would deposit a stone on a pile before the battle, picking it up after the conclusion. Those stones that were not picked up were left as a memorial to the slain. Cairns around the world are also used as route markers, even today. Celtic traditions are heavy with symbolism and history. This could be an argument to retain the cairns, but how about the aboriginal culture (that may be older than 40,000 years) around here? 

The indigenous inhabitants were almost wiped out by murder, and sickness brought by the settlers from overseas. The murders arguably amounted to genocide, and Angus McMillan is alleged to have led a band of mainly Scottish settlers, in many of the massacres around this region. One in our district was at Warrigal Creek. Ostensibly this was in revenge for a very few of their own white community being killed, allegedly not without provocation, and a white woman from a shipwreck supposedly being "abducted" , which some historians and the aboriginal people believe to have been a mistake. There is a beauty spot in our district called "White Woman's Waterhole" named after her.

In reality , what the settlers were engaged in was a "clearance" the same as the English had done to the Scottish, especially the Celtic Scottish people. They had been driven off their lands and out of their homes, mostly for sheep grazing. There is a massive statue, 30 m (100 ft) tall, in Scotland,  remembering the Duke Of Sutherland, who did that. 

Bill Henderson creative commons

Many want it removed, it is getting progressively vandalised. Others want it kept as a reminder not to do it again. However, there is an alternative, more appropriate sculpture for that now, remembering the displaced.

So some came here and did the same thing, again often for sheep grazing. A saying here is that Australia was built on the sheep's back. We grow beautiful wool and lamb here. Was the sheep more important than the aboriginal? No. Humans are more important than animals, or profit, especially as big profit flows to the few, at the expense of the many. That is simplistic, but isn't all morality? Rules to try to live by.

"For myself, if I caught a black actually killing my sheep, I would shoot him with as little remorse as I would a wild dog." The full quote follows. 

"... The blacks are very quiet here now, poor wretches. No wild beast of the forest was ever hunted down with such unsparing perseverance as they are. Men, women and children are shot whenever they can be met with ...

I have protested against it at every station I have been in Gippsland, in the strongest language, but these things are kept very secret as the penalty would certainly be hanging.

... For myself, if I caught a black actually killing my sheep, I would shoot him with as little remorse as I would a wild dog, but no consideration on earth would induce me to ride into a camp and fire on them indiscriminately, as is the custom whenever the smoke is seen. They [the Aborigines] will very shortly be extinct. It is impossible to say how many have been shot, but I am convinced that not less than 450 have been murdered altogether...".   Gippsland squatter Henry Meyrick wrote in a letter home to his relatives in England in 30th April, 1846.

Much of the genocide of the Aboriginals, (and slavery of Torres Straits and other peoples up North) in Australia has been swept under the carpet , ignored in history books, and hidden by family historians. (A Scottish ancestor of mine was one of the original settlers of this district. I don't know if he was a member of McMillan's Highland band posse or not. He was a shipwright, which was needed, so I imagine too busy . ) We cannot criticise apartheid in South Africa, or slavery fought for by General Lee, without taking a good hard look at ourselves, and what we have erected in our public spaces. If it's a cairn to mark a significant route, then fine. If it aggrandises a racist bully, not fine.

If Angus McMillan's life choices were weighed by God and found not to be wanting, in the balance, then let's leave the memorials up as his route markers, being an explorer. However,  having  an electoral division, scout halls, streets and public schools etc named after him , as they are, might be due for reconsideration. Certainly I think the aboriginal community would appreciate it.

In 40,000 years, before white settlement,  I don't think they put up any large figurative sculptures celebrating any particular persons. They also didn't destroy their environment. Who was more civilised, us, or them?

Angus McMillan link

aboriginal source link

Scottish clearances statue link

Friday, 18 August 2017


My friend in the USA needs support of her small business due to a bunch of life's bad stuff happening all at once. Please shop and share these links if you can.

Thursday, 17 August 2017


Following the increase, in last year's Federal Budget , in the GST (Goods and Services Tax), no new IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) have been found secreted under burquas by Security at Parliament House of Australia.

Experts postulate that this is due to the components becoming too expensive, even on a Senator's allowance. 

In other news, the incidence of lung cancer deaths has fallen sharply, following a vast reduction in smoking . This occurred since new universal unisex burqua uniforms caused so many human torches.

Outshone, the KKK have switched entirely to daytime marches, carrying colourful fringed sun umbrellas , and wearing diamantĂ© g-strings and matching blingy thongs (flip-flops.) David Duke was quoted as saying "sex sells, and polo shirts are so last decade", as he celebrated his first five year anniversary in Australia , following his expulsion from USA by President Madonna . She is currently homeless having blown up the Whitehouse when drunk on Trump Wine. 
A contingent of budgie fanciers, (budgerigar , a small Australian bird) , allied with representatives of animal rights groups, clashed violently with a KKK group led by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Sydney last Saturday. They made national headlines on What bird is that hidden in those jocks . com. So far, no-one has claimed it as fake news.

Runningonempty, your trusted news sauce.


The following is part 2 instalment of an autobiographical short story by Badger from Ireland.

Having never been in a plane, and not afraid, but very excited, I arrived at Heathrow airport. Big buzz as many people very excited, stressed and many just confused. I was in plenty of time so I went and had lunch. Later when the gate opened , I made my way to the plane, the butterflies in my stomach were mounting, I was fit to burst. Up the steps and into the aircraft to be greeted by lovely smiling faces, I find my seat and look around, very nice and a bit plush. Screen on the chair in front of me, a window seat and not a soul beside me,heaven! Then came the safety announcements, and a short time later we started moving, taxing towards the runway, we took our turn and arrived at the start. Now I love fast cars and their acceleration, and of course I did not know what to expect, then off we went down the runway, j e s u s, c h r i s t WOW what a thrill, I just love that feeling of Power! Off the ground and up into the air, I had tears of joy, and recounting this, I have them again.

Well after the excitement of taking off we were up in the clouds and then above them, it was surreal, so beautiful and somehow, heavenly, now I started to fiddle with the gadget in front of me, oh my god, I can watch many films, play music and go on the internet.  I thought I would leave that one, so it was music and films all the way, interrupted by lunch,afternoon tea, dinner and a snack late in the evening, then some sleep. Next morning, it was breakfast, every meal was lovely and was enough to sustain you, the crew were incredible, and made sure that your every need was catered for. 18 hours, how on earth does a plane carry enough fuel and all those passengers and baggage, all that way and stay in the air, absolutely incredible!

By this time I was getting a bit restless, I was a bit fed up of sitting down, then we got the announcement that we were approaching Hong Kong. As we came down for landing the levels of excitement started to build again. Looking out the window I could see all the skyscrapers and buildings packed close together, we circled around the city and began our final descent, until touchdown. We were on terra firma.

We were guided from the plane into the entrance, I was looking around in excitement with the knowledge that this young lady was waiting for me, or at least I hoped she was, then it struck me, what if she wasn't?  I had never given that a thought, still I could sort that if it happened. Entering the building, still looking around, I noticed a number of people standing with placards of passenger names. I did not take any notice as I knew where I was supposed to go to get my internal flight into the Centre of China, so I was looking for the channel to allow me to proceed to my next flight. Then my subconscious came into play and I was aware that I needed to look behind me. There it was , my name written on a placard being held by a pretty Chinese lady. I told her that I was the person she was looking for and she said we must hurry as my connecting flight was soon. So we ran through the crowds, rushed through a huge crowd of people waiting to go through security, my passport was quickly checked and through we went, out of breath. The poor girl was scarlet in colour, she told me to wait and went to her desk, a few minutes later she came back and apologised, as my plane had been delayed, and would be an hour late, well at least I was in the right place and did not have to wait in the queue at security. 

While I was waiting I strolled around the airport, a beautiful modern building, ultra clean and extremely efficient, keeping an eye on the arrivals board until at last in it came. So through the boarding gate and onto the smaller plane, greeted by smiling faces again, and off we went for a 2 hour flight to Wuhan, in the centre of China. No sooner in the air and I got a second breakfast, wow! This time there were no clouds and of course we were at a lower altitude, so I could see the landscape and villages and towns we passed over. We landed, then I had a start. What about my luggage on the other plane, my god I did not collect it! So off I went to the information desk to tell them my problem. I could see it was amusing to them, and they explained it would have been transferred and I should go to the collection point and pick it up. I travelled light, with only one bag as I knew I had limited weight allowance and I might want to bring back some items.

So I joined the queue at the security point and waited my turn,, now only 3/4 of an hour late I was wondering if she would still be here waiting? My mind was working overtime, when I arrived at the booth to show my passport, the man in the booth looked at me. I smiled at him to try to encourage him to let me through, his gaze went to my passport and then his computer screen, he picked up his phone and within half a minute I had a soldier guiding me to a chair near some offices. He gestured me to sit, and stood by me as a guard, his manner was very professional and calm, and I felt no threat. I noticed how smart he was in his uniform, I waited for 15 minutes, and an official came out and gave me my passport and was very polite and apologised for the delay and that I could proceed on my journey. I was so impressed by the method of this process, so polite and professional.
I recounted my experience at school with the project and wanted to see a tea garden while I was here, also I had been told of some negative things about the food and the animal care here, but I was going to keep an open mind and judge what I experience. So passport safely stowed away, baggage in hand, or at least being pulled behind me off I went to the arrivals lounge.

Sorry next instalment soon, must eat !


The following was written by Badger from Ireland.

O.K it's a monsoon out there today, supposed to be Summer, its bucketing down so no work in the garden, so sorry but as a request for a story has been put forward I will succumb.

China, what an amazing place! I was captivated when I was at school, probably the only subject that inspired me, like another contributor here, my life at school sucked, to use a modern term, but it was no good for me, that can be another story later.

One of the things I was required to do was a project involving a manufacturing process, we had 3 weeks in which to complete it, it started slow, like my brain, just could not think of a subject that I had knowledge of. The teacher was not best pleased that at the end of the allotted time I got zero marks, had no work, but he did show his appreciation, he gave me 500 lines as a gift, and a ruler across the knuckles five times,, this of course spurred me into activity, Mum wanted to know how I got the injury, and why I had 500 lines. ( Those that don't know what 500 lines are,, you have to write out a sentence related to your crime 500 times ). 

When she found out, she called Dad from the garden and showed him, he went ballistic, ( not his fault,, another story ) . He marched me to the teachers house, and confronted him, but got no satisfactory answer, but he did get a sneer.  I blinked and missed the action, the teacher was laying on the floor spark out, boy did I get some satisfaction from that.

I was a little nervous seeing him for my next lesson, but he was really nice and encouraged me to try my project again, I think it was a ploy to occupy me while the rest of the class progressed onto other work that baffled me, so I went to the library and found this book on China, and was mesmerised, and spent hours trying to read it, no not in Chinese, in English, my reading ability and maths was shocking for a boy of 14. However this book had my attention and I produced a project based on China tea, it was mainly a large sheet of cardboard with a pictorial display of the tea growing process, with a scribble which I told them was writing, that interest gave me a impetus to start to discover other educational needs. 

So life goes on and progress was made, a family was grown and dispersed, a few hiccups along the way and we arrive at 2010, I have nearly completed my house construction, and moved in, no plaster, no heating, no refinement, just a building site. Still, it was mine, along came the winter of 2009-2010 Christmas, on my own cooking Christmas dinner on a makeshift cooker.  In the kitchen????  Well a bucket for washing up, and a gifted cooker was O.K. I managed, but it was bl£$y cold, it was minus 18 degrees outside, and minus 8 indoors, just shows you what good levels of insulation does for you.

Along comes the Summer of 2010 and I felt like a holiday. The house had been plastered and alot of other things had been completed, and I needed a break. I had my computer up and running and was searching for a holiday destination. While I had forgotten about China, it did not occur to me to look that far away until I saw an advert for a dating site for Chinese women. So I am a man, I was curious, so in I went and looked, " umm tasty"  I thought, but it was obvious that it was a bit of a scam. Not deterred, I chose another site, and thought I would leave a profile. After 14 years living alone, I thought I could combine a holiday and a date at the same time. I met a delightful lady, and we seemed to have much in common, so no commitment, off I went to China.

Sunday, 13 August 2017


The following article on Ai (artificial intelligence, ) was contributed by regular writer Dan Copping from London. 

The Humans Are Dead by Flight of the Conchords. 

Robots may never take all our jobs

The potential of foresight

What is a robot? Wikipedia defines it as “a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically”. Robots have existed for decades. They’ve been evolving for decades and they will continue to evolve for decades. The only limitation is the complexity of the actions that the robots are able to complete.

It doesn’t take a futurist, a technologist or even a journalist to work out that robots are getting smarter and more able-bodied every year. They’re also doing so a heck of a lot faster than we are.

That last sentence is probably the most worrying part. Think about it. It’s 2070. Your grandson wants to replace his iPhone, except your grandson’s IQ is 140, while his phone’s IQ is over 500 and it was running several hundred apps in the background while it sat the test. It’s a safe bet that his phone will be replacing him, not the other way around.

It might not happen overnight but if his phone can produce reports, negotiate contractual terms, mow the lawn and stimulate his girlfriend faster and more effectively than he can, a certain amount of replacement is bound to take place.One of the most powerful arguments against the world’s police forces becoming Robocop and the world’s dancers becoming Roboboogie is that humans will simply find other things to do. If for example, your robot housekeeper has an argument with your robot toaster, you might be required to weigh in and settle the dispute, not because you have the best answer or understand the language that the two are speaking but simply because you’re the homeowner and it’s ultimately the quality of your toast that is being argued over. How do we know that it will still be our toast though? What’s to stop robots buying our houses and using our food as a fuel source?

Humans are currently capable of anticipating and preparing for almost all aspects of the future better than robots. This means that in theory, as we increasingly anticipate a machine takeover, we will still have plenty of time to legislate against any excessive use of unemployment-creating robotics before our existing way of life is destroyed. There may still be task-specific and even industry-specific unemployment in the short-term as emerging technologies replace certain jobs but we will have the opportunity to create laws and organisations that protect against the obsolescence of the entire national labour force. Will we take that opportunity?

When looking for an indication of how humanity handles the macro issues that threaten it, environmental damage is an example that we might turn to. We have known about the possible implications of greenhouse gasses and resource depletion for generations and yet the general consensus seems to be that not enough is being done to combat the threat. Many scientists are worried that because large bodies of water and ice take centuries to respond to changes in temperature, the effects of our current actions may be devastating, yet hard to forecast and even harder to stop, yet we are taking action. We are innovating.

Fortunately, the onset of our substitution with the inhuman cast of the Transformers movies is likely to be more rapid and more obvious than climate change. It may be more comparable to the development of nuclear weapons or genetic engineering. Easy to spot. Relatively straightforward to outlaw. Potentially devastating and hard to completely insure against but so was SARS and humanity seized control of the disease relatively quickly.

Will robots take all our jobs? Maybe but maybe not. We’ll see them coming. In fact, we’ve already started thinking about it.

link to more articles by Dan on Medium

Saturday, 12 August 2017


The following writing and music was contributed by regular writer Fizzfan from the United Kingdom. 

Set a limit to the number of toilet rolls you can blow your nose on while weeping. One for every year you've been together should be more than enough, and stick to it. 

If you're tempted to cheat and use soft tissues to make your nose less sore and crusty, this is not acceptable as it will only encourage more weeping, and discomfort and vanity are strong deterrents that can be used to good effect in your quest to stop blubbing.

Buy an A4 pad and write down all his faults. These can range from licking his plate in restaurants, to wearing his socks until they crack. If you run out of paper (don't worry this is normal) just reread what you've written and consider the merits of buying another pad, or possibly reassessing just how broken hearted you really should be?

Leave one sheet of your A4 pad to list his good qualities. If you run out of space, (this isn't normal) you're delusional enough to start toying with a glorious revenge plan, which is much easier than trying to think of any more nice things, and far more fun. This will also flood the pleasure receptors in your brain and have those tears of yearning turn to twinkles of evil glee before you know it.

If your revenge plan is likely to get you locked up, read your Fault List again and ask yourself if it's really worth it. Chances are you'll decide it still is, but have a cream bun and focus on the likelihood of sweet treat rations in high security isolation wards probably being as rare as a man hoovering. 

Which brings me nicely on to just how much less mess you'll now have to clear up. His toilet trashing, towel hanging hang ups, empty loo roll lapses, muddy boot bonanzas, bread crumb blindness and dust level delusions will all be a thing of the past. 

All this extra time you'll have due to not arguing about housework, can now be devoted to self improvement, self indulgence, or self loathing. It's your choice, but if you opt for self loathing, make a video of yourself sobbing and snorting in self pity and watch it back to see how attractive you look and sound. This might prompt you into a bit of self discovery and make you far keener on opting for self improvement or at the very least self indulgence.

This being the case, cream buns can be extended to treacle toffee pudding or even death by chocolate cake, just don't take it too literally. Alcohol of any kind will enhance your self indulgent binge no end, but if you get down to the sherry bottle and are torn between knocking it back or saving it to make Aunt Tillys Christmas trifle, do the right thing........I'm sure she'll understand.

Having gorged yourself into a coma and or hangover (or as I like to call it a Comaover) you may feel like weeping again, and I highly recommend ramping up the experience by seeking out some rogue clothing he's left under the bed to inhale his god like musky molecules. Hopefully it'll be a sock that's hardened into a piece of old cheese that will jolt you out of your pathetic pining, but if it's a t-shirt fragrant with his favourite aftershave or just has that special him smell, don't worry, this is an ideal opportunity to use the one cheat you're allowed in my plan and go ahead and blow your nose on it.     


Purged of his personal artefacts that you'll ever want to sob over or into again, you can now turn your attention to your treasure tin containing all those precious little gifts and love notes he sent you. This is a tricky dilemma because if they were gorgeous and clever and witty or indeed valuable, you may want to keep them, because remember you did inspire him to write them. As for any valuables, well you can get a good price for melted gold and or precious stones, and if he has by some miracle managed to nail your taste by giving you something you actually like, think of it as an heirloom you can pass on to the children of your future husband. This may sound outrageous right now, but trust me in 50 years time it's value will far outweigh its history and no one will care. 

Moving on to a future boyfriend or husband, which of course is impossible to imagine right now, were it not for the fact that you just can't stop imagining it.......

This is the ideal time to dilute your broken hearted misery, by signing up to a keep fit club so you can cry over the disgusting state of your body instead. The benefits will not be immediate as this additional humiliation may make you feel suicidal, but hang on in there, and the pain of your aching heart will quickly be replaced by that of your aching muscles, and you'll have a much better chance of bagging a new man the longer you stick at it. 

So having passed the half way mark and embraced your living hell of aloneness by accepting you simply must make an effort not to be, your mind may turn to a new pair of shoes and or a top. This will involve a hideous mooch round the shops and you may well be harbouring a very real dread of bumping into anyone you know, or indeed him. 

This is perfectly normal, but the longer you leave it the more shoe sales you'll miss, so ring a friend for moral support and get to it. Of course if you have no friends because you dropped them all in favour of him, you might feel the need to go a bit incognito. 

If it's summer, dark glasses and a very large brimmed floppy hat are perfectly acceptable, however in winter, sun glasses will never do teamed up with a woolly bobble hat, so you may want to consider a burka, balaclava, or crash helmet (Amazon do loads online) However, you'll probably be high on sugar or hungover enough (but lets face it probably both) not to care, and have quite a few stress spots to help in your disguise, which will thankfully deter anyone from wanting to speak to you anyway.

Once you're out and about, even if you've been brazen enough to go for a crash helmet free look and been blessed with a spotless complexion, you will still feel like you have a sign over your head saying Just Dumped Because I'm Worthless. 

It isn't imaginary, and everyone does of course know this due to your ridiculous rants on Facebook after polishing off Aunt Tilly's trifle sherry, but those who don't avoid you like a dose of Small Pox for fear of knowing who he'sseeing now, and or how pathetic you are, will possibly be real friends and it's a good Litmus Test for sorting out future liaisons. They may also have some dishy male friends or brothers and be riddled with sympathy to the point of asking you to their next house party.

So having bagged yourself an invite to what could be the answer to your dream come true meeting with the future love of your life, you will be feeling almost euphoric, which is just the right time to kiss your new bezzy mates goodbye, trot round the corner and bump into him.  Yes, he will be smiling and gorgeous and of course he will be arm in arm with a new her.  

I did mention crash helmets, balaclavas or burkas, so you only have yourself to blame. You will now need to get home asap because having watched that video of yourself in your self loathing phase, you'll be very keen not to scatter the public with a repeat performance outside TopShop or indeed on the bus. 

I suggest a taxi because the drivers are used to delirious women and will probably just turn the music up to drown out your agonised snorts and stifled snuffles. 

You may get a sympathetic ear for 2 minutes, but be warned it will turn into a 'I can top that just listen to my tale of woe', so try and remain stoic by focusing on the nine times table, or how many bottoms you have to go with your new shoes n top until you get home. 

Once safely there, you can fall into a stupendous sobbing session made far worse by your earlier decision to throw away all his artefacts that you now want to inhale or rip to shreds. 

In their absence why not pop on some really depressing music and if the two of you had aspecial song, all the better. Put it on repeat and wallow in agonised memories of sublime happiness, topped only by how much you now want to find out who she is. Magnifying her every physical defect and convincing yourself that her bland prettiness will just be making up for her penchant for saying Babes a lot and being as annoying as a gnat will help. Unfortunately Facebook has yet to conquer scorched memory recognition into their arsenal of making acquaintances, so you'll just have to rely on 'someone will be almost spontaneously combusting to tell you' syndrome, and trust me, this won't take long.

Recovering from the Mother of all Comaovers and having accepted that killing yourself to blight their happiness with guilt would unfortunately involve you dying, you are now at the perfect turning point to start refocusing on those new shoes and or top, and the fact that you have a party to go to. Besides which, your toilet rolls are running perilously low, and you need to get a grip!  


HERES MY PERSONAL FAVOURITE                             

If you don't want to look like a hay fever sufferer who's run into a exploding bag of pollen, stick some cucumber on your eyes and a dollop of E45 cream on your tomato like nose, and lay back and listen to a self help tape about  'Success Being The Greatest Revenge',  or better still  'Whatever Doesn't Kill You Had Better Start Running'. 

Buoyed up on bullshit and feeling like a cross between Boudicca, and Beyoncé belting out 'All The Single Ladies', you can now start the long painstaking process of getting ready toPartay!

So YOU HAVE SURVIVED. There is no pain or humiliation left to conquer. You are Ready To Rumble, and hell bent on making the most of your Single And About To Mingle status. 

The day long preparation beginning with your keep fit class, topped off with your tastefully low key fake tan, followed by four hours of batheing, grooming, preening and primping have left you feeling like a butterfly emerging from a putrid old grub. You even splashed out on an awesome pair of skin tight black jeans to go with your shoes n top, and as you stare back at your reflection in the mirror you actually feel pretty damn good. 

While you wait for your taxi, (hoping it's a different driver from the one who rescued from your mortifying sob fest) you just have enough time to stick on 'Its Raining Men' and smile in anticipation of the great night to come. There's a beep outside and you grab your bag to go.......

You've made it through girl, you're amazing and it's the start of 'Things Can Only Get Better!'            



Just DO NOT pick up that phone as you walk out the door.......!